Image by Stephanie Starjovski
With its hotsy Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and its enviable, progressive society, Canada doesn’t look a day over 21. But in truth, she turns a gorgeous 150 this year – and we were recently invited up to celebrate that special birthday with her.
Our hosts? Toronto based Fairmont Hotels & Resorts have actually teamed up with Air Canada Jetz to offer up one of the most fabulous promotions we’ve ever had the pleasure to make acquaintance with: Après in the Air allows you and fifty-odd of your most fun-loving friends / hangers-on to charter a swish private jet – whose interior is sexily done up like a very stylish ski chalet party, complete with plush pillows and blankets, a cheese trolley and copious champagne.
The trip then takes you to the capital, Ottawa, and the dazzling Quebec resorts of Montebello and Tremblant.
Of course, you don’t need four-dozen friends to enjoy an ethereal winter getaway up North – though we highly recommend accumulating them beforehand. Either way, here’s how to do it all in very Canadian style.
The country’s capital, it has a homey, rustic feel (think Portland), but with awesomely grandiose architecture perched dramatically above its eponymous river. Check in to the spectacular Fairmont Chateau Laurier, which is, stylistically, an 18th Century French castle right in the middle of downtown.
Hipster sorts will love the city’s Canada Agriculture And Food Museum, or the Canadian Museum of Nature; But the National Gallery, which houses contemporary, Asian, sculpture and photography collections, is perhaps very much on topic with its exhibition, The Advent of Abstraction: Russia, 1914-1923.
Make time to walk the Alexandra Bridge over the Ottawa River (it takes you all the way to Quebec) for jaw-droppingly awesome views of the city skyline.
If you want to hit Ottawa’s food scene, Riviera, Back Lane Cafe, Navarra by Rene Rodriguez, Play Food & Wine, Pressed, Fraser Cafe and The Urban Pear are amongst the best.
But back at the Chateau Laurier, a must do is the Great Canadian Winter Tea in the hotel’s Zoe’s Lounge – with duck confit sandwiches, maple eclairs and Saskatoon berry tarts. Later, order up a few rounds of their exclusive 150 Canadantini – made with Iceberg Canadian Vodka and Cave Spring Canadian IceWine.
Simply put, one of the most romantic destinations anywhere. The Chateau itself, built by a Swiss millionaire in the 1920s, is the largest log structure in the world, actually – as if someone had constructed a charming wood cabin and it was subsequently puffed up into a luxurious resort. We took a rather thrilling ride through the woods and over the grounds by means of a husky-propelled sled. But sporting types can also take to one of a pair of curling courts on site (it’s really just as exciting as it looks in The Olympics), enjoy a bit of cross-country skiing, or do some high-speed snowmobiling on an ethereally frozen Ottawa River.
But perhaps the best winter sport of all is cocktails or brandies at the Chateau’s Bar le Foyer, which surrounds a striking six-sided fireplace. Afterwards, dine on locally-sourced dishes (tartare of Quebec smoked duck, Boileau red deer, vegan squash & chickpea cake) at the hotel’s rustic-luxe Aux Chantignoles restaurant.