EVEN in Eugene

A Happy Hotel

EVEN is the name of a new hotel concept by InterContinental Hotels Group which is marketed to travelers’ holistic wellness needs. It’s a hotel with a conscience. It was the first overnight stay on my drive from Vancouver to Palm Springs.  And it will be the last on my return.

My very first thought when I walked through the reception area was “they’re onto something.”

For a reasonably priced hotel they offer a lot.  Others should follow suit.  They set out to defy that travel needs to be a total disruption to your routine.  They give you choices designed to help you stay on track. You can rest easy, keep active, eat well all under one very well designed roof.

Photo: d. king

The rooms not only have natural eucalyptus fiber bedding which create a cooling effect to promote deeper sleep, they also have workout equipment inside each room.  Aside from a co-ed gym with cork flooring and fitness videos.  Bonus: you can also get Netflix in your room.

Photo: d. king

The room:

Photo: d. king

The restaurant offers delicious healthy calorie-counting options. You can count on it whether you want to or not.  Great cocktails too. Fresh squeezed orange juice and local organic coffee roasters make for a perfect morning start.

Photo: d. king

Stay hydrated with fill your bottle water options like lime/ginger + lemon/mint.

Photo: d. king

Did I mention the friendly, savvy hotel staff?

Not bad right?

Locations to date: New York, Washington, Miami, Sarasota, Fl., Eugene, Or., Seattle (new).  More to follow.

The writing’s on the wall.
Photo: d. king

Visit: https://www.ihg.com/evenhotels/hotels/us/en/reservation

 

 

 

Advertisements

Destination: Galiano

I can now cross Galiano Island off my places to go to list.  It was the only remaining one of all the gulf islands in British Columbia left for me to visit, and luckily the dogs and I were recently and happily invited to spend three nights at a beautiful ocean front home belonging to friends Joanne & Geoff who also happen to be our neighbours. They’ve been going for a number of years and now I understand why.  Their location is unrivaled but Galiano in general has such natural rocky beauty and there’s even a white sandy beach. It is referred to as the untamed Gulf Island and the wildest due to its mountainous geography, rare plant population and generous forest reserves. Plenty of wildlife too. It’s the closest to Vancouver of the southern group of Gulf Islands. Much of it is protected from development thanks to community initiatives from a tight knit group of concerned property owners.

Lunch and Dinner served outdoors with a view you can never tire of.

Galiano is also the driest in the gulf, getting more sunshine than the mainland and most of coastal B.C.  It comes with peaceful beaches, wooded trails, a nine-hole golf course, artists’ studios & galleries, marina and a world class restaurant in the forest. Oh the restaurant by the way deserves a separate mention. It was that good.  But unfortunately I cannot give you the secret recipe for Geoff’s special gin martinis on the rocks…..literally. We were sipping them on the rocks.

I had to take a photo of my bedroom. A little too hazy because of the wildfires to see the water, but the ocean is right outside the window.

And I will soon tell you about an upcoming workshop offered by Joanne, a life coach and our hostess with the mostest who makes a mean everything salad with goddess dressing.  With a background in the arts, Joanne is a founder of The Gulf Islands Film and Television School.  Her upcoming workshop along with co-facilitator Wendy Sidwell is not only very interesting but will prove to be very helpful to most individuals so stay tuned…

 

 

 

 

 

Destination: Mission Ranch, Carmel

The brochure perfectly describes it.  Ocean sunsets, sheep filled pastures, rocking chairs and award winning grounds.  Piles of pillows and a cozy fire.  Serenity and Relaxation.

Photo: d. king

On my side trip to Carmel I was taken to the charmingly historic Mission Ranch, one of the most spectacular spots on the Monterey Peninsula.  It is a sight to behold with meadows stretching to the south which join the wetlands and Carmel River Beach.  The exquisite views are unrivaled.  Point Lobos, a scenic coastal natural reserve featuring a variety of sea life, wildlife, hiking trails and a whaling museum can be seen in the distance across the bay. Mission ranch is a place unto itself but close enough to the town of Carmel-by-the sea.  You might just want to stay put because there’s also a great restaurant with a view and nightly live piano bar.  On Sundays their live jazz brunch was voted “best brunch” by local newspapers.

The truck was driven by Clint Eastwood for his role in Bridges of Madison County.  d. king

A little history:

In the 1850’s, the property became one of the first of the early California dairies.  The creamery, which supplied the county with cheese and butter, now houses the restaurant.  The barns were used for hay and milking.  The ranch has had some 17 owners.

The Ranch now encompasses 22 acres. Originally it consisted of 160 acres and was owned by Juan Romero, a Native American who is believed to have lived in the village next to the Carmel Mission.  In 1852 he deeded the property to William Curtis, a Monterey storekeeper, for $300.  The Martin family, who owned the Ranch for 60 years, also farmed potatoes for the Sierra gold miners.

The Ranch operated as a private club, an officers’ club for the Army and Navy during World War II.  At that time the windows were occasionally blackened against a possible Japanese landing.  It had a rollicking reputation, with dance bands and a lively bar scene.

In 1986 Clint Eastwood bought the Ranch, rescuing the property from an impending fate as a condominium development. Once again, Dirty Harry to the rescue! He sought out the best craftsmen for renovation, who have replicated moldings, door frames and hardware to match the style of the original buildings.  Each structure reflects a different architectural period: from the 1950’s feel of the restaurant and dance barn, to the century old Martin farmhouse.

The one time Bunkhouse is the oldest structure on the Ranch.  It’s nestled among historic cypress and eucalyptus trees, as well as newly planted gardens, which adorn the entire Ranch.

Sure beats the old bar he used to own in Carmel “Hog’s Breath Inn” although I’m told the artichoke soup is to die for.

Can’t wait to go back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feel-good Friday: California Coasting

Monterey + Carmel

When the desert got too hot to handle I decided to stay a few nights with friends who live along the coast.

Top L (product logo from my friends company Reforestation Technologies International – RTi. They did the logo then by chance came across the same vintage truck shown on the logo which was for sale and bought it.  Top R (view from Sakura Japanese Restaurant in Monterey) Bottom L (their beautiful dogs Beau & Chase).  We want to live Carefree; at least that’s the intent. 

It had been several years since I’d been to Monterey and Carmel but I remember liking it a lot. There’s not much not to like about it.  For starters it’s pretty picturesque especially if you take the famous 17-Mile Drive to Pebble Beach, one of the most scenic drives in the world.  You twine through the impressive Del Monte Forest and take in the hypnotic coastline and golf’s greatest landmarks.  Which leads me (and everyone else who does the windy drive) to the beach town called Carmel-by-the-Sea.  The name has a nice ring to it don’t you think?

Top L, middle, R and bottom L taken at historic Mission Ranch (currently owned by Clint Eastwood). I will blog about this separately because it’s so deserving.  I’m standing by the truck Clint Eastwood drove in the movie Bridges of Madison County. Bottom middle taken at Cypress Inn (garden restaurant) owned by Doris Day.  Bottom R – Carmel’s never ending white sandy beach.  Ahhhh…

Carmel is a fairytale.  It’s known for museums, art galleries, a library and little cottages strewn along cobblestone streets.   Unique local shops and restaurants complete this charming village built on the Monterey Peninsula.  A great plus is it’s also dog friendly, even on the beach.  Thank you Doris Day. She was responsible for making Carmel doggy heaven here on earth.  One more reason to want to move there.

Five Fun Facts about Carmel

Clint Eastwood was once the mayor but it has been more than 30 years and visitors continue to ask Is Clint Eastwood still the mayor?

 No chain restaurants.

Whaaat? With no fast food restaurants the city’s enchanting eateries and tasting rooms offer a full range of cuisine and wine tasting all within walking distance from the over 40 hotels and inns.

I love this one: No street addresses. Unwilling to see their village become citified, Carmel’s founding fathers rejected the practice house- to-house mail delivery in favor of a central post office. To this day, there are still no addresses, parking meters or street lights, and no sidewalks outside of Carmel’s downtown commercial area. Those seeking directions receive hints such as fifth house on the east side of Torres Street, green trim, driftwood fence or by the legendary names adorning most houses, such as Hansel or Sea Urchin. It is, by the way, bad luck to change the name on a Carmel cottage.  And why would you?  Afterall I want to be Carefree .

There used to be an unusual law of prohibiting selling and eating ice cream on public streets.  In 1986 Clint Eastwood and the new council elected along with him, overturned the ordinance and other similar laws that they considered to be too restrictive to businesses and visitors. Dirty Harry to the rescue!

This is the best:

You need a permit to wear high heels?

Though often mistakenly thought of as an urban myth, the municipal code of Carmel bans wearing shoes having heels more than 2 inches in height or with a base of less than one square inch unless the wearer has obtained a permit for them. While the local police do not cite those in violation of the ordinance, this seemingly peculiar law was authored by the city attorney in 1963 to defend the city from lawsuits resulting from wearers of high-heeled shoes tripping over irregular pavement distorted by tree roots. Permits are available without charge at City Hall.

Whew!  I was worried for a sec.  But for safety purposes I’ll definitely carry a measuring tape in my bag.

Images: d. king (except for the one I’m in – someone else took that).

 

 

Destination: L’Hermitage Hotel

Being a tourist in the town where you reside can be a dream if you make the right connections.This charming boutique hotel is conveniently located in downtown Vancouver amid excellent shopping and dining. It’s luxurious with a relaxing ambiance.

Salt Water Pool

The large corner room was very clean with a huge bathroom and really comfortable beds.

Room with a view (sort of)

The efficient staff was very helpful in making recommendations on where to eat and places to see (even  though we were already quite familiar).  They have several bikes on site which you can reserve for four hours at a time so cruising through Stanley Park with a pitstop at English Bay Cactus Club was a breeze.

En Route, Air Canada magazine has this to say:

With kitchens equipped with Bosch appliances and staff that greet you by name in the hallways, L’Hermitage feels more like a chic European pied-à-terre than a hotel in downtown Vancouver. What we loved The hotel welcomes four-legged friends with Torre & Tagus ceramic bowls, cozy cushions and a walking service. If you only have one night Enjoy the sun while sipping a Nespresso in a velvet armchair in your suite’s private solarium overlooking the saltwater pool.

We think it’s worth spreading the word.

788 Richards Street, 778-327-4100

http://www.lhermitagevancouver.com/

 

 

 

 

Destination: Osoyoos, B.C.

I just had the pleasure of being a guest at the luxurious Walnut Beach Resort.Walnut Beach Resort is a waterfront haven overlooking Lake Osoyoos in sunny South Okanagan,  which is located in Canada’s desert wine country, about a five hour scenic drive from Vancouver.

Osoyoos from a distance

It was originally built to be private condos before deciding to turn the three-storey building into a resort which is run like a stylish boutique hotel.The lakeside rooms are all one or two bedroom designer suites with kitchenette and balcony.  And a most comfortable bed. Our suite was pristine, the service was excellent, the poolside restaurant had a variety of mouth watering dishes or if guests prefer to do their own thing, there are several barbecues set up alongside the pool area for them to use.

Normally there is a private sandy beach but at this time the water was high so most of the sand was covered.

Local things to do include wine tours, championship golf, water sports or just lying by the pool guilty or a swim in the lake.

It’s a chic, comfortable place.

My only complaint is that I wish we stayed there longer.  Which only means I’ll have to go back!

www.walnutbeachresort.com

Tell them I sent you.

Photos: d. king

 

Self Care Sunday: the Getaway

We all need to recharge.  Sometimes all it takes is just a change of scenery.  A couple days spent away is good for the soul.

nelson2
On Route

And you don’t have to travel very far to do so.  It could be an adventurous road trip within a day’s drive. Here in British Columbia we’re very lucky to have an abundance of places to visit; all unique and super natural.

Destination: Prestige Lakeside Resort, Nelson, B.C.

For this little vacay we chose Nelson Kootenay Lake and spent a few nights at the super relaxing Prestige Lakeside Resort with a room on the boardwalk overlooking the lake.  With two restaurants; West Coast Grill, sushi, a great little coffee shop called Junipers & an in-house spa, we didn’t have to leave the property at all.  Even a long off-leash dog walking area closeby.

nelson3
Our location

Although Nelson is a quaint town known for friendly people, good eats, cute little shops, hiking trails and a story.  It’s a calming part of British Columbia famous for its mix of culture, adventure, history and spectacular scenery.  A rare metropolitan mixed with mountain lifestyle. It has been dubbed the number one small arts community in Canada.nelson6

A brief history about Nelson: Kootenay is a  native word meaning “water people“.  Carbon dating provides evidence of a race of men and women who lived, hunted and fished along the shores of Kooteney Lake as long back as when the pyramids of Egypt were being built. These earliest inhabitants, drawn here for the abundance of fish, wildlife, berries and fruits, were later called the Kootenay Indians.

The town of Nelson is renowned for its impressive scenery, lively events, vibrant and inviting downtown, big city dining, and collection of restored heritage buildings and has been voted best ski destination with award winning powder snow and top lake.  It boasts a tiny city with a big personality.

nelson1
Happiness can be a change of scenery

Where will you plan your next getaway?nelson4Photos: d. king

Life Palm Springs Style

It’s all about the simple things; sunshine and resort style living.  A mimosa here and everywhere there.  A nice pool.  A mimosa by the pool.

Throw Pillow from Shag
Throw Pillow from Shag

A place to escape to when the weather starts to turn for the worst.  A playground for those who like to golf, hike or swim.  Or just take it easy or go listen to live music.  There’s a lot of happy people here.  A lot of folks from Vancouver and other parts of Canada. Happy hour is a biggie and there’s plenty of good dining everywhere.

The Tuna Tower at Lulu's California Bistro is a favourite
The Tuna Tower at Lulu’s California Bistro is a favourite
Love Bill's Pizza. The caesar salad is the best.
Love Bill’s Pizza. The caesar salad is the best.

There’s the Palm Springs International Film Festival which is just ending and attracts Hollywood’s biggest stars to flog their films or just show up and party.

There’s Modernism Week in February.  An annual signature event and celebration of midcentury modern design, architecture, art, fashion and culture. With more than 250 events including the Modernism Show & Sale, Signature Home Tours, films, lectures, Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tours, nightly parties and live music, walking and bike tours, tours of Sunnylands (to some extent regarded as the “Camp David of the West”), classic cars, modern garden tours, a vintage travel trailer exhibition, and more…like Martinis on the mountain.

Then there’s Coachella (my sister is excited about going for the first time), the annual Valley Music & Arts Festival. As of this spring Beyoncé will make history yet again as she will be the first woman of color to headline Coachella. EVER. She is also the first woman in ten years to headline the festival (the last woman to headline was Bjork in 2007).

There was “Oldchella” which was the fitting nickname for the festival’s official title “Desert Trip.” It appears the nickname came about because  headliners such as Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Roger Waters, The Rolling Stones and The Who average about 72 years in age.  But can these guys still rock or what? Nobody seems sure how annual this festival might be.  There is talk of it dying off.

Art Glass - Trina Turk
Art Glass – Trina Turk
The shops at thirteen forty five
The shops at thirteen forty five
Daydreamer
Daydreamer from the shops at 1345

But you can count on “Opera in the Park” a premier cultural event in April held at Sunrise Park. The concert of arias draws thousands of people from all over Southern California (& beyond) in a celebration of great opera music with a professional orchestra. You can take a picnic lunch – how great is that?

There’s the usual art markets, *antique markets, **vintage markets & the Thursday night street fair. Free street parking is a bonus. There’s even a free bus or buzz” Thursday through Sunday that’s also dog friendly as is the rest of P.S.

There’s other places of interest you can drive or bus to within a few hours driving distance like: Los Angeles & San Diego if you miss the ocean or more traffic.  A little longer than that and you can find yourself in Las Vegas or Arizona.  So there’s plenty of variety and no excuse to be bored.

The Shops at thirteen forty five
The Shops at thirteen forty five

20170114_120151So I went ahead and bought myself an early birthday gift.  A little pied-à-terre right smack in the middle of exactly where I want to be.  A perfect location. Something so unexpected and unplanned…yet ideal.  As I’m writing this I’m spending my first night in the new place after having rented in the area for two weeks prior to this with a short hotel stay prior to that.  I’ve been coming here for several years and what’s funny is that this time the trip was going to be a short one.  I just wanted to take in the film festival and be back before the end of January.  There were reasons why it had to be cut shorter than usual….however you never know what life will throw your way.  Now I’ll stay a bit longer than planned.  And have a set place to come back to.

In another sense…I fully expected this to happen! My horoscope said that it’s my year to charge ahead, make bold changes for progress & success.  The Sun-Pluto conjunction in January empowers and emboldens my sign all year long.

Mimosa at Spencer's before brunch
Mimosa at Spencer’s at brunch

2016 was such a downer year for multiple reasons.  We lost so many amazing people and of course the election craziness. Here’s to new growth and positive change. Not just for me, but for everyone. We have to take our sunshine where we can get it.  And orange juice doesn’t quite cut it.

*an antique is “a work of art, piece of furniture, or decorative object made at least 100 years ago.

**The term “vintage,” when used in a way similar to the term “antique,” refers to items that are over 50 years old, but less than 100.

A modern kleenex box
A modern kleenex box

20170114_132908

Photos: d. king

The shops at thirteen forty five is a collective of luxurious shops in an iconic E. Stewart Williams designed building.  1345 N. Palm Canyon Drive20170114_125031Home Sweet Away from Home!                       Have you been?

Travel: Sedona, Arizona

Have you ever been to Sedona?
sedona2

The setting is pretty unreal.  It’s a perfect location for mountain biking (our crew covered some ground and some dirt) and of course hiking.  Or you can just….be.

If you’re looking for a quiet spiritual experience to usher in the changing of the seasons, tranquil Sedona provides the perfect setting. Many people believe that the Sedona area is sacred, and that it’s “the center of vortexes that radiate the Earth’s power.”

I’ve been there on a few occasions. I loved the red rock canyons so much that I tried to replicate the desert colours for the interior of my home.  I believe I succeeded.

What To Do: Stay at the Enchantment Resort, try Diamondback Rattlesnake cakes and Cactus Fries at The Cowboy Club, take a UFO Night Tour (for something different…c’mon where else can you find something like this?) and drink biodynamic organic wine at Chocola Tree. Depending on your interests, you can also sign up for a weekend of healing, like this one offered by Hope Yoga.

Temperatures (October): High, 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Low, 52.sedona1

 Ahhhhhh   Have you been?  

Fly by Night

Do something that scares you!

 You’ve heard that saying before right?flying5

Up in the Air
Up in the Air

When I saw it scribbled on a Lululemon bag I questioned why on earth is this advisable (like why would anyone want to scare themselves?) but in any case I actually did something that scares me last Sunday.

Ready for Take-Off
On a Wing & a Prayer

Considering I’m claustrophobic, don’t like small planes, have a fear of heights and am always up in the air about flying in general…I conquered my fears (temporarily perhaps) and embraced my private flight from Vancouver over to dinner in one of Vancouver Island’s best kept little secrets.  It’s not the first time I’ve been on a small plane but like anything else what you tend to fear is fear itself. It helps to have an experienced pilot who is also a friend who previously ran a chartered airline business with a bigger plane to fly movie stars around.  When he decided to downsize to a four seater he made sure the seats and headsets were very comfy.  Luckily the flight was very smooth both ways.

The flight began at 5:00 p.m., lasted about one hour on the way over (as the pilot decided to take us a different route and fly between two huge rocks we refer to as “the lions.” Four of us enjoyed spectacular scenery along the way, a great dinner and another enjoyable flight at dusk which took less flying time to get back.

Photos: d. king

Flying in between the Lions, Vancouver
Flying between the Lions, Vancouver

flying3flying