Victoria, BC (April 7, 2016) – By Alyssa Schwartz & Photo courtesy of Fol Epi
From Seattle’s ’90s grunge scene to the coffeehouses and food trucks that made Portland one of the most influential food cities in the country, the Pacific Northwest has for decades been America’s capital region of cool. Just north of the border, Vancouver, with its drizzly weather and craft breweries, is a Canadian cousin to those hipster havens. But Victoria, on the southern tip of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, has traditionally been left out of all that cool talk.
Maybe it’s that the mountains and water that lie between Victoria and the mainland push all the clouds and rain and existential moodiness back toward the east (with an avera
ge of 2,183 hours of sunshine a year, Victoria is one of Canada’s sunniest cities); until recently, Victoria seemed more like the kind of place you’d visit with your granny than hit up for a girls’ weekend.
While Victoria’s long-held nickname refers to a place suited to the “nearly dead and newly wed,” those demographics are being overshadowed by an influx of creative, entrepreneurial types, largely driven across the Strait of Georgia by Vancouver’s skyrocketing real estate prices. Vancouver’s loss is Victoria’s gain: Today the city has about 900 tech companies and counting—it’s becoming known as Tectoria—and lots of gorgeous old brick warehouses, which now house stylish indie boutiques stocked full of local designs along with great bars, bakeries, and restaurants.
So lace up your walking shoes or hop on a bike—there’s really no need for a car in town—and discover how quaint, quiet Victoria has grown into the perfect spot for a cool Northwest getaway. Here’s the best of what to see, do, and eat while you’re there.
Eat and Drink
Cliff Leir built his first brick oven in his driveway in his teens; today he’s famous for the tangy, chewy baguettes and rye country boules he pulls out of the wood-fired oven at Fol Epi. Check out the bakery’s Yates Street location at night for dinner at Agrius for seasonal dishes such as roasted brassica shoots with pickled cipollini onion and egg yolk vinaigrette, and albacore tuna with oyster mushrooms and watercress. The bread plays double duty come dessert, after steeping in sweet milk for hours to infuse the flavor of toasted sourdough sorbet.
Inspired by old-time speakeasies, Little Jumbo feels both historic and thoroughly fresh, with its constantly changing cocktail list (try the Tiki Fizz, spiked with local producer Sea Cider’s Rumrunner) and shareable plates such as charred Humboldt squid with a kimchi and XO sauce kick.
Located in the attic of another restaurant, Perro Negro is the perfect hideaway “para picar”—to pick or nibble—on tapas such as croquettas, octopus with chorizo, and Spanish boquerones. Wash them down with a frothy Oaxacan sour (mezcal, tequila, citrus, thyme, black pepper syrup, and egg white) before moving on toBodega for more tapas and classic cocktails like a whiskey sour or negroni, reinvented with sherry.
What to Do
Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour is the starting point for a delicious day at sea with The London Chef Dan Hayes, Canada’s answer to Jamie Oliver. The chef’s newest offering, “West Coast, Best Coast,” is the tastiest way possible to explore the island coastline: After crabbing and fishing for wild salmon, Hayes prepares an at-sea lunch of ceviche and sashimi using your haul. (There’s also an on-board mimosa bar—not your typical day on a fishing boat.)
Venture over to the LoJo district: blocks of restored warehouses, shops, and hotels built during the gold rushes of the 1850s and 1890s. Today those brick heritage buildings are home to beautiful independent boutiques (look for the green “we are local” signs). Among the musts: Tonic Jewelry, where owner Honor Cienska crafts delicate earrings and necklaces out of silver, copper, and gold at the back of the store while you browse the collections of other local makers; stock up on small-batch anise fennel and rose-geranium soaps from local producer Soap Rebel at lifestyle emporium Nest & Cradle; the well-edited selection of designer fashion and denim at Bernstein & Gold lives up to the store’s tagline, “beautiful things and spa,” and then some.
New Victoria may have swapped her high tea for an Earl Grey–infused gin sour, but the super-British vestiges of Old Victoria are still enchanting. Afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress is an elegant, century-old tradition worth keeping. Less than two miles from the center of town, Government House is the official residence of British Columbia’s lieutenant governor, the queen’s representative in the province (yes, the monarchy has a role in provincial and national-level government in Canada). Wander the grounds to explore the 19th-century stables, carriage house, and other service buildings, or just enjoy the beautiful gardens and views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Olympic Mountains.
Where to Stay
Tucked away on quiet Courtney Street, the Magnolia is an elegant 64-room boutique hotel steps from the Inner Harbour. It’s a tough call whether the best amenity here is the onsite spa or Curated Trails program, a collection of themed insider guides that will point you toward Victoria’s many hidden gems. Book a complimentary bike and head out on the “Bikes, Beans, and Blooms” route, which meanders through romantic local gardens and also visits a number of local coffee roasters. To sleep where the royals stay, check in to the Fairmont Empress, the city’s 108-year-old grande dame. Slightly further afield is the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, a posh waterfront resort in Victoria’s ritziest residential area, about four miles from town.
Victoria’s leading boutique hotel recognized by leading industry awards
Victoria, BC (February 25, 2016) – The Magnolia Hotel & Spa continues to feature in leading travel awards, with the Forbes Travel Guide Star Awards, TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards and the US News & World Report Best Hotel Rankings announced this month.
The Forbes Travel Guide 2016 Star Awards recognized Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s exceptional service with a prestigious Four Star award for the third consecutive year, one of just three Vancouver Island properties to be featured.
In the 2016 TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice Awards, Magnolia was named as #4 best hotel in Canada, #12 best Canadian hotel for service and #14 best Canadian hotel for romance.
Lastly the Magnolia Hotel & Spa was recognized as a Silver Badge winner in the US News & World Report’s annual awards, placing #4 in the best hotels Victoria and Vancouver Island category.
Known for its superior levels of customer service and its elegant boutique nature, the Magnolia Hotel & Spa is loved by business and leisure travellers alike; located steps away from Victoria’s iconic Inner Harbour.
For more information please visit www.magnoliahotel.com or call 1-877-624-6654.
About Magnolia Hotel & Spa
Just steps from Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour, The Magnolia Hotel & Spa, wins over guests with its unbeatable location and service. Awarded #4 Top Hotel in Canada in the 2015 Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards, consistently recognized as one of the Top 25 Luxury Hotels by TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice® awards and with a Four Star Forbes rating, the Magnolia Hotel & Spa is one block from the harbour and the city’s best restaurants, shops and entertainment – exactly where you want to be during a stay in Victoria.
P: 604.609.6678 / E: email@example.com
Bikes, Beans, & Blooms Package explores British Columbia’s capital city on two wheels
Victoria, BC (February 18, 2016) – Get your caffeine fix and have a blooming good time in Victoria this spring with Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s Bikes, Beans & Blooms Package, available March 1 to June 30, 2016.
Discover the best coffee shops and the most beautiful gardens in Canada’s ‘cycling capital’ of Victoria. With an overnight stay at Victoria’s leading boutique hotel and use of the Magnolia’s Norco city bicycles, guests will be well-equipped to explore Victoria’s charming cafes and gardens with a self-guided trail map, specially curated by the Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s team.
“Our Bikes, Beans & Blooms package showcases some of Victoria’s lesser known gardens and highlights the amazing local coffee scene that we have here in the city,” says Bill Lewis, General Manager at Magnolia Hotel & Spa. “We love sharing our version of Victoria with visitors and this self-guided bike trail takes guests to the hidden hotspots in our neighbourhood.”
The ‘city of gardens’ springs into life with hanging baskets lining the streets on downtown lampposts every June as part of a tradition that dates back over 75 years. Take a trip on two wheels to visit the heart of Rockland, Victoria’s historic neighbourhood, and see the gardens of Government House that feature native and exotic plants, a dramatic rocky landscape and a beautiful view of the Juan de Fuca Strait and Olympic Mountain Range.
Fuel up at some of the hotel team’s favourite cafes along the way including: whimsical Picnic Too, purveyors of local veteran roasters 2% Jazz Coffee; café/roasters Serious Coffee and Tre Fantastico.
Visit the quaint Abkhazi Tea House and discover the romantic history of the Abkhazi Gardens. See the dramatic displays of Japanese maples, hellebores, Himalayan lilies, cyclamen and stunning Garry Oaks, which are a protected native species in the region. Head to Beacon Hill Park to visit some of the most impressive gardens in the downtown area, featuring plants ranging from tropical palm trees to a romantic gated rose garden. Don’t miss Victoria’s Palm Tree House, home to 15 giant palm trees, each over 25 feet tall and 45 years old!
The Bikes, Beans & Blooms package includes luxurious accommodation at Magnolia Hotel & Spa, continental breakfast and complimentary use of the hotel bicycles. Book a two-night stay to ensure you have plenty of time to explore! Prices start from $199 (March & April) and $259 (May & June)*.
For more details or to book your stay, contact Magnolia Hotel & Spa at 1-877-624-6654 or visit www.magnoliahotel.com.
About Magnolia Hotel & Spa
Just steps from Victoria’s picturesque Inner Harbour, The Magnolia Hotel & Spa, wins over guests with its unbeatable location and service. Recently awarded #4 Top Hotel in Canada in the 2015 Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards, consistently recognized as one of the Top 25 Luxury Hotels by TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice® awards and with a Four Star Forbes rating, the Magnolia Hotel & Spa is one block from the harbour and the city’s best restaurants, shops and entertainment – exactly where you want to be during a stay in Victoria.
P: 604.609.6678 / E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tourism Victoria Appoints New Chair
Victoria, BC (January 25, 2016 – Meetings + Incentive Travel)
Lewis was appointed to the role of First Vice Chair by his board peers in 2013 and this month he will take the reins after the two-year succession period. He is the first hotelier to chair the board in 10 years.
“I am looking forward to helping the Tourism Victoria management team strengthen our tourism industry for future generations,” said Lewis. “Our objectives are to help move along key priority initiatives to strengthen and reinforce our position as tourism leaders and innovators within BC and Canada.”
One key initiative that Bill hopes to have an impact on is the Belleville Street Terminal revitalization including infrastructure and safety upgrades. “A new terminal for the Coho and Clipper ferries will have a significant impact on our city’s tourism industry, making travel quick and seamless between our city and important Washington State ports.”
Paul Nursey, president and CEO of Tourism Victoria, said that he was looking forward to working with Lewis as Victoria moves through a period of significant investment and ongoing growth. “If his expert leadership chairing the Sales and Marketing Committee is anything to go by, we are in good hands.”
Victoria the Beautiful
Victoria, BC (January 22, 2016 – Savoteur Vancouver)
After a day on your feet, there’s no better place to take a load off than at the Magnolia Hotel. Just steps from the Inner Harbour, this boutique hotel’s exterior conceals the charm that lies inside. With only 64 rooms, you can expect super personalized service from everyone you encounter — even Magnus, the hotel’s resident Siamese fighting fish, who greets you from his fishbowl atop the check-in desk. Sophisticated decor is a hallmark of the property, with well-appointed rooms featuring luxe touches like raw-silk-inspired walls and marble bathrooms. We particularly love Magnolia’s Curated Trails program, with self-guided maps highlighting local must-sees (the best tapas bars, secret viewpoints and the like) handpicked by the staff. Borrow one of the hotel’s brand-new bikes and follow the map as it guides you through the city’s historic streets.
623 Courtney St., Victoria. 877-624-6654; magnoliahotel.com
Victorians are serious about their weekend brunches, with the lengthy lineups to prove it. For a scrumptious start to the day, opt to enjoy this most important meal at Catalano. With a focus on the foods of the Mediterranean, top brunch options here include lemon ricotta fritters for something sweet, Moroccan spiced chicken hash with poached eggs and apricots, and stuffed waffles. Enjoy with a Bloody Mary and soak in the views of the parliament buildings.
619 Courtney St., Victoria. 250-480-1824; ferrisoysterbar.com
By: Serena Matter
Travel Close to Home: The Magnolia Hotel & Spa
Victoria, BC (November/December 2015 – at Home Victoria)
Isn’t it funny how our mind always associates vacation time with going away? I can’t even count the number of times I have said “I need to get away.” However, most of us really don’t have the time, and I realized a mind shift was in order; teaching myself that get away doesn’t mean getaway. So, I organized a staycation, packed and overnight bag and with my husband in happy tow, took the 4.8 kilometre journey from my house to The Magnolia Hotel & Spa on Courtney Street in downtown Victoria.
The Magnolia Hotel & Spa was recently named #4 hotel in Canada in the Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, and recognized as one of the top 25 romantic hotels in Canada by Trip Advisor 2015 Travellers’ Choice Awards. Located just one block from everything – the inner harbour, restaurants, shops, nightlife and museums – The Magnolia Hotel & Spa truly is at the heart of our lovely city.
I personally love the charming lobby, with its European bijoux ambiance and grand piano. You never feel rush or herded in this space – something I dislike about check-in areas at large busy hotels.
Our Diamond Guest Suite was so pretty! Plush fabrics, an elegant carpet pattern and raw silk wall treatments were just some of the things I loved about this recently renovated room. Ten foot cielings made our suite even more spacious, and the massive windows to the world were stunning. The room also featured a cozy gas fireplace and high end bed linens. Steve and I were experiencing the Romancing Victoria package and we were thrilled to be greeted with Prosecco, chocolate truffles and Saltspring Soapworks bubble bath. Speaking of bubbles, the spa inspired bathroom was comfortably modern with a large soaker tub and a separate glass shower. The fluffy robes and slippers were a really nice touch.
From our seventh floor suite; the spectacular views of this city at night were wonderful. I think we could have sat in front of the windows for hours, but the city was calling so we donned our walking shoes and hit the streets. We walked around the city like tourists, choosing to combine two of the hotel’s signature Curated Trails – Discover Victoria Trail and Tapa Trail. We walked historic streets, discovered places we didn’t know existed, and dined on small plate delicacies along the way.
By: Tracy Drake
Magnolia Hotel & Spa offers Halloween Hideaways this October
Victoria, BC (October 25, 2015 – at Home Victoria)
October is a frightfully fun month in Canada’s most haunted city and Victoria’s leading boutique hotel, Magnolia Hotel & Spa, is offering a Spooktacular package to celebrate, starting from $169 per night.
Trick or treat yourself to a relaxing stay in a luxurious room with a deep soaker tub and enjoy continental breakfast at Catalano.
Restaurant & Cicchetti Bar before exploring the oldest city in the Pacific Northwest. Victoria is on the hotel’s doorstep and is home to haunted happenings throughout October: from ghost festivals and zombie walks to spooky bike rides, chilling ziplines and nightmares at the museum.
“We’re going to have a spine-tingling time at the hotel this October,” says Bill Lewis, General Manager at Magnolia Hotel & Spa. “Look out for carved pumpkins in the lobby and sweet treats in the bedrooms to celebrate Halloween, or try our spooky self-guided tour to meet the ghosts of Victoria’s intriguing past.”
Don’t be afraid of the dark as Magnolia’s Spooktacular Concierge is on hand to point you in the right direction for ghostly goings-on or guests can try Magnolia’s new self-guided walking trail, which takes visitors through the spookiest spots in the city. Just steps from the Inner Harbour, Magnolia Hotel & Spa is the perfect base to explore the city’s streets and neighborhoods, and get acquainted with its scary stories of bygone days.
Check out historic haunted locations from Victoria’s oldest chocolate shop, Rogers’ Chocolates, to sites of ghoulish goings on in Chinatown’s Fan Tan Alley, Bastion Square and Market Square. Visit places that bring the ghosts of Victorian times alive at the 19th Century seaside Ross Bay Cemetery or imposing Craigdarroch Castle. Make a final stop at the Parliament Buildings, which is haunted by the soul of architect Francis Rattenbury.
The Spooktacular package is available October 1-8 and 12-31; perfect timing for a haunted Halloween hideaway. To book, please visit www.magnoliahotel.com or call 1-877-624-6654.
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. The award-winning hotel is recognized as one of the Top 25 Luxury Hotels, Top 25 Hotels for Service, Top 25 Hotels and Top 25 Romantic Hotels in Canada by TripAdvisor’s® 2015 Travellers’ Choice® awards and received a Four Star rating from Forbes. It was also named one of the Best Hotels in Western Canada and Best Business Travel Hotels by Conde Nast Traveler. The Magnolia Hotel & Spa is one block from the harbour and the city’s best restaurants, shops and entertainment – exactly where you want to be during your Victoria stay.
Travel Deal: Discover Victoria’s treasures with Magnolia Hotel & Spa’s Bikes & Beacon Package
Victoria, BC (August 11, 2015 – Lipstick Lifestyle)
For those who don’t know this charming city, Victoria boasts some of Canada’s best museums, historic landmarks, top-notch dining, and stunning gardens – there’s really something to pique the interest of all. Oh, and I mustn’t forget to tell you that Victoria was names the third friendliest city on the world by Conde Nast Traveler readers in 2014. Pretty impressive, right?
If you’re considering planning a vacation or a mini break to this must-visit destination, now is the time to go…
Discover the twist of Victoria’s historic streets, secret foodie finds, city parks and hidden viewpoints with Magnolia Hotel and Spa‘s Bikes & Beacon package, available August 15 to October 15, 2015.
With an overnight stay at Victoria’s leading boutique hotel and the use of Magnolia’s Norco city bicycles, guests will be well-equipped to explore Victoria’s charming neighborhoods with a self-guided trail map, specially curated by the Magnolia Hotel and Spa’s team. Take in the picturesque lakes and wooded glades of Beacon Hill Park; beautiful heritage garden’s at St. Anne’s Academy; Cook Street Village for artisan coffee roasters and clothing boutiques ; and striking vistas of the Olympic Mountains from Dallas Road.
While exploring Beacon Hill Park, set up lakeside and indulge in a delicious picnic prepared by Chef Aaron Lawrence from Catalano Restaurant and Cicchetti Bar. Chef’s favourite picnic goodies include a grilled chicken sandwich with tomato, double smoked bacon and arugula ($15 per person*) or locally produced salumi, cheese, house-made bread and pickled vegetables ($28 per person*), all packed and ready to go in a backpack-style hamper. Take the hotel’s GoPro camera along for the ride and capture highlights of your biking adventures.
“Our Bikes and Beacon package introduces our new curated trails program of biking and walking routes, encouraging our values guests to experience both the Victoria we all know and love, as well as the Victoria you wouldn’t expect,” says Bill Lewis, Manager at the Magnolia Hotel & Spa. “By combining some of our favourite secret spots in the city with a few of the more familiar tourist attractions, we were able to create a spectacular, tailored adventure for our guests.”
The Magnolia Hotel & Spa team plans launch further curated self-guided trails, helping guests to explore the lesser-known neighborhoods, and the hotel team’s favourite stops and sights along the way. Next stop, cocktails and craft beers, followed by Halloween Haunts (I’ve been on a Halloween Haunt and it was amazing!)
The Bikes & Beacon Package includes a one-night stay at the Magnolia Hotel & Spa, continental breakfast and complimentary use of the hotel bicycles and GoPro camera. prices start from $259 per night (August and September stays) and $179 for (October 1-15). For more details ot to book your stay, contact Magnolia Hotel & Spa at 1-877-624-6654 or visit www.magnoliahotel.com.
*Please pre-order your picnic a minimum of 24 hours in advance by emailing email@example.com.
Victoria: Whale watching, outdoor symphonies part of the fun
Victoria, BC (July 28, 2015 – The Province)
Vancouver can lay claim to many honours and distinctions, but one thing it can’t claim to be in capital city of beautiful British Columbia.
That title firmly belongs to the city of Victoria. When you see all that the city has to offer, it’s not hard to see why. It’s incredibly convenient that a tourist paradise such as this is a ferry ride away.
There are plenty of places to stay in Victoria but one of the highest-rated is the Magnolia Hotel & Spa, which is minutes from downtown. Winner of the 2015 Travellers Choice Award on TripAdvisor.com, this luxurious hotel has received rave reviews for its service, value and cleanliness.
Once you’ve arrived and settled in, what’s there to do?
Some must-see attractions in Victoria include:
- Royal BC Museum: One of the best museums in the country and top of many “to-do” lists for visitors, the wildly popular Gold Rush! exhibition is now on until October. This fascinating attraction brings El Dorado to B.C. through interactive displays and rare artifacts and the largest existing gold nugget ever found in the province.
- Harbour Ferry Cruises: Want to check-out more of Victoria’s splendour from the water? Book a ferry tour departing from the Causeway Marina. These 45-minute guided non-stop tours feature historic landmarks like the Parliament Buildings and sacred territories of the First Nations people.
- The Harbour Ferry Ballet: This year marks the 25th anniversary of the crowd-pleasing water ballet performed by five harbour ferries. Shows are every Saturday at 10:45am at the Steamship Terminal at the Inner Harbour.
- Eagle Wing Whale Watching: If you want to enjoy something about B.C. very few people in the world get to experience , you should book a whale-watching trip with Eagle Wing Tours, Voted No. 1 on Trip Advisor every year since 2007 with guaranteed sightings, odds of you coming away from this trip without having watched a whale or two are extremely low.
- Parliament Buildings: Obviously, a stop in our capital wouldn’t be complete without taking in the splendour of Belleville Street.
- Miniature World: Definitely more than meets the eye, this engaging collection of miniatures will blow you away with the amount of meticulous detail of futuristic space worlds, knight-patrolled Camelot and the Great Canadian Railway. This truly is the greatest little show on Earth.
Making the trip this weekend has it’s bonuses, none more enjoyable that the Victoria Symphony Splash on Aug. 2.
From 1 to 10pm., this spectacular event sees the Harbour transformed into an outdoor concert stage which makes it the largest annual outdoor symphony event in Canada (take that, Moncton!)
Magnolia Hotel & Spa, in Victoria, B.C., has beefed up the services it offers to its corporate clientele and in June, introduced this expanded package of Business Class perks.
Victoria, BC (July 15, 2015 – Canadian Lodging News)
“Corporate guests deserve to have a Business Class experience from the time they takeoff until the moment they leave Magnolia Hotel & Spa,” said general manager Bill Lewis. He added that the hotel aims “to be at the forefront of our corporate guests’ minds when it comes to business travel.”
Business Class summer rates start at $249 from July through August. This includes Business Class benefits such as a complimentary hot breakfast and in-room use of an iPad fully loaded with Press Reader (a ‘digital newsstand’ featuring thousands of newspapers and magazines from around the world).
Also included is high-speed Internet in each guestroom; unlimited long-distance calling within North America; and fax and photocopy business services provided by the front desk, with up to 100 pages for free, according to Lewis.
New services featured in the Business Class offering include priority early check-in (“many of our business travellers arrive by sea plane from Vancouver, so early check-in really works for them”) and late check-out (“those extra hours of work time really make a big difference to our business clients”).
Late check-out also includes vehicle parking for up to 36 hours on a one-night stay — key for businesspeople who drive to the hotel, noted Lewis.
In addition, the Magnolia has added room service to the Business Class breakfast, a big convenience to corporate travellers doing business in their rooms during the morning hours. Business clients order their room-service breakfast the night before via the door-hanger menu.
Catering to corporate guests is nothing new for the Magnolia. Indeed, since the 64-room property opened in 1998, near Victoria’s Inner Harbour, its “goal, from the beginning, was to be a boutique-style, business-oriented hotel,” said Lewis.
That commitment to serving a corporate clientele spurred the hotel to install, two years ago, individual Internet hubs (outfitted with lines delivering 15 megabytes per second) in each guestroom. Business travellers have enthusiastically embraced in-room wired and wireless Internet, said Lewis. “Guests love it.”
On the hotel side (excluding the onsite restaurant), the Magnolia employs 45 staff, delivering a service ratio of 70 per cent to its 64 guests, said Lewis.
As an additional service, the hotel holds back one to two rooms (even on peak, sold-out days) that it reserves for business clients who may request last-minute reservations. “It’s a matter of relationship building,” noted Lewis.
Meeting facilities include the Magnolia Room (which accommodates up to 50 people, reception-style; 22, boardroom-style; and 50, theatre-style); the Orchid Boardroom, ideal for groups of 10; and the Yarrow Room, accommodating groups of 12 to 30. The hotel’s Catalano Restaurant & Cicchetti Bar provides catering to all meeting spaces.