Hotels for the avid sports traveller

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Posted January 5, 2017 by Adrian Brijbassi in Boutique Hotels
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The Blue Jays led the American League in attendance in 2016 and are a good bet to do the same in 2017 if they continue their winning ways. (Adrian Brijbassi file photo/Vacay.ca)

Vacay.ca has teamed with Hotels.com to create a series of articles highlighting fantastic travel experiences in Canada. In this installment, Managing Editor Adrian Brijbassi provides suggestions for sports travellers as they venture to games in major centres around the country.

Story by Adrian Brijbassi
Vacay.ca Managing Editor

Sports fans are among the most enthusiastic of travellers. They arrive in cities for the game yet also indulge in food, drinks, and sports-related shopping and activities. Win or lose, the good times don’t begin or end in the stadium for fans venturing to catch a game on the road. Here are four Canadian sports experiences and hotel choices not to be missed.

1. Toronto’s Hot Sports Hub

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What sports fan doesn’t love pizza? At Buca in downtown Toronto, the pies are champions. (Adrian Brijbassi/Vacay.ca)

Air Canada Centre, home to the NBA Raptors and NHL Maple Leafs, and Rogers Centre, which the Toronto Blue Jays have turned into as raucous a venue as there is in Major League Baseball, are only a few blocks apart. The atmosphere south of Front Street in downtown Toronto is electric on game nights. You can have your pick of bars, although Real Sports Bar and Grill, adjacent to the Air Canada Centre is arguably the finest sports bar in Canada — and one of the hardest to get into, so reserve a table or arrive early. Restaurants abound within walking distance to the game, including Buca, which ranked No. 8 on the 2015 Vacay.ca Top Restaurants in Canada Guide and is located on King Street West. The Hockey Hall of Fame is close by, as well, and so are free public ice-skating rinks.

Hotel Suggestion: Le Germain Maple Leaf Square is located in the heart of the city’s sports action, across the street from Air Canada Centre and next to Real Sports Bar and Grill.
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.8/5.0
Location: 75 Bremner Boulevard, Toronto, ON
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $261 per night for a weekend stay in January.
Late-night Suggestion: The Citizen (522 King Street West) is a hot spot for club-goers who also enjoy quality cocktails when they’re not on the dance floor.

2. Vancouver’s West Coast Charm

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Smooth-skating Henrik Sedin is one reason any hockey fan would enjoy watching the Canucks in action. (Adrian Brijbassi/Vacay.ca)

The NHL Canucks are down low in the standings, but the attraction of Vancouver is always top of mind for just about any traveller. The warmest of Canada’s big cities, Vancouver attracts visitors even during its dreary rainy-day winters. Sports travellers arriving for a hockey game, or to see the MLS Whitecaps in action, are treated to some of the best dining choices in Canada, as well as a craft-beer scene that continues to produce award-winning brews. The Shark Club, which re-opened in 2015 after a lengthy renovation project, is the best sports bar in town, featuring two massive screens, dozens of smaller TVs carrying many games from around the world, and a variety of craft beers on tap. Winter sports lovers have only to make a 20-minute drive to the nearest mountains on the city’s north shore, where skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing can be enjoyed. For world-class mountain experiences, Whistler is a 90-minute drive away.

Hotel Suggestion: Opus Hotel is in Yaletown, which is filled with bars and restaurants. Most importantly for travellers, Opus is across from the Yaletown-Roundhouse train station, allowing easy access to the Canada Line that shuttles passengers to and from Vancouver International Airport in about 20 minutes.
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.7/5.0
Location: 322 Davie Street, Vancouver, BC
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $260 per night for a weekend stay in January.
Before the Game: Try some oysters at Fanny Bay Oyster Co., which launched in 2016 and serves sustainably farmed bivalves and a happy hour featuring $1 oysters.

3. Witness Downtown Edmonton’s Revival

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The Edmonton Oilers are a hot ticket, especially with their cool new arena. (Adrian Brijbassi/Vacay.ca)

Rogers Place opened on September 8, 2016, and has immediately transformed the experience of going to a game in downtown Edmonton. Restaurants are full, bars are packed, plans are in the works for state-of-the-art public entertainment facilities outside of the arena. And, Wayne Gretzky, in bronze, still presides over the entrance to the Edmonton Oilers’ games. Right now, Edmonton is feeling like a winner and so will visitors arriving to catch a hockey game, or another entertainment product at the new arena.

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The lovely Fairmont Hotel Macdonald features views of the North Saskatchewan River and is within walking distance of Rogers Place. (Adrian Brijbassi/Vacay.ca)

Hotel Suggestion: Fairmont Hotel Macdonald
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.4/5.0
Location: 10065 100 Street Northwest, Edmonton
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $234 per night for a weekend stay in January.
Game-Ready Food Option: Rostizado, which serves excellent Mexican food, is located across the street from Rogers Arena and has launched a burrito-and-beer special for $18 (dine-in) or $12 (for take-out; burrito only) on game nights.

4. Winnipeg Is Crazy for the Jets

Few, if any, fan bases in North America care as much about their favourite sports team as Winnipeg. The Jets return to the city in 2011 sparked a revival in civic pride. The MTS Centre, the team’s home arena, seats just 15,294 for hockey, making it the smallest venue in the NHL. That intimacy creates a wickedly loud and exciting environment that must be witnessed at least once by any sports fan. On game nights, the city is filled with revellers who, now that they have their team back, are dreaming of one day bringing home the Stanley Cup.

Hotel Suggestion: Inn at the Forks
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.4/5.0
Location: 75 Forks Market Road, Winnipeg, MB
Hotels.com Room Rates: As low as $137 per night.
Tip for Embracing the Cold: Pack your ice skates (or rent a pair) and hit the frozen Forks, the nickname of the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine rivers that freezes over each winter, creating a beautiful, meandering trail.

  • Pricing accurate as of January 3, 2017 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.


About the Author

Adrian Brijbassi
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Adrian is the editor of Vacay.ca and his articles are frequently syndicated by the Huffington Post and appear in the Globe & Mail. He makes regular appearances on CTV News, TSN Radio and CJSF Radio, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. A former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing and fiction, and has visited more than 30 countries. He is also a judge for the World’s 50 Best Restaurants and spearheaded the Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada list that debuted in April 2012.

 
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