Hot spots for a cold-weather vacation
Vacay.ca has teamed with Hotels.com to create a series of articles highlighting the best hotel travel experiences in Canada. In this instalment, Vacay.ca writer Guillermo Serrano looks at some of the top options for fun and festive Canadian destinations during this holiday season.
Story by Guillermo Serrano
Canada is a country where winter is a way of life. Whether you’re a local or a tourist, places are already decked out to celebrate the holiday season in every province. So grab your cozy parka, scarf, gloves and hat, and embrace the chilly weather in some of the hottest places to spend the holiday season in Canada.
Christmas Shopping and More in Quebec City
One of the Christmassiest places in the world is Quebec City. No wonder CNN ranked this city among the world’s top 10 destinations for celebrating the holidays. Nothing will make you realize how many more gifts you need to buy than going to the Old Port Christmas Market, which is open until December 31, but closed on Christmas Day. The market has more than 1,000 local products where you’re certain to find the gift you need to give and the gifts you’re going to keep for yourself.
If you are dreaming about carols, sugar plum fairies and soldiers singing and dancing, the National Arts Centre has an annual Canadian Christmas tradition with performances during the season. Located just minutes from the Old Port Christmas Market is the venerable Auberge Saint-Antoine in the city’s historical quarters where rooms can be found for $219 a night*.
Address: 8, rue Saint-Antoine, Quebec, QC
Amenities: Free WiFi, full-service spa, childcare
Hotels.com Guest Rating: 4.9 / 5
Ottawa’s Holiday Happenings
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau officially opens the Christmas season in Ottawa. The festivities start with an illumination ceremony; expect the prime minister to flip the switch himself. Walk around Parliament Hill or Confederation Boulevard featuring illumination displays while carolling and eating BeaverTails, crêpes and maple candy, and drinking egg nog. In fact, millions of litres of egg nog is consumed in Canada every year during the holiday season.
Another tradition is turkey. La Bottega Nicastroh has one of the best turkey sandwich places in Ottawa. Made on fresh made bread and layered with deli meats and local cheeses and vegetables.
If you want to be in the middle of everything, stay at the Delta Hotel by Marriott Ottawa City Centre. Rooms can be booked for as low as $139 a night*.
Address: 101 Lyon Street, Ottawa, ON
Amenities: Free WiFi, indoors pool, full-service spa, 24-hours business centre
Hotels.com Guest Rating: 4.2 / 5
Explore Whistler’s Winter Fun
Named North America’s best resort by readers of Ski Magazine, Whistler is beloved by both tourists and locals. Just two hours north of Vancouver, the village offers the ideal winter playground for all ages. A must try is the Scandinave Spa where the Swedish massage will leave you feeling relaxed and calm during the stressful holiday season. The Scandinavian baths is hydrotherapy and a certain way to stimulate blood circulation and the release of endorphins. If the holiday season has you feeling drained, here’s where to go to say, “Ahhhh…” Afterwards, head to Alta Bistro where local owners are passionate about bringing diners seasonally inspired French cuisine sourced from nearby farms and some of the best cocktails you can find. White Christmas in Whistler is why you come.
In this winter paradise, there are fun activities every day including Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. You can go tubing, ice skating, snowmobiling and, of course, skiing and snowboarding. In Whistler, stay at the Aava Whistler Hotel, which is luxurious and convenient and all you can hope for in a fun winter getaway. Rooms in January are still available for $113 a night*.
Address: 4005 Whistler Way, Whistler, BC
Amenities: Free WiFi, outdoor pool, ski storage
Hotels.com Guest Rating: 4.1 / 5
Niagara’s Victorian Getaway
Drive two hours southwest west of Toronto and you can have a Victorian Christmas with a guided stroll through Niagara-on-the-Lake. Accompanied by local choirs and seasonal entertainment, your tour begins at the Old Courthouse building. Or if you prefer just follow the crowds around the streets to see and hear people with candles and singing on street corners and on church steps with their long dresses or coats and fancy hats on. It is a memorable glimpse into a nearly forgotten era.
Niagara-on-the-Lake is not only famous for its gorgeous scenery, but also for being one of the few places in the world where icewine is produced.
Once Christmas if finished, stay in the region to ring in the new year in one of the world’s best-known natural attractions. Thousands of people will be watching the fireworks over Niagara Falls at midnight. The Winter Festival of Lights strings more than three million lights throughout the city, and also features weekly fireworks over the Falls, and musicals, shopping fairs and concert. After a long day around the Niagara Region, chill down in the intimate Woodbourne Inn. Rooms go for about $239 a night*.
Address: 214 Four-Mile Creek Road, St. Davids, Niagara, ON
Amenities: Free full breakfast, WiFi, parking, library
Hotels.com Guest Rating: 5 / 5
Find Bargains and Fun in Calgary
Residents of Alberta spend close to $1,000 on average per person in retail stores during Christmas, more than any other Canadian province. With its zero provincial sales tax, you can buy more in Alberta, which makes Calgary a great place to spend your holiday dollars. And there’s no better place to shop in the city than The CORE Shopping Centre. There’s a great selection of stores, a fantastic food court and the gardens on the top floor are beautiful. The glass ceiling is amazing and naturally lets in an incredible amount of sunshine.
While taking a trip to the zoo may not be your best plan on a cold winter’s day, in Calgary it’s a tradition. Go to Zoolight, the annual event that the Calgary Zoo hosts. Walk past the 1.5 million lights while sipping hot chocolate. Then visit the kids-only Elf’s Toy Shop, Candy Land, and “Santa Vision,” to speak directly to Santa in the North Pole.
With prices beginning at $156 a night, Sheraton Suites Calgary Eau Claire is a good spot to kick off your holiday bargain shopping. With 323 smoke-free guestrooms, Sheraton Suites allows you the freedom to begin your day with a refreshing breakfast and wind down with a soak in the indoor pool or drinks on the rooftop terrace.
Address: 255 Barclay Parade SW, Calgary, AB
Amenities: Indoor pool, rooftop terrace, sky storage, 24-hour fitness centre
Hotels.com Guest Rating: 4.5 / 5
Note: All of these stunning, hotels, plus hundreds of thousands more, can be booked online via Hotels.com or through the mobile app available for IOS, Android, Windows and Amazon Kindle devices, where customers will also have access to special Secret Prices** to help them save even more.
*Pricing accurate as of December 6, 2016 date on Hotels.com.
** Secret Prices are available to Hotels.com app users, Hotels.com™ Rewards members and individuals who unlock Secret Prices on the website by subscribing to Hotels.com by email. Secret Prices will be shown where the “Your Secret Price” banner is displayed on your search results. Available on selected hotels and selected dates only. Subject to full terms and conditions.