Fight Those January Blues

Sad DogMisery is expected to peak the third Monday in January (Monday, January 20, 2014) being that it’s the “most depressing day” of the year. (Note: you can say things like “is expected to” if one person expects it to be true.)

That one person is Cliff Arnalls of Wales, who created the formula to determine the worst day of the year. (Note: if you can find someone who agrees with him, we can say: “Researchers agree…”)

bluemonday2

whereby…

W = weather
D = debt
d = amount of January pay check
T = time since Christmas
Q = amount of time since failure to quit bad habit
M = motivational levels
NA = the need to take action

Even though the shortest day of the year is December 21st, the weather continues getting colder throughout the month of January. In fact, in the ancient Roman calendar, the year originally started in March and ended in December. The months of January and February were just one big shapeless clump of days, as the calendar was used mainly for agricultural purposes and was based on lunar cycles rather than solar.  In the 700s BC, January and February were “created” to fill in the gap.

By a couple weeks into the new year, the energy of the holidays has long dissipated, folks have failed all or most of their resolutions, and their bank accounts are still empty.

Of course, this is just a theory — one that has been dismissed by many. But if you do feel down around this time of the year, not all hope is lost. Experts may have found the most depressing day out of 365, but they have also found a number of ways to combat the accompanying feelings of depression.

To lighten the mood during Blue Monday or whenever all seems overwhelming, try these helpful tips:

exerciseGet out and exercise

Staving off the blue can be achieved in many cases with proper exercise and diet. In addition to improving a person’s self-image, exercising regularly releases feel-good chemicals in the body. Physical activity also increases body temperature which creates a calming sensation and reduces the release of stress hormones and other certain chemicals which can make symptoms of depression worse. Use Blue Monday to go out for a jog, play with your pups, or do a 20-minute round at the gym!

Be social

Celebrate Blue Monday with friends and family. Individuals who spend at least two hours a week interacting with others experienced less intense symptoms of depression compared to people who remained isolated. So if you are feeling down, make an effort to find some company!

Get Out of BedTake things one step at a time

For serious bouts of the blues, keeping things simple may be one of the best answers to fighting off Blue Monday. Instead of thinking about all the things you have to do, just focus on the task at hand. First, focus on getting out of bed. Once that task has been accomplished, focus on getting dressed, eating breakfast and getting ready for the day. By keeping things simple, you can feel a sense of accomplishment with each small task.

Keep up with a hobby

It makes sense that doing something you enjoy boosts mental health, and keeping up with a hobby has a positive impact even on patients with major depressive disorders. The use of hobbies to combat depression was primarily used by researcher Viktor Frankl, who created a psychotherapeutic technique called logotherapy. This form of therapy used hobbies and enjoyable activities to help refocus depressed individuals on what they felt was the meaning of life. Having a purpose, such as caring for a pet, helped bring patients back into a productive daily routine.

Do not fall victim of the hype

Who is to say your day has to be a bad one? Remember, you have control over your emotions and thoughts.

Helpful TipsTips for making it through Blue Monday:

“Have a party and celebrate” – Jack Gilbert, Ontario, Canada

“Exercise and bibliotherapy” — Dr. Alan Cohen, Royal College of General Practioners

“Watch the film ‘The Sound of Music’” — Ketan Shah, Harrow, England

“Move to New Zealand… It’s summer!” – Oliver, Auckland, New Zealand

Thank you, New Zealand, for rubbing that in.

Note: make sure to visit Sandman’s Facebook Page on Monday, January 20, 2014 for a giveaway that is sure to cure your Monday or January blues!

New Year’s Resolutions – Did You Make Them Realistic?

Travel Quote

Gulliver traveled. Look where it got him: lashed to the land by little people. Columbus, big traveler, right? Underestimated the circumference of the Earth and died thinking he’d found India. Sure, you can come up with justifications for never leaving the splendid safety of your office chair. Truth is, travel makes us better in many ways: better employees, better family members, and better friends.

Every year, the month of January makes us say things like: Out with the old; in with the new. It may be cliché, but every year, we say it. That may be because there’s something about the beginning of a new year that automatically sparks a desire to make a change or start something fresh. But instead of making a new year’s resolution that is unattainable, why not find something you will be able to achieve and enjoy at the same time.

iphone 5 cameraHow about learning how to actually use your camera? (Remember that there is a camera on your phone, so this applies to all smart phone users as well.) Our resident social media guru put together these five simple tips to help kick start your camera knowledge.

Number 1: Get to know your camera/phone functions. You don’t want to be fumbling with controls and missing moments.

Number 2: Turn your flash off for nightscapes. Flash can only travel a few feet, so there is no way it’s going to help you with that Vegas-by-night shot. Find a stable place to sit the camera, like a portable tripod or even a curbside newspaper box.

Number 3: Use flash in the sun. Try turning on the flash when you’re taking portraits of each other in harsh sunlight. It sounds odd, but flash will actually fill in the heavy shadows caused by the sun, giving you more even light and color.

Number 4: The landscape mode on your camera is designed to give you sharp pictures from a distance, along with rich blue skies and lush earth tones. Flip to this mode when you need it, and let the camera do all the work.

Number 5: Don’t always rely on zoom lenses to get you close to the action. Walk right up to your subject, interact with them, and get details that fly-by tourists would miss in their haste.

photo collageNow that you know how to use your camera, let’s put your new knowledge to use. And there’s no better way to test your camera skills than to go on a trip. Think about the amazing adventures, delicious food, and the beautiful photos you will take. Exciting!

There’s only one thing left to do. Plan the trip.

Why? Because the pleasure of pre-trip anticipation is invigorating. It’s why puppies are more joyful than dogs.

Pros to planning now: A vacation begins the second you start to plan it. Travelers’ moods improve as soon as the planning begins, even before the actual vacation starts.

Cons: Running out of toner the second you try to print your boarding pass. Trying to remember where you put the digital luggage scale. Rushing out to buy batteries for that digital luggage scale.

Canadian TravelSo where will your new adventure take you? If you’re looking to travel within Canada, your choices are endless.

Canada’s cities are energetic, multi-cultural, and most importantly, distinctive.  You don’t drive from one to the other expecting the same.  Vancouver and Victoria’s lifestyles are always relaxed, and while it may be wet, it doesn’t stop people from enjoying the natural surroundings of each city.  Booming Calgary and Edmonton reap the benefits of our natural resources.  Regina and Saskatoon proudly bring vibrancy to the prairies.  Winnipeg is a definite cultural centre at the heart of the country. Toronto and Ottawa are the corridors of business and politics.  Montreal enjoys a reputation as the coolest city in the country, if not the continent, while the streets of old Quebec City feel like they’ve teleported from Europe.  The history is everywhere in Halifax and Charlottetown, and the charm thick in Fredericton. In Newfoundland, St John’s witnesses the first sunrise of the continent, and its brightly painted houses as animated as its people.  Let’s not forget Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit, our vibrant outposts of the Great White North.

Whatever your new year’s resolution might be, whether it be travelling or learning how to use your camera, Sandman looks forward to spending time with you in 2014!

Edmonton Gets Hot with Ice on Whyte!

ice on whyte 2If you’re not familiar with the Edmonton area, then you might think the ‘Ice on Whyte’ moniker is either misspelled or an attempt to create a new version of an old word that sounds young, hip, and kewl. Rest assured, it’s spelled this way for neither of these reasons.

The festival is called ‘Ice on Whyte’ because it pays homage to the city’s famed Whyte Avenue, a popular street that is often brewing with fun and entertainment.

Celebrating its 10th year in action, the festivities run from January 25 – February 3, and feature a wide range of winter sights, sounds, and activities to highlight both the snow, ice, land, and people!

Originally created in 2003 by a group of individuals who wanted to showcase the fabulous art of ice carving, the event has blossomed to include all aspects of winter fun. Held in the popular area known as Steel Park or Festival Park, on 85th Avenue and 104 Street (not too far from Whyte Avenue itself), the hoopla is near impossible to miss because it fills the entire space with gorgeous, brightly-lit ice sculptures in addition to tons of live entertainment, food, and family fun.

Yet, the heart of the festival is still the famed international ice carving competition – which was officially endorsed by the National Ice Carving Association in 2009– the world’s preeminent authority on ice carving standards and art.

ice on whyte 3

During the competition, 10 teams of two will chip away at 15 blocks of ice (per team) for 2.5 days (35 hours total). Using these blocks, they’ll create one sculpture that must be 3.18 meters high and sculpted on all sides. All 15 blocks must be used, and snow made from the carving may also be used in the sculpture. In addition, there are no props, decorations or ice colouring allowed – this is serious ice carving my friend.

Visitors can also expect to find snow sculptures, a giant ice slide, a children’s play area, live music, entertainment and ice carving workshops too.

ice on whyte 5ice on whyte 9ice on whyte 8ice on whyte 7ice on whyte 5ice on whyte 4
No wonder the festival won the Alberta Tourism Award in the Alberta Pride Category in 2012!
Suffice to say, even though the event will bring the big chill in many ways, it is still among one of the hottest festivals in Canada this season!

Now that’s the Whyte stuff!

To see Sandman Hotel Edmonton West’s rates and hot deals, click here: http://www.sandmanhotels.ca/specials-rewards/hot-deals/

To see Sandman Signature Hotel & Suites Edmonton South’s rates and hot deals, click here: http://www.sandmansignature.ca/specials-rewards/hot-deals/

Sandman Celebrates Dine Out Vancouver!

dine out 1

The holidays are special to some, but in Vancouver ‘The most wonderful time of the year’ is arguably less about ‘Yuletide carols being sung by a choir’ and more about yummy food being savoured by a crowd of die-hard foodies.

What we’re talking about is Dine Out Vancouver – the annual, citywide restaurant festival that lets curious culinary connoisseurs discover all the best fare this city has to offer (at amazing prices too!). Slated to take place from January 18 – February 3, there will be throngs of hungry gastronomes heading to a wide range of restaurants to test out a variety of fixed-price menus ranging from approximately $18 – $ 38.

chopOur very own Chop Steakhouse & Bar will be participating in the exciting event, offering up sweet and savoury dishes that reflect the essence of the tasty cuisine. Guests heading to Chop Steakhouse & Bar can expect to find a delicious $38 menu with a great array of culinary picks such as: roasted butternut squash soup with lemon sour cream, prime rib (12 oz) slowly roasted in rock salt and fresh ground pepper, with hand shaved fresh horseradish and au jus served (with a choice of: infused mashed potatoes, wild rice pilaf, baked potato, Chop cut fries or fresh seasonal vegetables), mini raspberry crème brûlée white chocolate, raspberries and caramelized sugar and so much more.

Located in Richmond at the Sandman Signature Hotel & Resort Vancouver Airport, the Dine Out menu provides chop dine out menuan exciting montage of appies, mains and desserts that are sure to impress even the most seasoned Dine Out fanatic. Featuring a $28 menu as well, they are focused on providing a refined, enticing, yet relaxed steak experience that tantalizes the taste buds with only the best AAA Canadian beef, the freshest local ingredients, and a surprising variety of options. Plus, if you are looking for a place to stay after your experience, our cozy Sandman Signature beds are literally an elevator ride away.

DSC_0463In addition, for those who are testing out venues in the city or downtown, other Sandman Hotels in Vancouver, such as Vancouver City Centre and Vancouver Suites on Davie Street are also offering accommodation deals for the event which is expected to draw in thousands upon thousands of locals and international visitors alike!

Possibly the tastiest way to treat yourself to cozy accommodations, fine food and a good time all in one, do yourself a favour and head to Dine Out Vancouver this year!

To see Chop Steakhouse & Bar’s Dine Out menu, click here: http://www.dineoutvancouver.com/listings/Chop-Steakhouse-Bar/21096/1042/#dineoutdinnermenu

To view Dine Out hotel packages with Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre, click here: https://reservations.tourismvancouver.com/Hotels-Motels/Package.asp?Hotel_ID=SHV&AFL_ID=DOVF&Pkgc=DOVF

To view Dine Our hotel packages with Sandman Suites Vancouver Davie Street, click here: https://reservations.tourismvancouver.com/Hotels-Motels/Package.asp?Hotel_ID=SSV&AFL_ID=DOVF&Pkgc=DOVF

Please visit dineoutvancouver.com for complete festival details.

Sandman Remembers the Best of 2012!

Urgent assignment2012 was a year filled with an unbelievable amount of activity at Sandman Hotel Group. Whether it was awards and accolades for our flagship hotel in Newcastle, UK, the launch of our mobile app for the iPad and Android, amazing press and coverage for our hotels across Canada, or the expansion of our online social media presence, there was no shortage of excitement for everyone here at the Sandman family.

Kicking off our New Year, here is a list of our favourite stories from the past year!

Sandman-Signature-Newcastle-RICS-Award-595x318[1]

Sandman Signature Makes a Name for Itself

Over the past year, Sandman Signature Hotels & Resorts have been making waves across the nation and overseas. For instance our Langley location picked up the 2012 Commercial Building Award of Excellence in Hospitality from the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board for being able to fulfill the following requirements:

• Does the development complement or add to the surrounding properties and neighbourhood?
• Is it esthetically pleasing?
• What construction materials were used in the overall design?
• Was it built in an environmentally sensitive manner?
• Does it incorporate any unique architectural features?
• How does this project compare to others in the same category?

An excellent list of categories to live up to, we couldn’t be more proud of their achievement!

Inn Focus

There was also great press for our other locations too! From our Sandman Signature Hotel & Suites Prince George getting front page coverage in ‘In Focus’ magazine, to our Sandman Signature Hotel Newcastle, UK getting coverage for … everything! From their décor, history, and ambiance to their highly coveted RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) North East Renaissance Award for commercial property of the year, the good news hasn’t stopped coming. In addition, the reviews keep pouring in for our Edmonton South, Toronto and Vancouver Airport locations too. Quite simply, Signature is making its presence felt in the hotel world, and we can’t wait to see what’s next for each special location!

i Love the Sandman App!

2013 also ushered in some technological treats for all our guests too. Where last year we launched our brand new mobile booking app for the iPhone and BlackBerry, this year we wanted to make sure we topped ourselves with our apps for Android and the iPad (not to mention the improved version 2 for iPhone and Blackberry).

iPad App

Many months in the making, our experts worked day and night to ensure that we offered guests the easiest, breeziest and most rewarding booking experience…and we were not disappointed. With a whopping number of users already, there is no doubt that our new technology makes booking with us fast, efficient, easy, and full of perks. Not sure what you’re missing? Here are just a few of the benefits you can get from our mobile app.

  • The ability to reserve at over 40 locations worldwide
  • Exclusive access to promotions and limited-time offers
  • GPS and interactive map
  • The ability to earn and redeem StatusPlus points towards free stays
  • The ability to view StatusPlus points balance and profile status

A Clean Sweep for Sandman Hotels in Alberta

If there is one thing our hotels are proud of, it’s our standards and service. That’s why we were elated to learn that once again, that several of our hotels in Alberta have received prestigious recognition from the Alberta Hotel & Lodging Association for Excellence in Housekeeping.

2012-hk-award

Our Sandman Hotel Red Deer, Sandman Hotel Calgary South and Sandman Hotel Calgary Airport all were recipients of this AHLA award which states:

‘As a recipient of the Housekeeping Award, you are among a select group of properties that participate in the Approved Accommodation Program [and] have achieved excellence in cleanliness, comfort, and maintenance. The Housekeeping Award is a reflection of your staff and your property’s commitment to providing visitors with clean and comfortable accommodation.’

Now that’s spotless news.

Social Media Expansion

This year also saw the rise of our social media expansion across several channels. From Pinterest to Google +, Foursquare, Pinterest, Instagram, Youtube, and the ever increasing growth of our Facebook and Twitter pages, there were so many new ways to interact with our guests, fans, and friends. We met so many new people that we decided to get to know them all even better with our ‘Share Your Sandman Story Photo Contest.’

Share Your Sandman Story

Asking our friends to share their Sandman stories with us was one of our most successful social media campaigns of the year, and we received entries from all over the world. Whether it was a story about a memorable family stay, wonderful weekend getaway, the perfect wedding or friendly service during frequent business trips, we got to see the real people who make our company a success with pictures too!

Throughout the summer months we also gave away tons of prizes to everyone ranging from restaurant gift cards, hotel gift certificates, and two brand new iPads.

Double the Luck with Lucky 13

IMG_0147

Though it’s 2013 already, the number 13 played a huge role for Sandman in 2012. With our Lucky 13 Rewards Program, we decided to have a bit of fun and launch a campaign on Friday the 13th, called ‘Lucky 13 on Friday the 13th.’ Since there were two Friday the 13ths in 2012, we decided to make two fun videos for our friends detailing the special promotion which allowed guests to get DOUBLE the Lucky 13 stamps for every night they booked on the superstitious day. We were even lucky enough to get all-star backup quarterback for the BC Lions, Mike Reilly, to help us out.

In case you missed it all, check out some of our favourite videos, and moments below!

With so many events and activities, it’s pretty safe to say that 2012 was among one of our best years ever. However, we’re also willing to wager a bet that 2013 will be even better!