When Tanya Taylor brought her trunk show to Holt Renfrew Calgary on a recent Thursday, the highlight of her evening plans included spending some quality time with the television. “We haven’t had very much sleep, so we might do some room service and Scandal.”While she may love a show whose main character is known for wearing white, Tanya’s palette this spring is anything but. Her designs are driven by color, and the one she’s loving this year is poppy orange.That’s what Tanya calls it. I saw tangerine. But deep coral, peach, citrus zest, no matter how you interpret it, the color was a definite theme, spreading throughout the back room on Holts’ second floor.There’s a couture element to this off-the-rack collection, available in Canada exclusively at Holts. The New York based designer says fabric is an integral part of her process. ”I paint all the prints originally, then print them on silk. There’s an original hand-drawn quality about everything in the collection.”Originally from Toronto, Tanya is painter at heart. With a finance degree. She found fashion to be the perfect intersection between art and business. “I liked the idea of starting my own company, similar to the entrepreneurship I’d studied, but also being able to sit down and paint on a canvas, then translate that into a dress.”Trunk shows tickle Tanya with the opportunity to interact with the customers. Visiting Calgary comes with the bonus of interacting with her extended family here.For those who need more than poppy orange, there are options. And while Olivia Pope has been branching out from her go-to color of late, Tanya Taylor’s Spring 2014 Collection has an outfit to bring her white wardrobe back.
When you overnight at Sunshine Mountain Lodge, you can make first tracks in the morning. Or, if you wake up late, like me, and barely manage to get out of your room by the 11am checkout time, you’ll discover that you can still get a breakfast croissant at Java Lift. With enjoyable midday temps.Added bonus to sitting outside? The mochas here come with marshmallows.With the lift for Mount Standish just ten steps away, it seemed like a natural choice for the first run of the day. At the summit of Mount Standish, the clear view of the BC Rockies made our mission clear: it was a bluebird day to ride the provincial border.Turns out there’s a lift for that.As you ride up, you cross into British Columbia — the Beautiful, as their license plates say.Two towers later, you’re safely back in Wild Rose Country.These are our Alps: the Canadian Rockies.Without the drive to the hill or the gondola ride to the lifts, a half day felt like a full day. It also felt like it deserved a few beers, which, as you know, are my favorite thing to imbibe at Trappers Saloon. Or outside Trappers Saloon. A relaxing ride down Banff Avenue (a green run, although downloading on the gondola was also an option) would reunite us with our luggage at the base lodge. And with the massive snowstorms lately, the skiing should be just as satisfying right through closing day on May 19.
After a day on the slopes, should you choose to forgo your option to go home and stay at a Sunshine Mountain Lodge fantasy suite (apologies to both The Bachelor and the Lodge) … first you tub, then you dine. The hotel claims they have the largest outdoor hot tub in Banff, but I would go even further and say it’s probably the biggest in the province. With the admirable masonry of the high stone walls to block the wind, bring a brew (in a can, not glass) and sink in.After you towel off and slip into something less waterproof, there are several dining options to choose from. If you’re feeling rowdy, you can walk 20 steps from the hotel to Trappers. You can enjoy casual fare inside the Lodge at the Chimney Corner Lounge and Sports Bar. Or you can upscale your evening to the more formal Eagle’s Nest Dining Room, where the chef will start you off with an amuse bouche. We split the Caesar Salad on the excellent advice of our excellent server (Aussie, of course, like almost all the staff here), because it would have been too much for one person, if you’re intent on several courses. It had just the right amount of dressing (over-saucing is a constant dining concern for me) and an added touch of crisped pancetta.This is my Pained Blogger look as I take a shot of the Dreaded Food Porn. Normally I try to avoid it. There’s nothing I hate more than whipping out my camera during a meal. It’s just so rude! Plus my Venison Osso Bucco (incredibly tender and tasty) and Risotto is getting cold. But at the Eagle’s Nest Dining Room, the food takes center stage. Except for the lovely log beams, the room itself is not the ultimate in ambience. It doesn’t detract from the experience because the service and the food, which are top-notch, are what it’s all about. Except for when you desire a dining photo that doesn’t scream Food Blog 101.For dessert, we decided on a change of scenery, and our waitress kindly accommodated. This is when I realized the Chimney Corner Lounge is called that for a reason. The focal point of this classic ski-lodge lounge is the enormous chimney. Another intimate sitting area with a separate fireplace sprang from the same rocked-in chimney to our right. I was going to check out the other sides to see if there were even more fireplaces, but then I got too comfy, sated with the most incredible piece of chocolate cake. It could be the walnuts that made it so delicious. Or perhaps the vanilla creme on the side. I was also dazzled by the spotlight illuminating the deer so perfectly. Please excuse the lack of full reportage of the chimney situation.
Time to roll on back to our room to get a good night’s sleep for the ski out tomorrow.
After drooling over it all day from the chairlift, we finally got to see the inside of our premier room in the new West Wing (important info to remember if you book, since the main lodge rooms aren’t as new). In case you need it, there’s also a queen Murphy bed efficiently hidden beside the sitting area. The bedding was super-comfortable on the main bed.I’d call the bathroom decor rustic modern… … with products that stressed that the hotel is eco-boutique luxury lodging. Hard to tell with the slightly wack perspective going on here, but the item on the right is lip balm. Nice touch since Banff is possibly even drier than Calgary, which seems to have the driest climate in North America. Even nicer, not pictured, is the HUMIDIFIER THAT COMES WITH THE ROOM. Had to do all caps there because I believe every hotel in Alberta should offer this, but usually they don’t. Buen trabajo, Sunshine Mountain Lodge!The Lodge offers ski lockers but we didn’t quite make it there. Hopefully we won’t get in trouble once these photos go up. Look how careful we were not to scratch anything, SML! Especially those lovely heated floors.View from Room 105.You can also see the main part of the lodge with the restaurants. The hot tub is hidden below the stone wall…… which poses the challenging apres-ski question of the day: hot tub first? Or cheese plate by the fire? The fromage was just too tempting. But one small quibble as I nibble: the super-eco gas fireplace had a timer that automatically turned it off after ten minutes. I agree it should have an auto shut-off at some point, but how about twenty?
Sunshine Mountain Lodge is the only ski-in, ski-out accommodation in Banff National Park. The easy button starts from the moment you pull up to the base lodge, bypassing all the day visitors who’ve parked a mile away.Inside, there’s a comfy sitting area to organize your luggage. Yes, the leopard-print suitcase is mine. Changing rooms and restrooms are just around the corner. Once you check in at the counter, leave all your bags behind. They will be whisked up to your room at the Lodge.You’ll be smiling on the gondola because the only thing you need to worry about now is your snowboard or skis. However, FYI, you won’t be smiling if you attempt to check in to the hotel after the gondola shuts down at 5pm, since it’s the only way to get up to the Lodge. Don’t be late! Unless it’s a Friday, when you have until 10pm.After the 13-minute gondie ride, you’ll arrive at the heart of Sunshine Village. This is where the lifts to the ski runs are, and Mad Trapper’s Saloon, one of my fave mountain lunch stops in the world. The food there isn’t mind-blowing, but damn it tastes good when washed down with a Corona in the middle of a ski-day. If you’re not totally mesmerized by the magic of the unicorn eye on my Gnu base, you’ll see Sunshine Mountain Lodge behind me.Looking back from the Strawberry high-speed quad, you can see the Lodge is truly nestled in the Canadian Rockies, at 7200 feet.The Standish Lift goes right by the new West Wing of the hotel. From the chair you can see right into the two-story loft rooms, so I’d advise holding back on naked streaking up and down the stairs until the lifts close at 4pm.For Kendra Sonia, whose family bought the resort in 1981, Sunshine Village was her playpen growing up. She showed us some of her favorite runs, while kindly going slow enough so I could keep up. The Village is actually three mountains with 12 lifts and more than 3300 acres of skiable terrain. Riding with Kendra made me realize how much of the resort I hadn’t seen before, even though I’ve been here several times.Kendra even gave me some tips, which gave me the confidence to take the chair up Goat’s Eye for the first time. I offer photographic proof of my arrival to an elevation of 9200 feet.Just when my thighs and calves were starting to tremble, it was finally time to begin the apres. Next up, Room 105.
For the third and final post of Girls’ Trip to Seattle, some random stuff I enjoyed around town.Craving a croissant? Head to Le Panier on Pike Place, right across from the public market. It’s worth fighting the crowds for a seat.No one’s really fighting anyhow, since everyone is in their flaky, buttery, caffeinated happy place. Nice manicure, Emily! And that LV bag would put me in a happy place even sans croissant.I’m not gonna go on about the fish tossing, since I’m sure you’ve heard it before, but Pike Place Market is also a wonderful place to pick up a bouquet of fresh flowers and locally grown eats. Walk over a few blocks and you’ll find the significant stripes that surround Banana Republic’s coolest rehab, converting the old Coliseum Theater into a retail mecca that on this occasion had some hot pink cords discounted 75% that I could not resist.Even those who claim to abhor malls, like myself, will be charmed by the University Village Shopping Centre in Seattle. Shops line the streets, while lane-ways in between are pedestrian only. Umbrella stands on every corner offer a caring nod to the reality of the ecosystem here.The ultimate proof I was in Seattle: a Microsoft Store. Located across from the Apple Store. And totally empty. Kidding! I took this photo after closing time. Still… Once you go Mac, you never go back.Besides my general mall malaise, I’m not one for chain eateries, but the Joey Restaurant Group is Canadian. Turns out Joey Kitchen has made a few forays into the Evergreen State. This is their flagship Washington location at Uni Village.With the ultimate Canadian touch inside: washrooms is Canuck for restrooms.And the Great Wheel rolls on. See you on the next spin, Seattle!
Wondering when I was going to make good on that long-lost threat to post Part Two of Seattle Girls’ Trip? Wonder no more! After a ridiculous delay, here it is. To be followed, maybe even tomorrow, by Part Three!Tucked into a corner of the Seattle Four Seasons’ art-filled lobby is ART Restaurant. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel full of ocean view rooms, the restaurant is a destination in its own right, offering a taste of that five-star service along with its tasty food.The first clue that this dining experience would be inextricably linked to the lighting was the sign.Inspired by the ferris wheel lurking outside on the Seattle waterfront, perhaps? This is the ART Lounge, which could be the definition of Mood Lighting.Waiting for your table at the bar near the soft glow of those LED-infused shelves, if you checked your coat, you’ll discover even the minor details are not minus aesthetics.As I perused the locavore menu, the green sheen in the air made sense. Any Pacific Northwest restaurant worth its west coast salt requires a market-to-table philosophy. Besides, Pike Place Market is practically right next door. Nor did I notice the subtle switch to a tangerine hue as the appetizers arrived. I was too busy inhaling the Potato Gnocchi with chanterelles and melted leeks as well as the Crazy Salad, which was not psycho but a delightful fresh mix of local greens. Home-made tortilla chips arrived in the brown paper with the sticker, which I thought was a little casual for a Four Seasons… but that didn’t stop me from wolfing them down. To the left of my wineglass, you can see the Dungeness Crab Cake Bites peeking out of the brown paper in their black pot. Heads up: they are deep-fried, which I did not expect. I prefer my Dungeness to taste like crab, not breading.It was after the appetizers were cleared that I really became obsessed with the radiance of the room. It reminded me of the spectrum lighting of the Muttart Conservatory glass pyramids in Edmonton, of all places. I used to stare down at those I. M. Pei-ish designs during desolate winter nights (that would be November through May) from my condo.Just because I have three wine glasses lined up here, don’t start thinking it was my vision. Because look! The color changed again. Back to the food. Emily, my dining companion, was in Locavore Carnivore mode, so she had the 8-ounce Beef Tenderloin but ducked out of the picture just in time. So annoying to dine with a blogger. I had the Seared Kodiak Halibut: Fennel, Miscela. Both dishes were delish.For dessert we split a Warm Cup O’ Chocolate Cake. Lovely.When the spectrum pivoted to pink…… I know it was a good time to leave, since my pants matched the current luminosity. But……before I got too smug about the tandem incandescence, it changed again.Rolling out to the steamy cityscape, I tried to resist admiring the Big Wheel, but it would become a constant thread throughout my Girls’ Weekend in Seattle. Now, after a night dining within the artful glow of ART, it seems like a perfect pairing.
If you happen to be at Raw Bar one evening, mulling the idea of dessert over a glass of Moscato, look no further than the woman on the left — the one that’s about to blow up on national television.Hotel Arts’ Pastry Chef Karine Moulin will hit the airwaves this Monday, as the fourth season of Top Chef Canada starts its weekly run on the Food Network. ”It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done,” Karine says of the culinary battle against 13 other chefs on the show. “It was a really tough competition.”Why did she choose the pastry profession? ”I really enjoy the sweeter side of things,” says Karine, who was raised in Quebec. ”I grew up always having something sweet after every meal, so it’s ingrained in me, I think.”Karine does the desserts for both restaurants at Hotel Arts. The dishes for Yellow Door Bistro are French-influenced, like the I’le Flottante above. Desserts for Raw Bar, like this Valhrona Dark Chocolate Pate, are Asian-inspired. That would be the lychee salad on top and the mandarin sorbet, if you’re wondering. And good to know that Katie Mayer, Hotel Arts Marketing & Media Relations Manager, isn’t above a little photo bomb action.Hand painted truffles, served at both restaurants, will help you wash down that wine. Come down yourself Monday nights. Raw Bar will be hosting weekly viewing parties for Top Chef Canada, which airs at 7pm Calgary time. Bon appetit!
If your internal compass always seems to point to Tiffany’s, there’s a new reason to head to Chinook Centre.Walk through those heavy doors into the hush of the hallowed jewelry hall and you’ll forget you’re at the mall.Invited for a sneak peak at the newest necklaces, bangles and earrings in the store, I got distracted by the eyewear.I know, probably a little more low-maintenance than you’re expecting, considering the gems on display right in front of me, but just look at these! Perfect for my upcoming polo trip to the desert.But to get me back on track, Sarah Geddes from Sass Communications ushered me into a back room reserved for customers who want to purchase their carats and karats in private. As Sarah put it, “A lot of nervous men have been in this room.” Today, it’s reserved for a select few, chosen to view the latest pieces of the Atlas Collection to arrive on the Calgary map.Crafted in 18 karat yellow, white or rose gold, as well as sterling silver, 30 new pieces have been added to the collection. Still using the signature Roman numerals symbolizing strength and freedom, these ones are cleaner, sleeker and more modern. I liked this smaller rose gold pendant to the right.The pendant I actually tried on was so large I didn’t even get the entire piece in the picture. Hashtag: second-rate selfie.Inspired not by Greek mythology but rather the clock held by Atlas outside Audrey Hepburn’s favorite store on Fifth Avenue, the iconic collection was introduced in 1995. With a $145 starting price point, it’s tempting to start your own collection.Because who doesn’t need a little Tiffany in their life?