Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sleeping Around: My Best Sleeps of 2006 (Canada included!)

Doubletree Hotel Philadelphia has cute pillows. Photo by Sue Frause.

I slept around a lot in 2006. In fact, My head hit the pillow in more than 50 different hotels, inns and B&B's -- and even a tent or two. Here's my roundup of My Best Sleeps Sleeps of 2006.  Sweet Dreams in 2007!

Most Remote Sleepover: A tie between Callaghan Backcountry Lodge near Whistler, BC and the Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge in Quebec. Getting to both of these lodges was half the fun. We went in by snowmobile to Callaghan Backcountry Lodge and were transported by a vintage Bombardier to get to the Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge. Who can't sleep well after all that cold weather activity?

Best Surfin' and Sippin' Hotels: Kimpton Hotels features complimentary wireless Internet access and hosted evening wine hours in their properties. Enjoy both of these perks at Seattle's Hotel Vintage Park and Hotel Monaco, Pacific Palisades Hotel in Vancouver, BC and Summit Lodge & Spa in Whistler.

Jazziest Hotels: As a jazz lover I'm always happy to stay in a hotel whose lounge/bar features live jazz. Two of the best jazz rooms in hotels are located on opposite coasts. O'Douls Restaurant in Vancouver, BC's Listel Hotel features nightly jazz and The Kitano New York presents live jazz Wednesday-Saturday.

Best Alfresco Hotels:
The Crescent in Beverly Hills has a wonderful outdoor patio while dining at the hotel's restaurant Boe. It features an outdoor fireplace and comfortable banquette seating and is also a fun spot for cocktails. For true outdoor lovers, sign up for one of Blue Planet Kayaking's gourmet kayking trips in British Columbia. Sunsets, stars, sunrises and Mother Nature in all her glory...and with yummy cuisine to boot.

Best Literary Hotel: Hotel Wedina in Hamburg, Germany. The evening I arrived on the train from Bruges in Belgium, they were hosting a reading by a Swiss poet. Hundreds of authors who present their words and works in Hamburg's Literaturhaus stay at the Wedina --- and leave copies of their books in the hotel's impressive library.

Best Spa Hotels: More and more I like to stay at a hotel with a spa. Among my favorites in 2006 were the Wedgewood Hotel in Vancouver, BC (a jewel box of a spa but wonderful treatments); Absolute Spa at the Century Plaza Hotel in Vancouver, BC (book one of the lovely remodeled rooms); The Spaahh at Hotel 1000 in Seattle; Summit Lodge & Spa in Whistler with its Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa; the Four Seasons Resort Whistler for the ultimate in luxury; and the Romney Park Luxury Suites & Wellness Centre in Cape Town, South Africa (they also have a lovely outdoor swimming pool).

Best Shopping Hotels: The Four Seasons Vancouver is located in Pacific Centre, which houses one of Vancouver's leading fashion specialty department stores, Holt Renfrew. And for upscale grocery shopping, the month-old Pan Pacific Seattle in the booming South Lake Union neighborhood is just a zucchini toss away from the new Whole Foods Market.

Best Hotel City: You can't beat Montreal for classy hotels, impeccable service and all around four-star Quebec hospitality. This past year I stayed at the Sofitel Hotel, Le Place D'Armes, the Auberge Bonaparte and the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth. C'est bon!

Best Historic Hotels
: The amenities may not be cutting edge, but the history and the scenery at the Many Glacier Hotel and Lake McDonald Lodge in Glacier National Park make up for luxurious rooms.

Best Hotel to Have a Tom Douglas Weekend: Tom Douglas is one of Seattle's top chefs and Hotel Andra is right in the heart of his empire. In the lower lobby of the hotel is Lola, and across the street are the Dahlia Lounge, Dahlia Bakery and his new Simply Pie (best pizza in Seattle). Nearby are the Palace Kitchen and Etta's.

Best Hotels for Wildlife Sightings: Chobe Marina Lodge in Botswana and Thornybush Game Reserve in South Africa. Enough said.

Best Hotels for Other Wildlife Sightings: I've seen numerous celebrities in Vancouver, BC. Martin Short at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver; Halle Berry at the Metropolitan Hotel; Tom Sizemore at the Four Seasons Vancouver; and James Van Der Beek and Tom Arnold at the Sutton Place Hotel.

Best Small Hotel Chain: Aspen Investments, which owns The Hotel Max in Seattle and Hotel Lucia and Hotel de Luxe in Portland, Oregon among others.

Best Large Hotel Chain: I love Fairmont properties, and in 2006 I stayed at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Fairmont Queen Elizabeth in Montreal and Fairmont Royal York Hotel in Toronto. My goal is to stay at every one of their Canadian properties ... they do it right!

Best Urban Bed & Breakfast:
A Harbourview Retreat in Vancouver, BC. Located in the tony Point Grey area near the University of British Columbia, the 1912 restored Craftsman house is the perfect getaway for solo travelers or couples. Pacific Spirit Regional Park is nearby, along with good shopping on 10th Street and many dining options. Penny Crosby's breakfasts are a perfect way to start your day exploring this part of Vancouver.

Best Island Sleep Other Than My Own on Whidbey Island: Fairholme Manor in Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island. This lovely inn is always at the top of my list whether as a solo retreat, a place to hide out for a few days with my husband or a girls' getaway. Innkeeper Sylvia Main has put together a wonderful haven no matter what the season or reason and her breakfasts are legendary.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

BC's Okanogan Valley and Portland, Oregon are Frommer's hot spots

BC's Spirit Ridge Vineyard Resort & Spa. Photo by Sue Frause.

Last month, the editors at Frommer's Travel Guides and polled its authors, writers and experts and came up with a dozen "surprising, thriving, or emerging travel destinations." Included in the Pacific Northwest were British Columbia's Okanogan Valley and Portland, Oregon. Here is the complete list of places not to be missed in the coming year: Frommer's Top Travel Destinations for 2007.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

One Suite Deal at Vancouver Island's Aerie Resort

If you're in need of a holiday after the holiday, Vancouver Island's Aerie Resort is offering One Suite Deal now through Feb. 7, 2007. Savings are up to 30 percent.

The package includes overnight accommodation in a romantic master suite with fireplace, dinner for two and full breakfast for CDN $175.00 (USD $ 151.00) per person. It's
 available Sunday-Thursday, with discounted weekend rates also available. 

The Aerie was recently named one of the top hotels in the world by the readers of Travel & Leisure Magazine.

The Aerie is located in the lofty mountains of Vancouver Island and has spectacular mountain and water views. The Mediterranean style resort has a fully equipped fitness room and The Aerie Wellness Centre features a full selection of spa treatments.

Executive Chef Christophe Letard prepares French cuisine at The Aerie with a Pacific Northwest edge. Fresh produce from the nearby Cowichan Valley is a key element in all his menu items.
The Aerie is a 35-room hotel, located 30 minutes north of Victoria, BC on Vancouver Island. It is a member of the Relais & Chateaux collection of inns & hotels. For reservations, go to The Aerie's website
or call 800.518.1933.

(NOTE: The Aerie Resort is now closed)

Monday, December 18, 2006

Got Economy Class Syndrome? How to avoid Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Photo by Sue Frause
Long car trips and extended air travel can be hazardous to your health. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or Economy Class Syndrome is a blood clot that forms in the deep vein system of the lower leg -- usually between the ankle and the upper calf.

It occurs from sitting in the same position for an extended period of time and strikes one out of every 2,000 people in the general populus. According to the American Heart Association, it affects up to two million Americans every year.

Ames Walker, the oldest and largest compression hosiery online retailer, has developed a public service podcast for travelers.
It includes upper body and leg exercises to help prevent blood clots and is available at no charge for consumers to download onto their iPods and MP3 players by clicking HERE. On the website you'll find these helpful tips:
  • Avoid alcohol, tea or coffee
  • Drink plenty of water or juice
  • Avoid wearing tight clothing around the upper thighs and torso
  • Wear compression hosiery to prevent blood from pooling in legs
  • Walk around the cabin to regulate blow flow.
  • Perform in-flight exercises from your seat hourly (described in the podcast)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

ExOfficio opens Bellevue store for outdoor and travel apparel

ExOfficio, a premier outdoor and travel apparel brand, celebrates the grand opening of its new Bellevue store at Lincoln Square with some great give-aways.
 Stop by the store on Dec. 20 and you may win the following prizes:
  • Irresistible Travel Scarf: One of ExOfficio's top sellers, retail value $24, will be given away to the first 100 store visitors. 
  • Give-N-Go Stretch Underwear: Receive a free pair of ExOfficio travel underwear with a purchase of $75 or more. The travel underwear (retail value up to $25) dries quickly and allows you to pack fewer pairs.
  • Trip to Vietnam and Angkor Wat: Zegrahm Expeditions, an ExOfficio travel partner, is offering passage for two on their 2007 Vietnam and Angkor Wat expedition. The recipients will be outfitted by ExOfficio and board a small expedition ship for 17 days. Expert leaders and lecturers will journey with you from the World Heritage Site of Cambodia's Angkor Wat and Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong River Delta, Halong Bay and Hanoi. Retail value is $19,760.
The new ExOfficio store is located in Lincoln Square at 610 Bellevue Way NE, Suite 100 (next to the Westin Hotel). Hours are 9:30 AM-9:30 PM Monday-Saturday and 11 AM-7 PM Sunday. There are two other ExOfficio stores in the Bellevue-Seattle area at Belltown and Sea-Tac Airport.