Wednesday, December 11, 2013
If you haven't seen WestJet's holiday video, The WestJet Christmas Miracle, you need to tune in. It's all about how WestJet and Santa teamed up to delight unsuspecting travelers with a real-time holiday surprise.
So how'd they do it? West Jet's Digital Command Centre and a team of 150+ merry WestJetters were transformed into Santa's helpers, delivering personalized gifts to travelers arriving at Calgary International Airport.
But it all started at Toronto and Hamilton International Airports in Ontario, where 19 hidden cameras captured travelers revealing their Christmas wishes with a virtual Santa Claus as they awaited to board their flights to Calgary. Upon arrival in Alberta, the travelers were totally surprised when a festively decorated baggage carousel sprang to life, bearing the gifts that had asked for just hours before.
Once the video reached 200,000 views (which was fairly immediate!), WestJetCares for Kids donated flights through Ronald McDonald House Charities, one of WestJet's six partner charities. By December 11, the video views topped 7 million.
I've only flown WestJet once, from Prince George to Vancouver, and I recall the crew and flight attendants being both helpful and friendly (plus one of them told some particularly funny jokes). The Canadian airline was founded in 1996 by a group of Calgary entrepreneurs, headed up by Clive Beddoe. Back then, it was a small western Canada regional carrier with just three aircraft flying to five cities. Today, it's Canada's leading high-value, low-fare airline with service to 76 destinations in Canada, the US, Mexico and the Caribbean. Its fleet includes 98 Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Two of my favorite holiday shows, A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) and A Christmas Story (1983), have Canadian connections. I recently watched a report on CBC's The National, and learned that Halifax drummer Jerry Granelli is the lone surviving musician of the Vince Guaraldi Trio. The popular trio provided the soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas (Guaraldi died in 1976).
Granelli, a San Francisco-born drummer who moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia in the early '90s, hadn't played the music since its debut nearly 50 years ago. But this past weekend, the 72-year-old musician took to the stage once again to play the familiar tunes, this time in Halifax. Read the complete story (with video) about the reunion of the drummer and the Peanuts gang on the cbc.ca website.
Also aging nicely is A Christmas Story, which turns 30 this year. Although Cleveland, Ohio gets all the glory for being the setting of the film, the classic holiday movie has Canadian roots. Here's an excerpt from the Canadian magazine Maclean's:
"Very little of the film -- two shooting weeks of nine, in fact -- were filmed in the city. In what may come as a blasphemous shock to American fans, the rest of the movie was filmed on a sound stage in Toronto and on location in St. Catharines, Ont."Read the full story here: A Christmas Story has surprising Canadian roots. No matter where it was filmed, it's a family favorite, and we'll be watching it this weekend.
If your travels take you to The Buckeye State, A Christmas Story House is open year-round in Cleveland for public tours. Now "restored to its movie splendor," Ralphie's house is located just across the street from A Christmas Story Museum -- which contains props, costumes and memorabilia from the movie (including Randy's snowsuit). And yes, you can even buy one of those famous leg lamps or deluxe bunny suit pajamas from Aunt Clara in the museum's gift shop. (Photo courtesy A Christmas Story House)
Thursday, December 05, 2013
The Fogo Island Inn won the National Cultural Tourism Award. The Newfoundland inn is at the top of my Canadian bucket list.
The Canadian Tourism Awards are presented annually by TIAC to recognize success, leadership and innovation in Canada's tourism industry. They also acknowledge the people, places organizations and events that have gone "above and beyond" to offer travelers superior tourism experiences in Canada.
2013 CANADIAN TOURISM AWARD WINNERS
Business of the Year Award (tie)
Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, Calgary, AB
Kingfisher Oceanside Resort & Spa, Courtenay, BC
Community Service Award
Delta Hotels in Halifax, Halifax, NS
Group Employee of the Year Award
The Fairmont Winnipeg, Winnipeg, MB
Employer of the Year Award
Rocky Mountaineer, Vancouver, BC
Convention Centre Event of the Year Award
Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, Montreal, QC
Innovator of the Year Award
Le Massif de Charlevoix, Baie-Saint-Paul, QC
Marketing Campaign of the Year Award
"Calgary, Our Doors Are Open," Tourism Calgary, Calgary, AB
National Cultural Tourism Award
The Fogo Island Inn, Fogo Island, NL
Small or Medium-Sized Business of the Year Award
Anderson Vacations, Calgary, AB
Social Media Initiative of the Year Award
"365 Days of Dining," Tourism Richmond, Richmond, BC
Sustainable Tourism Award
Bluewater Adventures, North Vancouver, BC
Experience of the Year Award
Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls, ON
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
|skoah on Seattle's Pike Street. Photo courtesy skoah.|
I first met skoah face to face (pun intended) when it opened in Vancouver's Yaletown neighborhood in 2001. It was somewhat revolutionary in the spa world back then, specializing in smooth skin, melted muscles and "no whale music." I experienced the Facialiscious, a deluxe facial that includes cleansing, exfoliation, extraction, massage and moisturizing. And my skin felt as soft as a baby's bum!
Chris and Andrea Scott's Canadian-based company has grown and expanded in the past dozen years, and now includes seven Canadian locations and two in Boston. Recently, they ventured south of the 49th Parallel again, opening three locations in the Puget Sound area: one in Bellevue and two in Seattle.
I had my first American Facialiscious a few weeks ago at skoah's Pike Street location (downtown Seattle, on Pike between Fourth and Fifth). They also have a location on Capitol Hill's Broadway, and one in Bellevue. Katie was my aesthetician, and she didn't disappoint. Not only did my face feel delightfully rehabbed, the masks and massages included in the treatment were most welcome.
Since my debut at the Vancouver spa, skoah has developed its own line of skin care products, all made in BC's largest city. Through customer and crew feedback, its original product line of five has expanded to 70 products, plus a proprietary make-up line. The skoah spa menu has 10 customized treatments, from a $45 Quickie to a Mancial facial for men -- which includes exfoliation of the feet.
With its tag line personal training for your skin, skoah employs skin care trainers who provide customized facials that they dub "skin care workouts" (sweat-free). And just like a gym, skoah offers memberships, which include product discounts and other member-only benefits. Use the coupon below to experience skoah yourself -- just book and use before Christmas Eve. A perfect pre-holiday gift for you or a friend!
Monday, November 25, 2013
|Creamy BC Spot Prawn Chowder by Chef Chris Whittaker|
Whittaker was among 13 Ocean Wise chefs from British Columbia who competed in the ocean-friendly seafood chowder contest at the Vancouver Aquarium on November 20, 2013. His Wild BC Spot Prawn Chowder took first place among the other competitors, including executive chefs from Vancouver's Fairmont and Four Season Hotels, Edible Canada, Coast and C Restaurant.
His dish, Creamy BC Spot Prawn Chowder, featured the classic flavors of smoked pork hock, white wine and thyme, and was finished with a soft boiled quail egg and pork crackling. It's been on the menu at Forage since Whittaker's initial win last year. "This chowder is so popular that I wanted to keep it on the menu," said Whittaker. "I took a chance and used the same recipe for this year's competition, so it will stay on the menu -- at least for this year!"
|Executive Chef Chris Whittaker of Forage|
Beer was also an important element of the evening, and Chef Paul Cecconi of Brodo Kitchen and Catering with CodFathers Seafood Market won the award for best pairing: Outlandish Mussel-Saffron Chowder paired with Red Racer ESB beer by Central City Brewers and Distillers.
Judges for the sixth annual event were:
- Guy Dean - Vice President and Chief Sustainability Officer, Albion Fisheries Ltd.
- Rob Clark - Co-owner of The Fish Counter and Ocean Wise chef partner
- Chester Carey - Serious Beer program instructor and certified cicerone
- Sid Cross - Food and wine aficionado
- Andrew Morrison - Founder of Scout Magazine
- Tim Pawsey - Food and wine journalist
- Jamie Maw - Food and wine journalist
November is Ocean Wise month, and consumers are invited to join the sustainable seafood movement by eating ocean-friendly seafood to keep the oceans healthy.