Summer lovin’, had me a blast. Summer lovin’, happened so fast…
Ah, summer! Now that the warmest season of the year is near, it’s time for Canadians to tuck away jackets and boots and start planning their summer weekend road trips and beach visits. As the temperatures rise, though, many turn their focus from sand and sun to heating up their own love lives as well.
If you’re looking for a summer romance, you may want to catch a flight to San Francisco, New York City or Miami, according to a new survey from Misstravel.com.
Misstravel.com, a dating/travel website that says it ”pairs beautiful people who want to travel with generous frequent flyers, eager to fund travel for the right companion,” has released a list of the top 20 North American cities for summer romance. The results are based on data from nearly 25,000 travel dating trips planned for summer 2013.
“Picking the right destination could mean the difference between finding a platonic connection and falling in love,” Brandon Wade, CEO of Misstravel.com said in a press release.
San Francisco topped the list, followed by New York, Miami, Las Vegas and Toronto. Montreal (11th) and Vancouver (19th) also represent Canada on the list of 20. Find the full list of 20 below and on our interactive map.
The Top 20 Most Romantic Cities in North America, from Misstravel.com
1. San Francisco, CA
2. New York, NY
3. Miami, FL
4. Las Vegas, NV
5. Toronto, ON
6. Los Angeles, CA
7. Orlando, FL
8. Dallas, TX
9. Honolulu, HI
10. Nashville, TN
11. Montreal, QC
12. Austin, TX
13. San Diego, CA
14. Seattle, WA
15. Chicago, IL
16. Philadelphia, PA
17. Washington D.C.
18. Santa Barbara, CA
19. Vancouver, BC
20. Salt Lake City, UT
“I don’t think anyone makes a profit on room service because of its labour costs,” John Fox, senior vice president of PKF Consulting, told Crain’s.
The Hilton Midtown will instead open a “grab and go” cafeteria in the hotel this summer which will be open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Hilton Hawaiian was the first Hilton to eliminate room service and other hotels in the Hilton chain may soon follow as the chain has also said it plans to simplify the ordering of food at its Embassy Suites and Double Tree by Hilton properties.
“Like most full-service hotels, New York Hilton Midtown has continued to see a decline in traditional room-service requests over the last several years,” said a statement from the Hilton Midtown.
The elimination of the room service program at the Hilton will cost 55 people their jobs.
Crain’s reports that other hotels, from the Hudson New York to the Public Chicago, have already stopped offering room service, opting to give visitors paper bag meals at their convenience instead.
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A recent survey from BMO Insurance found that just half of Canadians purchase travel insurance before leaving home. With 83% of us saying we’re planning to travel between May and September, that’s a lot of travellers who opt to travel without insurance.
As an avid traveller, I know choosing and understanding travel insurance can be confusing and frustrating. In the hopes of answering some of our Canoe.ca and Sun Media readers’ most asked travel insurance questions, Travelzoo Canada‘s travel insurance expert Michael Duchesne joined us for a live chat yesterday. These are his top tips for choosing an insurance provider and finding the very best deal on travel insurance.
I’m travelling from PEI to Banff. Since I’m not leaving Canada, do I need to buy extra travel insurance? – Reb82
Michael Duchesne: If you plan to travel outside of your home province, it is strongly recommended that you obtain additional private medical insurance and fully understand what your policy covers. This comes into play with things like trip cancellation or interruption insurance, which covers pre-paid non-refundable expenses should your travel plans be interrupted or cancelled.
I’m flying to Central America. What if I cancel my trip for reasons that are not medical or emergency, will insurance cover that?? – MFJ
MD: Trip cancellation and travel health insurance are two distinct services. Trip cancellation covers pre-paid and non-refundable expenses if your plans are interrupted or cancelled. The five main types of insurance are generally sold in a combo of sorts. If you only want one, then ask for it and ask whether there are incentives to upgrade to all or just some. A comprehensive package covers trip cancellation and interruption, evacuation, medical and baggage, even flight insurance.
My 92 year old mother in law wants to go on a one week Alaska cruise. Trip leaves and returns to Vancouver, where we live. She will probably stay on the ship the whole time. She has had heart attack and a cancer issue which she takes medication for. She is OK now. I am finding that companies do not offer coverage over 90 years old. Your advice. – John
MD: I would encourage you search for specialist travel insurers. Select insurance companies cover people if their medical conditions are under control and stable for certain period. As a caveat, be advised that a minor change in someone’s prescription or medication can mean that the medical condition is not considered “stable”.
I cannot help but be cynical with insurance because of the number of incidents that I hear of where the insurance company refuses coverage for some technicality. How can I be sure that I am not just wasting my money on a premium where coverage will be denied, delayed or altered if I should ever have to use it? – John Wood
MD: Because of our public healthcare system, many Canadians are unaware of the cost of hospitalization and treatment outside of their own borders. This is where planning comes into play. Ask a litany of questions when speaking with potential providers. The cost to purchase trip insurance is nominal when you consider what it could cost for a stay in hospital outside of Canada. Everyone should strive for peace of mind, because you have already taken time to plan a trip and spent money.
Michael, what are some questions travellers should be asking their travel insurance providers? – Nicole
MD: I would suggest asking what is the coverage cap? Does it cover trips longer than 30 days? Keep in mind that travel agents recommend that you get travel insurance because they get a percentage when you buy it, and because they could be held liable for losses if insurance options aren’t explained correctly. While they can give you information and provide direction, they are not insurance agents. It’s very important to direct specific questions to the insurance provider.
Air Canada’s new leisure airline, rouge, will take to the skies starting July 1 and on Monday, the airline debuted the uniforms the more than 2,000 flight staff members will wear.
It took four months for Air Canada and its design partners to complete the new uniforms. Montreal’s VF Imagewear was involved in conceptualizing the uniforms in Air Canada’s signature burgundy shade, while Fluevog designed the shoes and L’Oreal/Redken developed a grooming and makeup combo for a ”distinctly on-trend and fresh Air Canada rouge look.”
“Our goal was to create a unique, welcoming and fashion forward look with lasting appeal that would also be practical and comfortable,” Renee Smith-Valade, vice president of customer experience, said in a press release. “We developed our uniform and overall look with our partners in record time … with close attention to cost and making every effort to engage with Canadian designers for an end result that reflects our relaxed, fun, holiday atmosphere onboard.”
Courtesy Air Canada rouge
Air Canada rouge flight attendants are being trained in service excellence at the Disney Institute at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
“We’re investing in the Disney Institute’s service excellence training to ensure our customers’ vacations truly start when they board our aircraft,” Michael Friisdahl, Air Canada rouge president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. ”By offering exceptional customer service, uncompromising safety, a relaxed inflight environment and a host of Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations benefits, we’re confident Air Canada rouge will soon be the leading choice for leisure travel.”
Air Canada rouge operates as a leisure airline alongside Air Canada Vacations. Initially, flights will operate from Toronto and Montreal to vacation destinations in the Caribbean and Europe with plans to expand over the next three years. For more information, visit aircanada.com.
I’m a huge fan of the Twilight movie and book franchise (no shame!) and have long dreamed of setting out on a Twilight trip to Forks, Washington, the small, rainy town where human Bella Swan meets her vampire love, Edward Cullen. Last week, my dream became reality when my co-worker Marianne and I made the journey first to Seattle, then on to Twilight towns Forks, La Push and Port Angeles.
This once-in-a-lifetime trip was quite involved and took a lot of planning – everything from ferry rides to rental cars to restaurant reservations had to be secured — but, now that we’re back, I can’t believe how far we travelled and how all my planning really made it easy to pull off. Thinking of making a Twilight trip of your own? Just follow my five-day itinerary…
‘Twilight’ in Seattle
Start your Twilight trip on a Monday in Seattle, an artsy city with laid-back residents and a gorgeous waterfront, that acts as the setting for a couple memorable scenes from the Twilight series. In The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, villain Victoria’s newborn vampire army assembles in Seattle before tracking Bella to Forks, where they had planned to kill her, and in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Bella drives from Forks to Seattle to meet with J. Jenks, a mysterious man who holds the key — and forged documents – for her family’s future.
Escala. (Nicole Feenstra photo)
Escala. (Nicole Feenstra photo)
Seattle is also the setting for Fifty Shades of Grey,the saucy S&M romance that originated online as Twilight fan fiction. Visit Pike Place Market (the bustling public market that Ana and and her friend Kate live near), Escala (the luxurious condo building the brooding Christian Grey calls home) and the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, where Ana and Christian escape for a night.
The centrally located Fairmont Olympic Hotel hosted us during the Seattle portion of our trip and was the perfect base for exploring the downtown core by foot. Attractions like the Seattle Space Needle, Seattle Aquarium and the world’s first Starbucks coffee shop are just blocks away. If the Seattle weather turns rainy, as it often does, simply borrow an umbrella from the concierge desk on your way out.
This historic 450-room hotel opened in 1924 on what was originally the campus of the University of Washington. Now listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the landmark Fairmont Olympic is a classic example of Italian renaissance architecture and design. Walk through the soaring, opulently decorated lobby to the Georgian restaurant, where I enjoyed a savoury, mouthwatering frittata with heirloom tomatoes and avocado for breakfast, or head to the fabulous Shuckers restaurant, where I washed down fresh Puget Sound oysters with Washington white wine. Tuck yourself into a plush king-size bed in your well-appointed guest room at the end of the day.
Wave goodbye to Seattle on Wednesday from the deck of the ferry to Bainbridge Island, where McDreamy parked his trailer on Grey’s Anatomy.
It was drizzling lightly when we completed the 2.5 hour drive from Seattle to Port Angeles, much like the weather Bella experienced when she first arrived in Washington state from Phoenix. A lovely waterfront town located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, just across from Victoria, B.C., which we would have been able to see if the day hadn’t been so foggy, Port Angeles is where Bella and her friends go to shop for prom dresses, watch movies at the Lincoln Theater and is where Edward and Bella have their first date.
Bella Italia. (Nicole Feenstra photo)
Bella’s Mushroom Ravioli. (Nicole Feenstra photo)
Bella Italia is famous among “Twi-Hards” as the restaurant where Edward and Bella have their first date and he finally begins to open up to her about his secretive past. Bella orders the mushroom ravioli, made with Olympic forest mushrooms and creamy besciamella sauce. Once a seasonal dish, fans visiting Bella Italia requested the pasta so often that it is now a permanent menu feature. Order a Coca Cola to drink, Bella’s choice in the book!
It was another hour drive along a glacial lake down a winding, single-lane road from Port Angeles to Forks. The rain drops continued to fall and the clouds hung low in the sky, hiding the tops of the mountains across the lake. The trees were tall, incredibly green and covered in moss. We would see a deer along the side of this road when heading back to Seattle at the end of our trip. The closer we got to Forks, the deeper we travelled into the Olympic rainforest, the more I began to see before me what Bella had described seeing the book when her dad, Police Chief Swan, drove with her to Forks.
Glacial lake and mountains, from Port Angeles to Forks. (Nicole Feenstra photo)
Welcome to Forks! (Nicole Feenstra photo)
We passed the welcome to Forks sign on our way into town, identical to the sign in the movie and a prime spot to stop and take some photos before heading to the Pacific Inn Motel, a spotless little motel where the WiFi was free and the beds were soft. We had made it!
Spend Thursday morning in La Push, a Native reservation about 20 minutes from Forks. Bella drives her old Chevy truck down the dark, tree-lined La Push Road to spend afternoons with her werewolf friend, Jacob. You’ll pass the clearly marked treaty line at Three Rivers Resort between vampire territory in Forks and werewolf territory in La Push. Stop and take a photo or duck inside the Three Rivers restaurant for a werewolf burger and vampire shake.
Just follow the road right to First Beach at La Push, where Jacob tells Bella about the Quileute tribe’s “cold ones” vampire legends for the first time and where Bella goes cliff diving in The Twilight Saga: New Moon with dangerous consequences. The view of the Pacific Ocean is stunning from First Beach, as are the rocks, covered in trees and greenery, jutting out of the water. Waves crash against the shore, attracting surfers to this destination.
Head back to Forks to see the various Twilight points of interest around town. Forks is small, very walkable and the Chamber of Commerce provides a walking map on their website. Visitors can also opt to join the Team Forks Twilight bus tour, the top ranked Forks attraction on TripAdvisor, at a cost of $30 per person.
Pose for a photo as Bella at Native to Twilight.
Snap a photo of yourself infront of the Cullen or Swan houses — they look nothing like the houses do in the movies, but were the inspiration for Stephenie Meyer when writing the Twilight books — stop by Forks High School, home of the Spartans and where Bella attended classes with Edward after moving from Phoenix and see the places where Bella’s dad, Charlie, worked at the police station and where Edward’s dad, Carlisle, worked at the hospital.
My favourite stop was the Forks Chamber of Commerce, where guests can pose with Bella’s Chevy truck — both the 1953 version from the books and the 1963 version from the movies are on display — and duck inside the building to pin a needle representing their hometown on a map. It was hard to find an island or country without a pin on the map, proving the reach the vampire love franchise has had in attracting people to Forks, the former logging capital of the world.
Bella’s trucks at Forks Chamber of Commerce. (Nicole Feenstra photo)
Bella’s trucks at Forks Chamber of Commerce. (Nicole Feenstra photo)
Make the Native to Twilight store your last stop to pick up some Twilight souvenirs before make the 3.5 hour drive back to Seattle to catch your flight home. Whether you’re in the market for magnets, Edward dolls, Twilight tote bags, copies of the books or postcards, this store is full of memorabillia and opportunities to pose with some cutouts of Edward, Bella and Jacob for photos.
I hope you find inspiration in my travels to set out on your own fandom tour, whether you want to see the Washington state locales in Twilight, the New Zealand countryside featured in Lord of the Rings or the New York of Sex and the City. On all your travels, may you, as Edward would say, be safe!
Nicole Feenstra is the National Online Travel Editor for Sun Media and Canoe.ca. Some of her favourite travel destinations include Chicago, New York City, Dublin, the Netherlands and the Dominican Republic.