Sunday, 1 June 2014

My travel segment on The Social

My recent appearance on The Social on CTV this past week was a blast.

The ladies were fantastic and so much fun to talk to about travel. I chose unique family activities to do with your children while on vacation. I chose some fun destinations that people may or may not have been to, and some different ideas that will engage both parents and kids alike.

The audience was great and the energy in the room was incredible.

Prior to my travel segment, I spent my time in the green room waiting for my time to go on. I was able to watch the show from there. I enjoyed the fashion segment, as well as listening to the ladies talk on various current events.  They are so engaging to watch.



I loved sharing the dog sledding at Sun Peaks (one of my favourite snow destinations in BC). Not to mention, a great place for skiing with the kids. :)

The other destinations I chose, included San Blas in Mexico (which I have blogged on and written on for the newspaper), as well as Maui and LA.  All these destinations and activities can be found here on my blog.

I also enjoyed my time in Toronto, prior to being on the show. It gave me some time to explore the beautiful city, and I will also be writing on it as well for the newspaper. It was actually my first time, and it definitely won't be my last! ;)


I will be returning to The Social to share other travel advice in the coming months, so stay tuned!

And thanks to the ladies of The Social for having me.

If you would like to check out the travel segment, it can be viewed here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gy6J7gWYdYI&feature=youtu.be

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Carnival in Aruba




Carnival in Aruba
This month I was lucky enough to visit Aruba during the 60th anniversary of Carnival.


One of the dancers in Aruba Carnival
If you've never experienced Carnival, it is a HUGE party that lasts one month each year culminating in a day-long parade that locals line the streets for. Some even secure their seats the day before, in anticipation of the parade.

For me, getting to experience Carnival was surreal. The costumes were decadent, and the people involved were incredible. Aruba itself, was a beautiful backdrop for the lavish parade.

Natural Pool in Aruba
Aruba is a stunning destination, with an average temperature of 85 degrees. It's outside the hurricane path, and offers sunshine the whole year through, making it a great place to visit any time of the year.

I did some fun things outside of the parade including an open-air jeep tour, swimming in a natural pool, snorkeling and having fun aboard a catamaran and visiting Paradise Island run by the Renaissance Hotel (with flamingoes!)
Flamingoes on Paradise Island in Aruba

Life on the island goes slowly, and is lived and appreciated each day. The parade exemplifies this love for life.

I will have more details in my upcoming articles on Aruba and Carnival, but in the meantime, wanted to share some great tidbits of an amazing destination.
Paradise Island

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

A fun-filled getaway at Sun Peaks Resort

If you'd ask me a month ago how comfortable I would be with skiing, I would tell you "not at all". However, if you asked me how comfortable I would feel skiing with Canadian sweetheart and Olympic Skiing Champion (and Sentor) Nancy Greene, I would assume you may have fallen and hit your head, for asking such a ridiculous question.

But for one week at Sun Peaks, here in BC (just outside Kamloops) that's exactly what I did. And loved every minute of it - especially my time with Nancy Greene. She is the kind of woman who puts you at ease from the moment you meet her, and is so easy to learn from. It's hard not to be intimidated by such an amazing skiier, but she isn't the kind of person who boasts about herself, but rather someone who cares more about improving your skiing ability.

By the end of our time at Sun Peaks, the whole family was able to ski down the mountain with her with relative ease.

I'm writing some articles for the newspaper on our time in Sun Peaks because it wasn't just the skiing that we fell in love with, but also the other incredible winter activities that the resort has to offer. From snowshoeing, to dog-sledding to tubing to the horse-drawn sleigh ride - the resort has it all, including the best powder I've ever seen.

Life at Sun Peaks goes a bit slower, everyone is a bit friendlier and most importantly, everyone is a bit happier here too. Maybe it's the good snow, maybe its the people, or maybe its just the fact that everyone is enjoying the outdoor life here; whatever it is, I'm converted. So now when people ask me how comfortable I am with skiing, I can reply "getting better with each day". And I can't wait to go back! :)




Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Beauty and culture discovered in San Blas, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico


 Ruins of the Nuestra Señora del Rosario Temple.

(Previously Published on Canada.com)

Nestled along the coast line of Riviera Nayarit, Mexico lies San Blas, a small but picturesque fishing town steeped in tradition. It’s where the heart and soul of Mexico resides, and where culture, beauty and way of life come together to welcome travellers from all over the world.
From the airport in Puerto Vallarta, there is bus provided twice a day to San Blas (early in the morning and early afternoon). It’s about a three-hour ride, but provides an opportunity for visitors to take in the beauty of the country side. We opted to take a rental car to the town, which allowed us to make stops along the way.

Hotel Garza Canela, San Blas
Hotel Garza Canela, San Blas.

The charm and hospitality couldn’t be more evident than in the family-run Hotel Garza Canela, an iconic hotel that has stood the test of time. For the past 36 years, Betty Vasquez and her family have run the hotel, welcoming visitors both into their resort, and into their family.
Our family was welcomed with open arms when we arrived by Betty, her mother Dora, and her sisters, Josefina, Doris, Diana and brother Hector. Once inside, we met with the Hotel’s official greeter, Morusa, a 12-year old dachshund, who is also dubbed the princess of the manor.  She takes her role quite seriously as she walks along with guests, waiting patiently for their attention and admiration.

Head Chef Betty Vasquez preparing a dish at her restaurant, El Delfin
Head Chef Betty Vasquez preparing a dish at her restaurant, El Delfin.

What I was most looking forward to was the food at El Delfin, the restaurant located at the hotel. Betty studied at Le Cordon Bleu School in Paris and has also appeared on Iron Chef America in 2013, during the International Iron Chef Competition held in Toronto.

After a leisurely swim in the beautiful outdoor pool, the children were anxious to sit down for dinner. As every parent knows sometimes children can be picky eaters, however, I needn’t have worried, as the children were provided with fresh fish (caught that day) lightly battered with a homemade tartar sauce. My son asked for a second helping after he cleaned his plate.

During our stay, we were treated to such creations as Ceviche con curry (fresh fish marinated with curry and mint), sopes with oyster (little corn tortillas with oysters and pickled veggies) and chicken breast stuffed with shrimp with bell pepper mole with pineapple salad. The desserts were an absolute treat and included fresh ginger ice cream and flan with apple compote (apples fresh from the family’s own orchard).

One particular evening, I watched as Betty moved about her restaurant, hugging guests and welcoming them back. It is evident that the hotel has become a home away from home, where guests return year after year to be remembered and embraced.

Chapel at Hotel Garza Canela
Chapel at Hotel Garza Canela.

The rooms are comfy and quaint and overlook the courtyard of the hotel. There is a playground for the children, and a stunning chapel and gardens for visitors who want to reflect, pray and even exchange vows.
San Blas has much to offer in the way of nature. A truly fun adventure was a visit to La Tovara National Park. It is a sanctuary for birds in a natural mangrove forest that is fed by the Pacific Ocean.

Boat ride through the mangroves in La Tovara National Park
Boat ride through the mangroves in La Tovara National Park.

There, we experienced a thrilling motor boat ride through the mangroves to view the hundreds of native birds and migratory ones as well as the crocodiles and swamp turtles. At the end of the hour-long ride, we paid a visit to the wild life refuge and crocodile sanctuary. It was absolutely amazing to get a close-up view of many of the larger crocodiles.
The sanctuary helps to preserve the species that is currently endangered. There are approximately 50 adults and 250 young alligators in captivity, which will later be released into their natural habitat.

"Las Islitas" San Blas, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico
“Las Islitas” San Blas, Riviera Nayarit, Mexico.

We also had the gift of visiting a little piece of paradise, known as Las Islitas. These beaches are truly spectacular.  The children were able to play in the surf, learn to boogie board, and enjoy a freshly caught fish luncheon served to us right on the beach.
Bahia de Matanchen, located just south of San Blas, will impress surfers, water skiers, sailboat navigators and divers alike.
Other must-see attractions include the ruins of the San Basilio Fortress which was founded in 1530, La Contaduria which was built in 1770, the ruins of the Nuestra Señora del Rosario Temple which was constructed in 1769, and the Ex Maritime Customs transformed into the Culture House (it has spectacular views of San Blas).

Sea Bass grilled on wood coals, "Las Islitas", San Blas
Sea Bass grilled on wood coals, “Las Islitas,” San Blas.

Life seems to go at a slower pace when you are in San Blas. Perhaps it’s the beauty of nature that surrounds it, or it could the people and their appreciation for life that shines through. Maybe it’s both.
What is known for sure: if you want a truly culturally enriching experience in Mexico, a visit to San Blas is something the whole family will remember for years to come.

Our family with Chef Betty Vasquez at Hotel Garza Canela, San Blas
Our family with Chef Betty Vasquez at Hotel Garza Canela, San Blas.