2023 Life Update

Hello! It has been a while since my last post, almost 3 months. I’ve been quite busy with a few things and although I’ve been sharing on a relatively regular basis on Instagram I haven’t written many blog posts this year. Well it’s time for life updates!

We got engaged!

Sashien and I got engaged during our trip to Sri Lanka last year. It was the most exciting thing that happened last year and has kept me quite busy with all things wedding related this year. I am so excited to be a fiancée. Here are some of our engagement photos. A huge thank you to Dream Studio Photography for making our special shoot so memorable.

I’ve also been loving being a bride-to-be and already been to two wedding shows. Wedding planning can be stressful but I’m trying to make it fun at the same time. I’ve also shared a few outfit ideas for the bride-to-be and some of my picks for bridesmaid dresses.

Weekend Fashionista Boutique

On the blogging side I’ve been more picky with the collaborations I’m taking on this year especially since I have so much going on. I have however opened my own online boutique and I’m so excited to share the news. You can shop my branded items here – Boutique

I’ve also got a few exciting collaborations and blog posts coming up this spring and summer so stay tuned!

Engagement Shoot Dresses

Sri Lanka Trip Recap

I’m back, after a long break! I can’t believe we are already halfway through January 2023. This year is just flying by. I took a break from blogging and campaigns for the month of December as I was on vacation. I’m back in Canada now and I can’t wait to tell you all about my trip to Sri Lanka! As some of you know I was born in Sri Lanka.

Getting There

I’m not going to lie, it takes a while to get to Sri Lanka. In total it’s about 18 hours of flying and when you factor in transits it takes about 24 hours to get there. There’s many different routes you can take from Canada but as I live in Ottawa I flew through Europe. In the past Air Canada offered direct flights from Ottawa t0 London, UK and Ottawa to Frankfurt but they’ve since been discontinued. I decided not to take any chances with my luggage getting lost via a domestic transfer in Canada so my mom and I flew directly to London from Montreal and then directly from London to Colombo. We flew two different airlines, Air Canada to London and Sri Lankan Airlines to Colombo.

Pro-tip – we were able to find a great deal on roundtrip business class tickets on Google Flights and purchased our tickets directly from the Air Canada website. I’d totally recommend this splurge as you are going to be flying for a long period of time.

There’s many other routes you can take into Colombo including via Dubai, Qatar, Japan or Singapore depending on which end of Canada you’re traveling from.

Accommodation

I stayed at two main hotels during my time in Colombo and did some short trips around the island. The first hotel I stayed at was Cinnamon Lakeside. I had been to this hotel for the restaurants and high tea many times but this was my first stay at the hotel. It’s great as a dining option but I wouldn’t recommend it as a stay. The rooms were a bit smaller, dated and not soundproof.  I was only there for a week as I had a wedding to attend at this hotel. The event spaces and venues here are great though, just not the guest rooms.

I spent the rest of my 4 week stay at my go-to hotel Cinnamon Grand Colombo. My family has been staying at this hotel since 2008 and they never disappoint. The hotel is arguably the best hotel in Colombo with 501 guest rooms, 9 restaurants, 2 pools, a gym, tennis court and lots of green space. It’s also very centrally located and is really more of a resort in the city.

Pro-tip: If you upgrade your room type to an executive floor room, you have access to the exclusive executive lounge. The lounge is only open to executive room guests and offers complimentary breakfast, high-tea and cocktails daily. Totally worth the money. And as an added bonus you also have the option of having breakfast in the lounge or heading to Plates, the hotel’s buffet restaurant, if you want a wider selection.

The executive rooms also come with 24hr butler service!

Things to do

Sri Lanka has SO MUCH to offer! It’s definitely not your typical beach vacation. Despite all the negative press this country has received lately (much of which is over exaggerated) it’s a wonderful place to visit and there is truly something for everyone there.

If you’re looking to just relax you can head to any of the beaches in the country, but if you also like surfing and more of that island vibe you can check out Unawatuna, Hikkaduwa or Mirissa. You can also stop by the historic city of Galle. Want to learn more about our culture? Be sure to visit some historic sites like the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, arguably the 8th wonder of the world. You can also check out the ancient cities of Anuradapura and Polonnaruwa. Don’t forget to visit by the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy as well. If you’re tired of the warm weather, head to Nuwara Eliya. Known as little England this part of the island is cooler that the rest of the country with temperatures between 5 and 20 degrees celcius depending on the time of year.

Finally if you’re like me and love shopping then Colombo is the city for you!

I found this list of places to visit online.

Yala Safari

Sashien and I wanted to try something a bit more adventurous so we took a drive down to Yala National Park on the island’s eastern side and went on a safari. We stayed at Jetwing Yala which is a hotel located inside the park itself. There’s many hotels to choose from in Yala, some of which are situated inside the park.

It took us about 4.5 hrs to get to Yala by car from Colombo and we took the highway there. We booked a private safari online and our guide picked us up at the hotel. We booked our safari on this website: https://www.yalasrilanka.lk/yala-safari-ride

Please note: there are different prices for tourists and locals, this practice is quite common in Sri Lanka. The safari booking does not cover tickets to the park so you do need to pay for those as well.

We booked the half-day afternoon safari and it was 4 hours long from 2-6pm. We had the whole jeep to ourselves and really enjoyed our time. We saw so many different types fo animals. I’ve recapped our safari in this reel.

The hotel was also beautiful and we loved the nature and beach views at breakfast. Jetwing Yala had more of a rustic feel to it, not my favourite type of aesthetic but it was clean and modern. They also offer a safari camp but it was closed for renovations when we were there.

Anantara Kalutara

We also visited Kalutara which is  about an hour away from Colombo. Unlike Yala this was a more relaxed trip. We decided to stay at Anantara Kalutara. This resort is beautiful and offers views of the lagoon and the sea. We stayed in an ocean view room which was spacious and luxurious.

The staff were very helpful and accommodating. We especially enjoyed their welcome ceremony where each guest was asked to light the traditional oil lamp while a drummer played and blew a conch shell.

If you’re celebrating a special occasion the hotel also has a beautiful treehouse which is the perfect setting for a romantic meal overlooking the lagoon. Sashien surprised me with an anniversary dinner complete with fireworks and a custom menu put together by the hotel.

The hotel also has two pools one that’s for families and one that’s adults only. We decide to stick to the adults only side as the other pool was quite busy.

Christmas and NYE in Colombo

We spent Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Colombo and it was epic! Sri Lankans love a good party and this year they went all out for Christmas. All the streets in Colombo were decorated and all the hotels had their own Christmas displays. My favourite display was the Home for Christmas installation at the Hilton Colombo. It really got me into the Christmas spirit.

For NYE we decided to go for an indoor party (there’s so many outdoor beach parties to choose from if you prefer a more casual setting) since it was warm outside. We purchased tickets to the Cinnamon Grand Dinner Dance hosted in the grand ballroom. The ticket included a buffet dinner, drinks at the table, live band + DJ and breakfast buffet. It was amazing and we loved it! I have never seen that much food in one room in my life! The party started at 9pm and went on til the wee hours of the morning. We left around 4 am and it was still going strong! What a fantastic way to kick off 2023! I’ve attended the dances at this hotel in the past and they never disappoint.

The Verdict

If you’re looking for a one of a kind tropical experience that’s not your run of the mill beach vacay then Sri Lanka is the place for you! You will definitely get your money’s worth at this luxury vacation destination! It’s also important to note that if you do invest in going to Sri Lanka you understand that it is very much a luxury destination despite some of the “budget travel” content you may see from travel bloggers and backpackers. Local vendors do need to be supported so please be kind shop local!

I’ll be sharing everything I bought on this trip on my Instagram stories so stay tuned! Feel free to ask me any questions about the trip as well.

 

 

Christmas in Perth, ON

I’m back with another travel blog post and I’m so excited to share it with you! Last weekend I visited Perth, ON a small town less than an hour away from Ottawa. I first discovered Perth in the summer and have been back many times since.

This time I decided to check out some of their Holiday events, you know how I love Christmas! There’s something about small towns this time of year that’s just magical and Perth is no exception. Everything in Perth is so pretty, you feel like you’re living in a hallmark movie. The town itself is over 200 years old and there is so much history to see and appreciate.

Attractions 

Perth Museum

My first stop as I arrived in Perth was the Perth Museum. The museum is open to the public Wednesday-Sunday from 10 am-5pm. Tours are self guided and there is no admission fee but a donation is always nice. The museum is located at 11 Gore St. in downtown Perth, inside the Matheson House.  The house was built for Roderick Matheson in the 1840’s who was a wealthy merchant and eventually became a Senator in Canada’s first parliament. The museum consists of four period rooms; the parlour, drawing room, dining room and kitchen.

 Crystal Palace

I also checked out Crystal Palace which during the holiday season is home to a lovely collection of Christmas trees decorated by local businesses.  The palace is a giant glass structure which hosts events such as weddings and the Perth Farmer’s Market every Saturday throughout the summer. I arrived on a Friday and stayed for the market the following day as there was a special Christmas edition of the market on Nov 19th. The market is a great place to find treasures and homemade treats from local artisans.

Stewart Park & Town Hall

During the holidays Perth is lit! I was lucky to be in town when the Christmas lights were turned on. Stewart Park located in the heart of downtown Perth has a new light installation with red and green lights brightening up the trees. It looks truly magical. Don’t forget to check out the gazebo outside town hall, it’s all lit up as well and is a great spot for some holiday photos. During the day you can take a stroll through the park which offers views of the Perth Water Tower, the red bridge (another great spot for photos) and Code’s Mill.

 Shopping, Food and Accommodation

Shopping

Looking to get a head start on your Christmas shopping? Then Perth is the place for you. Their shop, stamp & win event is currently on and runs through to December 31st. You get a stamp card and a stamp for every $10 you spend at participating local businesses. It takes $100 to fill up a card and once full you’re entered into a draw to win one of three prizes!

I was in Perth on Friday November 18th, just in time for the Merry & Bright shopping event. This special event took place in the evening from 4-8pm and local businesses were open late. I had so much fun checking out all the shops in the downtown area. Many of them were offering holiday treats as well. One of the highlights of my evening was running into Father Christmas (Brent McLaren, the Perth Town Crier) who was walking the streets to greet shoppers!

Some of the stores I visited are:

There’s also many shops located in the streets surrounding the downtown area such as Spirit Children’s Boutique, Miss Penny’s Closet and of course Top Shelf Distillers if you’re looking for some alcoholic gifts. This local brewery is quite well known in Ottawa as well. I had the pleasure of attending one of their events in Ottawa at the Rideau Club a few years ago.

Dining

I checked out two restaurants in Perth. I had lunch at Gather ( their sandwiches are so good!) and dinner at Michael’s Table. Both restaurants are located in the downtown area and the food was amazing! I’d definitely go back. Other dining options include North Folk Cafe for coffee, paninis or cinnamon buns and Fiddleheads for a meal overlooking Stewart Park in the summer.

Accommodation

I stayed at the beautiful Best Western Plus Perth Parkside Inn & Spa. The hotel was so clean and really felt more like a boutique hotel. The staff were friendly and the breakfast at The Locks was great! Our room came with a balcony and some lovely winter views of Stewart Park and the Perth Water Tower. This hotel is perfect for a little weekend getaway any time of the year. It’s also located just across the street from Code’s Mill and many shops and restaurants are a short walk away.

Another option for accommodation in Perth is Nevis Estate Bed and Breakfast. Located on Drummond street it’s close to highway 7 and a short distance away from the downtown core.

Holiday Events

There is so much going on in Perth this holiday season! Mark your calendars because this Saturday November 26th is the Once Upon A Christmas event. There will be choirs, music, hot chocolate, wagon rides and fun for the whole family. There’s also some upcoming concerts, meet & greet with Santa and Mrs. Clause and Scrooge The Musical. A full list of holiday events can be found here on the Perth Tourism Website.

I had such a lovely time in Perth last weekend I can’t wait to go back and I might just visit this weekend as well. A big thank you to Perth Tourism for helping me plan my trip.

 

Fall Weekend in Toronto

I’m back with a new blog post and more travels to tell you about! I spent last weekend in Toronto exploring some Fall and holiday activities around the city.

Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel

As usual we flew in to Billy Bishop airport on Porter Airlines, it’s definitely the fastest way into the city. This time we stayed at the newly renovated Sheraton Centre Toronto. The hotel has a beautiful lobby with two bars(Dual Citizen and 43Down) and lots of space to sit, eat or work.

The room was spacious and comfortable. One of the key features at the Sheraton Toronto is the Club Lounge located on the 43rd floor. Offering sweeping views of downtown Toronto the Club Lounge is open for breakfast, all-day snacks and cocktails in the evening. It’s also a great place to relax, work or have a business meeting. You can upgrade your room to include access to the lounge.

We really enjoyed the breakfast at the lounge, the staff were so accommodating and the food was great. I really enjoyed the cold pressed juice made fresh daily in-house!

The Sheraton also offers lost of space for meetings and conferences. The hotel was busy as there were quite a few events going on during our stay but the attention to detail and customer service was amazing!

Activities

This trip was a little more relaxed for us in terms of activities as we were arrived late on Friday evening. Toronto has so much to offer in general, especially around the holidays. I started off my Saturday with some shopping with Laura Ackermans from Your Shop Girl

Your Shop Girl offers personal shopping and image consulting services. There’s a number of different packages for women and men that you can choose from. It’s also a great service to use if you want to get some Christmas shopping done! Laura took me on a quick tour of the trendy Queen St West area. We visited some local favourites like Horses Atelier, The Latest Scoop and Coal Miner’s Daughter.

Toronto is known for its entertainment industry and being home to the Toronto International Film Festival, but the city also offers many other specialized entertainment events. One of them is the Reel Asian Film Festival which features work but filmmakers of Asian heritage. We got to stop by the festival and catch some short films which also included works by South Asian filmmakers.

My favourite activity on this trip was our candle making workshop at Kandl Artistique Yorkville. This trendy boutique offers an olfactory experience! You can shop their existing candles or sign up for a workshop and create your own. Sashien and I really enjoyed the workshop, it’s a relaxing experience that’s a great date idea as well. The workshop runs about an hour and you get to choose your custom scent and name your candle. Once the candles are poured it takes about 30-mins to an hour for them to be ready for pick up so make sure you have something to do while you wait. The store also offers a cafe with snacks, tea, coffee and wine! Can you guess what I named my candle? The Weekend Fashionista of course!

Lunch

We checked out two spots for lunch on this trip. On Saturday we stopped by Le Sélect Bistro, a cozy French restaurant. This restaurant offers a great brunch menu with some traditional french items. I tried the Croque Monsieur and Sashien had the Beef Tartare. Both were delicious! The cocktails and wine list was also extensive and I was impressed that they had my favourite cocktail, a Kir Royale on the menu.

After our candle making workshop on Sunday,  we stopped by Signatures Restaurant at the Yorkville Royal Sonesta Hotel. The restaurant offers a new menu with items such as grilled shrimp, tacos and ravioli for lunch. Signatures is also a popular brunch spot in Yorkville and offers an elevated dining experience.

Dinner and Drinks

We had two amazing dinners in Toronto. On Friday evening we stopped by 43Down which is located inside the lobby of the Sheraton Centre Toronto. This restaurant is a great high end spot for dinner and drinks and features a new winter menu. We tried their duck fat fries, angus beef tartare and smoked aurora duck drumettes. The food was delicious but the real stars of the show are their drinks.

We tried the Boulavardier In Ice which has a really cool presentation where the alcohol is injected into a globe of ice. Once this is done you get to crush the ice and drink it. This is such a special cocktail that only 10 of them are prepared a night, so go early if you want to try it. 43Down also offers great smoked drinks such as the 43rd which comes in a smoke chamber.

On Saturday night we had another amazing dining experience at BlueBlood Steakhouse located inside Casa Loma. This was on our list of restaurants to try so we were very excited to experience it. We both tried the Wagyu beef steaks and they were done to perfection! For sides we went with garlic mashed potatoes and lobster mac & cheese, both so decadent.

The drinks at BlueBlood were also divine and I tried their famous Once Upon A Time cocktail. This truly was a dining experience! Everything from the decor, the drinks, food and ambiance was just perfect! If you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply feel the need to get dressed up for dinner then BlueBlood is the place to go!

After dinner we also stopped by Parc Ave for drinks. This new luxury cocktail bar and lounge is located in the Yorkville area and offers high end cocktails. We got there around 8pm but some parts of the lounge opened only at 10pm. If you plan on going to Parc Ave I’d suggest saving it as a late night spot. The bar and lounge are also quite small so it is liable to fill up as the night goes on.

We really enjoyed this weekend getaway to Toronto. If you haven’t visited the city yet then perhaps add it to your holiday travel plans. There’s so much going on in the city this time of year and a full list of activities and attractions can be found at Destination Toronto. They can also help you plan your trip to the city. A huge thank you to the Destination Toronto team for partnering with us on this trip!

 

Sophie Grace Workwear

I’m back! It’s certainly been a while since my last blog post here but I have been very active on Instagram.

As most of you know I recently started a job as a full-time college professor and the Fall semester has been very busy! Now that we are back on campus I often struggle with what to wear to work in the mornings. Although I am a fashion blogger the struggle is still very real!

I was so excited when I came across a brand called Sophie Grace on Instagram. This Canadian, Vancouver based brand offers sustainable high quality workwear for women. Sophie Grace specializes in workwear that can be incorporated into your existing wardrobe. All their pieces are so easy to mix and match and are created with sustainability in mind. It’s a great Canadian option for ladies who want to curate a capsule workwear wardrobe.

My personal favourite out of all their pieces is the Ashley dress. It’s so versatile and can be dressed up for work or dressed down for the weekend. The Ashley comes in 4 colours,  black, ivory, navy and the latest colour – Bordeaux. I love the fit of this dress, it’s so comfortable and looks so chic! The dress also comes in a short sleeved option.

I also tried out the Kamala silk blouse. A silk blouse is a must-have in any work wardrobe and once again you can go casual or formal with this piece as well. The Kamala blouse comes in black, ivory, silver and desert ( I would say this is more of a gold).

What I like most about Sophie Grace is that it’s a Canadian brand created by  lawyer turned entrepreneur, Emma May. As a working woman herself Emma understood the struggle we go through with finding workwear that is elegant and versatile. I’m so happy she created a brand that produces clothing that is not only functional but stylish as well!

Check out this Canadian brand and let me know which pieces are your favourite!

My Revolve Favourites

I’m back with another fashion post and this time I’m sharing some of my favourite finds from online retailer Revolve.

I heard about Revolve a few years ago when I first started blogging ( I recently celebrated my 5th bloggiversay) and was always curious about their clothing. I recently picked out some items and here’s what I’ve been loving.

X Revolve Ava Dress

Got a wedding to attend? This dress is perfect as a wedding guest look. I love the off the shoulder design and cut. It also comes in Pink but I think the blue can be worn through the fall as well. Note – this dress does fit small so I had to size up to a size S from an XS.

Jillian Asymmetrical Midi Dress

Are you a bride to be this Fall? This dress is perfect for a rehearsal dinner or bridal shower. I love the asymmetrical neckline and fit. It’s by the brand Superdown which also tends to run a bit small so it’s definitely a good idea to size up with this one.

Natalie Belted Dress

This is the dress I’m wearing in the photos. I love this one, it’s very Chanel inspired and effortlessly chic! It comes in three colours, black, pink and ivory. I chose the ivory for a timeless chic look. This one fits more TTS but I still opted to size up to a small.

Trish Knot Sweater 

I posted this sweater on my stories and I got so many questions about it so here it is. This is THE sweater for fall 2022! The white and beige combo is so chic and elegant. It also comes in a pink and hot-pink combo but I definitely like this one better. The knotted detail is so cute and the colours are so classy.

Dina Mini Dress

Get a head start on your party outfits this holiday season with the Dina mini! I love the light blue and gold sequins on this one. The stars make this appropriate for Christmas and the holiday season. I would definitely wear this to a New Year’s Eve Party

Faye Midi Dress

Looking for a dress that’s perfect for Christmas and Valentine’s Day then the Faye Midi is your best bet. I love the off the shoulder open neckline and ruching. This dress is very flattering but runs extremely small. I ordered a size small but I should have gone up two sizes to a medium. There is some stretch to it but it is very figure hugging so I’d recommend sizing up to be comfortable.

Shop All My Favourites

Queen’s Plate ready with Queen Bee Millinery

I’m back with a new blog post and this sure is an exciting one! If you’ve been following me over the years you know that I love hats and fascinators and will find any excuse to wear them. After the closure of my go-to shop for hats I was on the lookout for a store that featured classic feminine headpieces. When I came across Queen Bee Millinery in Perth,ON I was beyond excited.

Queen Bee Millinery

I first heard about Queen Bee when my parents took a day trip to Perth and sent me a photo of the shop. I quickly found the store’s instagram account and sent a message inquiring about their pieces and hours of operation. That’s how I connected with Ranelle Larocque the owner and designer behind Queen Bee Millinery.  I shared my upcoming collaboration with Woodbine Entertainment to create content for the Queen’s Plate and my ideas about a hat for this very special event.

I visited Perth and stopped by the store; it was an absolute pleasure meeting Ranelle, and the rest as they say is fashion history! We became fast friends over our shared love of feminine fashion, classic style, and of course hats! Ranelle was gracious enough to design a bespoke hat for me to wear to the Queen’s Plate.

The Process

I stopped by the store with my outfit ideas and brought a long a few dresses to show. Ranelle had the cutest tea party set up for us! We decided on a strapless floral print midi dress that I had recently received from Shein. I loved the floral print and cut of the dress and I knew I was looking for a hat to incorporate the floral elements.

After trying on a few in-house pieces for size and taste we decided on a saucer shape. Making the hat took about 2 weeks and I received photos of the process as well. It was really special to see my hat coming together piece by piece.

Ranelle made some great recommendations about adding a hint of pink to my hat as well as some silk flowers and a green sinamay bow to incorporate more colour and movement. We wanted to add some extra elements for a bit of flair and debated between a quill and some feathers, the feathers won out in the end!

A few weeks before the big day I went in for a fitting to make sure everything was just perfect, and it truly was!

The Main Event: The Queen’s Plate

I was thrilled to attend the Queen’s Plate let alone have a custom designed hat for it. The whole outfit came together so well, thanks to Ranelle’s recommendations and talent. I got so many compliments and many ladies approached me to ask where I found my hat. I was beyond proud to say, ” it’s a custom piece by Queen Bee Millinery in Perth, Ontario”.

The Queen’s Plate was an incredibly meaningful collaboration for me in so many ways. As most of you know I was born in Sri Lanka, which was a British colony named Ceylon at one time. My great-grandmother loved the races when they took place at the race course in Colombo. I am told she used to travel to Colombo with her circle of society ladies in their bespoke outfits to watch the races. It was such a honour to be able to carry-on a little bit of  that legacy here in Canada.

Worth the drive

If you’re in the Ottawa area I would definitely recommend taking a drive to Perth and stoping by Queen Bee Millinery to say hello to Ranelle. She does a wonderful job listening to your vision and bringing it to life. If you’re not in the area she also ships worldwide and you can certainly contact her via email (ranelle@queenbeemillinery.ca) and zoom to set up a consultation.

I really enjoyed my time in Perth and can’t wait to visit again. There are so many wonderful businesses and hidden treasures just like Queen Bee Millinery.

Be sure to check out my Instagram for some behind the scenes footage at the Queen’s Plate.

My Favourite Vacay Looks 2022

It’s that time of year again! Summer = vacation time! I haven’t done a fashion blog post in a while so I thought I’d share some of my favourite vacay outfits for 2022!

Tropical print dress

If it were up to me I’d wear tropical prints all year round! Those you know me in person know that I love palm print… well everything. That’s why I love this cotton black and white palm print midi dress. It’s cotton and comfortable for the warmer summer months, it also works well if you’re heading down south for the winter. The midi length makes this dress a bit more classy and formal and I love the bardot neckline.

I picked this dress up a few years ago but I have linked some similar tropical styles below.

High waisted cream pants + Top

Believe it or not neutrals are in for summer. Although I generally love colour I wanted to incorporate some neutrals in to my vacation wardrobe and these high waisted pants in a cream colour were just perfect. I’ve linked them and many other options below.

I paired it with a one shoulder floral top and flower earrings for some flair. For a more vacay style look I accessorized with a bamboo bag. This look can be dressed up or down depending on the accessories and footwear you choose.

Ruffle Skirt + Tank

I love a good ruffle skirt for summer. Whether it’s a mini or a midi ruffle skirts are so cute and feminine for summer. I’ve had this one for a number of years and wear it every year without fail. It’s one of my vacay staples. It’s great with a tank top or white t-shirt for sight seeing or strolling around local markets at your destination.

Once again you can dress this up or down depending on what shoes and jewelry you choose. I have worn this skirt with both flats and heels.

Floral Romper

Rompers are a great piece to pack in your luggage for a vacation! They’re a cute alternative to shorts and can be dressed up or down. This year I’m loving this floral one shoulder romper from Dynamite. I ordered it online and I am so happy with it. I chose the all over floral print option but it does come in a solid green colour as well.

The one shoulder detail and flowy fabric give this more of a formal look which I really liked. You could wear this on a night out on the town or to dinner while on vacation.

Fancy gown or dress

What’s a vacation without a fancy dinner? Do we really need an occasion to get all dolled up when on vacation? I think not. I always pack some of flowy gown or fancy dress for any vacation. You never know when an exciting invitation may come your way.

I absolutely adore this strapless geo print teal gown that I ordered on Shein. I bought it especially for my trip to Mexico with Sunwing airlines. It reminded me of the ocean and matched perfectly with our swim out pool.

Another dress I adore is this cute flared skirt embroidered detail dress I ordered online from Le Chateau. I wore this to the ballet on my recent trip to Toronto. I thought the ballet would be a great reason to get all dolled up.

I’ve linked similar styles for both below.

 

What are some of your vacation must haves?

 

Summer Activities at Fairmont Montebello

I’m so happy that we are finally right in the middle of summer. As most of you know summer is my favourite season in Canada and it’s also a great time to travel and explore. I recently visited Fairmont Le Château Montebello which is just a short drive away from Ottawa in Montebello,Quebec. This was my first time visiting in the summer so I was excited to see what the hotel had to offer in terms of summer activities and excursions. I had visited Château Montebello before in the winter for a holiday staycation. If you’re curious about the hotel amenities and room types pleas check out the post linked here.

Not only is Château Montebello one of the largest log cabins in the world it is also Eastern Canada’s #1 family resort. There’s lots of summer activities for everyone to enjoy.

Water sports, Pool and Cabanas

If you love the water then this hotel is for you! Boasting a full marina where many guests park their boats, the hotel also offers water sports like water skiing, canoeing and kayaking. There’s also the outdoor pool where you can spend a day tanning or in the water. If you’re like me and enjoy lounging by the pool instead, consider booking a Cabana. This is a great option for groups as cabanas can accommodate up to 6 people. Each cabana comes with ample seating, a poolside view with towels and chilled water onsite. You can also order food directly to your cabana. Reservations for the cabanas must be made ahead of time and have an additional cost of $249.

Other Activities

If you’re in to more landlocked activities the hotel has a sports chalet where you can rent equipment for cycling, mini-golf, tennis, croquet, bocce, horseshoes, basketball and volleyball. Château Montebello also has its own tennis courts and if you’re new to the game you can also sign up for an onsite lesson. It’s recommended that you book 24h in advance for the lessons.

I like a more relaxed vibe when I’m on vacation so I stuck mostly to the walking paths and hiking trails around the property. In the evening there are also onsite bonfires where you can relax and roast marshmallows if you wish. In addition the hotel also offers carriage rides to visitors and hotel guests for a fee, this must also be reserved in advance.  Once specific point of interest at Montebello is Manoir Papineau which is the estate of Louis-Joseph Papineau, who was a leading figure in Canadian politics. Tours of Manoir Papineau are available Wednesday to Sunday from June 22 to September 5.

The hotel also offers its own historical tours of the property starting daily at 4:30PM. It is recommended that you book your tour 24h in advance. Activities, tours and restaurant reservations can be made by contacting the activity concierge at montebelloconcierge@fairmont.com.

While walking around the property I came across a sign about on-demand photoshoots. This is another interesting activity you can try onsite and of course book in advance. The property at Fairmont Montebello is lovely and a great location for a photoshoot!

Dining 

Throughout the year the hotel offers a number of dining options such as Aux Chantignoles Restaurant, Bar Le Foyer and in-room dining. During the summer months you can take advantage of Le Riverain Terrace and the outdoor Barbecue. I tried both and I really enjoyed the food! I would definitely recommend the Chiken Tikka wrap at Le Riverain for lunch and the Barbecue for dinner. The dinner menu comes in three courses which are delivered to your table, outdoors and overlooking the Ottawa river. This was a great experience. The Barbecue costs $65 per person excluding taxes and is an all-you-can-eat style offering with courses of salad, seafood and meat. If you’re a fan of one particular course you can always ask for more. I really enjoyed the beet and tomato salad and of course the meat course. Reservations are highly recommended as this is a very popular dining option at the hotel.

In addition there are also many outdoor seating areas and gazebos around the property. Aux Chantignoles offers outdoor seating in the summer and we enjoyed a nice breakfast there. At the moment Fairmont Montebello is offering picnics to go. You can order your picnic basket ahead of time, have it delivered to enjoy around the property. This service is available daily from 7am to 10pm and once again it’s recommended that you reserve in advance.

If you’ve been to Château Montebello in the winter or fall then be sure to visit again to check out all this property has to offer during the warmer months.

 

 

 

Things to do in Toronto this Summer

I’m back! It’s been a while since my last travel blog post and I’m so excited to share what I’ve been up to. Summer is finally here in Canada and what better time to start planning some vacations or staycations! For those of us in Ontario we have an added incentive of the Ontario Staycation tax credit. I although I’m based in Ottawa I always try to get at least one trip to Toronto in each Summer. It’s definitely Ontario’s largest and most popular city with so many sights to see and things to do, there’s something for everyone.

I visited Toronto a few weeks ago and had such a fabulous time thanks to Destination Toronto and their ideas on just about everything you could possibly need to know about planning a trip to Toronto.

Travel + Accommodation

As I live in Ottawa I could have chosen to fly, drive or take the train to Toronto but I really wanted to maximize my time in the city so Sashien and I chose to fly. We flew Porter Airlines directly  to Billy Bishop Airport which is conveniently located in the heart of the city. Transportation out of the airport is quick and easy and you can either take the ferry, a taxi or Uber. We chose to Uber and used it to get around to most places during our weekend stay.

In terms of accommodation options Toronto has endless possibilities based on your needs and price point. On this occasion we were hosted by the Ritz-Carlton and we thoroughly enjoyed everything the hotel had to offer. This place is definitely worth the splurge! From the personalized guest key cards to the friendly and accommodating staff the Ritz-Carlton exudes five star service. We also had the chance to check out their onsite spa My Blend by Clarins. This spa was exquisite and offers so many high end services exclusive to Clarins, we both had the rebalancing massage and left feeling relaxed and ready to take on the weekend!

Sights + Attractions

Toronto has so much to see and do it’s impossible to see everything in one weekend but we did visit some really unique and interesting places on our trip. Of course there’s the traditional CN tower visit and the trip to Ripley’s Aquarium, which are great family friendly activities but as we had both seen them in the past we wanted to check out something different. One of our first stops was Little Canada which is an exhibit featuring animated miniatures of various cities and vistas around Canada. The exhibit is a work in progress as they build different parts of Canada. We enjoyed visit miniature versions of Toronto, Ottawa and Quebec City. This is a great family friendly exhibit!

If you know me in person then you’re quite aware of my shoe addiction, so this shoe-a-holic definitely couldn’t pass up a chance to visit the Bata Shoe Museum. This museum covers the history of shoes and features notable footwear from various centuries. At the moment there’s a brand new exhibit called Future Now which explores over fifty futuristic footwear designs from the auto-lacing Nike MAG to the virtual RTFKT x Staple Meta-Pigeon.  My favourite item at the museum were the Christian Louboutin shoes for Barbie, how cute!!

If you’re looking for something more on the relaxing side then you must check out Hoame Meditation Studio. They offer a number of different meditation classes and experiences. We took a breath work meditation class at Hoame, I must admit I struggled with this one as I’m quite the chatterbox and we had to stay quiet. But if  zen is your thing then you should definitely check it out.

Theatre + Shows

We arrived in Toronto on June 10th just in time for the National Ballet of Canada‘s opening night of Swan Lake. I’ve always enjoyed Tchaikovsky’s pieces so I was thrilled to get to see Swan Lake. The ballet runs until June 26th at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. If ballet is not your thing you can also check out Harry Potter and the Cursed Child which is playing throughout the Summer and into the Fall. If you’re in to musical theatre there’s also many other shows scheduled for the Summer a full list can be found here. I would highly recommend Singin’ in the Rain which plays this Fall. In addition to these there’s also concerts and other shows to check out.

Restaurants + Nightlife

We checked out a lot of great restaurants during our trip and Toronto definitely has so many choices to offer. On day 1 we had lunch at Oretta located on King St. West. I loved the decor and ambiance in this traditional yet modern Italian restaurant. They also have another location in midtown. This is a lovely spot for a casual drink and some gelato.

As we were staying at the Ritz-Carlton we got to check out some of the restaurants at the hotel, my favourite was Epoch which features indoor and outdoor dining spaces. This newly renovated restaurant features signature drinks a brand new menu and a patio with a great view of the CN Tower. I really enjoyed grabbing a cocktail outside, I would recommend the Lychee Queen cocktail. We also had breakfast at Toca which is located inside the hotel, Toca stands for Toronto Canada and the main attraction in this restaurant is their Cheese cave. It’s definitely a unique feature and a must see if you’re at the hotel.

Yorkville is one of my favourite areas of Toronto featuring high-end shops and unique restaurants. We stopped in for lunch at Bar Reyna which was totally worth the hype! We loved the mediterranean spin on traditional brunch dishes. I also really liked the ambiance and the decor on their patio. For drinks I’d recommend 7 am in Ibiza it’s a great take on an espresso martini!

One of the highlights of our trip was our dinner and evening at Lula bar. This was such a fun experience. Lula Bar is a latin resto-bar that features live bands and salsa dancing on the weekends. We enjoyed a three course meal, there is a set menu to choose from; followed by a salsa class and live music. I would highly recommend checking them out if you’re spending a weekend in Toronto.

On our last morning in Toronto we had breakfeast at OEB Breakfast Co. This restaurant is a great family friendly place that offers gourmet style meals at an affordable price. If you do go be sure to check out the Canadian Lobster and Shrimp Crepe. It’s such a fancy first meal!

Of course there are so many dining and entertainment options in Toronto and you can learn more about them on the Destination Toronto website.

Other fun stuff

One thing I didn’t cover yet was shopping! Toronto has so many malls it can be overwhelming but my favourite is definitely Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Not only does it offer an assortment of stores and designer boutiques it also houses my favourite Macaron shoppe Ladurée. I’ve visited in the past and wrote about my high tea experience there, you can read all about it here.

If you’re looking for the city that has something for everyone then Toronto is definitely for you! We had such a wonderful time on our weekend stay, a huge thank you to Destination Toronto for helping us plan our trip. We’re already planning another trip back this Summer. Don’t forget to check out Destination Toronto to help you plan the ultimate Toronto vacation and see Toronto now!