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Room With A Boo at The Magnolia Hotel

Published October 20, 2016 by Michelle Gadd with VITA Daily

Trick-or-treating may have stopped in childhood but celebrating a haunted Halloween never gets old. VITAdiscovered there’s no better way to get your Halloween thrills and chills than in historic Victoria with a stay at The Magnolia Hotel. Throughout October the Magnolia Hotel is offering guests a Room with a Boo package and so we opted for bikes instead of brooms and headed to Vancouver Island to check out what treats the Magnolia Hotel is handing out this Halloween.

It must be said: biking to Victoria from Vancouver is the perfect start to a Halloween themed getaway. By braving the elements and cycling through hidden neighbourhoods and down old country roads you’re guaranteed to sight a few ‘haunted’ houses and real scarecrows. My boo (see what we did there?) and I highly recommend the Lochside Regional Trail, which will take you straight from the Swartz Bay ferry terminal to downtown Victoria.

The Magnolia Hotel is located steps from Victoria’s Inner Harbour and the best boutique shopping and restaurants. The hotel kindly stored our bikes upon arrival and we were greeted in the lobby with delicious pumpkin spiced tea to warm us up after our very wet, 90 kilometre ride. Our room on the sixth floor had an amazing view of the harbor as well as of historic buildings in downtown Victoria but even better than the view was the in-room fireplace and huge soaker tub.

The concierge handed us a map of The Magnolia Hotel’s curated trails program, which with the use of complimentary hotel bikes, takes you on a lovely tour of Victoria hotspots. Included in the Room With A Boo package is a guided ghostly walk for two with Discover the Past Walking Tours, led by one of Victoria’s foremost storytellers, John Adams. With his tales of ghosts and ghouls haunting Victoria’s historic sites, even if you don’t believe in the unseen, you’ll leave educated about Victoria’s grisly past.

After all that fresh air and exercise we were treated to a dinner at Victoria’s Olo Restaurant. Farm-to-Table can be used to describe plucking a few greens from your backyard but Olo Restaurant takes the concept to a whole new level. The Olo kitchen is filled with quality B.C. ingredients including an emphasis on Island-raised whole animals and sea fare caught in local waters. We sampled a five-course menu which included a succulent octopus plate that even though chef and owner Brad Holmes described the octopus as the “by-catch” of crab traps, we thought this sea critter was a main event on the menu. Each plate was perfectly paired with a unique wine and ended with desert featuring fennel ice cream, which still has us licking our lips.

The next day we explored the rest of what downtown Victoria has to offer. Our walk led us to Silk Road Tea store where we drank cold organic tea mixed with eyeballs (Longan fruit), a spectacular tea based apple cider, and a cold drink made from their Chocolate Panda mix where if you add almond milk and a bit of alcohol at home, you’ve got a Bailey’s with health benefits.

Because treats at Halloween are a must (and we can only take so much candy from the kids) we also indulged in Magnolia’s turndown service that delivered Halloween themed chocolates by local Roger’s Chocolates.

The Room With A Boo package at Magnolia Hotel delivers all the trick or tweets necessary to demonstrate that Halloween can be fun no matter what your age, so book now and be prepared to be scared! —Michelle Gadd

Magnolia Hotel & Spa shines in the Condé Nast Traveler 2016 Reader’s Choice Awards

Published October, 2016 by
#2 Top Hotels in Canada (excluding Vancouver)

Victoria’s leading boutique hotel continues to triumph in 2016’s annual international travel awards, this time securing the position of #2 hotel in Canada (excluding Vancouver) in the 29th annual Conde Nast Traveler 2016 Reader’s Choice Awards with a score of 95.93.

Moving up from #4 position in the 2015 awards to their highest position yet, the 64-room boutique Magnolia Hotel & Spa continues to be recognized as one of the finest in the country for service excellence and guest experience. Quebec’s Manoir Hovey secured the well-deserved top spot and Victoria was ranked as #7 top city in the world.

“We are truly honored to be in such incredible company as one of Canada’s top hotels,” says Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s general manager, Bill Lewis. “I can’t thank our guests enough for continuing to recognize our hotel as one of the best in the world.”

The Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards are the longest-running and most prestigious recognition of excellence in the travel industry and recognize the very best of travel. Over 300,000 dedicated readers – nearly twice as many as last year – cast votes for 7,394 hotels, 606 cities, 500 cruise ships and 236 islands. The result? The 1,402 best travel experiences in the world.

The Awards will be announced in the November issue of Condé Nast Traveler, on newsstands nationwide on October 25, 2016 with the full list published exclusively online at

About The Magnolia Hotel & Spa 

Just steps from Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour, The Magnolia Hotel & Spa wins over guests with its unbeatable location and service. #2 in the Conde Nast Traveler 2016 Reader’s Choice Awards, #7 in the Travel + Leisure World Best Awards 2016 – Top Hotel in Canada, and consistently recognized by Forbes, Conde Nast Johansens and in the annual TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice® awards, the Magnolia Hotel & Spa is one block from the Inner Harbour and the city’s best restaurants, shops and entertainment – exactly where you want to be during a stay in Victoria.

About Condé Nast Traveler 

As the most discerning, up-to-the-minute voice in all things travel, Condé Nast Traveler is the global citizen’s bible and muse, offering both inspiration and vital intel. Condé Nast Traveler is the most trusted and celebrated name in travel with 6 National Magazine Award wins and 26 nominations in its 28-year history. Advertising Age named Pilar Guzmán Editor of the Year in 2014 and attained 4 Webby Awards since 2015.

Manoir Hovey Takes Number-1 Spot on Condé Nast List

Published October, 2016 in Hotelier

NEW YORK — North Hatley, Que.’s Manoir Hovey garnered top honours on Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Readers’ Choice Awards, which revealed the top 12 hotels in the country as chosen by readers, with the exception of properties located in Vancouver.

The Magnolia Hotel & Spa in Victoria took the number-2 spot, followed by Fairmont Le Château Montebello, Montebello, Que.; Trump International Hotel & Tower, Toronto; and Auberge Saint-Antoine, Quebec City.

Along with the top hotels in Canada, the publication also released a list of the top hotels in Vancouver, as well as Canada’s top resorts. The Fairmont Pacific Rim claimed the title of number-1 hotel in Vancouver, while the Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre, Whistler, B.C. was named the top Canadian resort.

A complete lists of Canadian winners can be found at

Victoria named 7th best city in the world by international travel mag

Published October 20, 2016 by CTV News Vancouver Island

Most Victorians would probably agree that the Capital Region is one of the best cities in the world and according to a new survey, they aren’t the only ones.

The latest Condé Nast Traveler’s Readers’ Choice Awards ranked Victoria as the seventh best city in the world.

“This ranking signals without doubt that Victoria has arrived as a global experiential tourism brand,” Tourism Victoria president and CEO, Paul Nursey, said. “The world is starting to learn about how special Greater Victoria truly is as [a] place to live, work and visit.”

The capital city placed above global tourism leaders including Venice, Paris and Hong Kong.

“In the 21st century, people are looking for places for experiences when they travel,” Victoria mayor Lisa Helps said. “With our vibrant downtown, booming arts and culture sector and easy access to nature, Victoria is an increasingly attractive place to visit.”

Victoria was recognized for its “stately mansions and picturesque gardens.” The survey highlighted the region’s mild climate and whereabouts on the island as an “excellent location for outdoor activities.”

A popular dockside seafood restaurant also got a shout out in the caption, it reads “For excellent traditional fish-and-chips on the docks, try the aptly named Red Fish Blue Fish.”

Victoria wasn’t the only Canadian city named on the list:

  • Vancouver ranked 6th
  • Quebec City came in 18th
  • Toronto scored 37th
  • Montreal placed 39th

As for the top spot that went to Tokyo, Japan, while Cologne, Germany took the final spot as the 40th best city in the world.

Condé Nast Traveler readers cast more than 100,000 votes for their favourite cities, outside the U.S., in the 2016 survey.

Victoria’s accomodation sector also ranked high in the reader’s poll. The Magnolia Hotel & Spa was voted the second favourite hotel in Canada and the Fairmont Empress was seventh.

This isn’t the first time Victoria has been recognized as a leading city.

A recent study ranked Victoria as the best city to be a woman in Canada – topping the rankings two years in a row.

In July Vancouver Island was named Canada’s best island by a New York-based travel magazine.

Victoria Ranked 7th Best City in World by Condé Nast Traveler Readers

Published October 20, 2016 in Douglas Magazine 

Tourism Victoria is delighted to share news that Victoria has been ranked as the seventh Best City in the World by the latest Condé Nast Traveler’s readers’ poll, released Oct. 17. Victoria placed ahead of global tourism leaders such as Paris, London and Barcelona and is nestled among the some of the hottest spots for experiential travel in the world, such as Kyoto, Japan and San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.

“This is a huge deal, though most people, including civic leaders, won’t grasp just how important this this,” says Tourism Victoria President and CEO Paul Nursey. “Tourism marketing is all about creating a deep brand connection with prospective customers. This ranking signals without doubt that Victoria has arrived as a global experiential tourism brand. The key drivers of this are strong re-investment in product in recent years, an increasingly vibrant community for visitors to experience and ongoing, strong tourism marketing and publicity. Add it all up and the world is starting to learn about how special Greater Victoria’s truly is as place to live, work and visit.”

“In the 21st century, people are looking for places for experiences when they travel,” says Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps. “With our vibrant downtown, booming arts and culture sector and easy access to nature, Victoria is an increasingly attractive place to visit.”

Victoria’s accommodation sector also scored extremely well in the reader’s poll with the Magnolia Hotel and Spa voted the second favourite hotel in Canada, while The Fairmont Empress was seventh.

“These results, directly from Condé Nast Traveler’s readership, are a testament to the quality, luxury, amenity and service that our visitors are experiencing in Victoria,” says Bill Lewis, Chair of Tourism Victoria, and General Manager of the Magnolia Hotel and Spa. “Combined with the great experiential tourism opportunities in our Greater Victoria region, the hotel community is pleased to be doing its part to help raise our level and put Greater Victoria on the global map.”

Condé Nast Traveler readers cast more than 100,000 votes for their favorite cities in the world (outside the U.S.) in the 2016 Readers’ Choice Awards survey.

Where to stay in Victoria: The Magnolia Hotel & Spa

Published September 22, 2016 by Luci’s Morsels

If you were following our stay in Victoria, British Columbia on Instagram, you may have seen our amazing Bike Tour around the city. On Friday morning of our trip, we borrowed bikes from The Magnolia Hotel where we stayed (more on its fabulousness below). They outfitted us with bicycles, helmets, and a selection of maps to take in the city as best suited us. We opted for the Bikes, Beans, and Blooms tour since we couldn’t get enough of the gardens and of course needed to check out some coffee and tea offerings in the city…

After stopping at Picnic for coffee and breakfast, we headed up to Government House. Rather unassuming from the entry gate, the property is loaded with gardens, a waterfall, and meandering paths that bring breathtaking views at every turn. I fell in love with this structure below. Doesn’t it just scream garden party in all the best ways? Straight ahead was the rose garden, so it really was ideal!

The temperatures in Victoria were high 60s with practically clear skies. We couldn’t have asked for better weather. I opted for button down tops and jeans everyday we were there, throwing on a sweater at night when we went out for dinner. The city is fairly casual, so you can wear comfortably, chic outfits morning to night.

Our next stop was Afternoon Tea at the Teahouse at Abkhazi Gardens. You can see the amazing array of goodies offered. The savory cheddar scones were my favorite, but it was all delicious. My husband particularly enjoyed the salmon profiterole bites – so cute!

You can enjoy tea or lunch indoors or outdoors, looking out at the beautiful gardens. The food was quite delicious. We tried black, green, and an herbal teas – each very happy with our picks. The gardens are run by donation upon entering. If you’re having tea at the teahouse and not touring the gardens, you can bypass the donation if desired.

There are more famous high teas in Victoria, but the one at the Abkhazi Gardens was delicious, comfortable, and much more reasonable at $30 per person. We heartily recommend it.

I loved the teacups and teapots – a variety of patterns and prints. The afternoon tea left us quite satisfied and ready to continue on our trek through the city on our bikes.

Sometimes you see the darndest things when you don’t expect it. We took an extra turn around the block to see a bit more of the neighborhood. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed two deer enjoying lunch at a garden in the middle of an intersection. I pulled over and started snapping photos. Before I knew it, the mom and baby deer proceeded to cross the street… in the crosswalk! I’m from a place with deer and I live in a place with crosswalks, but seeing the two together like this was a highly entertaining. I took so, so many photos!

My mom decided to walk while my husband and I rode bikes. Because her pace was obviously a bit slower than ours, she was able to catch a bit more of the beauty than we were. She noted these perfect apple trees she saw in a number of yards. I tried looking up a bit more often after she noted all the great sights she was seeing. Next time, I’ll have to give her the camera!

At this point, we took our own detour from the map to climb the hill back to Craigdarroch Castle. The castle was actually a home of a wealthy coal entrepreneur. The richest man in western Canada, he had the four story home built on a hilltop in Victoria with an astounding 360 degree view. The castle is interesting with historical signs that share all kinds of drama about who married who and then who remarried who. A lot of fun shenanigans! Be sure to make it to the top, so you can see the wonderful views of the city and the straight.

After all the fun of the bike tour and our other daily adventures, we found ourselves yearning to go back to the hotel before dinner. Yes, we wanted to rest our legs, but the rooms at The Magnolia Hotel were just so nice. We tried to grab a bit of time each day in these chairs by the windows. I caught up on emails and read my book, enjoying the Nespresso I made in our room. I did find myself distracted by the view, however. The British Parliament Building was beautiful day and night. And it was so much fun to watch the coming and going of traffic around the harbor.

When the time for dinner finally came, the walk was never too far. The main shopping street and a great selection of coffee and food were all within a short walking distance. And the restaurant in the hotel – Catalano was also delicious. We enjoyed dessert and breakfast there on a few occasions. See where we ate in Victoria for full details and photos.

We didn’t have time to take advantage of their spa, but we certainly will next time.

Thank you to The Magnolia Hotel for a wonderful stay and to the Abkhazi Gardens for our delightful tea.

Magnolia Offers Room with a Boo package

Published September 13, 2016 in Canadian Lodging News Studio Session-128-Edit

Throughout October, Magnolia Hotel & Spa will be offering guests the new Room with a Boo package, it was announced Sept. 7. Guests begin their Halloween hotel experience from the moment they arrive and are greeted in the lobby by a display of carved pumpkins and a cup of pumpkin spiced tea. Treats continue in the room with amenities ranging from deep-soaker tubs to views of Victoria’s Inner Harbour.

“Magnolia is always proud to play a part in Victoria’s famous Halloween celebrations,” says Bill Lewis, general manager of Magnolia Hotel & Spa. “We are all about the treats, from our themed lobby welcome, sweet turn-down treats and guided ghostly walks – and we love welcoming guests that are returning to their favourite old haunt.”

Room with a Boo packages include a guided ghostly walk for two with Discover the Past Walking Tours, led by one of the City’s foremost storytellers, John Adams. Having had collected over 500 ghostly encounters himself, each year he selects a few of his most fun and frightful tales to guide guests through Victoria’s most historic and haunted sites in a spooky stroll through town. After the tour, it’s just a short (and well-lit) walk back to Magnolia where guests will enjoy a treat from local Roger’s Chocolates as part of the package’s nightly turn-down service.

Room with a Boo packages are available from Oct. 1 to 6 and from Oct. 10 to 31.

enRoute – The Magnolia Hotel & Spa


Published August, 2016 in enRoute, by Sarah Musgrave

At this 64-room boutique hotel you’re a quick stroll to the city’s beautiful copper-domed Parliament Buildings. What We Loved cooling down after a jog along Victoria’s Picturesque Inner Harbour with a refreshing glass of lemonade. If You Only Have One Night hit a note on the lobby’s glossy baby grand piano on your way to the new Venetian-style Catalano Restaurant & Cicchetti Bar. Start with a happy-hour glass of Prosecco and the white-bean crostini with parmesan. Bonus bottles of Vivreau filtered water are replenished daily in guest rooms – the program eliminated 40,000 plastic bottles in its first year of operation. 250-381-0999,