Tag: General Motors

Travel Swellness: Camping with the GMC Acadia Denali

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Not that I’ve ever been the type to hate nature (although I do not like bugs…) but I’ve always considered myself a city girl. Over the past few years, though, I’ve been seeking out more time in forests, or by the water, but always with creature comforts (does having showers and flushing toilets count as a creature comfort?). I’ve gotten into camping (my first trip was last summer); just car camping (where you park on your campsite) — I have yet to do back-country camping (I don’t know if that’s something I’m ready to tackle quite yet).

For my most recent camping trip this summer at Grundy Lake Provincial Park, I had the opportunity to drive the GMC Acadia Denali. I was a bit nervous the vehicle would feel enormous like some of the recent cars I’ve driven (the Ford Explorer, the Cadillac Escalade), but to my relief, the Acadia Denali was not so over-sized for me that I felt nervous driving and parking it, and yet it had loads of room for me, two friends and two dogs and the piles of equipment you need for camping.

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Equipped with OnStar 4G LTE WIFI Hotspot, which is handy for road trips since you may drive through dead zones with no data service, the Acadia also featured OnStar Turn-by-Turn Navigation, which got us to Grundy Lake, to Burger’s Priest in Barrie (where we stopped for lunch on our drive back) and home with ease. I get very stressed out when lost as I have no sense of direction, so having a reliable and easy to follow navigation system is a must for me, and the OnStar was easy to use (the interface is clean and it’s all very intuitive).

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The WIFI also is handy when you’re in the car for a few hours, too. You know the two of us not driving would be looking up essential celebrity gossip and all of those other nonsense things you must google asap as we made our way north.

The Acadia is equipped with Apple Carplay, which we didn’t use much of during our camping trip, but it was useful when I had the car to myself and I had to make calls while driving. Safety first, after all, and I was able to call my friends to let them know I was soon arriving using Siri. Music-wise, for our road trip, we had fun checking out stations on Sirius (indie music for easy listening and old school hip hop for when we were needing something more hype).

Grundy Lake camping

The trunk area was spacious enough once we lowered down the last row of seats to make room for sleeping bags, coolers, the tent and food. When you’re car camping, you store all of your food in the car so as to avoid attracting bears, so you’re in and out of the car a lot, so it’s by no means a new feature but the button to close the trunk is a simple but most useful feature. The Acadia features the hands-free liftgate but I admit I always forget to use it. It’s funny how you can operate on autopilot, isn’t it? (For example, I still often forget I can turn right on red here when I drive, since I learned to drive in Montreal, and you can’t turn right on red there.)

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The interior of the car is the perfect blend of luxury and outdoors ruggedness. The leather seats were comfortable and easy to clean up after two dogs traveled in the vehicle (just a quick run through with my Dyson). And the exterior was Blue Steel Metallic, which is a very sexy colour; deep and mysterious and yet more special than just black. It’s a colour that makes you take a second look at the car.

At the end of my stint with this GMC Acadia Denali, I think it bridges the gap and suits both aspects of my lifestyle: life in the city (dinners out, errands, mini excursions to explore other nearby cities) and the outdoor adventures that I’m more and more drawn to (hikes with Billie Jean, camping). It is indeed “a luxury crossover vehicle,” smart marketing, haha. Granted it’s on the large size for just me and my dog for city stuff, but then again, you do need to bring a lot of people with you to eat the towers of lobster and crab at Fishman’s Lobster Clubhouse, so perhaps it’s just the right size.

Thank you GM Canada for GMC Acadia test drive! Next up, the GMC Terrain. I’m interested to see how this compares to my experience with the Acadia.

Billie Jean Grundy Lake

 

 

Leave a Comment September 12, 2018

Travel Swellness: Escape to Vernon for a wellness retreat

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The mountains are calling…

The mountains are always calling me, it seems. I’ve said it before: as much as I love the ocean and spending time on a beach, it’s being in the mountains that truly makes me well up inside with all of the warm and fuzzies.

So I jumped at the opportunity to travel to Vernon, B.C., with Buick Enclave to learn about this luxury crossover SUV and to breathe in that fresh mountain air. It was a whirlwind trip, but I was a busy little bunny and have 5 things you must do if you’re looking to do your own wellness retreat in beautiful Vernon.

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1. Stay at Sparkling Hill Resort. The view from the floor to ceiling windows in the suites is reason enough to book a stay at Sparkling Hill. Just taking in that view and I feel more relaxed and calm.  I could just go from that bathtub to the bed and back all day long soaking it up. Add in a very comfortable bed, some incredible food (everything I had from the veggie wrap at lunch to the chicken at dinner was delectable), and stress just melts away. The property is on a granite bluff overlooking Lake Okanagan and is the brainchild of the patriarch of the Swarovski crystal family, so throughout the property you’ll find more than 3.5 million Swarovski crystals making the resort shine bright.

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2. Snowshoe at Sovereign Lake Nordic Centre. With tall evergreens weighed down with fluffy white snow, snowshoeing here with a guide is a magical winter wonderland experience. As a city girl jaded by the frigid long waits for public transit and dealing with the grey, slushy mess of downtown Toronto, escaping to a place like Sovereign Lake  where winter is stunning and gives you a reason to celebrate snow is always a good reminder to make time to appreciate this most Canadian of seasons.

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Breathing in that fresh pine scent as you work your way through the trails is a great workout; you can burn about 500 calories an hour (but it really depends on how difficult your terrain is and how intensely you trek).

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3. Go hiking. There are 25 kilometres of marked trails in and around the Sparkling Hill Resort property for hiking. It’s so quiet that it’ll just be the crunch of the snow beneath your feet to accompany you, with views of the lake and some 300 species of birds in the area to spot. The resort also offers daily guided hikes if you’re not keen about venturing out on your own.

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4. Spend a day in Kurspa. Yes, an entire day. Or break up your time at the 40,000 square-foot spa over several days. There are seven different themed steams and saunas to indulge in including Rose Steam, Igloo, Crystal Steam and Aqua Meditation.

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You could (and should) also walk the Kneipp Hydrotherapy, a water-stepping path through warm and cold water (it’s only about knee deep) designed to help with circulation, low blood pressure, insomnia and swollen feet. If hot pools are your jam, the one at Kurspa is  designed so that you should move your way around it counterclockwise so that the specially designed jets help to soothe your body. For those who like to swim laps, you will not want to miss the indoor saltwater pool here as music is  piped in underwater. And I haven’t even gotten to the spa treatments yet: try the signature Mud & Muscle if you’ve gone hard with your workouts, or the Crystal Scrub to get glowing. I didn’t have time to have a treatment since I chose to spend as much time outdoors in the mountains, but I heard the treatments are top notch.

Me in Buick Enclave

5. Go for a scenic drive around the Okanagan. Driving the winding roads in the 2018 Buick Enclave was a relaxing and beautiful excursion during which we got to take in the sunset as we made our way to and then back from Sovereign Lake. If you’re traveling with your whole squad, the Enclave is actually a great choice as it seats seven people, and yet it manages to not feel like an enormous car (in fact, I actually didn’t realize the car’s capacity at all when I was driving it, and that is usually something I’m wary of). And check out the super luxe interior (with heated seats, much welcome after snowshoeing in the cold!)

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But my two top reasons a Buick Enclave is the perfect ride for this trip to a mountain escape to Vernon? Firstly, the OnStar 4G LTE wifi, which came in handy given we were in areas where my smartphone had no data connection.  Up to seven devices can connect so every passenger can stream or catch up on social media and emails easily.

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Secondly, the QuietTuning feature. I’ve only just learned about it but it helps create a healthier and more relaxing space in your Buick. What is it? It’s an air ionizer that helps to eliminate odours and improve air quality by creating negatively charged particles that attract all of the things you don’t want in your car (the bad smells and contaminants– think dust, pollen, bacteria) making them heavy and then sweeping them out of the air in the car. Making it that much easier for you to breathe in that fresh Okanagan air.

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I hope I can fit in another mountain escape into my schedule soon because they are calling again. Thank you, Buick, for this little escape to the west coast.

 Photography (Buick Enclave in Ebony Twilight, Buick Enclave in Havana Metallic , snowshoeing, sauna, mountain view): Lucas Scarfone.

 

Leave a Comment December 15, 2017

Travel Swellness: Cottage getaway to Viamede Resort

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I am not one of the lucky people who has a cottage. Nor do I have friends who have cottages. So it was so wonderful to get away last summer to Viamede Resort in the Kawarthas. So much so that early this year I looked into going again, and they kindly hosted me again. I was especially keen on returning there, as it’s a dog-friendly resort. Last year, we borrowed two golden retrievers from the hotel’s GM to go for a hike, but this year, I had my very own dog to bring along, Billie Jean!

One reason I really enjoy Viamede (besides it being a beautiful, quiet property) is that it’s like cottaging lite. As in there is the Boathouse and Mount Julian on the property, so you don’t have to cook at all if you don’t want to, and I’ve stayed at cottages where it’s quite remote (and I think I’d maybe feel a bit wary to stay solo with just Billie Jean), but here you have other guests around, and there’s staff who can help you with questions (like last year, when I was on the hunt to find an air pump to inflate my swan floatie!).

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For this, another edition in this summer’s road trip series I’m doing, General Motors Canada set me up with a GMC Acadia Denali to test drive for this road trip (which, with the traffic we got caught in took about three hours, but we did stop for a late lunch), and I felt it is exactly in line with this type of trip. Still luxurious in feel but with a little bit  more rugged appeal — think subtle wood-grain touches on the dashboard. And it has phenomenal trunk space — no problem at all packing Billie Jean’s crate, her toys and supplies and all of our bags. The car feels very solid and even for me, the not too frequent driver, felt it was manageable in terms of size. And I thought it did great in terms of fuel economy. And I felt like we fit right in with all of the other more rugged cars and pickup trucks we were surrounded by. Although I bet we still very much seemed like “Toronto people.”

On the drive home from the Kawarthas, we hit some extremely heavy rain. But the Acadia handled well, and we made it through easily even though roads were slick and the visibility was low.

GMC Acadia at Viamede Resort

As for what to do once you arrive and stay at Viamede Resort? Here are some of the top things I’ve discovered during my two visits:

Just relax. If you’re like me, and your mind’s always going a mile a minute, this is where you can and should enjoy a breather. I probably missed out on discovering new things to do at the resort and in the area because what I needed most was just sometime to recharge.

Kayak. Canoe. SUP. All of these watercraft are available on the resort’s beach to take out onto Stoney Lake (just grab whatever’s available) and the water is typically pretty calm. If the floating bouncy thing is too far for you to swim (or the water too cold, as it was for me — I’m a wimp with the temp of Ontario lakes!), you can use the SUP to cruise on over to it. If watersports aren’t your thing, there is a tennis court, disc golf, and a few bikes you can  borrow to explore the property.

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Eat at Mount Julian. Mount Julian is the restaurant on the property where you can enjoy tasting menus and wine pairings, and the focus is on local ingredients — I particularly loved a perch course last summer. It’s a way to add a little bit of a foodie indulgence that’s more on the fine dining  to your trip to the country. But the food is solid at the Boathouse as well, it’s just a more casual setting and menu. I enjoyed the burger, and the fish and chips, and I’m sad I didn’t get to try the brisket poutine.

 

Hike. There are a few hiking trails on the property, and while we found the maps a little bit confusing and the trails not too clearly marked, it’s easy enough to find your way on some sort of hike. We stumbled onto a 100-year-old oak tree that looks straight out of a fairy tale.

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Make s’mores by the campfire. The supplies are there so all you need to do is roast that marshmallow perfectly and squish it with chocolate in between two graham crackers. What’s a cottage getaway without s’mores?!

Bring your dog to vacation with you. Billie Jean’s tail wagged the entire time we were there and it made me so happy to see my little rescue so at ease and joyful. She loved roaming the woods and hanging out on the dock. Dogs are to be leashed in the main property area but otherwise they can be off leash, and there’s even a grassy dog park on the property, too. The dog-friendly bookings are for the cottages, whereas the main resort building is just for human guests.

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Attend the ice cream social. I believe this is held Saturdays at 1 p.m. Complimentary ice cream, I mean what’s not to like. And if you’re an ice cream fiend like me, make sure to stop for some Kawartha Dairy when in the area (we popped into Country Cone before we drove back to Toronto — and they have a whole variety of different butter tarts, such as bacon and Rolo versions).

Billie Jean at Viamede

 

Those are just a few of the things you can do; there’s a daily schedule at Viamede, which looks remarkably like the property from the movie Dirty Dancing (that’s the main building behind Billie Jean in the photo above). Last year, we visited the farm, although we didn’t go this year, but other guests told us they saw the pigs being fed the breakfast scraps, which I would’ve loved to have gone to. There’s also the Petroglyphs Provincial Park, that I’ve had on my to-do list both years…and then just relaxing by the lake wins every time!

 

Billie Jean relaxing Viamede cottage

 

Leave a Comment July 21, 2017

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