ON THE ROAD | Lodge K Marrakech

ON THE ROAD | Lodge K Marrakech

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Back in March, I embarked on a trip to Africa. Morocco hadn’t really been a place that was on my radar until my adventurous friend Emily decided to pack up her life and move there to teach. Her sporadic updates and photographs over the past year were enough to convince me that I had better get there to experience it for myself. Two connections later I landed in Marrakech exhausted and astounded by their gorgeous airport. First stop: Lodge K Hotel and Spa.

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Lodge K is an oasis hidden away from the bustle of the Medina. When you drive through the gates, you’re transported to a tropical dream land complete with a spa hidden under a grassy hill which evokes thoughts of hobbit living. Each of the 5 tented suites has it’s own theme – we stayed in the Balinais room and it was a decadent dream. We were greeted with a full fruit spread and a massive tub after a day wandering around the centre as well as our own private pool.

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We were treated to a spa day as well. The day started off with a facial that was MIND BLOWING – both Emily and I agreed we had experienced nothing like it thus far. The whole treatment was created around fresh local ingredients; we essentially could have eaten everything that was applied to our face. Some of the highlights were a banana based mask, having our face rubbed with ice cubes, and most interestingly a technique of applying argan oil before a face mask.

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The facial was followed up with my very first Hammam experience. If you’re wondering, a Hammam is akin to a Turkish bath. We were washed with black soap, scrubbed down with the Moroccan mud and an abrasive glove, rinsed, then treated to some acrobatic yoga in a giant steam room. Life. Changing. (If you’re curious to learn more, my partner in crime Emily made a youtube video HERE)

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Night time by the pool was so relaxing – everything about the lodge was serene.

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Lunch was served poolside with each dish more delicious than the last. We started with some Moroccan rosé wine paired with lobster and a gooseberry garnish, followed by a main of fish which was so tender, and finally a chocolate dessert. No meal is complete without a glass of the famous Moroccan mint tea.

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When anyone asks me what I thought of Morocco, the first words out of my mouth are “life changing” which is what I’ve repeatedly said in this post and has a lot to do with the wonderful hospitality we experienced staying at Lodge K. After staying there, my relaxation level was at the super chill sunglasses emoji face. I cannot wait to return.

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ON THE ROAD | Hotel Congress Tucson

ON THE ROAD | Hotel Congress Tucson

Standing prominently on the corner of Congress Street and Toole Avenue is the legendary Hotel Congress, a Tucson gem. Built in 1919, this historical landmark is home to a music venue, restaurant, and a few happy haunts.

Last month, my sister and I were lucky enough to spend a couple nights in room 223 while experiencing all that the Hotel Congress and old Tucson had to offer.

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Not only is each room is outfitted in antique furniture, the washrooms have original fixtures. I could not get enough of the porcelain soaker tub or the tile floor. The verbena scented soap was a real treat too.

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Each time we had a minute to relax, I immediately flopped on the super comfy bed (complete with antique iron bedframe) and read Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen’s latest offering. It felt fitting considering how many bands have rolled through the Club Congress. Highly recommend this for a vacation read if you’re a fan of The Boss.

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Hotel Congress is home to many quirky details… the penny floor is a prime example. Comprised of 177,000 pennies, this distinct floor is in the Cup Cafe and is quite a sight to behold, not to mention an excellent place to take a shoe selfie.

The hotel also has a pretty fascinating history that they cover in a succinct timeline here. Hint John Dillinger may or may not be involved in their legendary existence.

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If the rooms weren’t already amazing enough with their antique decor, vintage show posters, and ultra comfy beds…. their snack bar is thoughtfully curated as well. Katie and I immediately fell in love with the packaging of the Prickly Pear Cactus Candy. Can confirm that the packaging is just as magnificent as the actual jelly candy itself. So good that Katie couldn’t even wait 5 minutes to bite one before I took the shot.

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Katie and I managed to swan around to Tiger’s bar, the back patio, and to Club Congress to see the locals and all the interesting characters in town for the Tucson Rock & Gem Show. Katie was wearing an eye patch all the while as she was having some complications with her eyeball. Our official story was that she got into a fight with a polar bear; we’re from Canada after all.

After a long day of rock shopping and an evening of the craziest karaoke I have ever experienced (and I’ve been to Japan!) it was nice to take a leisurely soak in the tub.

No evening at the Congress would be complete without a little haunting though. As I drifted off to sleep listening to the club hits of the 90s playing in the distance in the bar, I felt someone sit on my feet at the foot of the bed. Katie was comatose in the bed beside me, so I knew it wasn’t her. Rather than take off my sleep mask and have a peek (I’m such a wuss) I slowly moved my legs over to the other side of the bed. Problem solved! Here’s an overview of some of the alleged haunts in the building.

 

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For breakfast we headed down to the Cup Cafe located off the lobby right in the hotel. Besides the awesome penny floor, the food and service were unbelievable. Their Eggs Benedict blew my mind and I’m sure the horchatta latte would have too had they not of run out of horchatta 🙁 – I guess I’ll just have to go back to make sure!

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The bar in Club Congress was originally from another bar in Tucson called Talk of The Town and it is definitely nice enough to write home about. It’s all about the details! The embossed booths, the cowboy patterned curtains, even the lighting!

I had first heard of the Hotel Congress when my pals from The Wet Secrets played a show there. I wasn’t able to attend but my parents made sure to make an appearance. They repeatedly told me of the Congress and how I would love it; they weren’t wrong.

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Our last experience at the hotel had to be in their photobooth complete with my one-eyed sister, Katie rocking her eye patch with all the flare. I can’t wait till I’m in Tucson next to stop by for a horchatta latte…. or maybe even another haunted sleep!

Want more info? Check out their website and Instagram.

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ON THE ROAD | Rosewood Hotel Georgia

ON THE ROAD | Rosewood Hotel Georgia

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Vancouver is often referred to as the City of Glass but among the mirrored towers are many historically designated, architecturally interesting buildings; one such location is the Rosewood Hotel Georgia.

Sitting on the corner of Howe and Georgia Street, the Hotel Georgia was built in the roaring twenties and has since been meticulously restored and updated in a tasteful way. The attention to detail is impressive from the fully marbled washrooms to the bootleg themed bar, Prohibition in the basement.

Not only is it a stunning building but you cannot beat the location – it is walking distance from a multitude of great areas. Gastown is a couple blocks walk and the Vancouver Art Gallery is conveniently located across the street.

After all these years, I was finally able to experience vintage Vancouver in a very luxurious way all thanks to my pals at Expedia.ca!

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The lobby has maintained much of its original charm – dark wood finishes, the old Canada Post brass mailbox, and crown molding framing the elevators. The lengthy and dense chandelier is the real show stopper though.

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For our sister trip, we got the Superior Room which included a giant soaker tub and a separate rain shower. I cannot even begin to describe how immensely happy I was about this – especially having spent time on Vancouver Island “roughing it” in the days prior to our city excursion.

Did I mention that the bed was like a cloud with ample pillows? The turn down service every evening was especially a treat, I love finding a cookie on my bedside table. I wish I could figure out how to make that a thing when I’m at home.

Of course one morning we had to test out their room service and order my favourite: Eggs Benedict. I can confirm that the Hotel Georgia makes an excellent hollandaise sauce. There’s nothing I love more than not having to leave a hotel room to fine dine.

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WEARING | railroad bikini top + monroe bikini bottom – BIKINI EMPIRE | sunglasses – RAY BAN |

The saltwater lap pool with LED lighting in the bottom reminded me of a set from a classic movie in which synchronized swimmers would perform.  We, however, used it as a tranquil place to chill after a day of roaming the streets in search of delicious treats in vintage locations. [Read about our food conquests in Vancouver HERE].

A fun vintage alternative to walking the downtown core of Vancouver is to catch a hop-on / hop-off trolley tour which takes you around to a number of landmarks both well known and obscure but with oodles of retro flare – it’s a classic trolley for goodness sake! It also comes with an admission to the Harbour Centre Skylift which boasts an excellent view of the city, harbour, and of course the surrounding mountain ranges.

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A grand staircase through the lobby takes you down to a velvet wonderland of a cocktail lounge known as Prohibition. This moody jewel of a bar is comfortable yet decadent. First came the bar snacks – some cheese pretzel sticks and candied nuts, then we indulged in some bespoke prohibition-style cocktails and ordered the Peach Daisy and Fitzgerald Fizz. Both were tasty treats!

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Around the corner from the Rosewood Hotel Georgia is Granville Street which was Vancouver’s version of Broadway. Neon lights abound, old theatres, and an array of old marquees are still hanging around so it’s definitely worth a peek if you’re into yesteryear.

So what are you waiting for? Book your flight to Van City and pick the hotel of your dreams!

 

 

On the Road | Hyatt Regency Calgary

On the Road | Hyatt Regency Calgary

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The other weekend I took a roadtrip down south to Calgary for a festival by the name of Sled Island as you may already know from this post. While I was there, I had the pleasure of calling the Hyatt Regency Calgary home for three days. It was glorious! Not only was it situated in the best area (literally central downtown, right beside the C-Train line) it was also so comfortable in so many ways.

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The bed was an ABSOLUTE dream. It had a soft firmness to it that I can’t quite put my finger on. Needless to say, every night I melted right into it along with the luxurious FIVE feather down pillows. I divided them as fairly as possible: me – three, Mike – two. Beside the bed was an iPhone dock clock which I made use of listening to some podcasts while getting ready to go out. One evening I even discovered the clock was also an ambient sound machine!!! If that wasn’t enough, every night a turn down service came and left us chocolate.

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The view from our room was absolute madness. Overlooking Olympic Plaza, we were able to see the masses of people slowly filling the venue. The pool had an equally epic view overlooking the Calgary Tower. On top of that, there was also the delightful Regency Club Lounge where breakfast, snacks, and desserts were available periodically throughout the day. Charcuterie is officially my kryptonite.

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It’s the little things that really matter, like the lemon water upon entering the hotel, or the upside down canoe light fixtures throughout the hotel, but mostly the eucalyptus infused cold face cloths in the gym that changed my life forevermore. I hope to return soon if only for the best spicy Caesar in the Sandstone Lounge.

Thanks so much to the Hyatt Regency Calgary for having us!

Photographs – Michael Borchert || Sandy Karpetz

ON THE ROAD | Wigwam Motel

ON THE ROAD | Wigwam Motel

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Off of the the I-40 in Arizona is a quaint little town known as Holbrook. What was once a bustling town on the old Route 66 – one of America’s original highways that ran from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California, is now a quaint little stopover to the Petrified Forest.

My longstanding fascination with roadside America as well as the now defunct Route 66 (officially replaced in 1985 with major interstate highways) began early on when I would embark on road trips with my parents to Southern California and Reno, Nevada. Rather than pass the time reading, I would stare out the window at the endlessly changing scenery and try to imagine what the lives of the people who lived there were like. There was always something new to be amazed by, I would always bring reading material but it usually proved to be dead weight.

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Holbrook is one of those towns that time has mostly forgotten. Gift shops with racially insensitive mascots, original neon signs, and diners that have escaped renovations since they were opened. It was also, according to Wikipedia, “the town too tough for women and churches” – oh the folklore of roadside Americana!

The Wigwam Motel has been on my hit list of strange roadside treasures I must visit. I somehow convinced my parents to accompany me up to Northern Arizona to check out this classic motel as well as fragments of the old Route 66 – has anyone ever heard of Winslow, Arizona???

For what it lacks in amenities (the wifi wouldn’t work in our room but it did in the parking lot) it makes up with its immense charm. The room was cozy on the chilly evening we were there in below zero temperatures and the decor had a very western desert vibe to it. I’m still amazed that two beds fit in the space comfortably; from the outside the wigwams do not give off the impression of spaciousness.

Plus watching the sun set behind the silhouettes of the wigwams was epic.

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Maybe it was the glowing green neon motel sign or just the fact that Holbrook is a small semi isolated town that gave me Twin Peaks-ish vibes. It was probably the neon. The town is also a stone throws away (~rock joke~) from the Petrified Forest National Park and the Painted Desert – a park that was designated as a National Monument by Roosevelt in 1906.

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ON THE ROAD| Fernie Stanford Resort

ON THE ROAD| Fernie Stanford Resort

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Last month I went on a road trip to Fernie with my sister to work on a project (that I’m really excited to share with you in due time) and we had the pleasure of staying at the Stanford Resort. We had embarked on our journey late in the day and then took our sweet time in the most magical candy store in Nanton, so we didn’t roll into town until after dark. 
By the time we hit Crowsnest Pass, it was raining. Needless to say we were more than happy to finally make it into town after the harrowing last leg of the tour. Katie and I were greeted with a fruit basket after a long drive and thank goodness for that – we were famished, apparently candy isn’t filling? We also had our choice of three beds – a real Goldilocks situation. The vaulted ceiling made for an epically spacious yet cozy room with and upper loft area where the third bed was located. 
When we rose the next morning, we finally got to drink in the awe-inspiring view out our window. It was truly breathtaking. Under the cloak of darkness we had no idea how spectacular the town was, nestled in between mountains. Neither Katie nor I had ever been to Fernie before and we clearly did it right on our first try.
Further investigation of the hotel revealed a 166 ft waterslide and two outdoor hot tubs –  paradise realized! Not to mention their fitness room and dry sauna – basically everything to make a winter getaway aces. 
We also somehow managed to perfectly time our arrival with the re-opening of The Tandoor & Grill Restaurant which is known as one of the best Indian restaurants in the Kootenay area. I can confirm that it was delicious and that I will be dreaming of the shrimp pakora for many days to follow. Speaking of delicious food, the deluxe continental breakfast in the dining nook was the perfect way to start out our day full of fresh fruit, coffee, and waffles. 

The Stanford was a 5 minute drive from the mountains, a short walk to mainstreet and located right on the river. It was THE perfect spot to be. Not only was the town of Fernie gorgeous in its own rite, but the staff at the resort and all of the residents we met were also equally as wonderful. I fell completely in love with the town after two days and cannot wait to go back; I hear summertime in Fernie is just as enjoyable!

Find out more about the Fernie Stanford Resort here