Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston

Fairmont Copley Plaza Boston

Walking into the lobby of the Fairmont Copley Plaza, you are immediately transported into a world of opulence. (I immediately regretted wearing track pants). This historical landmark, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh, is an ode to Boston’s rich history. It feels like an escape from real life, which is one of the things I love most about travel and entirely the point of a weekend getaway.

I always think there are two types of hotels – the one you justify with “whatever we won’t even really be in the room” and the one you cancel your dinner plans for to stay in and enjoy the escape.

Between the luxurious room and the having access to the Gold Lounge, Anni and I blissfully passed our Friday evening wrapped in terry-velour, sipping Savvy B and pretending like we totally belonged there, track pants aside.

My favourite part of the hotel is indisputably the lobby though the entire experience, from the charming demeanor of the employees to their passionate attention to detail, is highly noteworthy. We also found ourselves frequenting the Oak Long Bar + Kitchen, known for its Sunday brunch, but equally as popular during happy hour. It was a fun addition to the overall experience.

 

The Responsible Traveller & Sustainable Tourism

The Responsible Traveller & Sustainable Tourism

For the last couple years of my life I’ve spent more time on the road than I have at home. Travel to me has become the ultimate teacher. I’ve learned a lot about myself and a lot about the world – a world that really doesn’t seem that big anymore – but with this accessibility comes responsibility.

So what is sustainable tourism?

The simple answer: A way of travelling to and exploring a destination while respecting its culture, environment, and people.

I’ll be the first to admit that when I started travelling, the impact my ‘trip’ had on my destination wasn’t something I really thought about. It wasn’t even something I thought I should be thinking about (there’s a sentence). But the more I travel, the more I’ve come to understand just how serious and lasting our choices as tourists and travellers are.

In 2018 the UN’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) reported international tourist arrivals hit 1.4 billion. That is 1.4 billion people on the planet travelled by some means of transportation to a destination where they spent foreign currency, enjoyed local (or not so local) experiences, stayed in a resort, rented a car, indulged in heightened luxury, over ate, over slept, escaped “real life” for a period of time.

This article isn’t about shaming that experience – I mean, I love getting black-out on a beach while attempting to reach a shade of mahogany never before seen by mankind (kidding Mum, I wear SPF50…ish)

This is about responsibly seeking that experience in a way that minimizes negative impact on the environment and that maximizes the social and economic benefits for the local community. In other words, getting black-out on locally purchased tequila whilst sunbaking on a beach accessible to travellers and locals alike.  

But aside from tequila choice, there’s a large list of things we can do as travelers to help protect travel as we know it.

Here are some of the biggest (not to mention easiest) ones:

Skip the Plane, Take the Train: When possible (say during your European summer) look into training between countries as opposed to cashing in on the old €14 Ryanair special. When it comes to air emissions from planes, cruising requires much less fuel than taking off and landing, so the longer the flight the more efficient it becomes.

I know what you’re probably thinking – “Lor, you’re on planes all the time”. True, and I will write a separate blog post on this discussing carbon offsets and efforts that can be made to help balance out time in the sky.

If you have the option to bike or walk instead of Uber-ing around your destination, thats an obvious one as well. 

Research Your Accommodation: There are an increasing number of resorts making sustainable efforts which largely centre around their active role in the local community and eco-friendly practices i.e.

  • Buying locally (farm-to-table is a big one for resort restaurants)
  • Employing locally
  • Providing equal and fair work opportunities
  • Providing education to both guests and employees on local conservation projects
  • Using renewable energy sources like solar or wind
  • Linen reuse programs
  • Drought resistant local plants for landscaping
  • Energy efficient lighting

(to name a few)

So check to see if the resort/hotel (locally owned hostels are always a good option as well) is participating in the above. 

You can also check to see if they are certified by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council, Rainforest Alliance or similar entity.

If they’re not ticking any of the above boxes, reconsider your booking. Even if you the cost goes up, isn’t it more important that your grandkids be able to experience the same trip one day?

Act Like A Local: This is a big one for me. Respecting the local community is everything. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched some ignorant tourist make a scene over a minor inconvenience, or because of a sense of entitlement. Like, “I’m sorry Bret but YOUR AIRMILES DON’T WORK HERE.” Pull your head in, open your eyes and respect the people and culture around you by becoming a part of it. You’re missing out on a big part of the experience if you don’t.

Eat Like A Local: This is the best part of travelling if you ask me. You can eat all the hamburgers you like at home, so branch out and get involved in the local cuisine. Shop the local markets (make sure they’re actually local though) and seek out farm to table options.

Mind The Plastics: This one is SO easy, guys! The amount of plastic water bottles one encounters between the airport and resort alone is obnoxious. Just bring your own and fill it up with filtered water from the resort. If you’re out exploring ask for a top up from a restaurant. It’s really not hard.

Buy Locally: When it comes to souvenirs, clothing, food (as mentioned above) etc. avoid the tourist crap and large conglomerates and look for local vendors selling locally made/grown goods. They’re going to be better quality most of the time as well.

Research Your Tour Operator: A big part of travelling is touring your destination – diving tours, wild life tours, city tours etc. Check to see the company you choose is environmentally responsible and if possible choose a locally owned and operated company that employs it’s own local people. Most importantly here NEVER take part in tours that participate in animal cruelty i.e. Don’t ride the elephants!!

As I said, there are so many sustainable choices we can make as travellers, and the above names just a few. I know it can seem overwhelming and maybe you think, I am just one person and there is no way I can do all of these things all the time.

The important message here is that it’s ok if you can’t do ALL of them, but you can do SOME. We need to make an effort; we need to make a change and we need to make better choices.

Something I heard once that has stuck with me is that, “not everything depends on tourism, but tourism depends on almost everything.”

Tourism depends on us.

Cape Town Travel Diary

Cape Town Travel Diary

Whenever I travel to a new place I usually have an expectation of what it’s going to be like. Cape Town however, blew these right out of the water.

I expected it to be beautiful, I’d heard the food was incredible, the landscape breathtaking – but I had no idea how hard I’d fall for this city. There is something magical about Cape Town, and that’s the best way I can describe it.  

WHAT WE DID

Climbed Lions Head – This took us 3 hours. We’d been told it was roughly a 90 minute round trip and perhaps this is true if you’re Edmund Hillary, but for the rest of us you’ll need three solid hours. Take water, wear proper shoes and be prepared to break a sweat. This climb is no joke. Also, brace yourself for literally being “on the edge” – parts of this trail will have you 600m up with only few inches between your feet and the cliff. It’s fantastic.

Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain – You can hike Table Mountain but as we’d already done Lion’s Head we were happy to pay the 290R (about $20USD) and hop on the 5 minute Cable Car ride to the top. The view from up here will absolutely blow your mind.

Cage Diving with Sharks – First off, its advertised as “Cage Diving with Great Whites” but the Great Whites are few and far between these days, so we saw Copper Sharks instead and as I’ve never seen a Great White in the flesh, they weren’t missed. The experience was still incredible. We did our dive in the town of Gansbaai, which is about 2.5 hours outside of Cape Town.  

Day Safari at Aquila Private Game Reserve – This was an interesting one for me as it wasn’t actually a safari. Game Reserves are designated protected habitats and the animals are free to roam the 10,000 hectare conservatory that is Aquila, however it’s just not the real thing. We were told the ‘true’ safaris are inland, about a 5 hour drive outside of Johannesburg.

Coastal Walk from Camps Bay to Sea Point – This takes about an hour and is filled with great scenery. I really enjoyed doing it late afternoon.

Visited the Penguins at Boulder Beach – This was a learning experience as we hopped the fence to take pics with the little guys, and copped a 500R fine (about $35USD). The confusion is that you can walk onto the beach about a km up from where we entered, and play/take photos amongst the penguins from that end, so we didn’t realise that our short cut wasn’t allowed. At any rate, though the fine seems relatively low, the real concern is not upsetting the penguins or their habitat, so follow the signs!

Drove Chapman’s Peak – This is a must. It’s a winding road that is perched literally on the edge of the mountain on the western side of the Cape Peninsula, between Hout Bay and Noordhoek. Apparently the road can get quite congested, particularly at sunset, but I think we lucked out going around 10am – there were hardly any other cars. You can stop at view points along the drive. 

Visited Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden – You can do tours of the garden, or just pay the 70R (about $5USD) to enter the garden and walk around yourself. You can also take a picnic and spend the afternoon hanging out in some pretty insane greenery. Next time I visit Ill be taking a picnic for sure.

WHERE WE STAYED

Elements Total Stay – Serviced apartments in Sea Point. The apartments were massive, brand new and centrally located in the heart of Sea Point, just a few minutes’ walk from the beach. I have to say the staff at Total Stay were incredible – so warm, accommodating and genuinely concerned that we enjoyed that we enjoyed our stay. Check out their website here.

AirBn – There are a ton in Cape Town, you won’t have trouble finding one!

WHERE WE ATE (and I recommend them all)

For Breakfast

Lola’s

Bootleggers

Nourish’d

Lunch

Primi

Thyme at Rosemary’s (in Gansbaai after our Shark Dive)

Dinner

The Bungalo

El Burro

Nobu

Codfather Sushi

FAVOURITE BEACH

Llandudno – The beach itself is beautiful, the surrounding suburb is adorable and the sunsets here are my favourite.  Next time I visit Cape Town I will be renting an AirBnb in Llandudno.

 

Exploring Vancouver with Fairmont Pacific Rim

Exploring Vancouver with Fairmont Pacific Rim

A couple weeks ago, I packed my bags (my first attempt at travelling with just a carry on – what an unequivocal disaster that was) and headed west to the Fairmont Pacific Rim in downtown Vancouver for their annual Fashion Takes Flight Fashion Show. For three nights we were pampered with lavish dining experiences, a spa day, private excursion to Capilano Suspension Bridge, a seaplane tour of Vancouver’s pacific harbour and an award winning cocktail tasting experience that I only partially remember because the drinks were free (more on that later). 

Let’s start this off with a brief description the Omakase sushi longboard we ate at RawBar in the Lobby Lounge. It took four servers to carry it over to us and about 30 seconds for me to demolish it. Accompanying the sushi was a flight of cocktails created to represent each of the dresses showcased in the hotel’s lobby. The dresses are switched out frequently which means the cocktail flight is continuously changing. As I take my job very seriously, I sampled each of the ones on hand. 

Day two we headed to Capilano Suspension Bridge, which has been a long standing item on my bucket list. We were spoilt with private access to the park before it opened for the day. Standing on that bridge solo was pretty insane and I am so grateful for the experience. And for the absence of wind. 

Later that afternoon I headed to the spa, where I had lunch, a massage and an unscheduled nap. 

We kicked off our last day by having breakfast with all the Canadian designers who were in town to show their pieces at that evening’s show. I loved this part of the day – I always find it so inspiring chatting to people who are passionate about what they do. After some mimosas and avocado toast (heaven forbid I branch out with breakfast) we walked down to the dock below and boarded a Harbour Air seaplane for a tour of Vancouver Harbour from the sky. Another first for me, another incredible experience. 

The next couple hours went like this:

  • A horrifying realization that I forgot to pack an outfit for the fashion show (thank you carry-on)
  • A sweaty jaunt to Zara to purchase multiple tops in the hopes that one would suit my last pair of clean pants 
  • Another unscheduled nap upon returning my room
  • Sushi in the bathroom while doing my makeup and watching Below Deck on the TV built into my mirror
  • Another realization that the only shirt that went with my pants was actually see-through… but fuck it, I’m late and #freethenip
  • Arrived at the fashion show 23 minutes late
  • Drank 2 glasses of champagne and half a glass of Chardonnay because I hate Chardonnay 
  • Found my seat

We sat front row and had the best view of beautiful pieces from designers across the country, talent from Vancouver to Montreal. After the catwalk, we headed to the second floor for the trunk show where we had a chance to shop the collections in person.

This brings us to my favourite part of the trip and favourite feature of the hotel – dinner at Botanist restaurant. We enjoyed the full tasting menu and were served by the 11th best bartender in Canada. (I wonder if I’ve ever been the 11th best at anything, ha…)

The restaurant takes it’s inspiration from nature reflected through the jungle-themed decor, flower pressed menu and creative dishes. Accordingly, the cocktails each represent an element – air, water, fire and earth. The first drink came in a large glass bird meant to emulate the air. The second drink called “the cove” was in a large glass bowl symbolizing water. The third came in lantern, filled with smoke and symbolized the power of fire (it smelled like a bonfire… I just feel it’s important to add this detail). The fourth drink is a mystery thanks to the previous elements. 

A big thank you to Fairmont Pacific Rim for having us at their beautiful hotel, Tourism Vancouver for hooking us up with all the cool adventures and Harbour Air for showing us Vancouver from the sky! 

Links to Explore Below:

The Fall for Gold Package here

Botanist here

The Lobby Lounge here

 

I Want To Live In Paris

I Want To Live In Paris

Wherever I find myself in the world I usually have one leading thought, “I want to live here”. I’m so easily infatuated by places and cultures, like that girl in middle school who doodled boy’s names in her notebook, except I’m doodling cities. 

Paris is truly magic though. It’s one of the few places where everyone has style, every corner is a post card, and everyone somehow manages to maintain the complexion of a twelve year old while chain smoking cigarettes over a steady flow of red wine. 

I spent four days in the city this time. We stayed in Le Marais, one of the oldest parts of Paris and home to the cutest cafes, cutest boutique shopping and cutest boys. There were quite a few plant based options for food as well – Hank Pizza & Wild And The Moon are both on Rue des Gravilliers and both worth checking out… though I still inhaled baguette with brie every day I was there, because when in France… 

Shop These Looks

 

 

Up In The Air With Finnair

Up In The Air With Finnair

Last month I had the opportunity to partner with Finnair and experience their new ‘Stopover‘ program via Helsinki. As an avid traveller I’ve historically though of stopovers as a pain, and something I try to avoid. However with programs such as the one Finnair is offering, stop overs actually allow you to maximize your experience and make the most of your travels.

Hear me out…

Instead of paying more to fly direct, the program allows you to spend a night or two (or three etc) in your stop over city before continuing onto your final destination. I flew from New York to Helsinki, spent a couple days exploring the city, then continued onto Barcelona. Both cities were on my bucket list and I was able to tick them off in one go, without the added expense of booking separate flights. Pretty good deal eh?

So if you guys are planning on some upcoming travels, check out the Finnair Stopover Program and see if it will work for you!

Some ‘Fun Facts’ I learned about Helsinki:

  • Helsinki is the world’s coldest capital city
  • People in Finland drink more coffee per person than anyone else in the world (12kg)
  • In June and July, the sun never reaches the horizon

Some ‘Fun Facts’ I learned about Barcelona:

  • Barcelona didn’t have beaches until the 1992 Olympics
  • Barcelona has 12 abandoned metro stations that are reportedly haunted
  • The Eiffel Tower was originally intended to be in Barcelona

© Laurie Ferraro 2018