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Dinner at the Fairmont Empress

Dinner at the Fairmont Empress

  • Posted: Jul 23, 2016
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Dinner at the Fairmont Empress is Always A Special Occasion

Q Restaurant at the Empress

Q Restaurant at the Empress

Last night we had dinner at the Fairmont Empress Hotel. Prior to this we had a tour of the renovations to the legendary Fairmont Empress Hotel. Part of the presentation outlined the vibrant variety of dining experiences found throughout this iconic hotel. Management outlined that the new food services offerings focused on fresh ingredients, celebrated local producers, and showcased sophisticated, timeless spaces. The options available at the hotel are:

Q at The Empress – Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and located in the most storied room in Victoria.

Q Bar – Open from 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. with superb culinary offerings until midnight and features a vibrant selection of signature cocktails, an extensive wine list and enticing local craft beers on tap.

Lobby Lounge – Chic and sophisticated, home of world renowned Tea at the Empress as well as an elegant evening menu and cocktail service.

Tea at the Empress – An absolute must attend event on Vancouver Island. The renovated space is steeped in history and now has a modern chic ambiance highlighted by a selection of 21 loose leaf teas, including our famous Empress Blend.

As our visit was to celebrate a very special birthday for my wife Linda, we chose to go to the Q for dinner. Upon our arrival we were greeted by our congenial waiter “Earl the Pearl” who has been working there for 39 years! He did a great job and made our evening special. We also had a visit from the restaurant manager, Doug Chant. Service is the name of the game at the Fairmont Empress.

Linda's Birthday Dinner

Linda’s Birthday Dinner

The food was absolutely delicious. Linda enjoyed poached prawns with a Kimchi Cocktail sauce for her appetizer and roast chicken with mustard potatoes, asparagus, and oak vinegar Jus. I had grilled avocado Caesar with white anchovies, croutons and parmesan cheese, steamed mussels Provencal with hand cut fries for my main, and soufflé cheese cake with citrus blueberry compote for desert.

For the past few years we had experienced a great cocktail at the Empress, the 1908 which was created to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the hotel. Linda ordered this for her desert. This was the only slightly disappointing moment of the evening. The new bar menu did not include the ingredients for this drink. It was made with tea infused vodka. Perhaps it will make a comeback!

The prawns were plump and fresh! The chicken was fresh and tasty. The Caesar was undoubtedly one of the best I have tasted in years! The mussels were fresh, soft and very tasty in the tomato sauce. The soufflé was light and delicious. We both really enjoyed our meals and certainly were impressed by the new food menu in the Q.

Dinner at the Fairmont Empress

Dinner at the Fairmont Empress

For more information about the food services available at the Fairmont Empress, visit their web site. We highly recommend a dinner at the Fairmont Empress. Check it out.

Sooke Activities and Restaurant to Eat At

Sooke Activities and Restaurant to Eat At

  • Posted: Feb 26, 2016
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Mom’s Cafe Diner is an institution in Sooke

Today I had reason to be in Sooke. When I first started going out to Sooke In the 1970’s I discovered a restaurant called Mom’s. As Sooke grew other restaurants opened and closed. Mom’s is still operating but under new owners. I had not been in Mom’s for quite a few years, so I decided today was the day.

I spent a lot of time with the menu before deciding on one of my favourite West Coast meals, fish and chips. I have had this meal an incredible number of times and believe me, there is a tremendous range of what people try to pass off as fish and chips.

 

Inside Mom's Diner

Inside Mom’s Diner

 

There were two choices on the menu, beer battered or crispy corn meal battered. I stuck with the traditional beer batter. I also asked if my chips could come crispy. I hear the waitress ask the cook to make them well done. I absolutely hate undercooked, white, anaemic looking fries and have had lots of trouble getting chefs to cook them so they are crispy. My order came perfectly cooked for me.

The servings were more than ample for me with a lot of fries, a good sized piece of fresh halibut and a large portion of cold slaw served on lettuce. I truly could not eat all my lunch. It was delicious. When I first started going to Mom’s the pie was to die for and when I was there just before the change of owners, one waitress told me that they were worried that their pie cook was going to retire.

Right now, they serve what they call mile high pie. The centre of the pie raises up a good 8 inches from the bottom of the plate so when you order pie, you will get quite a chunk. I wish that I had room for pie but since I could not eat my fish and chips, I didn’t even try.

First the start and then the end of my meal. There was  a lot left over as you can see.

First the start and then the end of my meal. There was a lot left over as you can see.

 

The restaurant is decorated like an old fashion diner and the food is typical of the kind of food you would expect in a diner. Every meal that came out while I was there looked very good. They seem to provide free fills for coffee and soft drinks. I was asked several times if I wanted to get a refill. This is a nice touch that has disappeared from many restaurants. The staff wase very polite, friendly, helpful and attentive.

It was not hard to ascertain that “coke” won the soft drink warm and that the “pepsi generation” will have to look elsewhere, as coke advertising appears throughout the diner. Cool, I like coke and never bought in to the Pepsi  Generation.

When I arrived there were not very many people in the restaurant but when I left the place was full. That was good to see as I am sure the tradition and good food will continue for a long time.

Sooke Basin

Spend some time in Sooke. There is lots to see and do. Sooke Basin can be viewed from East Sooke on the east side or from Whiffen Spit in front of Sooke Harbour House on the west side or from many points in between. The scenery and photo ops are amazing. Watch the sun set in the west, throw you crab traps in a Whiffen Spit, or drop in for lunch or dinner at Sooke Harbour House. Better yet, book yourself into Sooke Harbour house for a night or two and find out how to relax and be spoiled at the same time. Or hook up (no pun intended) with one of Sooke’s fishing guides and sneak out of the Basin into Juan de Fuca Strait for some of the best fishing on the West Coast. The salmon and halibut are waiting out there just for you.

Sooke Basin looking towards the Olympic Mountains, then views around the basin.

Sooke Basin looking towards the Olympic Mountains, then views around the basin.

 

 

 

 

One of the most popular spots around Sooke is the Sooke Potholes Provincial Park. People love to swim in the river or splash around in the potholes (natural pools created where the river moves through narrow passages). Check out this park on their Web Site. The Galloping Goose Trail crosses the highway to Sooke and the trail north to the potholes crosses over two old train trestles. This is a really nice part of the trail and great for cycling. Check out the Sooke Museum, stop by the seafood store for some fresh fish etc., visit Ed MacGregor Park in Sooke on the Sooke Basin shoreline, visit Sandcut Beach just west of Sooke or any one of the other great rugged beaches of the coast line from Sooke to Port Renfrew (you will be amazed). So get out there and enjoy Sooke!

Sook Potholes, Sooke River, Sooke museum, Fish Store, Ed McGregor Park, Sandcut Beach, and Ron Fishing...top then to right

Sook Potholes, Sooke River, Sooke museum, Fish Store, Ed McGregor Park, Sandcut Beach, and Ron Fishing…top then to right

 

A Touch of Class – Experience the Oak Bay Beach Hotel

A Touch of Class – Experience the Oak Bay Beach Hotel

  • Posted: Oct 17, 2015
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A Touch of Class – Dinner Theatre at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel

Recently we paid another visit to the Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Whether you stay there, visit the Snug for a drink and appetizers, enjoy great food in the dining room or take in the dinner theatre you will know you are experiencing the class and charm of this incredible hotel. We certainly highly recommend it to our friends and family and anyone visiting Victoria. Oak Bay Beach Hotel is on the waterfront in an exclusive part of Oak Bay on the East Shore of Greater Victoria. There is no better location for a hotel. The views are spectacular and you are tucked into a quiet neighbourhood close to amenities including two world class golf courses. Oak Bay Village offers some unique shopping and a variety of restaurants. There are some exceptional art galleries in the Village as well. Check out the video below to see what you have been missing. They have taken the hotel industry to the next level.

 

Dinner Theatre in the David Foster Theatre

This is our second visit to the Dinner Theatre and once again we were not disappointed, rather thoroughly entertained. David James (Almost Johnny Cash) and the Big River Band perform a 90 minute Tribute to Johnny Cash. James transforms into Cash when he steps to the mike and says “Hello – I’m almost Johnny Cash.” The band members are  – Todd on bass, Allan on guitar and pedal steel, and Colin on drums.  James completes his transformation, from imitating the  way Cash holds his guitar to the way he talks to his audience. And he throws in a bit of Johnny Cash history to make it interesting. Like all good entertainers James engages the audience often, including a sing-a-long. It was very entertaining and a lot of toe-tapping fun! The video below will give you a taste of the Big River Band and their tribute!

We enjoyed a 3 course dinner which included a tasty salad, a beef short rib main course and dessert. It was truly delicious. The salad was Young Lettuce, Corn Bread Croutons, Oven Dried Tomato and Chorizo Vinaigrette. The Bourbon Braised Beef Ribs came with Smoked Onion Potato Puree, and Heirloom Carrots. Desert was an Apple Tart with Oat Crumble and Candied Almonds. It was all yummy! The servers were attentive, friendly and helpful and well organized. You can text your drink orders directly to the bar from your table using your cell phone! We were alerted when dessert was delivered that the show would start in 15 minutes and it was right on schedule. The dinner theatre is small and intimate. They like to sit people 2 or 3 to a table so that all chairs are oriented to the stage. Our guess would be that about 40 people attended the show. It is a wonderful experience and in the Oak Bay tradition, cookies and hot chocolate were served in the lobby right after the show! Such a classy place! Part of every dollar spent in the Theatre is dedicated to the David Foster Foundation which supports families with children in need of organ transplants.

Oak Bay Dinner Theatre

Oak Bay Dinner Theatre

 

Friday Night Flights at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort and Spa

Friday Night Flights at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort and Spa

  • Posted: Oct 03, 2015
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Friday Night Lights Wine Tasting at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort

Last night we were invited to the fabulous Bear Mount Resort to experience their Friday Night Flights. A group of people gathered at the host stand for the Bella Restaurant in the Clubhouse Building of the Westin Bear Mountain.

The first people we met were a young California couple visiting Canada for the first time! After experience a climb up Mt. Finlayson, they thought Canadians were pretty tough people. They went up one of the easier trails and found it challenging. They were ready for some wine and relaxation. Welcome to Canada.

Our Friday Night Flight to the South Okanagan

The Friday Night Flight special guest was Sophie Laurent sommelier and “Brand Ambassador” for Burrowing Owl Estate Winery located in the town of Oliver in the South Okanagan region of British Columbia. Burrowing Owl Estate Winery produces premium VQA wines and also has an 11 room guest house, a wine shop and a fine-dining restaurant on site. Sophie was incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining as she introduces the group to some of her favourite wines from Burrowing Owl Winery.

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery

Burrowing Owl Estate Winery – Photo Courtesy of the Winery

We tasted five wines and enjoyed some tasty hors d’oeuvres between tastings to give our taste buds time to recover from the amazing wines we enjoyed. The two wines that I enjoyed the most were the 2012 Sauvignon Blanc and the 2013 Athene, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. This wine was one of the best I have had in a long time!

Wine Room Westin Bear Mountain

Wine Room Westin Bear Mountain – Photos Courtesy of the Westin

The wine room at the Westin Bear Mountain is absolutely luxurious and spectacular and is really worth a visit. The Cellar is nestled deep within The Westin Bear Mountain and surrounded by over 2,000 bottles of the world’s finest wines. You can book private tastings or dinners in the wine room with a party for ten to twenty. The Westin’s award winning culinary team will work with you to design the perfect meal and wine pairing for your most important occasions. Ron, Linda and Maureen were there representing the Victoria Guest Services Network.

Our Friday Night Flight

Our Friday Night Flight

Every Friday night from 6:00pm – 7:00pm you can experience Friday Night Flights and sample wines from around the world. Reserve your spot at the next Friday Night Flights or contact the Westin Team to arrange a private gathering (Call 250-391-7160 to book your reservation).

The Westin Bear Mountain

If you have never been to The Bear Mountain Resort pamper yourself with a stay in their rooms with amazing views of the Golf Course. There is so much to do there. Go golfing on one of the two 18-hole golf courses. I prefer the Valley Course, but the Mountain Course has one of the most spectacular views of all of Greater Victoria you will ever see. It is just after the 12th hole. You can hike Mount Finlayson, bike ride though the Bear Mountain bike park which was designed for riders of all levels, ranging from beginners to international competitors. The High Performance Training Centre for the Canadian National Team is at Bear Mountain. You can work out at the North Langford Recreation Centre



. Take care of yourself at the Sante Spa. The award-winning Sante Spa Victoria offers nurturing spa treatments including offerings for men, couples and golfers. Appreciate the surrounding views from the comfort of the spa lounge, or journey to the terrace and soak in the mineral pool. The staff at the Resort will take great care of you and make sure you find something to do that excites you. Check it out! You will be amazed. Just walking through the Westin is an experience in itself!

Visit the Wild Pacific Coast – Ucluelet, Long Beach & Tofino

Visit the Wild Pacific Coast – Ucluelet, Long Beach & Tofino

  • Posted: Sep 26, 2015
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It has been a few years since we have been in the Pacific Rim Region which is Ucluelet, Long Beach and Tofino! It is my favourite part of Vancouver Island. There are two parts to this trip. Part One is making sure that you don’t miss the special stops on the way there and Part Two is finding out how to enjoy all that is available when you get there. In most recommendations I am going to describe things that are generally short in duration, some however make take a stop of up to one hour. There are some things to do or see that require more time to enjoy, but heh, you can come back! Links have been provided to conveniently connect you to web sites with more information where available.

PART ONE: The Best of the Trip to Vancouver Island’s West Coast – Starting in Victoria!

As you drive north from Victoria you will pass exit 14 A to Sooke. Just a few kilometers down the road you will enter the Malahat Drive which takes you past Goldstream Park. If you want to see some of Vancouver Island’s large trees pull into the parking lot. If you visit Goldstream in the fall, you can experience the salmon spawn.

Goldstream Park, big trees, eagles and spawning salmon

Goldstream Park, big trees, eagles and spawning salmon

When you get near the Malahat Summit, you will come to a view point that looks down Saanich Inlet towards Victoria. On a good clear day you can see the Olympic Mountains. This viewpoint is particularly spectacular, particularly as the sun sets.

There are three places to stop along this stretch; the 2nd has a toilet facility that is solar powered. Big deal you say, well it cost a bundle when built ($110,000 I think!). However, this particular toilet is waterless and has an insulated compost chamber located below the ‘throne’ where oxygen, a carbon rich material and bacteria composts the waste. Continue reading

Cowichan Valley Tour with Cheers

Cowichan Valley Tour with Cheers

  • Posted: Jun 10, 2015
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Members of the Victoria Guest Services Network recently had the opportunity to tour the amazing Cowichan Valley. There is so much to see and do there that you can simply not do it all in one day. Our hosts were the Tourism Cowichan and Cheers Cowichan Tours. We highly recommend that you take an organized tour with “Cheers” to maximize your one day experience. If you have more time or want to make repeated trips to the Cowichan Valley, then visit the Tourism Cowichan Web Site and pick up a copy of their vacation guide. The following video is the type of tour that you can book with Cheers.

cheers tours

cheers tours

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Swan’s Hotel and Brewpub – In the heart of Victoria’s ‘Old Towne’

Swan’s Hotel and Brewpub – In the heart of Victoria’s ‘Old Towne’

  • Posted: Apr 14, 2015
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Great Beer, good food, friendly staff in a stunning heritage building!

Last night we had the opportunity to attend a familiarization tour of the Swans Hotel and Brewpub located at 506 Pandora Street right across the street from the Inner Harbour. There are special things that set this business apart from others in the city. Here they are:

Five reasons for a Swans Experience!

The Hotel and Brewpub are in a beautiful heritage building that anchors the foot of Pandora Avenue. The building is well kept and in itself it is a work of art. It is a definite photo stop for tourists. It simply looks stunning and contributes much to the beauty of Victoria’s ‘Old Towne’.

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Victoria Delta Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa Wins National Honour!

Victoria Delta Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa Wins National Honour!

  • Posted: Apr 11, 2015
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The Best Delta Hotel in Canada!

Over the years we have been to a number of functions at the Delta and always found the staff to be helpful, friendly, courteous and welcoming. That only happens when the staff are well trained and all have a common goal. It is nice to see when a plan comes together. Well done Delta A-Team!

 

Delta Victoria Wins National Award

Delta Victoria Wins National Award

As report in the Victoria Times Colonist….11/04/15

Video is big! How big is it?

Video is big! How big is it?

  • Posted: Feb 04, 2015
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How big is video when added to a web site? Is it worth the effort? When I add video to my social marketing sites generally it boost the visits about 400 percent. It is very popular as any user of YouTube! I have been making a posting videos, most based on local tourism for several years and many of them are on my YouTube channelThe video below is one of the first that I did and Hemingway’s By the Sea Bed and Breakfast is a large tudor-style house about 6 minutes from downtown and located on a quiet street in Esquimalt. The owner is interested in retiring and would like to sell her business. If you are interested, give her a call at 250-384-0862.  Learn more about Hemingways.

Since I did this video, many of my clients have developed videos highlighting their business. It seems to be working. BK Studios are an official Google Business View business that can really help develop your business using video. The Business View videos show off your business. They can also produce quality videos that you can use on your web site that further sells you business and quality photos that you can use on your web site and in the popular sliders that are now in most web sites.

To give you a little more information about this valuable web site service, here is B-K Studios’ press release about their service.  Continue reading