Sunshine Coast, BC.

As summer sadly slips away...we decided to soak up the remaining rays with a perfect little getaway to Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast.  As their website says, Sechelt is as laid-back as it is scenic, full of artists, and surrounded by mountains.  That it is!

Coming into Gibsons from the ferry.  A short drive to Sechelt from here.  Photo:  d. king

 September tries its best to have us forget summer. – Bernard Williams, Philosopher.

Layla and I were kindly invited by a Vancouver friend, who along with her husband, just finished building a second home in the area.

With Janice & Layla at Davis Bay where we walked along the shore.

It’s all scenic from here. Even though it’s a short drive from Vancouver to the ferry in Horseshoe Bay, then a short ferry ride over to the coast, it had been a long time since my last visit.  Long overdue actually.

Horseshoe Bay. Photo: d. king

Since covid it appears that many people are exploring regions closer to where they live and re-discovering places they’ve not visited for some time.

In British Columbia we’re surrounded by beauty with a surplus of outdoor activities to take advantage of.

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

 In Sechelt we walked along the rugged coast, visited a sandy beach, did two hikes, went to a local pub on the water for dinner, met some artists, hung out at home and laughed a lot.  We also visited a longtime friend of mine who relocated there recently and lives with a talented artist.  The vibe they made in their home is splendid.

Watching the boats & float planes at Lighthouse Pub. Photo: d. king
All Decked Out. Photo: d. king

On the last day we drove to Pender Harbour and hiked Skookumchuck Narrows, a popular attraction where the powerful rapids and whirlpools of the changing tidal waters can be seen that flow between two inlets –  Jervis Inlet and Sechelt Inlet. Layla did the hike with us as it was not very hilly.The trail is about 8km roundtrip and passes through a scenic west coast rainforest before reaching the viewpoints at either North Point or Roland Point. These rapids are a fairly unique occurrence as the water flow can reach speeds of 30km/h as about 200 billion gallons of water passes through the narrows during a tide change.  

Sechelt Rapids – the reversing tidal rapids, famous for their spectacular whirlpools and whitewater, are considered among the fastest in the world.  Current speeds during large tidal exchanges can exceed 16 knots (30 kph).

On the advice of a friend/photographer we had to stop and eat a cinnamon bun from the local Skookumchuk Bakery & Café.  You cannot help but notice the bakery either at the beginning or end of your hike.  Everything at the bakery is made from scratch using fresh local ingredients.  The bun came fresh out of the oven and it was to die for.

Outside the Bakery. Photo: d. king
A stopover at Ruby Lake Resort , Madeira Park. Photo: d. king

If you want to know more, the following was taken from the Sunshine Coast official website:

Getting to Sechelt is just a 40-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver, followed by a 27km/17mi drive up Highway 101.  Sechelt is the name of a town, a peninsula, an inlet, and a people. The town is a small community sitting on a sandbar; the narrow Sechelt isthmus which separates Sechelt Inlet from the Salish Sea. Named after the original First Nations people of the region – the shíshálh.

This charming seaside town serves as a central hub for exploring the southern Sunshine Coast, where it’s easy to go sightseeing and take day trips to the neighboring communities of Halfmoon Bay, Roberts Creek, Pender Harbour, or Egmont.  It’s also the perfect launching point for boating & paddling excursions to the surrounding fjords, including Narrows, Salmon, and Sechelt Inlet.

If you want to visit a true water-centric community, Pender Harbour is a must.

This unique harbour community is all about the water. Experience the true Pender Harbour Spirit, or just enjoy the 5 freshwater lakes scattered around the ocean harbour.

One day you turn around and it’s summer
Next day you turn around and it’s fall
And all the winters and the springs of a lifetime
Whatever happened to them all? – Lyrics from “September of my Years” sung by Frank Sinatra

 

Palm Springs Places: The Monkey Tree Hotel

This week on an unusually windy day, I had the pleasure of checking out another unique hotel.

I was told that the vista looks much more inviting when the umbrellas are opened up, however how lovely is this?  Photo: d. king

Kathy, the gracious owner, escorted me around her delightfully large one-acre property and filled me in on the history surrounding the private 16 room boutique hotel nestled against the backdrop of the dramatic San Jacinto Mountains.   After all, what’s a good hotel here without a story?

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

A bathroom in one of the rooms. btw, all the rooms are different.   Photo: Jake Holt Photography

Originally designed by renowned modernist architect Albert Frey and built in 1960, the hotel re-opened in 2016, after a restoration by its current owners, Kathy and Gary Friedle, to its original mid-century modern design.  The space is very charming and makes you feel at home.  I think you might want to stay for more than one night. The outdoor space includes a lovely heated saltwater pool, the only Scandinavian Spa in the area including dry sauna, hot tub, seating areas and a Smeg retro fridge where guests are welcome to help themselves to the contents. A complimentary continental breakfast and sangria happy hour every day for guests.  What’s not to love?

Bonus: I love that Gary concocts his own teas which guests also have the privilege of sampling from the cart. There’s even a Palm Springs blend which smells heavenly.

Make your selection.  Just a few samples here.  All teas are carefully created in the property kitchen by Gary.  Photo: Jake Holt

The Monkey Tree is located less than a mile from the hustle and bustle Charlie Farrel’s famed Racquet Club. The hotel is a classic example of mid-century modern design and was a get-away for the celebrities who wanted to have some time away from the public.  Palm Springs lore has it that celebrity guests at The Monkey Tree Hotel have included: Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Eric Clapton, Gilda Radner and Gene Wilder, and even a JFK and Marilyn visit (guarded at the private entrance of their suite by the secret service).

Entrance to the boutique.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

In 1995, Albert Frey contacted the then owners of the hotel to ask if he could come by for a visit.  At the time, Frey was 92 years old and said that he had not visited the property since it was built.  He rode his bike the four miles from Frey House II where he was living to the hotel in a white polyester pantsuit and burnt orange shirt, arriving dapper as always.  As he toured the property, he shared his inspiration for the layout and design of the hotel with the current owners.  Frey was fascinated by the San Jacinto Mountains and found great inspiration in them. He intended the dramatic slanting roof lines to be in harmony and pay homage to the mountains and the Indians.

Photo: Kathy Friedle

ABOUT THE OWNERS (Kathy & Gary):

After obtaining her Master of Architecture at Washington University in St. Louis in 1992, Kathy began her architecture career in New York City.  She worked for Gensler for 20 years in both design and management roles.  Her clients in New York included many prestigious law firms, a well-known California based talent agency and numerous advertising agencies.

Gary has been in the field of financial management for 25 years. He started his career working on a trading desk in New York City then worked with private wealth clients and most recently was the Chief Operating  Officer of a private wealth management firm.  Gary has a passion for long distance running and has participated in several (100-mile) ultra-marathons.

In 2015 an opportunity arose to purchase a boutique hotel in Palm Springs, and the timing and career change seemed right for them and their two teenage sons to try a new adventure on the west coast.  After seeing the great architectural bones of The Monkey Tree hotel they dove in to the restoration of the mid-century modern property which had been largely closed to the public since 1988.  Their first decision was to re-establish the original 1960 name of the hotel and to re-brand, and re-invigorate the property.

Outside the entrance.  Photo: Kathy Friedle

They did just that. I would definitely recommend this hotel.

For bookings:

https://www.themonkeytreehotel.com/

 

Road Trip

I’ve been back to my Vancouver home for just over a week now and have been going through a temporary phase of running on empty.  This has happened a couple times in my life where I feel the need to retreat and renew myself and just BE.  Usually brought on by adapting to a situation…a shock to my system resulting from a minor injury, a loss or combination of these things. A need for readjustment.  Nothing major. Just paying attention. I’m also in the process of renovating my outdoor living space.  And a few other things.

So on that note I’m posting some recent pics.  And I’ll be back before you know it.

Before Leaving Palm Springs it was getting too hot.  We took the tram to cool off.

Finally made it to the top! Took the recently re-opened Tram with friend Tamara 8,000 ft. above sea level. It was a spectacular ride.  Once there we walked around the trails for a couple of hours.

DESERT X® BRINGS THE FINEST INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS TO THE COACHELLA VALLEY TO CREATE ART, ENGAGE VIEWERS, AND FOCUS ATTENTION ON THE VALLEY’S ENVIRONMENT IN A MOST DRAMATIC and ENGAGING FASHION.

Sculptures by Karen & Tony Barone – a colourful couple we keep seeing at events around town.  http://baroneart.com/about-the-artists/  photo: d. king

This sprawling outdoor art exhibition stretching over 50 miles is a MUST-SEE. Photo: Tamara Gauthier

HOLIDAY HOUSE, PALM SPRINGS

These are place settings taken at Holiday House Hotel for their Fried Chicken Friday family style dinner where reservations must be made weeks in advance.  They thought it would be funny to seat a King next to a Goddess.  Goddess was male by the way.   It was a super fun evening. Photo; d. king

Holiday House Bar. Photo: d. king.

Before driving back to Vancouver we decided to take a detour to a resort in San Diego for two nights.  Mostly to be near open water. We stayed facing Mission Bay and the beach was a five minute walk from there.  It was a welcome place for the dogs to cool off.

Photo: d. king

We stayed at the Bahia Resort. This was just outside our room. The dogs were much happier here. Layla even took a dip. Photo: d. king

Enjoying the fresh air – Photo: d. king

On the grounds of the Bahia Resort – Photo: d. king

Bahia Resort  – Photo: d. king

The grounds were very lush.

The neighborhood leading out to the beach was quaint. Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Mission Beach, San Diego. Photo: d. king

The grounds of the hotel had the most gorgeous hibiscus. Photo: d. king

On the day we were leaving we went to La Jolla for lunch.  We stopped at a local Mexican restaurant.

There’s something fishy going on.  Photo: d. king

On the road in Redding, Ca. This is Sundial Bridge.  Photo: Tamara Gauthier

I think the way Tamara took this photo is really cool.  This was outside the UNO de 50 jewelry store on El Paseo in Palm Desert.  I’m wearing the same locket (gift from the Le Chien fashion show) on my necklace as the door handle and you can see her reflection in the glass.

Photo: Tamara Gauthier

Feel-good Friday: Puttin on the Ritz

If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go to
Why don’t you go where fashion sits?

Photo: d. king

Recently I went to the Ritz Rancho Mirage for a cocktail.  Making a right turn on Frank Sinatra Drive, winding my way up the hill to the clifftop setting overlooking Coachella Valley It was easy to see why this iconic luxury hotel was inspired by the desert. It’s actually in the desert. the scenery was certainly incomparable.

Photo: d. king

The Ritz has always had an opulent and stylish past. The one in Montreal is special to me. Being from Montreal I remember many summer brunches in the restaurant garden at the Ritz watching the ducks and swans in the pond swim by.  It’s where my best friend’s wedding took place and I was a bridesmaid, and my husband and I spent a couple nights celebrating an anniversary there.  Something else you many or may not know…dating back to 1912, this was the first Ritz-Carlton hotel and is where Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton wed in the Royal Suite in 1964.

Photo: d. king

I visited the Hôtel Ritz Paris didn’t get past the bar where the hotel’s rooms and suites bear the names of Coco Chanel, F. Scott Fitzgerald or Marcel Proust – all of whom considered the Ritz “a second home”.  But getting back to the bar…Cole Porter was said to spend up to 9 hours a day in the Hemingway Bar: he’s said to have composed “Begin the Beguine” there. F. Scott Fitzgerald had his favorite seat; Ernest Hemingway and Gary Cooper made it the epicenter of their life in Paris and would sit and talk for hours.  There’s no question it has a glamorous past.

Different types who wear a day coat, pants with stripes
And cutaway coat, perfect fits

Dressed up like a million dollar trooper
Tryin’ hard to look like Gary Cooper

Come, let’s mix where Rockefellers walk with sticks
Or umbrellas in their mitts

Photo: d. king

The Edge Steakhouse – the Daily Meal

Have you seen the well-to-do?
Up and down Park Avenue
On that famous thoroughfare
With their noses in the air
High hats and arrow collars
White spats and lots of dollars
Spending every dime for a wonderful time

Ritz-Carlton Residences

David A. Lee Photography

If you’re blue and you don’t know where to go Why don’t you go where fashion sits?

Puttin’ On the Ritz lyrics – written by Irving Berlin.

The title derives from the slang expression “to put on the Ritz”, meaning to dress very fashionably. The expression was inspired by the Ritz Hotel.  It was also a musical in 1930.

A bit of history with a healthy dose of glamour – why not?

Photo: d. king “The SWEET Life”

 

It’s SWEET!

Happy Weekend!

 

 

Palm Springs Places: L’Horizon

In keeping with my desire to discover and explore the little hidden gems behind the hedges, I bring you L’Horizon Resort & Spa – a *Steve Hermann Hotel.  A place with a history and a glamorous past; basically everything I’m looking for.  The ultimate holiday escape.

To give you an idea of exactly how clandestine this place is, I’ve passed it on my bike countless times before I knew what was there. One day I spotted a little sign out front and out of curiosity I stopped in.  I liked what I saw on the inside so I contacted the person in charge of PR  to make an appointment to come back and find out more.  Which brings me to this:

Turns out I wasn’t the first one.

     A celebrity hotspot in its original incarnation more than 60 years ago—has been reborn, with three acres of desert land by designer- to-the-stars, Steve Hermann. – Travel and Leisure

     “As for the hotel’s cosseting comforts, there are even complimentary foot and back massages at the pool.” – Architectural Digest

 

Photo: d. king

A bit of history:

L’Horizon was originally designed in 1952 by renowned architect William F. Cody as a private family retreat for the television producer, oil tycoon, and legendary hotel owner Jack Wrather and his wife, Hollywood actress Bonita “Bunny” Granville.  Wrather was one of the most important California figures of the 1950’s, producing both “The Lone Ranger” and “Lassie”, building the Disneyland hotel, and opening the Queen Mary and the Spruce Goose. He commissioned a residence with 20 guest houses be built in Palm Springs as a getaway for his Hollywood friends to come join him relaxing poolside.  He named it L’Horizon and the guests of the property included Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe, Presidents Reagan and Nixon, as well as countless other luminaries.

Now, redeveloped as a luxury resort, it boasts true exclusivity nestled within intimate spaces on 3 acres of gorgeous manicured desert grounds.  The 25 Bungalows are custom designed to emulate luxurious private residences with hand selected materials and finishes. The dramatic mountain backdrop frames the imaginatively designed landscapes to create a striking setting found only at L’Horizon Resort and Spa. L’Horizon Resort and Spa is an Adult only Resort, all guests must be 21 and over.

*STEVE HERMANN

Steve Hermann is a celebrated designer of high-end homes all over the world. As one of the most prolific designers within California, he is known as the design guru for the Hollywood elite, captains of industry, and foreign royalty. His innovative and imaginative homes are owned by A-list celebrities, entertainment executives and members of the Forbes top ten wealthiest list. His designs have been featured on Architectural Digest, Conde Nast Traveler, E!, MTV, ABC, as well as in hundreds of magazines and websites worldwide. One of his recent projects called The Glass Pavilion was published in over a hundred magazines and newspapers. It was featured on over 18 million websites and at one point was the 3rd most viewed house in the world.

Steve has now focused his attention on establishing a world recognized luxury hospitality company, Steve Hermann Hotels, of which L’Horizon Resort and Spa will serve as the initial flagship property.

About some of the private bungalows/suites:

the residence – formerly the home of Jack Wrather

the private pool – photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

The Residence is one of the most spectacular resort accommodations to be had worldwide. The original home of Hollywood mogul Jack Wrather, it boasts a secluded yard and full sized pool. Completely private, the living room and yard feature extraordinary unobstructed views of the mountains.

The pinnacle of desert luxury, the Fireplace suite

Marilyn’s room – The fireplace suite

features a wood burning, indoor copper clad fireplace for cool desert nights. Marilyn Monroe’s personal bungalow at the Wrather’s residence of the 50’s, this large and spacious bungalow is the ultimate way to experience the glamour of old Palm Springs. Featuring a private outdoor shower, you can shower al-fresco under the night desert stars as she was often fond of doing.

Weekend Brunch and nightly dinner is available to the outside public at SOPA

Visit: https://lhorizonpalmsprings.com/

 

 

Palm Springs Places: The Sands Hotel & Spa

So I called up the Captain, ‘Please bring me my wine’
He said, ‘we haven’t had that spirit here since nineteen sixty-nine’

Lisa King in front of The Sands Spa.  Photo: d. king

This is the beginning of a series of desirable places to stay, eat, drink and unwind in and around the Palm Springs area.

Photo: Lisa King

As many of you know, I’ve been coming to this desirable desert destination for many years.  Two years ago I purchased a place to escape the rainy Vancouver winters and I love it.  I’ve become somewhat of a homebody preferring to cook meals at home, hang with my dogs and read or watch a movie.  But I also like going out to restaurants and listening to live music.  I especially love to discover the little hidden gems.  Places and spaces that take you away and really make you feel like you’re somewhere special.   Places like this:

Entrance to The Sands Hotel.  Photo:  d. king

So this is what I’ve been doing…in between cooking at home, walking the dogs, exploring new hiking areas, cruising on my bike and watching movies.  Luckily I also found an amazing tango instructor and a place to go dancing swing.  So I’m set.  However I’m still curious and I look forward to exploring the remarkable sprinkling of interesting and exotic places to enjoy.

Photo: d. king

There are so many noteworthy boutique style hotels where you can just stay put.  They’re not only places to spend the night when you come home from late night partying.  They make it hard to want to go elsewhere.  Which brings me to my recent weekend stay at The Sands Hotel & Spa in Indian Wells, CA.  A special birthday weekend with my sister and two longtime girlfriends. We were greeted upon check-in with Moroccan mint tea and pink champagne on ice in a pineapple ice bucket no less, in our gorgeous suite with large outdoor seating area including an outdoor bathtub.  Acqua di Parma bath products – noted.  And if you happened to forgot to pack your sunscreen, no need to worry – they supply “Sun Bum” by the pool.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

Light fare courtesy the Pink Cabana restaurant.  Photo: d. king  fyi: they make excellent cocktails.

The Moroccan-themed property was designed by legendary interior designer Martyn Lawrence Bullard, one of Architectural Digest’s Top 100 designers in the world.  And it is simply put; stunning!  I mean these photos do not really do it complete justice.

Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

A combination of Bullard’s Moroccan-inspired influence and a mid-century vibe that is synonymous with the desert’s everlasting allure, the Sands Hotel & Spa is an exotic, luxurious and personalized take on hospitality. It caters to an adult only environment, therefore all registered guests must be over the age of 18.  I like that too.

Located in close proximity to the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens and glamorous El Paseo Shopping District as well as a short drive to Coachella Polo Grounds,  it features 46 guest rooms, the Pink Cabana restaurant and bar and a full-service spa.  It’s Fabulous darling!

And she said, ‘we are all just prisoners here, of our own device’  Photo: d. king

Photo: d. king

You can check out any time you like, But you don’t want to leave!

We were well taken care of.  Special thanks to Adam Ramirez; Guest Services Manager and Olivia Prescott; Director of Sales + Public Relations for making our stay extra special.  See you next time! XO

Visit: http://sandshotelandspa.com/

quotes: lyrics from Hotel California

Selfie at the Spa : d. king

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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