Sandman Hotel & Suites Kelowna & Sandman Hotel Quesnel Gear Up for a Spectacular Start to September

Sheila Perapalkin, Van Olson and the 22 ‘Cops for Kids’ cyclists at the Sandman Hotel & Suites Kelowna after their hearty Denny’s breakfast

If you’ll be driving through Interior BC over the next few weeks and you happen to spot a throng of cops in your rearview mirror, don’t worry, they’re not going to pull you over. In fact, this athletic bunch is on a special mission to bike through 1600 kilometers of terrain to raise money for children who are in medical, physical or traumatic crisis.

Those who know what it’s like to drive 1600 kilometers can only imagine what it’s like doing it on a bike, which is why these men and women deserve a lot of support for their grueling efforts. That’s why our Sandman Hotel Kelowna was proud to help kick off the ‘Cops for Kids’ journey with a hearty breakfast at Denny’s Restaurant (attached to the hotel) last Friday morning. A proud hotel sponsor for the ride, we, in partnership with Denny’s, provided everything from rooms to rest in, to a delicious pre-ride meal that fueled everyone for the long trek along Highway 97.

The 22 determined souls will be pushing through 18 stops, ranging from Cranbrook, Golden, Kamloops and Vernon and everywhere in between, before completing the circuit in Kelowna on Sunday, September 16th. Now in its 11th year running, the event has gathered a lot of notice, and as some of the riders mentioned, it now attracts large crowds on the sides of the roads to cheer them on. During the ride, local community groups, restaurants, and hotels also lend their services to support the cause.

In addition to pushing their bodies to a 1600 kilometer limit, each biker also raised a minimum of $2,000 each, with all proceeds going to essential organizations that support kids in need.

Sheila Perapalkin, Sandman’s  Business Development Manager for the Okanagan and Kootenay region  and Val Olsen, Banquet Manager for Denny’s,  had their photo taken with the cyclists during their big kick off breakfast and couldn’t have been more impressed at the enthusiasm and determination of each participant.  “It’s our 7th year sponsoring the ride,” says Perapalkin, “and we’re sure this year’s trek will be better than ever.”

Highway 97 will also be buzzing with activity north of the Kamloops region. More specifically, it will play host to a large crowd of fans who will be heading to Quesnel for the BC Rodeo Association Championship Finals from September 14 – 16.

Attracting cowboys and cowgirls from all over the country, the event will be held at Alex Fraser Park, a spectacular setting of lush Evergreens, mountain views and – of course – adrenaline pulsing rodeo action.

The 10th consecutive year hosting the championship finals, Quesnel has solidified its status as a favourite among the ‘Western’ loving folk because the area is busting with charming turn-of-the century homes, stores, historical sites and of course that legendary ‘gold rush’ status – adding an unmistakable touch of authenticity to its candour.

Proud to support the finals, Sandman Hotel Quesnel General Manager Rob Moutray says of the event, “It’s our most popular attraction of the year. We get a nice mix of fans and first timers who all are thrilled at the excitement of it all…plus they get to discover the charming allure of Quesnel too. It’s a great draw.”

Sandman Hotel Quesnel

Friday’s rodeo performance starts at 7:00 pm and will also have fundraising efforts for the Salvation Army Food Bank and breast cancer awareness, both great causes that the community comes together to support.

Whether it’s bucking or biking, we’re sure both of our Sandman Hotels are sure to have a wild ride this weekend!

Sandman Hotel Kelowna Hot Deals:

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Sandman Hotel Quesnel Hot Deals:

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Interesting Canadian Road Side Attractions

With the fall weather slowly creeping in, it’s fair to say that a large majority of Canadians are desperately trying to cling on to the last vestiges of that summer spirit. That’s why this upcoming Labour Day weekend is among the most coveted dates for ‘last chance’ road trips before the brisk awakening of autumn.  With many of our hotel locations situated along major travel routes we decided to compile a list of the best road side attractions to visit in Canada, because, after all, who doesn’t love a drive through corn stand?

Must See in BC

When most visitors think of sights to see in BC, they usually seek them out on water (whale watching is popular) or on the mountains (the province is famed for its skiing).  Yet, there are some interesting roadside pit stops that are enticing too. Take for instance the Giant Dump Truck in Sparwood.

The appropriately named, Terex 33-19 “Titan” tandem-axle off-road dump truck is among the biggest in the world. While it used to be a working vehicle, it now stands as an iconic reminder of the town’s rich mining history. Approximately 7 metres tall and nearly 20 metres long this glorified version of your kid’s toy weighs 260 tons – something the tots are sure to love!

Everyone needs a pit stop for food during their on-road travels, but sometimes burgers and fries just don’t suffice. That’s why there’s ‘The Sparkes Corn Barn’ drive though. Sprinkled across Chilliwack highway areas, you can simply pull up, order a bundle of the town’s freshest, and be on your merry way. Renowned for having some of the sweetest corn around, the bright yellow and green barns are easy to spot with their cute and colourful displays. A ‘golden’ opportunity, you’ll want to stop by at least once for some homegrown goodness.

The Ogopogo Sculpture, Kelowna, BC

Much like the Loch Ness Monster in Scotland, Kelowna’s mythical (or real, depending on your sources) water creature is the stuff great legends are made of. Old folklore tells of a beastly lake monster that ate men, yet, if you look at the monument created in Kelowna, you might get a different impression. A cute and cuddly looking thing, this road side statue looks more like the flying dragon from ‘The Never Ending Story’ rather than a scaly, scary creature – which is good because the lake is a great place for a summer swim and hasn’t seen any man-eating activity for centuries.

The Enchanted Forest, Revelstoke BC (Roger’s Pass)

Perhaps one of the most curious sights you’ll see while travelling along the TransCanada Highway in BC, The Enchanted Forest is a real life …well, enchanted forest. Similar to what you’d envision for an Alice in Wonderland amusement park, this fantasy play ground was created way back in 1950s. Starting off as a lifelong passion for Doris Needham, she began creating her enchanted statues by hand using cement molds. Then, she and her husband found the ideal location near Revelstoke, BC and began turning their wide lot of land into a mythically charmed acreage. Clearing over 40 acres of land by hand with shovels, picks and saws, they were able to construct everything from candy cane houses to giant mushrooms for passersby to enjoy. Then, in 1960, they opened their pride and joy to the public, attracting a large number of highway travellers to their bright, colourful and curious forest. Now a local legend, this is the stuff dreams are made of – literally.

Giant Beaver, Beaverlodge, Alberta

Why did the beaver cross the road? To become a 3000-pound road side attraction of course. Perhaps the most fitting tribute to a town called ‘Beaverlodge’ this giant icon is truly Canadian in every sense of the word. Home of the Beaverloge Blades, a hockey team in the North West Junior Hockey Leauge (NWJHL), we’re pretty sure their proud of their wood-chipping mascot.

Giant Dinosaur, Drumheller, Alberta

There are 2 cool things about Drumheller’s famous road side attraction. One, the statue is a life-sized replica. Two, a long, long time ago, there was the real thing likely walking around the area. We’re talking about the Tyrannosaurus Rex. The king of all dinosaurs, this big guy is famed for being the largest T-Rex road side replica in the world. Standing at 26-plus metres (86 feet) tall, 145,000-pounds (65,770-kg) in weight this is the closest you can get to the ancient giant. By close, we mean really close, as in you can climb up inside its body for a mini-museum  tour all the way to the top where its mouth offers a stunning view of the surrounding area.

Big Cowboy Boot, Edmonton Alberta

Most folk passing through Edmonton get a big kick out of this roadside attraction. Perhaps the most carefully crafted footwear you’ll ever see, this statue was actually refurbished by a real shoe company, the Stallion Boot and Jean Company. An ode to the city’s prairie roots, you can go wrong with a good ol’ pair of cowboy boots.

World’s Biggest Wind Gauge, Lethbridge Alberta

With those strong Chinook winds, it makes sense that Lethbridge, Alberta would have a giant Wind Gauge in their city. Trouble is it doesn’t work! However, engineers can breathe a sigh of relief as the design is intentional to prevent unruly tourists from harming themselves by climbing or playing with it. Which is pretty smart if you think of it, because standing at 18 feet tall, you wouldn’t want to get hit in the head with its oversized ball bearing.

The Starship Enterprise, Vulcan, Alberta

Any Trekkie will love this one. There is a real place called Vulcan, and it lives in Alberta. Very aware of their kinship to the famed sci-fi series, the town decided to erect a giant statue of the starship Enterprise for every fan to enjoy. Near the statue is a visitor centre where onlookers can learn much about the Vulcan culture (the alien culture that is, not the actual culture of the town) in addition to many other Star Trek related facts. Maybe the town should adopt a new slogan – ‘live long and prosper’ perhaps?

The Second Largest Fire Hydrant, Elm Creek, Manitoba

Standing at over 30 feet tall, this mammoth statue was built by volunteer fire fighters as a tribute to their team. Seven months in the making, it is an impressive sight, and likely a huge beacon for tourists and dogs alike.

Very Big Van Gogh, Manitoba, Canada

Did you know that Altona, Manitoba is the ‘Sunflower Capital’ of Canada? If your answer was no, then you might want to take a drive out there where you can find a 76-foot tall easel with a giant hand-painted replica of Van Gogh’s classic ‘Sunflowers’. We’re glad they went creative on this one, because a giant bottle of sunflower oil wouldn’t have been as attractive.

A Giant Orange, Montreal, Quebec,

Yup, this one is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a 3-storey tall orange. Yet, it has more functionality than most of the other road side attractions. It serves orange juice and has been doing so since 1942.

Easter Island Head , Toronto, Ontario, Canada

If you’re looking to play a good trick on your friends, you can head over to Tilley Endurables in Toronto where they have a giant Easter Islands head sculpture. Standing at 15 feet tall, the head looks like the real thing and with the help of some crafty camera work, could fool people into thinking that you took a wild vacation somewhere far, far away.

So, if you’re on the road this long weekend, and you’ve got a bit of time to spare, you might want to check out some of these quirky and fun pit stops. After all, they always make good photos opportunities and that long drive just a bit more exciting!

Of course, Sandman Hotels are ready to provide you with a good night’s sleep should you need a place to stay, so check out our locations along the way.

Sandman Supports Their Own at Gran Fondo Whistler!

A large part of being a good corporate citizen is taking responsibility for the well-being of their surrounding community. This area of philanthropy is something we have come to take very seriously. From silent auctions to golf tournaments, we are approached by groups big and small, representing causes ranging from cystic fibrosis to literacy. Another way we have gotten involved is through sponsorships in and around the communities we are present in. Large scale sponsorships include our affiliations with the CFL and WHL, but are not limited to just large organizations.

Take for example, our very own National Account Manager, John Webster. Not only is he one of our key account managers in our Tour & Travel sales department, he is an avid amateur athlete as well. This summer, he found the time to train 19 weeks for the Gran Fondo Whistler race, held September 10, taking him from downtown Vancouver to Whistler Village. Upon hearing of his 124km ride (uphill, no less!), Sandman Hotel Group got involved, and was able to sponsor this incredible achievement. In case you’re wondering how it might feel to cycle that far, we invited John to be our guest blogger this week!

 

Sat, Sep 10 – I woke up to a clear sky as the sun was just creeping up in the East. Me and 7,000 fellow Gran Fondo cyclists, all made our way to the start line that took up 7 blocks of West Georgia Street. Each of us found our way to the dedicated starting corral and you couldn’t help but be awed by the sheer volume of lycra and helmets as far as you could see in both directions. For me, I’d trained hard for 19 weeks for an estimated finish time of around 4 hours 45 min or even more precise, an average speed of 27km p/hour.

 

The ride up to Whistler couldn’t have been better, with a dedicated lane free of traffic all the way up to the resort. At times, there were even 2 dedicated lanes, making for an even faster and smoother ride.  Feed stations at about every 25 km mark, allowed for plenty of re-fueling options.

 

The last 20km just before Whistler were a grind as there was a strong head wind to battle and the temperature was starting to climb. With Whistler Village clearly in sight, that was the biggest motivator to really crank it up for a strong finish. The fans were amazing all the way up the Sea to Sky, but in Whistler, they were full on. Cow bells and more cow bells rang out as each rider raced across the finish line.

 

Lots of time and dedication went in to training for the Gran Fondo Whistler, and a shiny medal, some good food and cold beer along with Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo and Barney Bentall, made it all worth while. Oh, and my finish time was exactly 4:39:00. Next year, I think I’ll do the Gran Fondo Kelowna or Penticton. So many exciting options!

David Howe, Director of All AlaskaTours out of Anchorage, Alaska (R) with John Webster, National Account Manager, Tour & Travel (L) at the finish line!

Talk about taking ‘tour & travel’ to a whole new level! Congratulations to you, John! If you’re interested in having Sandman Hotel Group sponsor your event, or if you would like us to make a donation towards your cause, visit our website and download our Sponsorship/Donation Request Form. We will review and reply to each and every one – our promise to you!

Sandman Signature Hotel Newcastle, UK – Now Open!

The time has finally come, and we are incredibly excited to announce that the Sandman Signature Newcastle, UK is now open for business! We’re the new kid on the block, located across the street from St. James’ Park Stadium, home of the NUFC – Newcastle United Football Club, and adjacent to St. James Metro Station. If you’re a local, we’re in the former Scottish & Newcastle Brewery regional offices – completely refurbished of course – hence the blue star at the top!

It’s a funny thing, refurbishing and renovating an historic site into something new. It truly does mark the passing of time. It’s one of those things – it brings excitement yet also resigned acceptance that something important is now over. Kind of like your highschool graduation: you are excited to grow up, move out on your own, gain independence and spread your proverbial wings, while your parents are smiling through tears. Happy tears (some happier than others!), but tears just the same. In their minds, 18 years suddenly feels like it’s flown by; you’re no longer theirs, you have passed that milestone in life, and everything’s about to change.

A particularly compelling example of this comes from Ian Stewart, a fan of our Facebook Page. He posted on our wall, the following message: “Started work at age 16, 1970 in the former S&N Breweries office block, now one of your hotels. Cannot wait to spend a night there – floor six has fond memories”. Who knows what the memories are about, but I’m sure there are a number of people living in and around Newcastle upon Tyne just like Mr. Stewart, who have memories and connections to the building. From a construction standpoint, the frame was rock solid so it made sense to keep the building, and renew from the inside out. For the community, it was a nod to the history and legacy of one the largest breweries in the country. Afterall, in many ways Scottish & Newcastle Breweries put Newcastle on the map internationally; not to mention the jobs that existed, which supported entire families in the region.

Change is good, no doubt about it. And gentrification is also good – it helps revitalize neighbourhoods and their local economies. Doing it well? That was our challenge to achieve.

We’re now 175 rooms, over 11 storeys. You will be welcomed into a gorgeous lobby and stunning interiors. We’ve got a brand new gastro pub, called Shark Club, located on-site for your convenience. Come by and check us out – we’d be happy to show you around!  

No time to visit us in person?  No problem!  Visit our Facebook page!  Simply search Sandman Hotel Group and you will have access to read all about our property, and view the latest photos.  Make sure you click on the ‘ like ‘ button to automatically be entered to WIN gift certificates and other prizes!  www.facebook.com/SandmanHotelGroup

To book online, visit our Newcastle, UK website:  www.sandmansignature.co.uk

To contact the hotel directly, please telephone:  0191 229 2600 or 011 44 191 229 2600,  email:  res_newcastle@sandmanhotels.co.uk

For more information about Shark Club Gastro Bar, visit website:  www.sharkclubs.co.uk

myPad2… No! myPad2!! Introducing: Our Latest iPad2 Winner!

Over this past Labour Day long weekend, a number of things happened: 

  1. Both the CNE and the PNE closed for the year. (**sniff*)
  2. With heavy hearts, white trousers were wistfully returned to the ‘summer clothes’ section of thousands of fashionistas’ closets around the country.
  3. Parents faced the annual conflicting emotions associated with the first weekend of September: summer is over and kids are heading back to class (phew! We made it! We survived! It’s over!) vs. summer is over and the kids are heading back to class (how did they get to be so big?! Our baby is all grown up!)
  4. Summer unofficially came to a close. (We technically have until September 21 though!)
  5. Sandman Hotel Group handed over the final iPad2 of our ‘Summer with Sandman’ promotion.

Our lucky winner was Samantha Catto, of Abbotsford, British Columbia! She agreed to come down to our Sandman Hotel & Suites Abbotsford, and meet with our General Manager to collect the prize. Sounded fairly straightforward, but then we never said it would be easy! It turned out the General Manager, Sameer Vahidy, had become fond of the 64GB beauty, and when it came time to present it to Ms. Catto, he had a bit of trouble letting go. Literally.

GM of Sandman Hotel & Suites Abbotsford, Sameer Vahidy, having trouble handing over the iPad2 to Samantha Catto, winner with our 'Summer with Sandman' promotion.

After a bit of prying, and a lot of convincing, Ms. Catto, a current student enrolled in BCIT’s Event Management Program won out, and was the happy recipient of our third and final iPad2!

General Manager Sameer Vahidy after conceding victory to Samantha Catto, winner of the iPad2.

 Congratulations again, to Ms. Catto! And for those of you staying with us, Summer with Sandman goes through until September 23, when we’ll be drawing the winner of our grand prize: a trip for two aboard the Rocky Mountaineer train!