Healthy Destination : British Columbia
Fall is a great time to travel because the summer crowds have thinned out and the crispness in the air allows for more breadth of activity in the great outdoors. If the kids’ schedules are any indication, there are a good number of days where schools are closed. Visiting British Columbia is great any time of the year but for me, fall is my favorite. Last year, I was signed up for a Pilates workshop in Vancouver, which allowed a quick side trip to Victoria for a short 2 days. This year, I attended 3 different Pilates studios all in separate locations, which enabled me to truly experience the beauty of the region.
As a studio owner, I often find myself sticking to the same repertoire and teaching the scripted movements, so to stay inspired, I take classes as often as I can from other teachers. Whenever there is an opportunity to learn and support continuing education, I am an advocate for it. Not only that, it’s also a great perspective to visit other studios and observe the etiquette and experience classes.
My journey kicked off in Vancouver, where I visited Meridian Pilates, owned by Heather Low, who has been teaching since 1996. The studio is situated in the heart of Kitsilano neighborhood in Vancouver. Vancouver is an eclectic city by the sea and surrounded by mountains which is bustling with activities for the health and wellness enthusiast.
1.Take a ride or bike around the Stanley Park Seawall. Stanley Park is one of the largest urban parks in North America and is surrounded almost entirely by waters of Vancouver Harbour and English Bay. The park has a long history and was one of the first areas to be explored in the city. Within the park, there is the Prospect Point Lighthouse and Third Beach which is a naturally sandy beach great for relaxing, picnics, and watching sunsets.
2.Take an Aquabus to Granville Island and explore the famous Public Market, which is indoors and features food and crafts from local artisans. Not into shopping? Then you can walk the False Creek Seawall, which is a walking and cycling path connecting English Bay with Science World, Granville Island and Kitsilano Beach.
3. Check into Spa by JW and indulge in their signature 80-minute Clear Your Mind massage, which will leave you feeling relaxed and floating on cloud 9. Make sure to arrive early to take advantage of their spa amenities.
Best Vancouver Hotels:
JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and the DOUGLAS
Recently opened, JW Marriott Parq Vancouver the luxury hotel offers a tranquil spa for focused wellness and modern fitness studio for a sweat session. Smartly located, the hotel allows guests effortless access to eight very diverse restaurants and lounges, and outdoor sixth floor park. The DOUGLAS, an Autograph Collection Hotel, is a separate hotel offering a completely different experience for travelers looking for sophistication and exclusivity. During my visit, I loved the dining experiences conceived by award-winning restaurateur Elizabeth Blau and Chef Kim Canteenwalla, who have just released their book, Honey Salt – a collection of recipes, cooking tips, and stories from their kitchen.
Two of the hotel’s signature restaurants are The Victor and Honey Salt. The Victor features a contemporary and seasonally inspired menu, offering a wide array of Pacific Northwest seafood and a selection of specialty steaks.
Honey Salt is the exact opposite of The Victor. It is light, airy and whimsical celebrating seasonally inspired, farm-to-table cuisine from locally sourced ingredients.
Pan Pacific Vancouver
The enormous Pan Pacific Vancouver is located at the waterfront in downtown Vancouver, the center of activity. The hotel offers stunning vistas of the harbour, mountains and city skyline. With a focus on healthy options, breakfasts at Oceans 999 are delicious and well worth the visit. https://www.panpacific.com/en/hotels-and-resorts/pp-vancouver.html
Before visiting, I heard Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar had received such awards such as “Restaurant of the Year”, “Best Seafood”, and “Leadership” by Vancouver Magazine and Where Vancouver food critics, so I was super excited to get reservations. The restaurant offers a dynamic “East meets West” menu including fresh seafood and excellent sushi and raw bar options.
Coquille Fine Seafood, located in the heart of Vancouver’s historic Gastown District, is trendy and fun. The restaurant offers an inventive menu of fresh-caught seafood and shellfish dishes and features local craft beer and cocktails on tap and a list of notable BC and international wines.
Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, Hawksworth Restaurant features contemporary Canadian cuisine using regional produce. The restaurant is a six-time winner of Vancouver Magazine Restaurant Award’s Best Upscale Restaurant, located in the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.
Sister restaurant Nightingale is nearby with dishes presented as shared plates, or tapas – very popular with the business lunch crowd.
Whistler, just 2 hours north of Vancouver, is perfect for the outdoor enthusiast. Whistler Blackcomb is one of the largest ski resorts in North America with a lot of outdoor activities include skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing in the winter time along with mountain biking and hiking in warmer months. As the venue for 2010 Olympics, Whistler is compact and walkable, with many hiking and biking trails to meander.
1.Visit the Scandinave Spa, where silence is mandatory, as you observe the Nordic tradition of relaxation. The experience of cold (plunge pool) and hot (sauna, steam) will help to alleviate stress and ease tight muscles.
2. The PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is not to be missed because it is an extraordinary experience. Beginning at the Whistler Village, the gondola journeys across the valley to Blackcomb Mountain, allowing a 360-degree view of the mountains. After opening in 2008, the colossal gondola revolutionized the way skiers and riders experienced the mountains. Even though I was scared of heights, I really was fascinated by the experience. Once up on both mountains, there are hiking trails to explore. For more information on Whistler Blackcomb:
3. Take a Yoga class at Fairmont Chateau or visit Whistler’s only Pilates studio.
The hotel offers a morning Yoga class meant to invigorate and energize along with another class later in the day to relax and restore. It’s a perfect option for guests who need to stretch and strengthen after outdoor activities. Whistler Pilates is owned by Louise Tomcheck, who has trained and been certified by Romana Kryzanowska at the center in Sydney, Australia in 2000. The studio is located several minutes outside of Whistler Village.
Best Whistler Hotels:
Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside is conveniently located at the Gondolas to both Whistler and Blackcomb mountains. The property is great because it features spacious suites that come with full kitchens, perfect for cooking meals and staying in on vacation.
Reminding me of a fairytale castle, The Fairmont Chateau Whistler is nestled at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, offering the only ski-in ski-out hotel. For active travelers, the hotel offers an on-site golf course and a full lap pool. No shortage of activities for health and wellness here! Another perk is the Fairmont Fit, which has partnered with Reebok to help you stay active and fit while on vacation by sending apparel and shoes straight to your guest room upon arrival for a small rental fee. When you are departing, you simply leave the items in your room. This was the best thing for me as it lightened my luggage by a lot!
Wildflower Restaurant, located inside the Fairmont Chateau, offers guests an array of healthy options while traveling – whether on business or for pleasure. The restaurant uses fresh, local and organic ingredients focused on regional British Columbia cuisine.
Araxi restaurant’s seasonally focused menus use locally sourced ingredients for healthy plates. The restaurant’s elegant setting is ideal for a special occasion or a night on the town with a collection of curated wine offerings and sophisticated hospitality.
Victoria is easily accessible from Vancouver, Seattle and Whistler. Founded in 1982 with two small seaplanes, Harbour Air is North America’s largest and first fully carbon neutral airline. The international seaplane service, which originally began as a service for the forestry industry in B.C. offers up to 200 daily scheduled flights, scenic tours, adventure packages, and private flights, flying upwards of 450,000 passengers every year. The best part about the seaplane is how quick the travel time is.
Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, sits on the southern tip of Vancouver Island offering a wealth of outdoor activities and charm. While in Victoria, I visited Thrive, a boutique studio, offering small personalized class sizes for Pilates and Yoga. Teachers here are superb at offering modifications and creating an energetic and fun atmosphere for studios. While there, I took a Mat Pilates class targeting an intense core and ab workout.
1.Victoria is known as "The Garden City", so it is most appropriate to visit
Butchart Gardens, with 55 acres of vivid floral displays, plus statuary, water features and a carousel. Make reservations for high tea, served in a formal dining room overlooking the beautiful gardens. A sampling of the menu includes traditional tea sandwiches such as Smoked wild B.C. salmon, caper tarragon cream cheese and Cucumber, pickled ginger cream cheese. https://www.butchartgardens.com/
2. Take a stroll to the Craigdarroch Castle mansion, which showcases the brilliance of Victorian architecture. With over 20,000 square feet of interior space, the castle is a must see. https://thecastle.ca/
3.Victoria’s restaurants are embracing the farm-to-table movement with a handful of restaurants rising to the occasion. Olo, which means “hungry” in Chinook language offers farm-fresh ingredients from local sources. Each dish celebrates life in B.C., using only the best ingredients available and working with amazing farmers, fishermen and foragers to provide an experience that captures the essence of Vancouver Island.
10 acres kitchen is another dining experience focused on offering the freshest foods from Vancouver Island including seafood and cheese along with the finest seasonal produce, meats and eggs direct from their farm on the Saanich Peninsula. Just steps from Victoria’s spectacular Inner Harbour, enjoy the Chinook salmon with tuna rice entrée and head out for a brisk after dinner walk.
Best Victoria Hotel:
Inn at Laurel Point has amazing views of the waterfront - the hotel was originally designed by award-winning architect Arthur Erickson and has serene décor and museum-quality art displayed throughout. The hotel also has an on-site restaurant AURA Waterfront which serves up local and organic fare. We had breakfast here every morning and the eggs benedict are not to be missed – hold the hollandaise sauce! www.laurelpoint.com
Nourish Kitchen & Café offers fresh and seasonal produce in every dish. Located inside a colorful heritage house in the James Bay neighborhood, the restaurant’s motto is to "eat with people you love." The menu also includes an extensive array of teas, nutrient rich elixirs, both broth and coffee.