Tag: General Motors

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

Travel Swellness: 2016 Chevy Spark

Chevy Spark at Humber College Lakeshore

The “ultimate mobile device” is music to my ears. If you hang out with me for a day, it becomes obvious that I like to be connected–I’m often posting on social media (or checking what other people have posted), and, of course, I’m always working on getting shiz done–as a freelancer, I’m used to, and I’d say required to, always be on top of emails and texts–if an editor is trying to reach me, or if I’m offered an assignment, for example, I can’t afford to delay replying, and in spare time, say, waiting in line, I’m often reading news and articles and staying on top of trends on my iPhone.

So when I heard “ultimate mobile advice” from Chevy a few weeks ago, I was pretty curious. Turns out they were talking about the 2016 Chevy Spark, which is wifi-enabled; now, I can honestly tell you that I don’t know if I appreciate how much torque a car has (I always need to ask the GM pros to explain that concept to me each time I see them), but I do appreciate a car that has wifi.

To help us discover the Chevy Spark that day, which is affordably priced and thus making it a good option for the very first car buyer, we were asked to spend the day as millennials. Ironically, while I’m certainly not a millennial, I’ve never owned a car. (Well, I suppose I’ve partially owned two cars, but they were secondhand, so I don’t feel like that counts).

My first impressions of the Spark? As a visual person, I like the sleek and short (in height) lines of the Spark. It’s pretty darn cute and compact, wouldn’t you say? Especially in this Electric Blue shade (although I’d call it sky blue…), which I showed no shame on calling dibs on. The car’s lower profile, besides making it sleek and attractive, helps to reduce aerodynamic drag, making it more efficient, while changes made to the interior mean that the ample headroom inside hasn’t been affected. In addition, the interior now has upgraded materials, higher density seat foam for greater comfort and a great deal of attention to detail (I couldn’t help but notice the subtle pleasing graphic on the inside of the car doors and dashboard).

More exciting to me is that way your phone can be integrated with the car’s technology. If you have an iPhone 5 or later, the colour screen in the car displays content from it through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay features. Which means you can use apps from  your phone including phone, messages, maps,  music and more on the car display. The Spark’s MyLink radio features a touch colour display, and the interface is the one most of us know thanks to our smartphones (I wasn’t forever searching for where to press on the screen for once, since it looks much like my iPhone screen so it was easy to use, plus you can swipe and pinch, for example, much in the same way you use your smartphone). Oh, one of my fave features: many of the features on both Android Auto (such as Google Maps) and Apple CarPlay can be controlled by voice command through a button on the steering wheel; my friends who drive have all had me lecture them if I find out they text and drive–those dangers of texting and driving PSAs really hit a nerve with me, what can I say, so anything that helps drivers keep their eyes and attention on the road, is important to me.

The Spark’s engine is all new, but I’m not going to talk engines because I’m not an expert on them (yet–but I’m driving more often it seems to trying to learn more); I’ll leave that to the hardcore car experts to describe to you. As for price, the Spark LS starts at $9,995 and at the top end is the 2LT, which starts at 18, 195.

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After taking the Spark for a quick drive to get a feel for the car (during which we stumbled upon the Humber College Lakeshore campus–how appropriate given our millennial theme of the day!), we were given one task from Chevy: to go to IKEA armed with $100 from them and shop for items to donate to a worthy cause of our choice. A friend of mine is helping a number of Syrian families get settled into Toronto, so Megan of www.immrfabulous.com (my friend and buddy for this Chevy Spark day) and I picked up a ton of kitchen staples such as plates, pots, tools and the like, loaded them into the trunk (surprisingly spacious given the compact feel of the car) and then dropped off the IKEA haul to my friend.

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Then with the millennial lunch budget Chevy gave us, we filled our growling bellies with delicious, affordable vegetarian bowls at Fresh. (But let’s face it, a truly budget-friendly meal when you’re in college is more like a 99 cent package of ramen! Or a poutine. I lived off of poutine in CEGEP!)

Good deed of the day done, while getting to test out this zippy little car, which thanks to its compact size was a dream to park (one of my least favourite driving tasks!), we reluctantly gave back the keys to Chevy Spark and bid adieu to our day as millennials with their first new car.

Chevy Spark in Electric Blue

 

Can’t wait to see what my next adventure on the road is with GM!

Leave a Comment April 6, 2016


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