Exploring Waterloo Region

Waterloo Region

Welcome to Waterloo Region, where preservation meets innovation.

Imagine a place where old traditions meet new, where urban meets rural, where nature leads to great adventures, where distinguished events and festivals unite friends and family, a place for you to explore…

As you know, I love going on mini road trips. I love escaping the city for a weekend and exploring the surrounding area. Sometimes my adventures take me as far as the Ottawa Valley, and sometimes – I stick closer to home. My last 24-hour fun filled trip was to Waterloo Region.

With the Pan Am / Parapan AM Games quickly approaching, I know a lot of people in the city are going to be looking for an escape. Sure, all the tourists and attention will be great for our economy, but if you are not attending the games or participating in any of the activities – you may be looking for a way to get away from the crowds, construction, TTC delays, etc.

The Waterloo Region is a perfect, quick getaway. There is plenty to see and do – and it’s only all about an hour outside of Toronto!

My 24-hour press trip in Waterloo Region was jam-packed with activities!

Waterloo Region

The first stop the bright and sunny Saturday morning was, of course, St. Jacobs Market. The St. Jacobs Market has been around for as long as I can remember. Even though there was a devastating fire back in 2013, that burned the main building down – the community thrived together and the market is doing better than ever.

The rebuild of main building is almost complete, and will actually be bigger and better than ever! In the interim – St. Jacobs Market put up a very large tent to house the majority of vendors.

Waterloo Region

The Market barn houses food and craft vendors; a food court and more vendors are located in the Peddler’s Village building and outbuildings known as the colony houses.

Spring through fall, a lively outdoor area showcases a huge mix of local producers, Old Order Mennonite farmers, a quality flea market, and a petting farm.

Waterloo Region

A recent addition to the St. Jacobs Market are select wineries. Once I saw one – of course, I had to stop by and chat with them!

Tawse Winery is an organic winery out of Niagara Region, that not only makes delicious organic wine, but they also win multiple awards! Such as Canadian Winery for three consecutive years, and they are also recognized by Decanter as the winery who produces the second-best Chardonnay in the world (number one in Burgundy).

I have not had the chance to try Tawse wines yet, however – I did receive a lovely housewarming gift last week and included was a bottle of Tawse Sparkling Wine!

Waterloo Region

Many of the visitors to St. Jacobs Market come for their weekly fresh produce shopping.

Local farms, many of which are home to Mennonites – set up shop at the market and have been doing so for many years.

Waterloo Region

In addition to the fresh, local produce, shoppers will find a variety of fresh meats and preserves.

There are also bakeries with amply supplies of breads and baked goods. You will also find a flea market called, Peddler’s Village at the St. Jacobs Market.

Waterloo Region

The St. Jacobs Market even have a cattle auction! In fact, it’s not just cattle that is auctioned offf – many farm animals are as well.

We got a chance to go into the stadium to see it.

There wasn’t an auction going on at the time – but you could smell the remnants…if you know what I mean!

Waterloo Region

You can follow St. Jacobs Market on Twitter HERE

You can like St. Jacobs Market on Facebook HERE

The St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market is OPEN:
• Thursday and Saturday:  7 am – 3:30 pm,  all year
• Tuesday Summer Market  June 16 – September 1, 2015, 8 am – 3 pm

Waterloo Region

St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway is North Americas finest “O” Scale Layout. Showcasing Southern Ontario during the 1950’s. Come see our huge world renowned display accurately portrayed to every last detail.

Waterloo Region

Another attraction I had the opportunity to visit was the St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway.

This unique model railway was all built by hand and has grown substantially over the years.

Waterloo Region

Built to depict Southern Ontario in the 1950s, this model railway has so many intricate details. As I mentioned, it was all hand built and painted.

Both major railways, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific weave through farmland, towns, and industrial areas and are all run by the conductors in the room upstairs.

Waterloo Region

When you visit, be sure to stay a little while because every half hour or so, the scene changes to night and the model railway is lit up with miniature streetlights!

You can follow St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway on Twitter HERE

You can like St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway on Facebook HERE

You can learn more about St. Jacobs & Aberfoyle Model Railway HERE

Waterloo Region

While visiting Waterloo Region – we also had the chance to catch a show at the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.

Operating year-round, the St. Jacobs Country Playhouse is a distinctive venue that features post and beam construction associated with traditional Mennonite architecture.  With 400 seats, the theatre auditorium has a raked layout that affords each seat a fantastic view of the stage.

Waterloo Region

Follow the misadventures of Miles Gladstone, a man who appears to have it all: a trophy wife, a successful business, and a happily married daughter.

But then life steps in, and things get a little crazy for poor Miles, who soon finds his entire world upended by a series of disturbing revelations.  His gorgeous wife leaves him, his conniving business partner cheats him out of the company, and his daughter’s marriage starts to crumble.  Worse yet, now that Miles wants his ex-wife back, he learns she’s dating a guy half her age. Time is running out for poor Miles – he just can’t win!

Warm, witty and wise, The Crazy Time is a timely commentary on the pursuit of happiness as one man scrambles to put the pieces of his life back together – with unexpected results.

Different shows are shown year-round at the surprisingly large and spacious St. Jacobs Country Playhouse.

You can learn more about St. Jacobs Country Playhouse HERE

Waterloo Region

Before heading home to Toronto, we stopped by the Waterloo Region Museum.

Waterloo Region Museum is the largest community museum in Ontario. Our main gallery tells the story of Waterloo Region and our feature gallery showcases local and travelling exhibits from around the world. Waterloo Region Museum is open daily and is the entrance to Doon Heritage Village.

Waterloo Region

Once inside we wandered around and took in the Ocean Bound! exhibit.

Ocean Bound! explores the science of watersheds, aquatic animals and oceans. Embark on a journey through watersheds to see how everyone’s actions on land affect our oceans. The exhibit presents fun hands-on science for the whole family!

Waterloo Region

After exploring that exhibit we went into the main hall which gave us a background on the region, its settlers and its history.

Then it was time to head outside to Doon Heritage Village.

Waterloo Region

Doon Heritage Village is a picturesque 60 acre living history village that shows visitors what life was like in Waterloo Region in the year 1914. The village comes to life with knowledgeable interpreters dressed in authentic 1914 clothing and features historic buildings, farm animals and fun activities the whole family will enjoy.

Waterloo Region

Though we were able to take our time and wander around to all of the different buildings, houses and spots in Doon Heritage Village, there were always knowledgeable interpreters (dressed in authentic 1914 clothing) to give some feedback and history.

If it weren’t for the interpreter – I would have tried to pet those big old pigs. Thankfully – she advised against it because they have extremely sharp teeth. LOL

Waterloo Region

All in all – Waterloo Region is a great, quick, escape from the city. There is a lot to do and even more to see!

Excite your taste buds at farmers’ markets, renowned restaurants and microbreweries. Find outstanding antiquing and hand crafted goods in St. Jacobs and be captivated by the largest outdoor market in Canada. Discover the Grand outdoors: camp, fish, paddle or make a splash at the water-park. Go wild at the Safari or unwind with butterflies. Take part in the largest Oktoberfest outside of Munich and the best Blues Festival in the province! Experience great entertainment including the KW Symphony, theaters, live music and ballet performances. Discover Mennonite culture that still exists today by visiting our Townships, going on a horse-drawn sleigh or trolley tour of a Mennonite farm or by visiting the Mennonite Story.

I’ll be sharing more posts about our stay over the next couple of days – so stay tuned!

You can learn more about Waterloo Region and start planning your trip HERE

Spa Day at The Briars

The Briars

The Briars continues to keep pace with Ontario’s growing tourism sector. In 2000, the opening of the Briars Spa met with enthusiasm by guests and day visitors. This state-of-the-art facility offers a broad menu of services in seven tranquil treatment rooms.

The Briars

As I have mentioned, the weekend I spent at The Briars was one of the most relaxing, de-stressing weekends I have had in a long time.  From delicious food, to an amazing Easter brunch, to just spending some quality time with my friend – the whole weekend was bliss.

And it didn’t stop there. Nope.

One of the other amazing amenities at The Briars is their spa.

Our spa is a perfect place to embrace the stillness of your body, mind and spirit with our complete spa facilities:

  • 2 Facial Rooms
  • 1 Treatment Room
  • 4 Massage Rooms
  • Hydrotherapy (swimming pool, whirlpool, and sauna)
  • Lounge Bar at Drinkwater’s Lounge

The Briars

My friend and I decided to each get different treatments during our stay at The Briars.

As she is training to compete in fitness competitions, her body was in dire need of some attention, so she opted for a Hot Stone Massage.

The lingering heat from the smooth river stones on the body will melt away muscular tension for a unique, soothing massage. You will experience a state of relaxation within minutes for a complete body, mind and soul treatment.

As she put it, it was 75 minutes of pure bliss! She actually said it was the best massage she has received in a long time. The stones were heated to the perfect temperature and after rubbing oil allover her body, her masseuse used the hot stones to massage her muscles. As I mentioned – due to her rigorous training, her body and muscles were extremely tense and this hot stone massage helped relieve some of that tension.  Every part of her body was massaged, from her head right down to her toes. She came out of the room looking like, and feeling like, she was on cloud nine!

The Briars

I opted for a facial. A Seawater Pearls Facial, to be exact.

A unique combination of seawater pearls & algae caviar in an ultra- moisturizing treatment that visibly plumps the skin, and gives a radiant complexion providing optimal relaxation. This comprehensive treatment relaxes and purifies the skin as well as delivers intense moisture. A generous application of serums, masks and creams is paired with an original face massage using seawater pearls to produce a delicious experience, all-round visible results and total bliss.

Results: Skin is more supple and comfortable. Lines are relaxed, the face is smoothed.

After recently attending the Vichy Works For Me Launch Event, I am now consciously making the effort to take care of my skin better. I mean, I want to continue being ID’d at the LCBO for as long as possible! LOL

I was brought into the room and seated on a warmed up bed. The heat was a pleasant surprise, and I was immediately feeling more relaxed. When my estitician came in, she explained what we would be doing and the different steps of the process. There were multiple serums, masks and creams applied over the course of 60 minutes. But to top it off, she also provided me with a scalp, neck, shoulder, arm and hand massage. She did this prior to the last mask being applied. After the mask was applied, she left the room for a few minutes, and I could feel myself falling asleep. I was so relaxed! After she came back and removed the final mask – I took my time getting dressed again. When I looked in the mirror, my skin was plump and radiant and incredibly smooth. It was amazing.

The Briars Spa offers a tranquil retreat cradled within our charming heritage resort on the shores of Lake Simcoe. We have something for everyone needing a blissful break from the world, including:

You can even book a special romance package including dinner, breakfast and a couples massage! How romantic would that be? Get away with your special someone, spend some quality time together and be pampered at the spa.

You can learn more about The Briars Spa HERE

Dining at The Briars

The Briars

Each day, you will wake up to a plentiful bountiful breakfast with both healthy choices and traditional favourites. Enjoy carefully balanced menus with extensive choices and flexible alternatives. Whenever possible, we use local ingredients, including many from our own gardens. We also offer an extensive selection of Ontario VQA wines, as well as a selection of international choices.

The Briars

The Briars dining room is host to guests, as well as locals alike. The menu is extensive – but not overwhelming.

My friend, who was on a restricted diet, was able to find something suitable each meal – and to top it off – the food was great!

The Briars

One thing my girlfriend and I kept saying while we were at The Briars, was that it felt as though we were in the movie Dirty Dancing and staying at Kellerman’s Resort. LOL

Nobody puts Baby in the corner.

This feeling was only heightened when we learned each overnight guest, with a meal package – had the same table reserved in the dining room for their stay. I loved our little table beside the fireplace!

The Briars

Our fine dining rooms have all been redecorated and are accented with crisp linens, silver plated cutlery, and fresh flowers or plants in season. The atmosphere is relaxed and sociable, with attentive dining room service. We offer a separate family dining area so that families and guests can enjoy their meals peacefully. The resort’s indoor spaces, including the dining rooms are non-smoking.

During our stay, we had two fantastic dinners.

The food was prepared fresh, using as many local ingredients as possible each course was just as delicious as the last!

The Briars

Maple Pear and Arugula Salad with Ontario cheddar, pickled red onion, toasted walnuts and a Ginger dressing

The Briars

Sautéed Ontario Pickerel with fingerling potatoes, asparagus, grilled sweet peppers, pommery and chive butter

The Briars

Icy Waters Arctic Char with roasted cauliflower risotto, sweet pea and Amaranth salad and a lemon honey dressing

The Briars

Crisp Half Chicken with speck and herb mash, aspargus, sweet peppers, roasted garlic and thyme jus

The Briars

9oz Canadian Angus Strip Steak  with herb mash, seasonal vegetables, mushroom ragout, in a peppercorn jus

The Briars

Chocolate and Raspberry Tartuffo with a shortbread cookie and fresh berries

The Briars

Chocolate and Mint Brownie and Milk Chocolate Cremeux with ice cream

The Briars

Briars Homemade Raspberry Pie with Ice Cream

The Briars Resort and Spa is dedicated to providing our guests with the freshest and best of all choices.

On Sunday morning, we feasted on the amazing Easter Brunch at The Briars.

The next morning, we were were not sure what to expect for breakfast. We weren’t sure whether it would be a continental breakfast or not. We were pleasantly surprised that it was again a a sit down, order from the menu meal.

The Briars

French toast with sausages, served with fresh strawberries, cinnamon butter and local maple syrup.

The Briars

Oatmeal, with granola, bananas, and raisins served with a fresh fruit cup.

We want to ensure we are serving you quality meals while leaving the environment in the best possible place for ongoing rejuvenation. In addition to using our own gardens on property, and using local produce as much as possible, we have also seen the importance in supporting sustainable seafood through the Ocean Wise Program, and feel that you will too.

You can learn more about dining at The Briars HERE

Easter Brunch at The Briars

The Briars

The Briars prides itself on tradition and Easter weekend is one of their notorious holidays.

Easter Brunch at The Briars is just one of the many festivities that take place Easter weekend.

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With a weekend full of activities, getting away to The Briars was sure to be fun!

Their social calendar for the guests was filled all weekend with yoga, bonfires, arts and crafts, photography walks,  a dinner and dance and an Easter egg hunt for kids and adults alike – there was no shortage of things to do at The Briars!

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On Easter Sunday, I woke up bright and early and participated in the Easter Egg Hunt. It was so adorable seeing everyone run around the resort looking for chocolates and the mysterious Golden Egg. Once it was found – prizes were awarded to the lucky ones who found the winning eggs.

I didn’t find any. Womp womp. 

After the Easter Egg Hunt – it was time for brunch! And this wasn’t your ordinary brunch. No, no. This brunch was a buffet with a little (more like, a lot) of something for everyone!

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The Easter Bunny came around, greeting every table with treats. So of course, I had to take a pic (ok, multiple) with him!

Craving your typical breakfast food? No problem.

You could choose from fresh omelets made to order, traditional eggs benedict, scrambled eggs, sausages, bacon, buttermilk pancakes, egg white and spinach burrito with havarti, salsa and guacamole and many assorted homemade breakfast breads.

Looking for something a little…heavier? Ok.

How about some roast prime rib of beef, yorkshire pudding, honey baked ham, roast pork loin, apple chutney with dates, grilled salmon, bok choy, shitake mushrooms, crisp chicken, spinach and ricotta cannelloni, seasonal vegetables, and/or potato gratin.

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No brunch is complete without mimosas, and The Briars know this!

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Not my fave, but there was an extensive choice of sushi and maki rolls, as well as dim sum.

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You know what would have went great with all this cheese?

…wine, obvs.

I spent way too much time at the dessert table. But – I regret nothing!

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Choosing between the Lemon and Raspberry Shortcake and Cream Cheese Carrot Cake was too difficult of a decision.

So we got a slice of each. LOL

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Pavlova is always a great dessert choice, am I right?

But really…my heart belonged to all of the macarons.

And when I say all, I mean…ALL. LOL

 

You can learn more about the Easter festivities at The Briars HERE

The Briars On Lake Simcoe

The Briars

The Briars evolved over 170 years from a working farm to one of Ontario’s prominent resorts.

buick briars

In 1878, Dr. Frank Sibbald fell in love with The Briars, purchased the property – and the property has stayed in the Sibbald family ever since. Not surprising, Sibbald Point Provincial Park, a popular camping destination on Lake Simcoe is actually just down the street from The Briars.

BriarsMap

The Briars grew over the years and a golf course was added in 1922. During World War II, The Briars Inn & Country Club was born.

During the 1970s, fulfilling a dream shared with his father, John Sibbald and his wife Barbara renovated the Manor House as a new centre for the resort, complete with guest rooms, games room and dining rooms. An outdoor swimming pool and several meeting rooms rounded out this first round of renovations. To meet growing demand, a wing with indoor swimming, fitness facilities and a congenial pub was added, larger meeting and conference spaces were created, and the resort began year-round operation.

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The drive to The Briars from Toronto is not that long. In fact, it only takes a little over an hour – making it a great weekend escape from the city.

When my friend and I arrived, the first thing we did after dropping our stuff off in our suite, was take a walk down by Lake Simcoe. Though the lake was still frozen over, it was a beautiful sight to see.

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Though it wasn’t too cold, compared to the winter we had here in Toronto – it was cold enough to not want to stay outside very long. LOL So we headed back to our suite where we fell in love with the view. We could see some of the grounds and actually Lake Simcoe, itself.

I spent a lot of time on our balcony, just enjoying the view and the peace and quiet that came with it. My weekend at The Briars was seriously the most relaxing 48 hours I have had in a long, long time.

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The Briars offers multiple dining options. You can purchase packages that include all of your meals, or you can go a la carte. There is the main dining room, where we had all of our meals that weekend, and there is Drinkwaters Lounge.

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Drinkwaters Lounge serves snacks and light meals, and is a great place for a relaxed meal or a cocktail. You can also enjoy live music and dancing on long weekends and most nights in July and August.

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The walls outside of Drinkwaters Lounge are lined with art created by local artists that are actually for sale.

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Six generations of the Sibbald family have transformed The Briars from farm to cottage community, to luxury resort and spa. John Sibbald followed in the footsteps of his forefathers when he chose to live at The Briars after leaving the coal dust of Toronto behind in the 1950s.

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The Briars is a large resort, however – you never not feel like you aren’t at a family owned bed and breakfast type of accommodations.

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When you visit, be sure to book a history tour with one of the more than eager staff, who will give you a tour of the history room and explain some of the background into The Briars and its rich history.

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Though located on Lake Simcoe, and widely popular during the summer months, obviously – The Briars is open year-round, and offers many winter activities.

Some of the winter activities that are included in overnight guest packages include cross-country ski trails, hiking trails, skating (on the pond or Lake Simcoe), and tobogganing on the mount. At an additional cost you can rent cross-country ski equipment, go snowshoeing, or even ice fishing.

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We took advantage of the decent weather and bicycles the area. We went all over the grounds, and even the surrounding area.

Although the property has changed over a century and a half, the genuine hospitality and beautiful natural surroundings of the Briars remain just as authentic as ever.

You can learn more about The Briars HERE

Heading North In The Buick Encore

Buick Encore

When I told my friends at Buick Canada that I had a fun-filled weekend planned with my friend from Vancouver – they graciously provided me with a 2015 Buick Encore for the festivities.

Buick Encore

2015 ENCORE: SIZED AND EQUIPPED FOR YOUR WORLD

The 2015 Encore is the ideally sized crossover for modern life. It uniquely combines efficient and versatile design with luxury, style and technology. The result is a vehicle perfectly suited to an active, spontaneous lifestyle.

The timing couldn’t have been better either! The day I picked up the car, Chevrolet Canada was running an activation, #TheBestDayEver. In the U.S., they ran their #BestDayEver on April 1st, and Chevrolet Canada continued the fun on April 2nd.

So when I picked up the Buick Encore – I met with a friend at Chevrolet who gave me some gift cards to share with random strangers – helping them to have their very own #BestDayEver.

I went in to multiple Starbucks and surprised people with gift cards and used others to purchase coffees and treats for those in line. I even went into Shopper’s Drug Mart and surprised some people with iTunes gift cards!

Buick Encore

After our mini staycation at One King West Hotel and Residences, we hit the road to head up north to The Briars, where we would be spending the weekend filled with rest and relaxation.

And pampering, obvs.
Buick Encore

Knowing we were going away for a girls weekend, Buick Canada surprised me with a couple “Road Trip Essentials” gift bags. Filled with Vitamin Water, Starbucks gift cards, magazines and snacks – these were such a great touch! We may or may not have nibbled on that delicious popcorn while having girl chat all night. I’ll never tell.

The empty bags left in the garbage in the hotel rooms, well – those tell a whole different story. LOL!

We may have stopped both on our way up north, and on the way back for fuel. And I don’t mean gas. LOL

#StarbucksFTW

Buick Encore

When I went to the Canadian International Auto Show for the Media Day preview with Chevrolet Canada, I learned more about how OnStar now offers Wi-Fi in certain vehicles, and teh 2015 Buick Encore is one of them!

New for 2015, Encore’s available next-generation iOnStar with 4G LTE2 — the simplest way to stay connected on the road. This all-new technology provides your Encore with a fast, reliable Wi-Fi® hotspot. Adding this new feature to Encore’s Buick iIntelliLink®3 Audio System, with its integrated full-colour 178 mm (7 in.) diagonal display screen, USB port4, iBluetooth®,4 available SiriusXM Satellite RadioTM,5 takes your connectivity to a whole new level.

Buick Encore

I am a very confident driver. I have driven a lot over the years; across countries, through the Rockies (both American and Canadian) and so much more. That being said…a little extra help is always nice! The rear camera, as well as Rear Cross Traffic Alert is a great way to both help with rear parking as well as monitoring the traffic crossing behind you.

When backing out of a parking space or driveway, Encore’s available iRear Cross Traffic Alert monitors for traffic crossing behind you, even from up to 20 metres (65 ft.) away. When the system detects a vehicle is about to cross your path, it alerts you with a red directional arrow on the centre-mounted rear vision camera display and with three audible beeps.

Buick Encore

We took our time heading up north. I took my friend on a mini tour around some of downtown Toronto. Explaining the different areas and pointing out great places to visit later that week when we got back into town. After a little while, and a long while being stuck in traffic on the DVP and 404 – we finally hit the open road and were able to enjoy some gorgeous views.

Lake Simcoe was still frozen, and my friend found that absolutely fascinating! She is from Vancouver, where the water doesn’t freeze over – so she’d never seen a frozen lake. I told her how some people actually drive out onto the frozen lake – but rest assured, we didn’t bring the Buick Encore out there! LOL

Fun Fact: Even with all of the city driving, driving to and from the airport, going to Oshawa and back, Brampton and back, Lake Simcoe and back – I only had to fill the tank once! The Buick Encore was AMAZING on gas! (9.5 L/100km city 7.2 L/100km hwy≠)

You can learn more about the surprisingly affordable 2015 Buick Encore HERE

One Night In The One King West Tower Prestige Suite

One King West
When you haven’t seen your best friend in over two years (gasp!) and they’re flying in to visit from Vancouver – you will want to spend as much quality time with them as possible.

So when my bestie told me she was coming out to Toronto and extending her stay so that we could hang out – I went into planning overdrive.

I wanted those few days we’d have together to be amazing.

So, that first night; after picking her up from the airport – we headed straight to One King West Hotel and Residences for a girls night in.

One King West Hotel and Residences hooked us up with the Tower Prestige Suite and goodness gracious – it was beautiful.

One King West

Our TOWER PRESTIGE feature suites provide the perfect romantic getaway. Situated along the edge of the “Sliver” tower, you’ll enjoy remarkable 270 ° views high above Toronto. The separate one-bedroom is furnished with a plush King-size bed and large-screen HDTV, while the modern bathroom entices with a large Jacuzzi tub.

One King West

One King West

If you’re following me on Snapchat (@awesomejennjenn) you would have seen some more pictures and videos from our suite.

It is a massive suite with windows in every room. The views span out across Lake Ontario, and all across Toronto. They were gorgeous both at night and during the day!

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The one bedroom suite came equipped with our own kitchen, and even a washer dryer. These suites would be perfect for an extended stay.

STANDARD AMENITIES

  • Plush King-size bed
  • High ceilings
  • Large windows that open
  • Kitchenette with fridge, microwave oven and dishwasher
  • Individual climate control
  • High-speed wired & wireless access (surcharge)
  • Electronic in-suite safe that fits a laptop
  • 47” 240 Hz, 3D-ready, Smart HDTV

One King West

One of the highlights of the suite was definitely the washroom. With a whirlpool Jacuzzi and massive windows – it couldn’t be more gorgeous.

A late night bubble bath with the Toronto skyline twinkling in the background = heavenly.

One King West

After staying up late having some quality girl talk – we hit the hay because we had an early start the next day.

We got up bright and early and headed downstairs to The Bistro on King for the breakfast buffet.

The Bistro on King is located in the hotel lobby and offers breakfast, lunch and dinner service. The cuisine is International and features a selection of artfully crafted sandwiches, pasta and grilled fare. Children up to 6 years of age enjoy our Breakfast Buffet FREE of charge. Children ages 7 to 12 receive a 50% discount for the Breakfast Buffet.

One King West

This buffet option worked out really well because my friend is in a specific diet, and there were still plenty of options for her to choose from. Personally, I stuck with the tried and true – eggs, toast, fruit and delicious sausages.

Perfect fueling for our road trip up north to The Briars!

One King West

After breakfast we decided to do a mini tour. We checked out the fitness facilities and even found our way out to a roof top patio for a quick photo shoot in the sunshine!

The fitness facilities at One King West Hotel and Residences were perfect for a quick workout! We She got a quick workout in and I made my VEDA YouTube video before we had to hit the road.

One King West

Burn some calories while revelling in a breathtaking panoramic view of Lake Ontario. Located on the 17th floor of the HISTORIC building, our Fitness Centre offers you a rooftop facility with state-of-the-art equipment and amenities, including:

  • Treadmills, stationary bikes & elliptical machines, each with their own TVs
  • Free weights & yoga mats
  • Separate men’s and ladies sauna
  • “King size” hot-tub
  • Revolutionary resistance pool

 

Though our time at One King West Hotel and Residences was short – it was a lovely mini staycation. I’m really looking forward to going back and planning a full staycation with all of the pampering a gal could handle!

You can learn more about One King West Hotel and Residences HERE

iYellow Wine Tour – #NiagaraChilled

This right here ladies and gentlemen is the look of a very happy gal!

A couple weeks ago my awesome friends at iYellow Wine Club invited me and a guest out on their iYellow Wine Tour. For this trip we headed down to Niagara Wine Country where we checked out three different wineries during the #NiagaraChilled event.
After boarding the iYellow Bus, we were given gift bags with all the essentials needed for a long day of wine tasting: water, snacks, note pads and pens and background information for #NiagaraChilled. On top of that, I showed up with a massive box of Timbits for everyone. Yup, I was THAT girl walking up and down the aisle of the bus offering Timbits to random strangers…
Anyways…moving on…

Stop One: Rosewood Estate

 

After being stuck on the bus for just over an hour, what better way to be greeted on your first stop of the day than with a warm mead cocktail?
Rosewood gets it.
Rosewood Estates is the Niagara Region’s first winery that is also a meadery. I know what you’re thinking, “JennJenn – what the heck is mead?” Well, mead is essentially honey wine! Mead is created with fermented honey, water and yeast. Boom – mind blown.

Fun fact: Mead was given to newly weds as a sign of good luck. They were meant to keep it for a full lunar month, and this is where the term “honeymoon” comes from.

My adorable friend, Jen came along with me for our fun-filled day!
After our mead cocktail warmed us up – we were given a mini tour of the facilities and then brought to a separate room for a private tasting. And by tasting – I mean game time!
The game? Guess the mead. We were given three different wines and the Rosewood Estates team did not tell us about each. Backwards, right? They were struggling not to speak passionately about each wine – but wanted to give us a chance to try and figure it out for ourselves. We sipped, swirled, and smelled each wine, taking notes of the different flavours. At the end, we were asked which we thought was the mead wine. I guessed correctly – *self high five* – and we all received mini bottles of honey before heading back to the front for some shopping. #Winning
Carbs, because – necessary for a day of drinking.
When asked to fill in my contact information…this is what happens
The 6 ain’t friendly but that’s where I lay up…

Second Stop: Pillitteri Estates

Pillitteri Estates was probably my favourite stop of the day. Mainly because our tour guide, Neil, was amazing. Hilarious, knowledgeable and just ready to have a good time. I you know me personally, you know I crack jokes and Neil was right there with me dropping the one liners with me.
That personal touch always adds to whatever experience you are having, right?
Casks on casks on casks
After explaining to us how the kids stole their fathers wine many years ago and entered it into a local contest in which they won BIG and that was basically how Pillitteri wines got their start – Neil took us around the massive property showing us all the different features.
I was having barrels of fun, I tell ya!
After monkeying around we headed back to the main quarter for our private tasting. We tasted 4…5…8….I lost count of how many, delicious wines. Upon hearing that your girl JennJenn over here is a fan of bubbles…they brought out a bottle for me to try. Which, I of course fell in love with and purchased for myself before leaving. Because, pink bubbles – obvs.

Third Stop: Inniskillin Estates

 

Our previous two tours may have run a little late (we were all a bunch of chatterboxes #oops), but we finally made it to (what I thought was) our last stop. Here we were seated in a private room with a long table set up for our lunch. And considering the amount of wine we had consumed all morning up until that point….lunch was a wise idea.
Lighting was terrible romantic down there and I’m still trying to figure out ins and outs of my new Samsung camera…sooooo…here is the one decent food shot I could get. LOL  Lunch was delicious though, with large portions of salad, brisket and sides…but my fave part was dessert.

Bread pudding FTW!

After lunch we were given a background on Inniskillin and tasted a few different wines. Their Cab Franc 2008 Icewine was a standout for sure.

Fun Fact: Once a batch is running low on bottles, Inniskillin will actually take them off of the for sale list so that they can hold onto a few.

Surprise Stop: Oast House

iYellow Wine Club surprised everyone on the tour with an unexpected stop at Oast House Brewery, one of the Niagara Region’s newest (and coolest) brewers!

 

We sampled a few tasty brews, and I fell in love with the Saison – which had hints of banana. It was nice to end the day off on a different note because we had been sipping sweet icewine all day. Plus…the space at Oast was just uber cool. They even had a ping pong table!

Huge thanks to iYellow Wine Club for bringing me out for an amazing day, that may have been referred to as “The. Best. Day. Ever!” a few times…

If you’re still looking for some Valentines Day plans – might I suggest heading to the iYellow Wine Cave and sampling some delicious South African wines? iYellow Wine Club is hosting a “I Love South Africa” event that day and you can even enter to win a trip for two to South Africa!
If you win…I will keep my calendar open to join as your plus one…just saying.
I’ll be at the afternoon session on Valentines Day – so let me know if you’re coming so we can cheers to a glass of wine…or two!

TBT – Antiquing in Almonte

Almonte Antique Market
 Jenn Samsung Camera - Dec 15 2014 990
The last stop in Almonte was to spend a little time antique shopping at the Almonte Antique Market.

Tough life I live, eh? Shopping? Ugh! Twist my rubber arm, why don’t you?

Anywho…this indoor market didn’t look like much from the outside – but when you stepped in – holy smokes! With multiple levels, and hundreds of vendors – we ended up spending so much time here we almost missed our lunch reservations!
The Almonte Antique Market had everything from clothing and jewelry to housewares and furniture. Comic books, posters, trinkets, there was so much to look at and appreciate!
Below are some of the amazing finds at Almonte Antique Market.
 Jenn iPhone December 23 2014 236
Jenn iPhone December 23 2014 239
Jenn iPhone December 23 2014 241
Jenn iPhone December 23 2014 245
Jenn Samsung Camera - Dec 15 2014 993
Jenn iPhone December 23 2014 237
Jenn iPhone December 23 2014 243

You can learn more about the Almonte Antique Market HERE

Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum

Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum
Sometimes – there are places that do only one thing…and they do it really, really well. When I went to Almonte, ON – I was lucky enough to visit one such place – Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum.
Now – off the hop, I have to tell you that getting to Wheelers Pancake House from Almonte, ON was not an easy task. There were many times we seriously questioned whether we were going the right way. We had to drive down narrow, winding roads that were covered in snow and ice. And on top of that – we barely had any phone signal so we couldn’t even check Google Maps or anything!

Note to self: If the car you are driving does not have GPS – print paper maps when you are in rural areas!

Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum
Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum

But, alas – we made it!

Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum
The Wheelers Family
Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum is a family run business. Back in 1978, Vernon and his wife Judy tapped their first trees and their business hasn’t stopped growing since! Not only do they have the Wheelers Pancake House on the massive property, there is also the Wheelers Maple Heritage Museum, Wheelers Sugar Bush, barns and playgrounds and you can even go along the trails year-round.
Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum
Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum
We only had enough time on our agenda to grab some lunch at Wheelers Maple Pancake House. So after we placed our orders I went to check out some of the maple offerings available. Everything is made on site! If you are a maple lover, (c’mon – who isn’t?) you will be in heaven here! Maple sugar, maple butter (yes – butter!), maple candies and pure maple syrup are all available. You can even purchase gift baskets and wedding/party favours!

A maple themed wedding…how Canadian would that be? LOL

Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum
The menu at Wheelers Maple Pancake House is…minimal. But, being a pancake house – what else would you expect? LOL We had been craving pancakes all day and were excited to finally get to Wheelers after an epic* drive from Almonte. We each ordered pancakes with sausages and got one dish with a slice of french toast…just for good measure.

*epic = scary

 

Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum
Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum
As expected, the breakfast for lunch dishes were delicious. The pancakes were massive. Seriously…like the size of my face and I’ve been told I have a big head…so…yeah…LOL
The Wheeler family combined several local and Mennonite recipes to come up with their secret, signature pancake recipe. And the sausages…well, of course they were maple sausages and of course they were fantastic. Obvs. Made on site with lean pork, spices and their very own pure maple syrup. Delicious.
If you are in the Ottawa Valley, passing through – definitely stop by Wheelers! It’s well worth a visit!

You can learn more about Wheelers Maple Pancake House, Sugar Camp and Maple Museum HERE

Disclaimer: Lunch was complimentary as part of the Press Trip to Lanark County, however my views are, as always – entirely my own and those maple sausages really were bomb dot com.