Of course the Muir Hotel has its own schooner.
That thought flicked through my head when I learned of the yacht experience — and that I was going on it.
The schooner, which unsurprisingly has a resemblance to the Bluenose, moves fast in the Halifax Harbour, reaching 8 knots when the sails lift, revealing the luxury hotel’s logo as the fabric unfurls to appear like a beacon for those who seek out glam kinds of exhilaration.
The cruise connects travellers to two defining features of the Nova Scotia capital — the natural harbour that made Halifax a significant port for goods and for people (it is home to the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, an impactful facility that honours the nation’s history of newcomers), and, secondly, the new manmade wonder that is the city’s gleaming waterfront.
Dubbed the Queen’s Marque district, the waterfront is about two kilometres (1.25 miles) along the harbour, featuring 10,000 square feet of cafes and restaurants including a container village of takeout eateries, kid-friendly distractions like a hopscotch board and a maze, boutique shops and tourism-related kiosks, and art everywhere.
At the heart of it is the Muir. There’s nothing not to admire in this 109-room hotel — and what you admire most is the dedication to a vision imagined by the local ownership group. Its realization of a harbour district catapults the Nova Scotia capital’s stature as a global destination. Despite all of its luxury (it owns $7 million of artwork and the largest private suite east of Montreal), the Muir is a neighbourhood experience. It includes 144 residences attached to the hotel, as well as corporate spaces, and it shares ownership with eight Queen’s Marque restaurants, one of which is the on-site Drift, whose executive chef is Toronto’s acclaimed Anthony Walsh. [Read More: Chefs Profile on Anthony Walsh]
A two-year-old property that has earned a place among the Marriott Autograph Collection, the Muir, along with the entire Queen’s Marque, has completely transformed the Halifax experience. The area has done for the city what the Distillery District did for Toronto and the new Ice District promises for Edmonton — a complete renewal and reimagining of a space that becomes an instant magnet for locals and travellers, resulting in a shift in both how people live and play, and how the city both identifies itself and is perceived.
Halifax is suddenly chic. The restaurants are elegant and serve modern cuisine alongside dependable lobster rolls and donairs. You can choose Tim Horton’s or walk a few steps to Grounded Coffee for an artisanal brew. Find an old-fashioned ice cream or lose yourself in the stunning Peace By Chocolate Boutique that harkens you with some of the best truffles and artisanal bars in the world, and keeps you enthralled with its heart and history. Rather than the raucousness of Argyle Street, the nightlife hot spot long regarded as the place to be in Halifax, you now have the option to stroll into a quiet wine bar or catch street performers on the boardwalk or observe the public art around the Muir or inside it at the hotel’s own art gallery.
Of course, guests can also soothe themselves in the Muir, which underscores its nautical theme with elements such as a shiplap ceiling, earthy tones that resemble the sky on chilly days at sea, and artistic touches like porthole-style windows that add to the motif.
A eucalyptus sauna and halotherapy salt room are among the amenities, so is an 8,000-square-foot gym. The hotel often offers private fitness classes that are complimentary for guests.
A third-floor speakeasy called BKS (Best-Kept Secret) is reserved for guests and occupants of the residential units. It is a cocktail lounge with a heated patio that overlooks the harbour and the increasing amount of bustling activity on the boardwalk.
You can sit there before or after your yacht cruise, thinking the east coast of Canada — famed for its small-town charms and humble appearances — has delivered something new and needed: High class and the exceptionalism that comes with it.
MORE ABOUT VISITING THE MUIR
Location: 1709 Lower Water Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia (see map below)
Room Rates: Nightly rates vary depending on the season and the activities in the city. A recent search for a weekend night in August showed a rate of $686 per night. Visit the Muir’s website for details.
More Coverage: “The Muir Makes Waves on the Halifax Waterfront” by Claudia Laroye
Ease Your Lift Off at ALT Hotel Halifax
As Halifax beckons more travellers, its airport becomes a more active hub. That’s why the ALT Hotel’s Stanfield International Airport location is so attractive. Attached by a covered glass tunnel to the airport’s terminal, the ALT is an exceptionally smart and accommodating property — and affordable.
A contemporary lounge area is suited for business travellers while family-friendly features include a full-service restaurant that also has grab-and-go options, which are ideal for passengers on the move. The restaurant’s open-concept look is appealing with booths and high-top seats congregating around the bar and kitchen.
Several rooms have windows facing the runway for thrilling views of takeoffs and landings. As with many airport hotels, there are luggage carts at the front desk to help ease your walk to the gate for your flight.
The ALT Halifax is comfort and convenience for those guests who can be weary or time-poor from travel. As its name suggests, it’s a quality alternative that ticks all the necessary boxes for its niche.
MORE ABOUT THE ALT HOTEL HALIFAX AIRPORT
Location: 40 Silver Dart Drive, Goffs, Nova Scotia. It’s a 25-minute drive from downtown Halifax, and a one-way taxi/Uber ride will cost about $50.
Room Rates: Prices vary depending on the season. A recent search on the property’s search engine for a weekend night in August, returned a rate of $319. Visit the ALT’s website for details.
Note: Vacay.ca Managing Editor Adrian Brijbassi was hosted by the Muir Hotel and received a media rate from the ALT Hotel Halifax. Neither property reviewed this article before it was published.