CAS­TLE ON THE COAST

A luxe fam­ily va­ca­tion in Vic­to­ria, BC

DRIFT Travel magazine - - Inside This Issue - BY: RE­BECCA TAL­BOT

Dur­ing the cel­e­bra­tions of Canada’s 150th last year, our kids came home from school af­ter a visit from the con­sulate ask­ing if they had ever been to our Prov­ince’s cap­i­tal. We thought about it and re­al­ized, no! Be­fore hav­ing kids, Todd and I en­joyed rent­ing scoot­ers to­gether in Vic­to­ria, vis­it­ing all of our old haunts, (we both had stints liv­ing on the Is­land in the past), so we added the jour­ney to our list of things we wanted to do with the kids.

The op­por­tu­nity for a royal week­end pre­sented it­self when I was in­vited for the first time to join Todd as co-em­cee for the SHINE Fash­ion Tea, a fundraiser for the BC Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal Foun­da­tion be­ing held at the har­bor front Fair­mont Em­presss Ho­tel.

The event, the ho­tel and the gen­eral feel­ing for the whole week­end was one that evoked nostal­gic han­ker­ings for a ro­man­tic era gone by. As a bonus, we were able to fit the whole trip into one week­end, with­out the kids miss­ing any school thanks to a 30 minute Heli­jet ride and limou­sine shut­tle ser­vice to and from Fair­mont Em­press via their BMW car. The more we travel, the more we find these lit­tle things which speed up travel time and max­i­mize time spent at our des­ti­na­tion, well worth the added cost.

With so many op­por­tu­ni­ties for mak­ing mem­o­ries, rest­ing and re­lax­ing right at our ho­tel, we had to make sure we took a cou­ple of ex­cur­sions to see the city. We took a drive around the har­bor to see the par­lia­ment build­ings and into Cad­boro Bay where peo­ple were out en­joy­ing the shore­line and walks down the spits. The kids were es­pe­cially thrilled with a cou­ple of hours at the Royal BC Mu­seum, seeing the whales and go­ing on the pi­rate ship be­fore an evening stroll down Gov­ern­ment Street to ex­pe­ri­ence quaint lit­tle shops fit into his­toric old build­ings. Back at the ho­tel, be­ing a guest for a cou­ple of nights felt like a gift. The rich his­tory of the Em­press Ho­tel has re­cently been re­vived due to a $60 Mil­lion dol­lar ren­o­va­tion. We were able to en­joy a re­laxed prince and princess af­ter­noon tea on couches in the el­e­gant Lobby Lounge and a visit by tea som­me­lier, Chris­tian Els­ing. We were lucky to sam­ple many

of his rec­om­men­da­tions later in the Fair­mont Gold lounge, a serene room out­fit­ted in dusky blue fab­rics and gold ac­cents gleam­ing in the sun­light that streamed through the large win­dows over­look­ing the har­bor.

A few dips in the warm “Mrs. Bosa’s” pool (as the lo­cals re­ferred to it) wore out the kids be­fore din­ner at Q at the Em­press restau­rant. Floor to ceil­ing por­traits of the Em­press her­self, Queen Vic­to­ria, are hung on one wall of the restau­rant to per­pet­u­ally as­sess the great gatsby in­spired din­ing room. In a ho­tel that be­gins with ser­vice and ends with Art Deco in­spired nods to roy­alty and his­tory, I have to as­sume that the aus­tere ex­pres­sions cap­tured on each of her faces are looks of ap­proval. And for com­mon­ers like us, it gave us a taste of no­bil­ity for a day or two.

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