I Backpack Canada » Hotels http://ibackpackcanada.com A backpackers travel guide to Canada Tue, 24 Feb 2015 16:26:51 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 Superb Snowboarding and Luxury Resorts in the Columbia Valleyhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/superb-snowboarding-and-luxury-resorts-in-the-columbia-valley/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/superb-snowboarding-and-luxury-resorts-in-the-columbia-valley/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 02:35:41 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5734 Superb Snowboarding and Luxury Resorts in the Columbia Valley is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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I recently took a weekend trip to Columbia Valley, in beautiful British Columbia. My girlfriend and I were set on experiencing some of the famous snowboarding of the Purcell Mountains. With dozens of mountain resorts within a close distance perfect for skiing and snowboarding, we opted to check out Panorama Mountain Village, and the Fairmont Hot Springs Ski Resort.

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A Scenic Sunset Drive Through Columbia Valley

The Columbia Valley is  only a 10 and a half hour drive from our home in Saskatchewan. We were incredibly fortunate with safe and clear highways, which allowed us both to enjoy the scenic drive much more. Our drive west through the Rockies and into the Purcell Mountains was stunning. Somehow we managed to time it perfectly, so just as we were on the last hour of our trip, we were greeted with a superb sunset.

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We were surrounded by the silhouettes of mountains as we pulled into the small town of Radium Hot Springs. After a brief 10 minute tour of town we came across the Bighorn Meadows Resort, a luxurious all-season resort in conveniently located close to just about everything in the Columbia Valley. As luck would have it, this was to be our stay for the weekend. Checking in was a breeze, and within no time my jaw was dropped & I was gushing over the suite. Heated bathroom floors, jacuzzi, king sized bed, kitchen, and a gorgeous patio view of the Purcell Mountains, leaving this place wasn’t going to be easy come Sunday.

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The alarm sounded and we were greeted by a beautiful winter sunrise. After some coffee we proceeded to pack up for a day on the slopes. My girlfriend, being a novice snowboarder, was incredibly intimidated by the size of these mountains. Having snowboarded these parts almost a decade ago I was able to assure her that if young Corbin could survive it, so could she. Up until now, she had only ever experienced the small valley snowboarding found in Saskatchewan. She laughed nervously, but it was clear she was excited to see what it’s like in the “big leagues”.

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We suited up, grabbed the gondola, and proceeded to the chalet of Panorama Mountain Village. We stared up at the panorama of mountains, and laughed at how well named this place is. Getting good photos of this place was going to be a breeze.

Stay tuned for a photo essay of the Columbia Valley! Special thanks to Columbia Valley Tourism and Bighorn Meadows for hosting us in this beautiful part of Canada.

 

Superb Snowboarding and Luxury Resorts in the Columbia Valley is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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A Winter Adventure Awaits in the Columbia Valleyhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/a-winter-adventure-awaits-in-the-columbia-valley/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/a-winter-adventure-awaits-in-the-columbia-valley/#comments Sat, 01 Feb 2014 04:50:41 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5717 After 10 long, incredibly scenic, hours driving from Saskatchewan to British Columbia, I’ve finally arrived in Radium Hot Springs, home of some of Canada’s most well known luxury resorts including Bighorn Meadows Resort, along with some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Canada. With the help of Columbia Valley Tourism, I’ve been asked to […]

A Winter Adventure Awaits in the Columbia Valley is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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After 10 long, incredibly scenic, hours driving from Saskatchewan to British Columbia, I’ve finally arrived in Radium Hot Springs, home of some of Canada’s most well known luxury resorts including Bighorn Meadows Resort, along with some of the best skiing and snowboarding in Canada. With the help of Columbia Valley Tourism, I’ve been asked to join a group of writers and bloggers to partake in as much of this little slice of Canadiana as possible.

The gameplan includes snowboarding at Panorama where I’ll no doubt enjoy a couple coffees and a bite to eat at their mountain village. Après-ski will likely include a cold BC Beer (or two), and a hot soak in the Hot Springs. It’s been more than a few years since I’ve been able to make it to BC for some snowboarding, so I fully expect each and every bone & muscle to be aching the following day. Hopefully the Hot Springs will heal me up as best as possible, because the next day I’ll be strapping the bindings back on, and heading to Fairmont Resort to do it all over again.

In between snowboarding and hitting the spa, I’ll be sampling the food, drinks, culture, and keeping an eye out for the any local fauna that get within range of my camera, so be sure to follow along on Twitter or Instagram.

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How to deal with Bed Bugs Like a Champhttp://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-deal-with-bed-bugs/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/how-to-deal-with-bed-bugs/#comments Wed, 07 Aug 2013 14:34:16 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5577 When you stay in hostels & hotels long enough, you will get bed bugs at some point. It’s just the way it is. No bed is immune to them. From the Ritz, to the budget hotels, to your local hostel. You can’t expect to share a bed with hundreds of travellers and be the lucky […]

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When you stay in hostels & hotels long enough, you will get bed bugs at some point. It’s just the way it is. No bed is immune to them. From the Ritz, to the budget hotels, to your local hostel. You can’t expect to share a bed with hundreds of travellers and be the lucky one who remains impervious to their nibbles. You might get them in the first week, the first month, or maybe a couple years. For me, it was 4 and a half rotations around the sun after starting my adventures in hostels.

Bed bugs hit the Central District

Upon first glance at the red dotted lines they left, I laughed. “Maybe it’s just a rash”, I thought. It wasn’t. I asked my girlfriend to inspect me further, and we found further bites. Under situations like these, many people will hastily jump to action, blaming the hostel, the cleaners, and even their bunkmates for dragging in these vile creatures. I don’t recommend that route. Travel is met with countless unexpected situations, treat this just like a wrong turn that turned into another ride. These things can be dealt with in a civil manner.

Step 1. Confirm They Are Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are nearly impossible to see, most won’t be seen until they’ve had enough you-juice to fill them up to a visible level. So in most cases, don’t trust your eyes. Chances are you’ll see their bites before them. They feast while you sleep, enjoying what the experts like to call as “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner”, on account of the 3-4 pockmarks they leave in a straight line. Inspect your entire body to see if they got you anywhere else.

Protruding foot

Step 2. Inform Staff Quietly

There’s no sense in screaming at the top of your lungs in hopes that your decibel level will effect the amount of help you’ll receive. Calmly find a staff member at the front desk and pull them aside from other guests and explain that your room may have an issue while showing them the “track marks”. Most people in hospitality have been trained to deal with them upon first glance of the bites. They will advise you of their procedures, and will help you in all ways possible. You might worry that they’ll be mad at you, but know that they are unable to track where bed bugs came from. They could have been in the bed long before you got there. Or yes, perhaps you dragged the critters in with you. It is usually policy for staff to contact any hostels or hotels that you may have stayed in previous to your visit there to ensure the problem is dealt with completely.

Biohazard

Step 3. Wash, Kill, & Decontaminate

Depending on where you’re staying, staff may do this for you if you’d like. If the thought of hotel staff touching your under-gotch gives you the queezee’s, they’ll likely assist you in the decontamination process. When it comes to getting rid of these things, heat is your saviour. Wash everything you’re wearing, everything in your bag, and if possible, the bag itself in the hottest water you can get, followed by drying everything in the hottest dryer you can find. Most hostels and hotels will cover this charge for you if it’s coin operated laundry.

Bags, shoes, and anything else un-washable may not be able to be soaked, so in those cases, a steam machine may be used to heat everything up hot enough to kill the little critters. Other methods include putting everything unwashable and placing it into black garbage bags and leaving it in the hot sun for a day.

Hostel Room

Step 4. Disinfect the Room (Hotel/hostel does this part)

This step usually doesn’t involve you. Staff will likely check surrounding rooms, usually entire floors to ensure the bed bugs haven’t spread elsewhere. Depending on the procedures, they may heat the infected room up to a point where the bed begs & their eggs (yes, they lay eggs, lots of them) will die. Many procedures also include some heavy chemicals, meaning that room is going to be off limits for a few days while everything is dealt with.

Bed Bug Bites

Step 5. Heal Those Bites

Many people suffer from allergic reactions to their bites. Bed Bug spit has a numbing effect on the area, which allows them to bite you through the night, going completely unnoticed until you wake up. While many people find the bite marks will go away on their own after a handful of days, others will require medication in order to heal those marks. My bites unfortunately got infected, leading to a good portion of my arm turning an off-red off-purple. The bite marks began to swell, puss, and bleed. A quick stop at a walk-in clinic, and the doctor prescribed some heavy duty topical hydrocortisone cream along with some variety of penicillin in pill form. Within a few days, I was fully healed, with the exception of some scars. Most people don’t have this reaction, just be wary that it can happen.

Step 6. Speak to the Hotel/Hostel

Ensure that your hotel or hostel understands you’ve been inconvenienced by this situation; however, please note that they have been as well. You can cry all you want, but besides having them comp you a dinner, or a couple beers, or if you’re really lucky, a free night, there’s a good chance you’re not going to see much else in return. You didn’t win the lotto by being bitten by these bugs. You are just another statistic in the widespread travels of these blood-sucking critters. You did however earn a tremendous story, and a few shocked gasps from those who don’t realize how incredible common bed bugs are throughout the world. Wear those bites with pride, and treat them as an education tool to other travellers.

While waving around my own bed bug bites, I had many people ask if I gave the hostel 0 stars on Yelp. I’m sure I considered it, but there’s really no proof, I simply don’t know where I got them. It could have been from a bus, plane, train, or car seat, it could have been from a bed, a towel, who knows. Even if I was 100% sure I got them from a specific place, I don’t feel like that would be a valid representation of the hostel. This kind of stuff happens. Bed bugs are just part of the tourism industry. If I need to get nibbled on here and there in order to experience the world, so be it. Eat me bed bugs!

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Grilled Cheese, Mill Street Beer, A Museum of Shoes, & a Heckuva Timehttp://ibackpackcanada.com/grilled-cheese-mill-street-beer-a-museum-of-shoes-a-heckuva-time/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/grilled-cheese-mill-street-beer-a-museum-of-shoes-a-heckuva-time/#comments Mon, 24 Sep 2012 15:54:42 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=4833 Toronto! I somehow end up in this magnificent city at least a few times a year. Despite meandering through it occasionally, I’ve never been back and not found something unique and new to see, do, or try. The Cross-Canada Travel Blogger Tour, put on by the Canadian Tourism Commission, not only gave me the opportunity […]

Grilled Cheese, Mill Street Beer, A Museum of Shoes, & a Heckuva Time is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Toronto! I somehow end up in this magnificent city at least a few times a year. Despite meandering through it occasionally, I’ve never been back and not found something unique and new to see, do, or try. The Cross-Canada Travel Blogger Tour, put on by the Canadian Tourism Commission, not only gave me the opportunity to meet a handful of other incredible writers and bloggers, but opened the doors to a few places in “The Big Smoke”, that I’d never got around to seeing.

In true rockstar fashion, I was swept up by a limo company as soon as I landed in Toronto, and brought to the Cambridge Suites in downtown Toronto. While I’m used to public transport and splitting cabs with fellow airportee’s, I have to admit, having your own driver is something I could get used to. After dropping off my backpack in these luxury Toronto Suites, I promptly grabbed the 505 Streetcar to Chinatown. Chinatown; however, wasn’t my destination. A short walk and I was back in one of my favourite neighbourhoods of Toronto. Kensington Market.

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Kensington Market

The streets of Kensington Market are filled with local produce, small restaurantes, patios, vintage shops, hand made crafts, and the occasional smell of incense. For those who’ve ever been to Australia, I like to compare this area of Toronto as “Byron Bay”, but without the beach. It’s a gathering place for free-spirits, hip young adults, and people interested in seeing a local side of Toronto.

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Having not eaten in 7 hours, my gut was beyond grumbling. It was screaming at me to feed it. Everything looked so good though, and decision making has never been a skill I’ve excelled at. Mexican? A bakery? Burgers? Pub grub? Then, of the corner of my eye, I gazed upon The Grilled Cheese. I B-lined it there, and ordered the best Grilled Cheese sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

After inhaling a tremendous amount of cheese, I ran into a fellow Cross-Canada travel blogger, Frankie Bird of As the Bird Flies. As someone who’s been to Kensington Market a handful of times I was nominated as leader. In true Canadian fashion, I found beer. Mill Street beer, Steamwhistle & Tankhouse to be exact. The patio of The Last Temptation is one of my favourite spots to people watch in Toronto. The patio & window seating is just high enough to observe a bit of everything going on around you, and the food & drinks are surprisingly easy on the pocket.

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The Bata Shoe Museum

After intros and pitchers of beer, it was time to see some more of Toronto. While we discussed the possibility of the CN Tower, as well as the Royal Ontario Museum, it was the Bata Shoe Museum that won our attention. A museum dedicated to the history of footwear. Thousands of years of it! Hands down one of the most interesting and cute museums I’d ever been to. It also gave me a huge appreciation for the sneakers I wear, and added even more respect to women for putting up with some of the uncomfortable footwear they’ve endured in the past, and continue to occasionally wear today.

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Pimm’s, Gin, & a Filet Mignon

By 630pm the rest of the group had congrugated to the lobby of the Cambridge Suites, and we left as a group to Easy & Fifth. A trendy and unique restaurant located a short old-fashioned elevator ride above one of Toronto’s funnest clubs. It was there that I enjoyed Pimm’s & Gin, tackled a lovely salad, then finished it off with what might have been the tastiest and best cooked filet mignon I’d ever ordered.

For 24 hours in Toronto, we squeezed in a bunch, but we’d only just scratched the surface, and there was more TIFF & Toronto sights, sounds, and eats to take in. All in all, a great way to start off a superb trip catered to showing the world a slice of Toronto.

Grilled Cheese, Mill Street Beer, A Museum of Shoes, & a Heckuva Time is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Toronto Loves Honeybees!http://ibackpackcanada.com/toronto-loves-honeybees/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/toronto-loves-honeybees/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2012 15:41:49 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5226 The shoo-ing of bees is a rather normal thing for most. Who wants to be stung by some little pest? I too am guilty of cursing at those little, fuzzy, yellow & black bugs. While my ignorant hand is swatting the air aimlessly like a fool, there is a pro bee movement that is bringing […]

Toronto Loves Honeybees! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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The shoo-ing of bees is a rather normal thing for most. Who wants to be stung by some little pest? I too am guilty of cursing at those little, fuzzy, yellow & black bugs. While my ignorant hand is swatting the air aimlessly like a fool, there is a pro bee movement that is bringing attention to a huge threat to the worlds food supply. Some superb initiatives are taking place in Toronto, forcing many people to put down the fly swatter, and think twice before attacking a curious honeybee.

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Toronto Beekeepers Co-operative

The Toronto Beekepers Co-operative started around 2002 with a small group of volunteers that worked hand in hand with experienced beekepers. The movement for beekeeping in Toronto’s urban core was born. Their goal is simple, to educate the public about the value of bees to Toronto’s landscape and ecosystem. I caught up with the Toronto Beekeepers Co-operative at the Live Green Toronto Festival in July, where new recruits and volunteers happily educated curious attendees, both young and old. While most were watching the live music acts, I was drawn to the beekepers white tent and superhero-esque safety masks.

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Local Toronto Honey Products

The Toronto Beekepers Co-operative not only explained the importance of honeybee’s in the environment, something most people are aware of these days, but they also sold local made goods, such as lip balm, hand creams, and yes, jars and jars of honey. They happily showed that there isn’t anything to be scared of with Honeybees. They’re quite peaceful and will only attack if you’re posing a threat to the hive. They have better things to do, like pollinating the worlds food supply and hanging out with their very extended family.

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Fairmont Royal Yorks Grassroots Movement

I had a great grandfather who was a beekeeper in Saskatchewan. He passed away when I was young, but my mother would always remind me how smart of a man he was. He farmed most of his life, made his own batteries, rebuilt a train caboose just because he could, and whenever a part in his vehicle would break down, he’d make a replacement part rather than go out and buy one. Aside from being a jack of all trades, he must have had a sweet tooth, because he kept multiple hives throughout his years.

I always felt that the ingenuity of yesteryear had gone the way of the dinosaurs. That is, until I heard about the success at the Fairmont Royal York in downtown Toronto. This “grassroots” movement isn’t just for the alternative lifestylists living off the grid. The Fairmont Royal York is taking a very eco-friendly and local approach to some of the goods and services they offer to their guests.

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The Fairmont Royal York’s Apiary

The Fairmont Royal York has been using the roof of their historical hotel to care for six beehives. With the help of the Toronto Beekeepers Co-operative they are now using this local on-site honey in many of the dishes they serve to their guests. The success of this first roof-top apiary encouraged other Fairmont Hotels across North America to join the movement. During peak season in the summer, over 350,000 honeybees live and thrive in the six beehives on Toronto’s Fairmont Royal York, producing roughly 450 pounds of Fairmont honey per year!

Pro Tip

The Fairmont Royal York has also been growing their own herbs. Order a Mojito at the bar, the crushed mint leaves you find in your glass were literally picked from the roof of the hotel. I should also mention they’re delicious.

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The Fairmonts Homegrown Experience

This eco-friendly, local movement is a superb edition to the Fairmont Royal York’s already astounding hotel. The hotel is conveniently located across the street from Toronto’s Union Station, which worked out perfectly with my cross Canada by VIA Rail adventure. If there’s a place to splurge after being on the Train for hours, it’s got to be in Toronto’s Fairmont. Seeing a big city like Toronto paving the way for more homegrown experiences is something Torontonians should be extremely proud of!

Cities are evolving quickly as more and more people leave the rural parts of Canada to live in a big city. I can’t help but feel like we’re making steps in the right direction. This desire to be a little more self sufficient, a lot more green, and best of all, living in symbiosis with the world around us, including plants, animals, humans, and fuzzy, black and yellow insects.

Big thanks to the folks at Toronto Tourism for helping show off their city, and extra big thanks to the Fairmont Royal York for letting me kick back and explore their hotel for a night. 

Toronto Loves Honeybees! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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A Local Quebecois Experience at Le Massif’s Hôtel La Fermehttp://ibackpackcanada.com/a-local-quebecois-experience-at-le-massifs-hotel-la-ferme/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/a-local-quebecois-experience-at-le-massifs-hotel-la-ferme/#comments Mon, 20 Aug 2012 17:14:00 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=5147 Travel has been evolving for generations, but one of the most profound changes in recent years within this massive industry is peoples desire to do no harm, to see the world in the most ecologically friendly way possible without sacrificing comfort and style. While companies strive to make less of an impact by decreasing their […]

A Local Quebecois Experience at Le Massif’s Hôtel La Ferme is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Travel has been evolving for generations, but one of the most profound changes in recent years within this massive industry is peoples desire to do no harm, to see the world in the most ecologically friendly way possible without sacrificing comfort and style. While companies strive to make less of an impact by decreasing their emissions and making changes to how their business operates, travellers too are choosing accommodations that go above and beyond eco friendly. Places that serve not only local food, but offer a unique experience that simply can’t be found elsewhere. No place is more relevant to this new form of travel than Le Massif’s new 4 season hotel, “Hôtel La Ferme” in Charlevoix, Quebec. After arriving in Quebec City by VIA Rail, I managed to find myself on another train to Charlevoix.

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Montmorency Falls to Charlevoix by “Le Train”

Getting to Hôtel La Ferme  in Charlevoix Quebec is half of the adventure. While driving is an option, to truly take in the experience you’ll want to catch the train. From downtown Quebec City you’ll need to drive, cab, or bus to Montmorency Falls. Be sure to show up early to take in Quebec’s famous Waterfall and snap photos of the small bridge that crosses overtop. If you find yourself above the falls you’ll want to take the Gondola down ($10.39 Round Trip per Adult). Waiting patiently at the bottom of this magnificent vista is Le Train. Le Massif’s luxury locomotive that travels between Quebec City to Baie-Saint-Paul and onwards to La Malbaie.

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The ride north by train to Baie St Paul and La Malbaie includes some impeccable meals made with local Quebec produce along with one of the best views of the Fleuve Saint Laurent (Saint Lawrence River). In true “Cirque du Soleil” fashion, the entire journey is orchestrated with video, music, and a live map of the trains location in Charlevoix. Throughout the entire journey you’ll learn about the history and importance of this region with the help of an array of iPads found on each dining table. After experiencing the sights, sounds, and tastes from the train, disembark at Baie-Saint-Paul – the train literally stops right beside the hotel!

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What sets Hôtel La Ferme apart?

Le Massif’s hotel/hostel/resort hybrid is something completely original and unique to not only Quebec, but Canada. Daniel Gauthier, the man who co-founded the internationally acclaimed “Cirque Du Soleil” is behind this incredible project. This new 4 seasons hotel is home to swiss inspired luxury rooms along with budget friendly hostel dormitory rooms, perfect for a group of friends on a ski getaway or the lone vagabond exploring Charlevoix. The backyard gardens play a large role with Hôtel La Ferme’s restaurant “Les Labours“, which uses produce they grow themselves in all of it’s meals. This new eco-local-friendly hybrid accommodation provides access to some of Baie St Paul’s most beautiful walking trails and some of the best views of the Fleuve Saint Laurent (Saint Lawrence River).

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The idea is to appeal to not only high end travellers looking to relax, but university students and budget travellers. Young adults who want to hit the slopes of Le Massif during the winter while being given an affordable and luxurious room. While these different types of travellers are in separate buildings, they share access to a common lounge, bar, cafe, performance center as well as “Les Labours” – more on it below. The idea is to promote social engagement, and giving equal access to the luxury amenities that are available at Hôtel La Ferme.

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The Hotel Rooms of Le Massif’s Hôtel La Ferme

Not a single detail has been missed at what is likely to become one of Quebec’s most popular tourist destinations. Between the beautiful Canadiana art, the locally produced blankets that adorn each bed, to the salvaged wood from the Charlevoix area that can been seen throughout the hallways and rooms across the entire complex. Beautiful oak hardwood floors can be seen in each and every room, along with some sturdy hand-made cabinetry. A plasma screen TV, iPod/iPhone ready stereo and a “Nesspresso” machine with pop in espresso capsules can be found in each hotel room.

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Stepping foot into the bathroom is like walking into something you’d expect to see in the TV show “Cribs”. The glass walled shower sports two shower heads, perfect for those who don’t like to shower alone. Don’t forget to try out their luxury soap, shampoo, and conditioner, it will blow that Pantene ProV you brought along out of the water.

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Hôtel La Ferme Reinvented Hostel Rooms

It’s been my experience that the majority of hostels tend to suffer from shoddy bedding, cheap mattresses, loud, squeaky and inconvenient bunk beds, and far too many people crammed into the same room. The folks at Le Massif have replaced “cheap accommodations” in lieu of “budget accommodations”, without sacrificing the quality and craftsmanship seen throughout the rest of the Hotel.

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They’ve completely done away with bunk beds, and instead opted for custom lockable murphy beds that fold out from the elegant wall cabinetry. Each hostel room has a limit of 4 beds, along with 4 large sized lockers to store your personal belongings. A large in-room bathroom with multiple sinks can be found within each room, making that awkward traipse down the hall to a shared bathroom a thing of the past. Each dorm style room includes a plasma screen TV along with an iPod/iPhone ready stereo, perfect for getting ready in the morning or sharing music with newfound friends.

Hostel rates at Hotel La Ferme are going to start at $49. While it’s slightly more expensive than your average dorm rate, keep in mind this isn’t your run of the mill hostel. Dorms will have 4 beds maximum and each will be treated with the same exceptional service as the hotel rooms.

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Local Eats at Les Labours

A hotel dedicated to providing a unique experience in all 4 seasons wouldn’t be complete without meals made with local in-season produce, most of which is grown in Le Massif’s own backyard. These class act dishes are prepared by Chef David Forbes and his incredible team. Their love and passion for providing visitors the chance to taste this magical region of Quebec is second to none. The menu at Les Labours changes with the seasons, giving you a chance to gawk at freshly crafted meals all year round.

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While You’re in Baie-Saint-Paul

While I could go on all day about how much I’m in love with Quebec and completely infatuated by Le Massif, there is more to this region than lounging around in comfy beds and eating delicious local food. During the summer, explore Rue St-Jean-Baptiste and browse through eclectic local artisan shops, sample the local Charlevoix Microbrews then find out why Baie-Saint-Paul is a mecca for painters, performers and artists of all kind. If nature is more your thing, whale watching tours, hiking trails, and secluded beaches along the Saint Lawrence River are all within walking distance.

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Come winter, ski the 770m (2,527 ft) of vertical at Le Massif. During the winterLe Train carries eager passengers from Quebec City (At Montmorency Falls) directly to the mountain, and continues to Baie-Saint-Paul where exhausted skiiers can relax at Hôtel La Ferme. The staff at the hotel informed me that waking up at Hôtel La Ferme in the winter is going to make for a great Canadian experience, as there will be a skating rink right in backyard of the eco-hotel.

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Baie-Saint-Paul is the heart and soul of arts and culture in Canada. The beauty of this region wasn’t just recently discovered, in fact, the infamous Group of Seven often visited the area, setting up their easel’s and painting the dramatic colours of this picturesque Quebecois landscape. The history of the culture and people in Baie-Saint-Paul and the entire region of Charlevoix is something to be truly appreciated. For anyone keen on exploring the province of Quebec, be sure to include Charlevoix & a stay at Hôtel La Ferme in your itinerary.

Special thanks to the folks at Le Massif for helping out and showing me around this great new project that is sure to bring in countless excited tourists.

A Local Quebecois Experience at Le Massif’s Hôtel La Ferme is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Travel Website Review: EasyToBook.com – Compare hotels and save! [Sponsored]http://ibackpackcanada.com/travel-website-review-easytobook-com-compare-hotels-and-save-sponsored/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/travel-website-review-easytobook-com-compare-hotels-and-save-sponsored/#comments Wed, 08 Feb 2012 12:51:54 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=3994 Travel Website Review: EasyToBook.com – Compare hotels and save! [Sponsored] is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Hotel comparison sites are pretty much a dime a dozen these days. Hotel and airline websites seem to come and go faster than you can review. Some succeed, others flop. Some emulate, others innovate. The goal of a hotel comparison is to ultimately make sales, but also provide a unique and intuitive user experience for those booking the hotels. Information should be laid out in a clear and concise manner, and should ultimately be as simple as humanly possible. Booking hotels is hardly the funnest part of  travel, nor is sitting down and comparing “Well this one has free breakfast” or “Yea, but this one has free wifi”. Typically I’m the gambling type and go with whatever is most convenient location wise. Who wants to save a few dollars if it means you’re stuck in a hotel in the middle of nowhere. EasyToBook appears to be one of the few who’ve got it figured out, not just for hotels in Canada, but for hotels all over.

First Glance

As you first arrive on EastyToBook it will appear like many other booking sites. The “Find Hotel Deals” section is prominently displayed to give the user a quick and easy way to find what they’re looking for. Thumbs up for making that easy, its surprising how few hotel booking websites tend to ignore that “ease of use” aspect. Whenever I’m looking at a website and considering if this is something I’ll share with family, I like to know that if need be I could phone the company. That extra assurance just builds trust, and reaffirms that there are real people behind EasyToBook, so if Grandpa or Grandma get lost, they’re always able to phone for help.

Safety in Numbers

As you scroll down the homepage, you’re given a massive number showing you exactly how many people have booked through EasyToBook. That numerical aspect can be make or break for me when it comes out to handing out credit card details online. In order for a company to completely gain my trust I like to know that I’m not their first customer. Directly below the “Safety in Numbers” field, you’re given a list of six reasons why EasyToBook is awesome. All seem to be great reasons, and the social media connection below that just aids in that “trust building factor”. Hats for this section guys!

Testing out the Hotel Search

Performing a quick search for Toronto, then Halifax, then Saskatchewan, I realized that EasyToBook has the ability to book hotels across Canada. This is a huge “essential” for me, given how many km’s I tack on across the country. As I pull up a search a fancy jquery type notification pops up informing me the last booking for this particular hotel was 10 days ago. Kind of a nice feature, and good looking to boot.

As I dive deeper into my search for a hotel I’m presented with an image gallery with countless photos of my “bed to be”. With their photo gallery I’m able to see the bedrooms, dining rooms, restaurantes, view from outside, the lobby, and convention centers attached to the hotel. Great feature if you ask me. My one beef is that I find the photos rather small. I’m a sucker for giant photos, and in this day and age, those extra pixels make all the difference. Eventually you get to the customer reviews, which are always a great addition when it comes to spending money wisely.

Getting my compare on

As I noodle my way through my search I get to the prices. They’re displayed in a clean colour coded table which makes it easy to ensure that I’m looking at the right price. The savings on these hotels appear to be pretty standard, while they’re not crazy expensive, they’re not giving them away either. Although I’m sure you’ll be hard pressed to find any hotel comparison website that is. I save one of my searches, and I’m pleasantly greeted by the fancy jquery again. My selection is saved along the bottom of the website in their “Compare” section.

Once I manage to find 3 hotels I’d consider booking, I hammer my cursor on the compare button, in hopes that the power of my click will somehow take off a few extra dollars. While unfortunately that didn’t happen, I was however, presented with a nice comparison chart. With a quick glance I was able to determine which hotels got the breakfast sausage out for its customers, and which are providing free wifi. Those little additions honestly do sway my decision. Wifi trumps all, but sausage and bacon is a very close second!

Proceeding to the checkout and paying is as simple as the rest of the website. EasyToBook pulled all the stops in order to make every step of the booking process as simple as humanly possible. While there’s a few little things I would change about the website (particularly just larger photos), all in all I feel if you can’t find what you’re looking for here, you probably won’t have much luck any place else. The hotel reviews were laid out beautifully, and information was a breeze to find. EasytoBook should be dishing out high fives to one another over what they’ve created.

What are the benefits of using EasyToBook.com?

  • Very simple step by step process to booking your next hotel.
  • Hotel prices are discounted up to 80% off, that’s a huge savings and in Canada, any extra help is worth looking into.
  • They offer immediate confirmation with no hidden fees or extra charges
  • Great comparison tool to evaluate which hotel can offer you more
  • Read reviews of past customers to get a detailed view of what the hotel is like

Additional Info

Visit their website Easytobook.com
Follow them on twitter at @easytobook
Book over the phone at 1-877-346-3614
Read their travel blog

This review was sponsored by EasyToBook. If you’re interested in getting your website or product reviewed you can find out more here. I do these types of reviews in order pay the bills that come with running a website.

Travel Website Review: EasyToBook.com – Compare hotels and save! [Sponsored] is a post from: I Backpack Canada

Watch now!

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Contest for Canadians – Score one FREE night stay at any Delta hotel or Resort!http://ibackpackcanada.com/contest-for-canadians-score-one-free-night-stay-at-any-delta-hotel-or-resort/ http://ibackpackcanada.com/contest-for-canadians-score-one-free-night-stay-at-any-delta-hotel-or-resort/#comments Fri, 28 Oct 2011 14:31:45 +0000 http://ibackpackcanada.com/?p=3489 Contest for Canadians – Score one FREE night stay at any Delta hotel or Resort! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

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Hey-oh! I’m extremely excited to be hosting my first contest on I Backpack Canada. Depending on how this one turns out, you may see more of these in the near future! Today, I’m giving away One Free Night’s stay at ANY Delta Hotel or Resort! You’ll have the opportunity to hang out like a rockstar (no Keith Moon shenanigans though please!), and sleep in some of the worlds most awesome beds!

canadian-contest

Delta Hotels can be found all across Canada, so whether you’re hanging out on the West Coast beaches, touring through the Rockies, partying in the prairies, or pretending to be Drake in downtown Toronto, you shouldn’t have a problem tracking one down.

When it comes to entering contests, I can’t be bothered with long cumbersome surveys and such. So in an effort to keep it quick and simple, here’s how to win:

Guess my favourite Canadian animal!

Step 1: Take a guess & Leave your entry in the comments below
Step 2: Tweet Out: “Guess @ibackpackcanada’s favourite Canadian animal & win one night at any @DeltaHotelsLTD or Resort! #Contest! http://goo.gl/5WRZI”

  • If you’re not on twitter, head over to my Facebook Page and leave a comment on my wall

Rules

  • Must be a legal Canadian citizen (sorry internationals, next time!)
  • Must be age of legal majority in your Canadian province
  • Contest closes November 11, 2011 at 11:59am ADT (Atlantic Daylight Time).
  • Entries that have guessed correctly will be in the finals. A winner will then be chosen at random.

Are you a contest junkie?

Want a chance at something even bigger?! Of coarse you do. Head over to the Delta Hotels Facebook page to enter in their “Delta Difference” contest. Winner of that particular contest scores a weekend getaway for two, valued at $1,295!

Let the guessing begin! 

Update: Congrats goes out to Seattle Dredge, she is the lucky winner of one night at any Delta Hotel or Resort. For those of you who are dying to know, my favourite Canadian animal is the Polar Bear. Several people guessed correctly, those that guessed right were chosen at random using Random.org. Big thanks goes out to everyone who entered, and to the kind folks at Delta Hotels for sponsoring this contest.

Contest for Canadians – Score one FREE night stay at any Delta hotel or Resort! is a post from: I Backpack Canada

Watch now!

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