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5 Reasons to Fall in Love with Las Vegas, Nevada Off The Strip

For the 30+ years I’ve been on this earth, I’ve travelled the world for both work and play but Las Vegas was never amongst my list of conquered destinations. This action packed location just outside the desert has become almost a right of passage if you will, for most North Americans in their 20’s looking to celebrate moments like milestone birthdays or their last days of single life before tying the knot. Usually filled with champagne showers and epic night outs, that may or may not be remembered, after their “What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas” weekend experience is over. After discovering that Vegas hosts nearly 40 million visitors each year, it had me thinking that it’s quite possible the city is not as one dimensional as I once thought. This past January, with my interest piqued, I flew to the state of Nevada for four days to see if there really is life and entertainment off the strip. And let me tell you, I was in for a big surprise.

Obviously well known globally for it’s lavish hotels, casinos and nightclubs, turns out Vegas can also be added to the bucket list of anyone who is an adventure seeker or loves the outdoors. I can easily say that the only time I was indoors during this trip was to either eat or sleep in my hotel room and have zero regrets. If you followed along IRL on my Instagram stories, you may recall some hilarious, outrageous and breathtaking moments but I am summarizing the best of the best below that will 100% have you thinking a bit differently about this destination.


VOTED: MOST BALLER EXCURSION

When it comes to sightseeing experiences, I don’t think there is anything cooler than a helicopter tour. I’ve done a few  of them over the years and it never gets old. If you’re anything like me and the Grand Canyon has been on your bucket list for as long as you can remember, a heli tour over the canyon’s vast expanse and down to the depth of it’s floor in one of Papillon’s state-of-the-art choppers is definitely a must!  During our hour long customized tour, my mind was blown by the most majestic topography I’ve ever seen in my life; 100% making the canyon worthy of it’s status as one of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders. Papillon, the world’s aerial sight seeing company has helicopter tours starting at $200 and is perfect for a romantic date for two (ideal setting for a proposal) or a small group activity.

VOTED: MOST DARING AND ADVENTUROUS

If speed and excitement is your thing, Flightlinez Bootleg Canyon will not disappoint. Just a 30 minute drive from the strip and starting at just $159 per person, it’s the perfect adventure for those obsessed with adrenaline. After a brief drive up the hills of Boulder City, followed by a short hike to the top, is the first of four separate runs that span over a total of 1.5 miles long. If you have a slight fear of heights, the scenic views and friendly guides are just the recipe you need to overcome it and enjoy the experience. We laughed our asses off for days about Jenn’s elegant finished on the final run of the day. So thankful to have have captured some of the fun and laughs that morning in an Instagram video:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BP_TlfaAglA/?taken-by=sashaexeter

 VOTED: MOST NIQUE PLACE TO FIND YOUR ZEN

I used to think that I had done yoga in some very unique and beautiful places but leave it to Vegas to take my yoga game to new heights, and I mean literally, with a 60 minute vinyasa flow at 550ft in the air inside the High Roller Vegas. The pièce de resistánce of the LINQ’s outdoor shopping and entertainment promenade, the High Roller is the world’s tallest observation wheel, eclipsing both the London Eye and Singapore Flyer. Facing both north and south and running parallel to Las Vegas Boulevard, the gigantic observation wheel, is compromised of 28 glass enclosed cabins, gives riders expansive views of Vegas and the strip and if you planning on adding this to your list of things you “Must Do” while you’re in town, and is most spectacular at sundown.

Each revolution of the wheel takes 30 minutes to complete, so our private session with our Silent Savasana yoga instructor meant that we got double the pleasure, doing the journey around twice. And as if the experience wasn’t already cool enough, we all donned state-of-the-art LED headphones so we could be guided through the sequences while also listening to a curated playlist of Beyoncé remixes.

VOTED: MOST BAD ASS DESERT EXPERIENCE

I don’t care who you are, how old or where you come from, everyone should experience at least one ATV excursion in their lifetime. Sure, it can be a bit intimidating at first and depending on what type of landscape your driving in, it could get pretty messy but you’re guaranteed to have a blast. Most of the others who joined me on the trip were ATV virgins and so I contently sat back as I watched each of them get fitted for their helmets and goggles with some slight fear in their eyes.  I’ve done it a handful of times before on press trips and from experience it always winds up being a fave of everyone on the trip. A few hours riding around the desert might seem like too long but trust me when I tell you, this is one activity you will be begging you wish went on just a bit longer. It wasn’t long before the ATV newbies got in their groove and with increased confidence we were able to pick up some speed and handle some more technical driving along the dusty trails.

We chose Awesome Adventures for our ATV tour of Eldorado Canyon, located only 45 minutes from Las Vegas, and our guided tour took us through desolate desert trails and through the Tecchaticup Gold Mine – the oldest, richest and most famous gold mine in Southern Nevada. The gold mine ran from 1861 to 1942 and most of what is on site was is preserved and looks exactly the way it did 70+ years ago. The Eldorado Canyon tour starts at $199 for a single seater ATV and $160 for a two seater and also includes round trip transportation from wherever you’re staying, a professional guided tour in addition to a boxed lunch.

VOTED: MOST BREATHTAKING VIEWS

With the most awe inspiring views you wouldn’t expect to see so near to a major metropolitan city, the desert beauty of Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area was the perfect way to conclude our active trip to Nevada. Not to worry if you’re not a highly skilled hiker or mountain climber, because I’m certainly not. Due to being so quiet and isolated, the conservation area has become very popular amongst tourists, sightseers, joggers and cyclists as a temporary getaway from the craziness of the strip and expertly recommended and arranged by the overly accommodating concierge at the J.W. Marriot hotel.

More vast than you can imagine, there are actually a total of 19 trails with differing difficulty and gains – making this activity appealing to all. For those not able to explore the grounds by foot, you can still experience Red Rock’s beauty by car via the 13 mile scenic drive loop. The speed limit around these parts is actually 35 mph (and in some areas even lower) to purposely encourage drivers to enjoy the spectacular scenery and also for the safety of runners, cyclists and wildlife. On a time crunch and of course thirst for the most epic landscape photos, our crew hit up Calico Tanks trail. With a distance of just 2.5 miles and rated as “moderate” on the difficulty scale, it’s a great trail for families or those wanting a relatively short intro to Red Rock Canyon because it combines all the elements that make Red Rock famous – a colourful mixture of sandstone, a hidden water pocket and an awesome view of Las Vegas. Open daily between 8am – 4pm. Entrance into the conservation area is only $7 per vehicle and free for cyclists and hikers who park and leave their cars at the loop.

Have I enticed you to re-think your own outdoor adventure to Las Vegas? For more Vegas inspo head to LasVegas.com or be sure to follow the destination on Instagram and Twitter.

Travel Smarter with the CIBC Air Canada Conversion Visa Prepaid Card

While my travels outside North America have been far less than in previous years, I’ve had countless business travel south of the border for work projects this year. As you can probably imagine, I’ve had my fair share of nightmares on the road during business trips. Like having my credit card and/or debit card compromised while abroad, resulting in my financial institution having to shut them down for security reasons. Trust me, it is THE worst! And my struggles don’t end there unfortunately. Over the last year for some strange reason, my bank client card began having issues in most ATM machines outside the country. With my frequent travel to NYC for work projects, it had started to become quite an annoyance.

The last thing anyone wants to worry about while traveling is having issues accessing money. So, I’ve learned a few tricks and tips along the way helping turn me into a savvy traveler, but of course the learning never stops. I usually make sure to never leave the country without some cash in my destination’s currency but this starting to pose as an issue when the Canadian dollar continued to plummet. I mean, have you ever had leftovers of a foreign currency after a trip and tried to re-convert them to Canadian dollars? If not, DON’T!!!

cibc-air-canada-ac-conversion

Enter the new CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion VISA Card. I did some research on CIBC’s latest card offering a few weeks ago, desperate to discover anything that would help me in my future travels. I’ve dabbled with a prepaid credit card or two in the past, but this one is in it’s own league. Similar to other prepaid Visa card options, you load the card with funds and you can use it for transactions anywhere Visa is accepted. But one of the biggest things that sets the Conversion card apart from the rest is that you are able to load it with up to 10 currencies, and manage your funds through a dedicated app. Yes, that is not a typo – 10 different currencies, so naturally it is an appealing option when traveling or booking ahead and can also be used at restaurants, stores, for online purchases and even for withdrawing local currency from ATMs.

So what does this mean? 1) No more line-ups at banks and currency exchange centres, 2) No more fear that your bank card will not work in ATMs abroad (FINALLY) and 3) Allows you to avoid those crazy credit card fees, making this card one hell of a travel companion. And if that’s not enough, if you order your card before December 31st , you can receive 15% off select Air Canada flights.

CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Card

I took the card out for its first test drive a couple weeks ago on my last trip to New York and was able to check my card balance, view current exchange rates, move funds between different currencies, reload more money to my card and view all of my NYC transactions right through the mobile app on my phone. All sounds great right? It did to me but that didn’t stop me from delving a bit deeper into things such as CIBC’s Air Canada’s Conversion card’s supported currencies, expiry policy, transaction limits and associated fees, so here’s the skinny:

Support Currencies:

  1. Canadian Dollars – CAD
  2. United States Dollars – USD
  3. Euros – EUR
  4. Great British Pounds (UK) – GBP
  5. Mexican Peso – MXN
  6. Hong Kong Dollars– HKD
  7. Australian Dollars – AUD
  8. Japanese Yen – JPY
  9. Turkish Lira – TRY
  10. Swiss Franc (Switzerland)– CHF

Expiry Policy:

Luckily, the funds on this card will never expire. However the card itself will expire on the last day of the month printed on the card. There’s no need to worry if the card expires with a balance on it though, all you need to do is call the number on the back of the card to get a replacement. *A replacement card will not be sent out automatically after it’s expired – it must be requested.

Transaction Limits:

Minimum load amount (single Transaction) $100 CAD equivalent
Maximum load amount (single Transaction) $3,000 CAD equivalent
Maximum balance $20,000 CAD equivalent
Daily (24-hour) maximum point of sale purchase limit $3,000 CAD equivalent
Daily (24-hour) maximum ATM withdrawal limit $2,000 CAD Equivalent

 Fees:

Are there upfront fees? No, it is free to activate your card and should you choose to ship it to your home via courier, you’re looking at about $15. While all ATM withdrawals are free within Canada – there will be fees charged by CIBC in other countries with a chance that non-CIBC ATM providers may charge additional fees. That being said, it’s in your best interest to stay away from ATM withdrawals abroad unless absolutely necessary.

CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Photography by JessBaumung.com

Are you ready to start traveling smarter? Click here to learn more about the CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card.

8 Carry-On Essentials for Light Air Travel

For years I’ve always envied people who are able to travel with only carry-on luggage. And to be honest, I was not only envious, but also confused. Very confused. How can women travel for more than one night with a 21″ rolling case? I mean, how does she manage to squeeze in all the unnecessary outfits that she will never wear during her trip? Doesn’t she want to bring her ionic blow dryer? Isn’t it tough to pack multiple shoes, especially with high heels? And what about ALL her beauty and skincare products? *gasp*  During my travels on numerous press trips, I have learned a few tricks that has allowed me to join the club of savvy travellers who are not chained to the bag carrousel at their destination. This learning curve has allowed me to fit all the necessities into just one carry-on bag, although I do also bring along a backpack or large tote along as my handbag to cram in anything else that may not fit in my rolling luggage. So since “sharing is caring” here’s some of carry-on MUST HAVES that makes me feel like I have the basics covered:

  1. Rimowa Limbo Multiwheel 22″: Traveling with carry-on can only be done if you have the right bag. I’ve long been a fan of Rimowa luggage for it’s aesthetic, functionality, durable materials, and superior quality. No matter the size or type of bag, Rimowa always offers tons of storage components it’s internal set, taking away some of the anxiety of traveling with one piece of luggage. The multiwheel feature allows the bag to glide seamless in tandem by your side or pulled from behind.
  2. Dermalogica Skincare: On shorter trips, I have learned to edit down my skincare to just a few products. This is a huge feat seeing as though I use anywhere between 15-20 products a day on my face at home. Traveling can cause stress, skin accumulates dirt and debris and we all know that cabin air during flights wreak havoc on skin so it’s important to travel with some options to keep your skin clean, clear and hydrated. Clear skin all lies in how you cleanse. Before washing my skin, I use cleansing wipes (not pictured above) and Dermalogica’s Precleanse. The latter’s nourishing olive, apricot, and kukui nut oils removes make-up, sunscreens and oil-based debris. Also, I love multi-duty products like Dermalogica’s Multivitamin Thermafoliant. This powerful, self-heating skin polisher has chemical and physical exfoliants to not only refine your skin’s texture but also promotes skin firmness and enhance the penetration of vitamins into the skin. The best part, it’s formulated without artificial fragrances and colours. $55 CDN for Precleanse $77 CDN for Multivitamin Therafoliant
  3. The Esteé Edit “Beam Team”: Ummm this product is absolutely brilliant if you dropping majority of your skincare products like third period French class to be able to travel checked-in luggage free. Beam Team is a double duty daily moisturizing lotion. The tube contains a lightweight illuminating and hydrating lotion and wait for it, if you flip the cap top you will find a flattering for all skin shades, highlighting balm. $42 CDN
  4. Jo Malone “Wild Bluebell” Cologne: Who doesn’t love scents by Jo Malone? The brand has a wide variety of colognes ranging from; citrus, floral, fruity, spicy, and woody that can satisfy just about any scent palette. One of my go-to’s when traveling is Wild Bluebell in the 1 floz (30ml) bottle. The size couldn’t be more perfect for travel, plus the light, fruity scent won’t overbear your in-flight neighbours. $65
  5. Hermés Belt: Why travel with multiple belts when you can have just one chic, reversible option. I love my double sided Hermés belt kid. I’ve had it for years. I have misplaced it three times and literally felt my heart stop beating each time I did. The epsom calfskin leather strap in black (with tan on the reversible side) with gold plated metal buckle, literally goes with everything. I can’t say it’s cheap but hey, it’s essentially two belts for the price of one, so it’s all about perspective right? $1,405 CDN
  6. Apple 11″ MacBook Laptop: Size matters. When I am not traveling I love have access to a desktop monitor or larger laptop screen when I’m traveling, the 11″ MacBook has become my trusty companion for both work and play (I mean, I still have to stay up to date with my fave shows when I am on the road). It’s much thinner, lighter, faster, and sleeker than it’s predecessors and also have improved graphic performance. If that’s not enough, up to 10 hours of battery life.
  7. The Barest Lip Colour by The Esteé Edit: You don’t need to travel with an army of lipsticks and lip pencils, trust me. When I have limited luggage space, I stick to just one lippy that I can easily rock from day to night. Loving this neutral shade by The Esteeé Edit which is available at Sephora.ca. $26 CDN
  8. Shoes – a flat and a heel option: I don’t care whether it’s business or pleasure, I think every woman should travel with both a heel and a flat. I love these neutral shoes from Ann Taylor (left) and Loft (right) which are sadly from their summer collections and no longer available.

Interesting in learning more of my skincare secrets? Stay tuned as I will be sharing my skin story with Dermalogica Canada over the next few weeks. Follow along by using the hashtag #MyFaceMyStory on your favourite social channels.

2017 GMC Acadia Whistler, BC Experience

With fast paced lifestyles being the norm these days and car consumers becoming far more discerning each year, it’s not surprising that drivers are looking for much more out of vehicles now more than ever before. We need more cargo/storage capacity. Additional space for more passengers. Want better fuel efficiency. Desire a luxury aesthetic with premium finishes. We’re intrigued by next generation technology (who ever thought we would be living in a world with 4G LTE wifi in cars?!). Or require 4WD capabilities for winter driving conditions. I mean, the list of Canadian customers reasons for purchasing a vehicle can just go on and on. In the past I viewed cars similar to the way I looked at real estate and men. It sounds odd and funny but ti’s true. I believed that there was no perfect vehicle, house or man – and finding one that ticked all the boxes wasn’t realistic. For years car customers have sacrificed in one way or another. Twenty years ago, if space was high on your priority list, you were probably sacrificing on style by having to choose a minivan to accommodate a family of 7. Wanting better performance meant a heavier vehicle frame and increased engine size; resulting in poor fuel efficiency. Japanese and German vehicles were known for their style and design, but it was the American manufacturers that were known for comfort. Fast forward two decades and we may be moving towards a world where it’s possible to get your whole wish list in one vehicle.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

Last week I ventured all the way to beautiful Whistler, British Columbia for a couple days of adventure and to discover the all new 2017 GMC Acadia. Our drive from Whistler commenced from Vancouver Airport, where we headed up the scenic Sea to Sky highway, giving us our first taste of the brand’s most innovative Acadia to date. On our itinerary during our surprise filled visit with GM Canada…an unbelievable outdoor experience that included learning how to ride like the mountain bike pros on the GMC sponsored Pump Track, an exclusive ride inside the Guinness World Record Breaking Peak to Peak Gondola that spans the entire distance between Whistler and Blackcomb, lunch overlooking a breathtaking vista of snowcapped mountains at Christine’s on Blackcomb, an ATV off-road excursion with RZR Tours at Cougar Mountain and dinner at Whistler’s premier dine dining and award winning restaurant Bearfoot Bistro. And if that wasn’t enough, after our delicious four course meal at Bearfoot, we headed to the restaurant’s lower level where patrons will find the Ketel One Ice Room – the world’s coldest vodka tasting room and only sub-zero vodka room in Canada. If you followed my trip on snapchat, you most likely saw our group donning white Canada Goose parkas to help us brave the -32C (-25) temps in there, while we sampled a few of the vodka’s in their 50 plus collection.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

GMC, a brand known for it’s professional grade heritage, bold features and craftsmanship, has refined the latest Acadia with the help of premium finishes, innovative features and tons of space options for both passengers and cargo. Here’s a quick look inside the 2017 GMC Acadia:

The revised mid-sized SUV’s exterior has modern updates with sculptural lines that made our motorcade of Acadia’s stand out as we made our way up the winding highway. But it’s the car’s interior and tech features that really stand out in my opinion. It may not look like it from the outside, but this cross over fits up to 7 passengers quite comfortably despite losing a bit of interior room compared to it’s previous year’s model, thanks to premium seating and the vehicle’s easy access to it’s 3rd row. How? With the assistance of Acadia’s fold flat 2nd row seats that allows you to be ready for whatever your next adventure might be. You can go right ahead and file the enhanced second-row Smart Slide® seats under “Mind Blown”. This row can tip, pitch and slide forward even when a child seat is attached. Shocking I know! And this should go without saying, but this feature is only recommended when a child is NOT strapped into it’s car seat. If more cargo space is what you really need, designers have placed built-in seat release levers to make it super simple to fold the second row seats completely flat from the back of the car.

For those of you have have kiddies or nieces and nephews you look after on weekends like I do, the comprehensive suite of available Driver Alert and Active Safety Technologies to help protect drivers from the unexpected on the road, would blow you away. With the increase in deaths of babies being inadvertently left behind in cars, the Acadia has the industry first “Rear Seat Alert System” that reminds drivers that items and/or children may still be in the vehicle’s 2nd or 3rd row seats. Knowing you have the added safety of sensors, radars and cameras to help detect potential crash situations, can bring comfort to drivers with young children and babies on board. Other notable technologies that are a first for the Acadia that can even probably help with yearly insurance fees are the Front Park Assist, Lane Change Alert and Lane Keep Assist, Knee Airbags and much more.

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

2017 GMC Acadia

I’m not sure about you, but I’m always a fan of anything that makes long road trips bearable or working on the road manageable and GM’s fleet was ahead of it’s time introducing 4G LTW wifi connectivity via OnStar, Apple Car Play capabilities (allowing drivers to utilize all the functionalities of their iPhone or Android devices to make calls, send texts, listen to music and access maps all displayed on an 8″ colour touch audio system), plus Five USB ports ensures everyone is happily connected and charging.

A common worry for those moving from a car to cross over or SUV is no doubt gas mileage and rightfully so. Advanced design and engineering as allowed the 2017 Acadia to be over 700 lbs lighter than it’s predecessor, resulting in better fuel economy. You will find fuel range for the Acadia different depending on the model and engine size of course. For car buyers who’s priority is fuel efficiency the clear choice is the 2.5L engine getting drivers 11.0/9.2/10.2 L/100km (City/Highway/Combined). If fuel efficiency take a back seat to performance, then the 3.6L V6 engine with 310 horsepower plus active fuel management is the way to go with 13.0/9.3/11.3 (City/Highway/Combined) L/100km.

The 2017 GMC Acadia is already available in showrooms now in Canada and price points for the base 4-cylinder front drive only Acadia SL start at $29,995, with the top line Acadia Denali AWD starting at $47,845. For more information on all Acadia models head to GMCCanada.ca

5 Important Tips For Better Sleep When You Travel

Getting adequate sleep at night in your own bed is a challenge in itself. Since January I have been doing research on the topic of sleep in search of effective ways to increase quality shut eye. You may have seen this chronicled right here not too long ago, where I shared some of the things my boyfriend and I have incorporated into our nightly routine at home. But sleep can be even more tricky when your traveling. If you don’t get enough sleep, especially when switching time zones, there is a good chance your trip, whether it be for work or play, may not pan out the way you intended. There’s nothing worse than traveling a long way for a fun filled trip and spending the first few days in the destination living in a jet lag fog. Of course, only to be outdone by being in a sleep deprived, induced coma when on a business trip. If you’re traveling anytime soon, you may want to take notes on the below so you can arrive at your destination looking refreshed and ready to take over the city.

ZzzQuil

ZzzQuil

1. Modify Your Sleep. This may be a very ambitious rule, but if you can figure out a way to do this, I can almost guarantee you will be unfazed by a time zone change and long travel days. Shifting your bedtime a couple days before you depart to be in line with what your destination’s time is a veteran trick. It’s natural to find it difficult to get on a different time zone – generally we become sleepy during the day and restless at night. Not ideal! Many well heeled travellers have a few tricks up their sleeves to combat this and one of mine is ZzzQuil. Although ZzzQuil is made by the makers of Vicks NyQuil, it’s not for colds. It’s not for pain. It’s just for sleep. It contains diphenhydramine – a big word for a small compound that can be used to relieve occasional sleeplessness. When used as directed and when you can donate a full night to sleeping, it reduces the time it takes for you to fall asleep. I make sure to have it packed inside my emergency travel kit that I store inside my carry-on bag, just as a precautionary measure in the event my luggage gets lost or misplaced. It helps  me fall asleep easily so I can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.

Sleep Better

2. Stay Hydrated. In high altitudes, it’s not uncommon for your body and skin to get dehydrated. Also, with prices at the airport being so expensive, it literally deters people from purchasing a couple bottles of Fiji water before take-off. Really, you should be increasing your H20 intake 1-2 days prior to your departure. To make sure you get adequate hydration while in transit, skip buying the pricey water at the airport and bring your own large refillable water bottle to fill up during the flight instead of relying on the miniature cups of water cabin crew hand out. Proper hydration will prevent you from feeling groggy when you wake up from sleeping on the plane.

3. Avoid Red-Eye Flights. Red eye flights are awful and I really only recommend them if necessary when flying overseas internationally. Many assume they are doing themselves a favour by flying overnight so they can make the most of their time in a new city. Not so much! In actuality, the transit time in the air is short in comparison to the time it takes to get to and from the airport, baggage claim, going through customs and getting situation at your hotel, basically throwing you off your sleep for most of your trip.

ZzzQuil

4. Dress For Comfort. Ok, it is very important to understand that I am not sagging that one shows up to the airport looking like a schlep, especially if you a re traveling for business. My father always told me to look presentable when traveling because you never know who you will cross paths with. However, you don’t want to be so uncomfortable that you can’t get rest on the plane. For flights over two and a half hours, I usually bring a pair of compression socks to avoid symptoms like heavy legs, leg pain, swollen feet and ankles. These symptoms can occur during long haul flights where movement is constrained and blood circulation in the legs is restricted. I also typically wear a long sleeve top, an additional thin layer plus a light weight cashmere scarf that can easily double as a blanket when the cabin temperature drops during the flight.

ZzzQuilLimbo Multiwheel Créme White Luggage c/o Rimowa Toronto

5. Reduce Stimuli. Whether you’re attempting to sleep on the plane or in your hotel room on the first night of your stay, reducing the amount of stimuli is crucial to getting good rest. I always find it funny when people say, “I don’t know why, but I can’t sleep on planes!” and then later find out they spend the entire time in flight working on their laptop, watching a movie marathon or blasting music in some pricey noise cancelling headphones. It’s no wonder they can’t get some decent rest. Restricting screen time of any kind; TV or computers and staying off your phone an hour before bedtime works wonders even when you’re not traveling. Light music is fine I suppose but I prefer a sound machine app, I mean who doesn’t feel calm hearing the sound of waves or falling rain, right!

ZzzQuil

In case you missed it, you can check out more of my sleep tips to help you get your best rest yet. This post is sponsored by ZzzQuil Canada but all opinions are my own. Before you take medications, it’s important to know what is actually in them. I always recommend you read the label and if you have further questions about the product, please consult your physician, pharmacist or call the 1-800 number on the product packaging. Head to ZzzQuil.ca for more information.

Los Cabos Travel Series: Mind, Body, & Soul Rejuvenation

Los Cabos Series

Most think of vacations as a time to become a complete sloth, to eat and drink just about everything in sight and lay out until their skin colour is at least three shades darker than when they deplaned the aircraft at their destination. By no means is this considered a bad thing. Heck, I yearn for a couple days of nothingness from time to time, but there are a distinct few who look at their vacations as a strategic retreat where they can undergo a complete mental and physical overhaul, where luxury and comfort is not compromised. If you happen to fall within this niche category of travellers, you need to add Los Cabos to your bucket list.

Los Cabos

I recently crossed this dreamy destination off my bucket list and to be honest, I loved it so much I am heading back at the end of the month. Most, including myself until my visit, confuse this luxe locale with Cabos San Lucas, which has more a reputation for it’s clubs and party atmosphere. Los Cabos though is what I would consider it’s older, more sophisticated sister. The destination is referred to as “Lands End” for being situated at the tip of the southern Baja California Peninsula. Known for the warmth of it’s people, mind blowing food and deep rooted heritage, it’s varying landscapes of desert, sea and mountains also keeps visitors coming back for more.

For the Fitness Obsessed, Well Heeled Traveller

Esperanza Resort

For me, the dream vacation would consist of equal parts fitness, fun and relaxation. If you’re a Type A personality who takes their food, workouts and recovery seriously, Esperanza Resort is Mecca. Part of the boutique luxury hotel company, Auberge Resorts Collection, this unique property has managed to find the perfect balance between pure leisure and a variety of physical activities designed to challenge all fitness levels. Esperanza’s state-of-the-art fitness facilities allow guests to enjoy daily complimentary classes – everything from Beach Bootcamp to TRX, to Sunrise Yoga to a private running concierge service and everything in between. They take their programming so seriously, the hotel has created a “Trainer-in-Residence” program where they feature renowned guest fitness instructors from the best gyms and studios across the US. No matter your level or goals, this hospitality gem’s dedicated staff can customize a bespoke wellness experience to suit your needs.

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Part of this experience involves an exceptional culinary experience to accompany your desired workout regimen. With ingredients from local fishermen and farmers, Esperanza Resort’s Cabo dining will knock your socks off. For the foodie, Cocina del Mar’s sea-to-table fare will have you thinking you’re in heaven. Looking for an interactive food experience? There’s hands-on cooking classes with Resident Executive Chef Gonzalo Cerda and more much.

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

Esperanza Resort

With all the fitness, activities, available excursions and phenomenal dining, you can only expect Esperanza wants it’s guests to be able to rest and rejuvenate – enter The Spa at Esperanza. Focusing on spiritual well-being, stress reduction, detoxification and revitalization, this world renowned sanctuary is sure  to restore your body to it’s intended, natural state. Highly trained staff turn to healing agents indigenous to the area to create treatments tailored to clients specific health and wellness needs. And if that’s not enough, there is no way you cannot sleep like a King or Queen in any of the property’s accommodations. With suite options ranging from 900 sqft casitas (starting around $2,500 USD per night) to Villas and Residences up to 4,000 sqft (approximately $11,000 USD per night) guests can expect that no luxurious detail is overlooked. Offering expansive layouts, indoor/outdoor living spaces, oversized bedroom and washrooms, infinity hot tubs or pools, plus full concierge or butler service, it comes as no surprise that Hollywood’s A-List chooses Esperanza as their favourite private getaway in Los Cabos. For more information or to book online, head to Esperanza.AubergeResorts.com.

Affordable Luxury for the Whole Family

Hilton Los Cabos

Hilton hotels are known globally for their first-rate yet affordable, family friendly facilities. After being severely damaged in the hurricane back in 2014, The Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort re-opened to both first time and returning guests. Situated on one of my favourite stretches  along the Sea of Cortez in Los Cabos, the Hilton boasts beautiful vistas from every single corner of the property. With six dining options plus 24 hours of in-room dining service, guests can enjoy the amazing pool views with farm-to-fork brekkie (my fave) or sea-to-table dinner at El Meson; sip from Cabo’s largest tequila collection inside Azul, feast on regional Italian cuisine at Vela or grab comfort food and bites from one of the various poolside grills. If you have food restrictions or prefer healthy options; you need not worry here. With plenty of options on the menus, those with even the pickiest of palettes will find something that will have you eager for the next meal.

Hilton Los Cabos

If relaxing poolside all day isn’t your thing, the Hilton is the place to be. However, laying out by one of their two deluxe pools isn’t too bad of idea here because the hotel has a pool concierge service that comes by to mist you with Evian, clean your sunnies and even provide you with iPods in case you need tunes while you sunbathe.

Hilton Los Cabos

You can discover so much of the Baja Peninsula’s beauty by staying at Hilton Los Cabos Beach & Golf Resort. December to March is whale watching season and the optimal time to see these beautiful animals close-up. The resort gives guests access to an amazing whale watching safari but if you keep your eyes on the waves, you can actually see them from the hotel’s oceanfront view guest rooms, the restaurants and infinity pools.

Cabo Adventures

Cabo Adventures

Cabo Adventures

Cabo Adventures

If you’re the adventurous type, this could possibly be the vacation of your dreams. The Hilton’s concierge is always eager to help guests plan world class excursions that is very likely to be the highlight of any visitor’s vacation; think dolphin swim programs, outdoor zip lining, flyboarding, mountain bike tours, sailing, outback tours, camel safari’s and much more via Cabo Adventures. My choice of adventure was mountain biking through Cabo’s outback, which probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to most of you. Only a 30 minute drive from Cabo’s city centre, we ventured to Rancho San Christobal, a protected reserve overlooking the majestic Pacific. Our amazing tour guide led us through a stunning ride down cactus-lined tracks to a gorgeous hidden beach where the views literally took my breath away. Along our guided tour, our guide educated us about the area’s amazing flora and fauna plant life with natural healing properties, chilled with some camels, and visited the secluded habitat for baby turtles. Post ride, we headed to Rancho San Christobal’s “Casa Tipica” for the most flavourful and natural Mexican meal and tequila.

Hilton Eforea Spa

Hilton Eforea Spa

Eforea Spa

The only way to follow that kind of excursion was a full day at the Hilton’s Eforea Spa. Eforea takes relaxation practices from around the world to create a unique concept for it’s clients. But of course, honouring it’s Mexican heritage, the spa draws on native rituals and local ingredients, paired with traditional spa menu offerings. And if that’s not enough, guests can further customize their treatments by choosing natural herbs from the spa to be infused into their massages, facials or body treatments. Have kiddies with you on your stay? Being a parent doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some relaxation too. Here, children can enjoy the Cabo Kids experience at Eforea with kid friendly treatments and spa services. Rates per night start at only $319. For more information or to book online head to HiltonLosCabos.com.

For the Spiritual Wanderluster

Hacienda Encantada

For those who care less about catching sun rays or going on excursions and prefers to explore once in a lifetime spiritual experience, trying a Temezcal at Hacienda Encantada must be on your bucket list. I’ve had a lot of alternative spa treatments in my day, but until last November I had yet to experience anything quite like this before. Temazcal is a native health ritual that originated hundreds of years ago in Central America and Mexico. It’s direction translation, which stems from the native Nahuatl language means “House of Steam” and in this instance the translation is not an understatement.

Hacienda Encantada Temazcal

A Temazcal is a tiny stone chamber resembling a dome where super hot stones are placed in a hole in the centre on a brick. To create extra heat and steam, the hot stones are splashed with water infused with several healing herbs. One of the first things I discovered about these treatments is that when people enter the chamber, the environment replicates that of a mother’s womb resulting in a very powerful physical and mental experience for those partaking in the session.

Hacienda Encantada

What makes the Temazcal so unique is that it incorporates all four elements: earth, fire, wind and water – combined creates a powerful healing process that has been known to treat everything from arthritis, liver issues, circulatory problems, bronchitis, prostate issues while also reliving stress, muscle tension and most importantly negative energy; leaving you feeling so energized and refreshed.

Hacienda Encantada

Hacienda Encantada

Prior to entering the Temazcal, we were saved to clean our energies and bowed down just in front the entryway before stepping in. Inside, we were asked to sit or lay down in the extremely close quarters. There was only four of us during this session and it felt that one extra person would have made it too crammed but apparently often times there can be up to 20-25 adults inside at one time. For close to two hours we sweated profusely as the two leaders sang songs and started engaging conversations asking each of us what we would like to let go of both physically and mentally during the treatment. I am a lover of dry saunas but I had never felt this kind of heat before in my life and didn’t think I could make it through at first. But the process forced me to let go and to concentrate on my breathing to relieve my anxiety. Half way through, aloe vera was passed around for us to use the jelly to scrub our bodies down. We happily used ice cubes, which barely stood a chance, to wash the aloe jelly residue off our bodies.  After some closing meditation, our 90 mins of sweating was over and we excited the Temazcal feeling mentally cleansed and physically rejuvenation. For more on Hacienda Encantada’s Temezcal treatment check out HaciendaEncantada.com.

I left my heart in Cabo in November and was compelled to see what more this magical place has to offer. Stay tuned as I will be heading back this month on a culinary adventure. To learn more about Los Cabos, Cabo San Lucas and surrounding areas head to VisitLosCabos.Travel.

Home for the Holidays inside Shangri-La Toronto’s Winter Wonderland Suite

ShangriLa Winter Wonderland

There is something very special about Shangri-La hotels. The Toronto property is one I frequent quite often whether it be for drinks in the lobby bar with friends, a meal at their signature restaurant Bosk, a leisure afternoon enjoying their famed high tea service or for a quick staycation when I’m in need of some R&R. All the guest rooms and suites are roomy and well appointed here but there is one suite that has a special place in my heart. The Garden Suite, which you may have seen covered here earlier this year, has become my “home away from home”. For the very first time, the suite has been transformed into a luxurious Winter Wonderland by the renowned design team at House & Home magazine and is the perfect oasis for visiting family members from out of town or the perfect gift to yourself, if you’re looking for our own personal retreat during this busy time of the year.

Winter Wonderland Suite Living Room

Close up of living room Winter Wonderland Suite

After an intense travel schedule over the last couple of months, my little family and I checked into the Shangri-La for some quality time and relaxation. Even with so much going on around the city during this time of year, we enjoyed just lazing around in our robes, watching Netflix, and using the properties amazing amenities and facilities. As per usual, there was nothing overlooked during our stay. The Shang staff pays extremely high attention to detail and never fails to surprise me when they go the extra distance during my stays. Even our pup was set up with an oversized plush dog bed, beautiful feeding bowls and bottled water to ensure she had the comforts of home.

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Close up of master Bed in Winter Wonderland Suite

ShangriLa Winter Wonderland

ShangriLa Toronto

ShangriLa Winter Wonderland

Private Patio Winter Wonderland Suite

Decorated in just the around amount of holiday accents; including a collection of books and decor from Indigo’s holiday collection, classic wreaths, pine cones, icy hues, faux fur with hints of inspo from the Great White North, makes this the perfect space to get into the holiday spirit. Every square inch of this Winter Wonderland suite oozes comfort and style and designed to make you forget that you are not a home. With an oversized walk-in wardrobe, four poster bed, chevron wood floors – usually a favourite of guests staying here, a master bathroom that drips in natural sunlight with floor to ceiling cararra marble and a secondary full sized washroom; I can guarantee that this suite is nicer than most condos in Toronto.  And if 800 Sqft of living space inside wasn’t enough, the re-styled accommodations also boasts a large private patio overlooking central downtown and features hints of festive magic. With this mild winter weather, one could easily host their own mini holiday cocktail party under the stars or enjoy a hot-toddy alone with their special person:

We are thrilled to be partnering with House and Home and Indigo to decorate the hotel’s first ever Winter Wonderland suite” says Shangri-La Toronto General Manager Richard Cooke. “We see this collaboration as an opportunity to delight our guests with a one of a kind experience whilst providing the unique Asian hospitality we are known for throughout the world.”

Check out the video below to get some behind the scenes access into the creation of the Winter Wonderland suite by House & Home’s Joel Bray (Editorial Design Team) and Reiko Caron (Stylist for House & Home Online TV)…

One of my favourite things to enjoy when I’m home and have a day off is high tea at Shangri-La. From now until January 3rd, their tea service is extra special  with a “Nutcracker” themed menu where each delicious item reflects a different a part of the famed ballet production. You can expect all the usual high tea extravagances such as clotted cream, house-made berry jam and honey, to go with classic and warm candied ginger scones. The selection of finger sandwiches is just incredible with my personal faves being the roasted turkey with cranberry preserve on herb country bread, truffle poached egg salad on granary bread and the lobster with herb mayonnaise on brioche buns. All followed by delish Nutcracker inspired pastries. You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to enjoy this afternoon treat and it’s the perfect add-on to a day of holiday shopping or after taking in the Nutcracker ballet across the street at the Four Seasons Performing Arts Centre.

Winter Wonderland Shangri La

Winter Wonderland Shangri-La TorontoPhotography by Teddy Chau and Nathalia Allen

Want a chance to experience a night in this heavenly oasis for yourself? Throughout the month of December, to celebrate the launch of the newly re-designed Winter Wonderland suite, The Shangri-La Toronto has created the “Wish Me A Winter Wonderland Stay” contest on Instagram for a chance to win a luxurious weekend stay in this signature suite, that also includes dinner for two at Bosk. To enter all you will need to is:

1) Follow @ShangriLaTo on Instagram

2) Post a photo of your “Winter must-haves” and tag @ShangriLaTO and use the hashtag #OasisAtShangriLa

*Contest ends December 21st, 2015. Click here for additional contest details and best of luck!

Current rate for the Winter Wonderland suite is $3,030 CDN and includes breakfast for two and valet. For additional information on the Shangri-La Toronto property, pricing, and availability, head to Shangri-La.com/Toronto or call 647-788-8888.

An Insider’s Experience to Montreal with the W Montreal

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Being so close to Toronto, Montreal is a city I’ve spent a lot of time in over the last decade but my most recent visit has probably been my most memorable to date. The W Hotel’s only Canadian property turns 10 this year and to celebrate it’s decade milestone, it’s 152 guest rooms and suites got a sleek new re-design by Martin Ablaza, Associate Design Director of Global Brand Design. To show off their newly designed digs, the W Montreal invited a group of North American media to La Belle Province to an exclusive weekend of design, fashion, art and music – which ironically are all elements that influence the W Hotel properties.

W Montreal

W Montreal

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Having stayed with W Hotel’s in the past, I have an appreciation with the thought that the brand put’s into their hotels. They each take inspiration from their surroundings and you can find nods to their respective cities in even the smallest design details. Situated between Montreal’s financial district and historic Old Montreal, the new renovation is a direct reflection of the duality of both old and new. The city’s European influence is apparent with the French classical elements such as; the chevron patters which can be found in both the carpets and in subdued patterns in brass and walnut tables – however the city’s new wave culture is a also a thread throughout the property. When you enter any of the guest rooms, the first thing you notice is the beautiful mural that occupy’s an entire wall and closely resembles the architecture of buildings found in the Old Port. Huge windows allows for all of the rooms to be drenched in sunlight. What is normally an oversight by most of the W Hotel’s competitors, even the smallest of guest rooms creates an environment that promotes in-room entertaining equipped with a chic bar cart in the “cocktail corner” just perfect for any savvy traveler that wants to pre-drink with friends before a night out on the town. My personal faves from my suite are the modern elements – the open concept bathroom (quite large for hotel standards), the oversized work station and the mirrored wardrobe doors that open up to become a tri-fold dressing mirror.

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W Montreal

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All of the W Hotel properties worldwide employs a “W Insider” whose sole purpose is connect guests to the latest and most exclusive experiences, both in and outside of the hotel. This unique “Whatever/Whenever” service is not to be mistaken for a personal concierge – it’s much more than that. Whether you want a last minute reservation to a Michelin star restaurant at 10pm or tickets to a sold out concert, the “W Insider” on site can make that happen. Sticking to the W brand’s ethos of  design, fashion, art and music, Caroline Khangi, the W Montreal’s Insider, curated an exclusive tour for us combining these elements and all within walking distance from the hotel.

W Montreal
W Montreal

W Montreal

W Montreal

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I am not kidding when I say I can live off fashion. Like I am serious, I would feel more satisfied buying an outfit than groceries. Montreal has some amazing designers that I adore so I was thrilled to find out that Caroline had planned a very special atelier tour to visit Denis Gagnon, Rad Hourani, and Travis Taddeo. I fell head over heels in love with a black gown from Gagnon’s FW15 Collection and a coat designed by famed unisex designer Hourani, whose designs can be worn by either a guy or a girl. Stepping into Travis’ studio blew everyone away. Drenched in sunlight and with every square inch of the showroom covered in green plants, it just radiated good energy. Plus, he’s basically every cool Canadian girl’s favourite designer. It was also surprising to discover that all of these designers produce their clothing here in Canada.

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We stopped into Tommy Cafe + Apero to recharge our bodies and iPhones over a much welcomed lunch break. The food, coffee, and vibes were just the thing we needed before pressing on to check out Phillippe Dubuc and the carefully curated Espace Pepin Home. Filled with the most amazing furniture, household accessories, art and even a tiny vegan cafe in the back, Espace Pepin took me by surprise. Unique in it’s design and layout, Dubuc’s store was filled with the most amazing murals created by famous street artist Zilon. Every single corner of the boutique had something completely different to observe and take in.

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Entertaining is one thing W Hotels knows how to do well. On our last night in the city, we were invited to the hotel’s ultra exclusive VIP reception and after party to kick off the official re-design launch.  The entire 10th floor was shut down to host the ultimate hallway party with each guest room having a different theme, which you may have caught on my snapchat. There were girls having slumber parties and models dressed in designs from Montreal’s top designers. Everyone in the fashion and art scene in Montreal was in attendance and I even spotted some of the guys from Highsnobiety there shooting images and video. The after party was held downstairs on the second floor bar, Plateau, where we danced the evening away to tracks by Diplo and watched a live performance by the hottest group in Montreal right now, Milk & Bone.

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I recovered (just barely) the morning after the party with a quick brekkie with the team before heading out with Caroline and Montreal radio personality Phillippe Fehmiu, to check out the city’s street art that has become so popular on St. Laurent. We also paid a visit to Station 16 Gallerie D’Art Urbaine, which is a must see if you are into art and conveniently located in the art MURAL district. The gallery exhibits work by international artists who are influenced by design, illustration, pop culture, graffiti and street art.

W Double Take

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WDoubleTakePhotography by Melissa Gariepy, W Montreal and my personal Instagram

There was only so much I could cover in under 72 hours in Montreal but I made sure to squeeze in a massage in the hotel’s AWAY Spa before heading back to Toronto. Thank you W Montreal, Starwood Group, Nathalie Marchand and Caroline Khangi for an unbelievable experience that I will not soon forget. I left your Montreal with new friendships and a new appreciation for the city you call home! Want to learn more about the W Insider program and more of Caroline’s fave spots in the city? Check out the video below. Click here for more information on the W Montreal

2015 GMC Canyon Stampede Adventure

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I have always considered myself a savvy traveler but found it a bit odd that I have galavanted all over the world without discovering all the beauty Canada has to offer. This summer all of that changed with the opportunity to hit the road again with General Motors and some friends to explore Alberta with the all new GMC Canyon. This trip was a unique dichotomy, where we got to experience working ranch life in Lundbreck and finished our adventure taking in the largest outdoor festival in the world…the Calgary Stampede.

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In an effort for our group to both bond with each other and our set of wheels for the trip, we flew from Toronto to Calgary and connected to Lethbridge. There we jumped into a fleet of black GMC Canyon’s to make the trek to Lundbrek, one of the sunniest and flattest places in the country, where we gladly called Sierra West Ranch our temporary home. Probably as remote as you can get in the province, owners Randy and Ginny Donahue affectionately say its “where the pavement ends and the west begins.” The two, who are sweeter than strawberry-rhubarb pie, have a long history in rodeo, riding and of course ranching, which was a the perfect precursor to Stampede. The ranch, nestled among the scenic foothills, was everything I imagined and more. We each were blessed with our own rustic accommodations but us gals decided it would be much more fun to have a slumber party in Sierra West’s loft style log cabin – the largest on the entire property.

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Our crew dove head first into our cowboy/cowgirl duties. Learning the ins and outs of ranching, roping cattle and spending tons of time with the beautiful horses. Time spent on social media and our laptops was replaced with cozy bonfires, late night chats and live music played by a real-life cowboy. Although life on the ranch was pretty amazing, I would be lying if I said we didn’t miss being dialled in to what was going on in the “real world” on Instagram and Twitter. Our social media obsessed group was pretty lucky being able to use the 4G LTE wifi from our convoy of pick-up trucks. After a taste of the simple life in Lundbrek, it was time to get behind the wheel of our trucks and continue on with our Prairie adventure. Our first stop on route to Calgary was in Turner Valley, a small town with a rich history in oil and gas in Alberta, to check out Eau Claire Distillery. Alberta is home to the best grain and they harvest for spirits all over the world, so it’s only a matter of time they got into the craft spirits game. Most have heard of “Farm to Table” in the culinary world and Eau Claire is now making “Grain to Glass” something to talk about by producing artisanal, small batched, craft spirits. It seemed as though our tasting began one minute after the legal time to start drinking and over an hour we got schooled on Turner Valley’s checkered history while sipping on single malt & rye whiskey, premium vodkas, London style dry gin, and specialty blends.

GMC Canyon Experience

We were welcomed to Calgary with a hail storm. Yes…in July. It was the craziest thing I ever seen because the temperature had been above 30 degrees celsius for days. Outside of the Hotel Arts, we sought refuge in our trusted Canyon; using the truck’s wifi to snapchat this freak of nature to our friends back in Toronto.  For some reason we decided to put our luggage in the roomy second row of the truck, instead of the bed and that probably was the most intelligent decision we made all day. Funny enough, there’s a well known saying around Alberta, “If you don’t like the weather you need not to worry as it changes every five minutes.”

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There was a few things on my wish list while in Calgary. Quintessential things that I was told by my friends I absolutely had to do and see while I was in town. First on the hit list: go to the iconic cowboy hat manufacturer Smithbilt to tour their facility and obtain one of their famous white hats that they have been proudly making since the 1940s. Considered a legendary symbol for the city of Calgary, the white Smithbilt hat has been presented by the city’s Mayor to visiting dignitaries, politicians, and celebs like the Dalai Lamai, Vladimir Putin, Prince William, Kate Middleton and even Oprah over the last 60 years – as the key to the city. After meeting the owners and learning the history, we were each bestowed with our own white Smithbilt before heading to the Alberta Boot Company. The Alberta Boot Company just doesn’t just make any run of the mill boots. They are known for designing and manufacturing the footwear for the Royal Canadian Mountie Police and consumers who are looking for custom cowboy boots. Cowboy boots are as classic as you can get, so it’s design aesthetic will never deviate far from the basic style of boot. Most would assume that Alberta Boot Company’s production technology may have changed to reflect the current times, but we were pleasantly surprised to discover that the way they made their boots 35 years ago, is still the exact same way they are making boots today.

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Clad in our western regalia in our pick-up trucks, our crew was finally ready to take on Stampede.  Attending a rodeo event in anything other than a pick-up truck would be blasphemy. The 2015 Canyon was tough enough for ranch life, chic enough for the streets of Calgary and still gave us some Aberta credibility. It has substantial power that makes it useful for trailering or hauling, but inside the cabin remains ultra quiet due to advanced interior engineering, while also being roomy enough for my crew and our gear. I am used to driving mid to large sized vehicles but for the others who are less familiar, they were happy to have the assistance of the standard rear camera to help them navigate in and out of parking spots. Truth be told, although categorized as a mid-sized truck, the Canyon handles more like a sedan.

I’ve heard many tales about the 10 day rodeo extravaganza, but was not at all prepared for what we experienced. The grounds, or otherwise known as the “Mainway” is a large version of a State Fair or carnival you may find in the U.S. Think – rides, games, merchandise vendors, and FOOD. Lots and lots and lots of food. If you were following along on snapchat, you were lucky enough to see what we were indulging in first hand. Everything was super sized and fried. Fried cheesecake, fried oreos, snickers, ice cream, pickles. You name it…it was there. Fried and delicious – as you can imagine but could only handle it for a day or so. We indulged in between catching all the action behind the scenes in the chutes. Frighteningly close to the horses, bulls and their ridiculously fit riders, I got a whole new appreciation for the sport. Every day at 1:15 over the near two week event, cowboys and cowgirls face off in a furious display of grit and skill, with each win building towards Showdown Sunday – the Rodeo’s main event.

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While in the chutes ducking dirt and manure from the horses as they kicked their way into the ring, I took advantage of this time to ask questions about how elite rodeo cowboys stay in shape. This is something that has always fascinated me. Their time on the horse or bull may be short, approximately 8 seconds, but those few seconds are a lot for the body to take. These athletes are on the road for months at a time, competing in more than 100 rodeos per year, often sleeping in motels with no gyms. They squeeze in push-ups in tiny rooms or against their trucks at rest stops. During my impromptu chat with one rider, he explained that it’s all about strength and core, “Being lean is crucial. You don’t want to get too big. The bigger you are, the harder you fall,”

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Click here to learn more about how the GMC Canyon is refining the mid-size pickup truck and head to GM.ca to learn more about the company’s complete brand portfolio. This experience was made possible by the amazing folks at General Motors Canada, and GMC brand team, in conjunction with Gary Sowerby and Lisa Calvi of Odyssey InternationalThe GMC Canyon experience is just one of many amazing adventures I have had with the GM crew. In case you missed it, make sure to catch my Chevrolet Colorado experience in Sqaumish, British Columbia here.

West Coastin’ in Canada Goose’s HyBridge Lite Jacket

Canada Goose HyBridge Lite Jacket

Although insanely beautiful, Vancouver is one of the trickiest destinations to pack for when traveling to it. Being a west coastal seaport city that’s close to the pacific ocean and mountains means that you can easily go through three climate changes in one day, especially if you’re into outdoor living and adventures.

Canada Goose HyBridge Jacket

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I recently went back to rediscover the city I briefly called home once upon a time and my Canada Goose HyBridge Lite jacket quickly became my favourite accessory on the trip. From scouting photo shoot locations, hiking Grouse Mountain, bike rides in Stanley Park, to long walks on the city’s Seawall, the HyBridge helped me tackle every activity that each came with a different weather element. When I no longer had use for my jacket when the day’s temperature was at it’s highest, the HyBridge brilliantly folds itself into the exterior left hand pocket, making it easy to store in a handbag or backpack.

Canada Goose HyBridge Lite JacketPhotography by Nathalia Allen Amillionminds.ca – Jacket c/o Canada Goose

Nobody can design outerwear for our Canadian landscape quite like Canada Goose. This jacket was carefully constructed for conditions that demand high performance, while still providing the necessary protection from the elements. Taking design cues from the original HyBridge, the Lite version is lighter and more fitted, allowing for a more flattering silhouette. With flexible fabric along the sides and weighing virtually nothing (less than half a pound), it’s the ideal piece for layering, active adventures and for fast packing. Not to mention, awarded “Editors Choice for Best Back Country Jacket” by Outside Magazine.

Click here for more information on the Canada Goose HyBridge Lite jacket. To view the entire women’s collection, head to Canada-Goose.com or follow the brand for style and adventure inspiration on Instagram and Twitter.

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