Ring in the New Year in Style… and with Good luck

GroupCelebrating_139152893Quick question: What will your wardrobe be on New Year’s Eve? Nice dress? Black tie? How about your, ahem, underwear? If you lived in parts of South America, it wouldn’t even be a question. In São Paulo, La Paz, and other spots, people don brightly coloured underpants to ring in the New Year — red if they’re looking for love and yellow for money.

champagne-NEW-YEARNo matter what we wear, though, New Year signifies a new beginning. Flipping open a fresh calendar, with its 12 pristine, as-yet-unmarked months, is perhaps one of the most universally hopeful acts we humans perform. Finally, a chance to shrug off a year’s worth of worries, conflicts, and mistakes. Finally, a chance to start over.

It’s no wonder we all welcome the holiday with such enthusiasm. In the U.S. (and in lots of other countries), the event is celebrated with fireworks and parades, drinking and toasts. Some cultures, though, have more unusual ways of ushering in the New Year.

In many countries, there’s a shared belief that specific actions taken on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day — or at the stroke of midnight — can influence the fate of the months ahead. In the Philippines, for example, wearing polka dots and eating round fruits is supposed to ensure a prosperous new year. In Spain, wolfing down handfuls of grapes as the clock strikes 12 is said to have the same effect.

In other countries, New Year’s customs are about driving away the bad spirits of the past year, so that the new one can arrive unsullied and uncorrupted. The purifying power of fire is often used in such ceremonies. During the Scottish festival of Hogmanay, for instance, parades of village men swing giant blazing fireballs over their heads as they march through the streets. In Panama, sculptures or statues of popular celebrities and political figures—called muñecos—are burned in bonfires. Other bad-spirit-banishing customs are less fiery and more fun, like the Danish tradition of jumping off chairs at midnight (which gives new meaning to the term “leap year”).

Corn BreadIf food is how you choose to celebrate holidays, there are multitudes of food that are said to bring luck and prosperity.

Black Eyed Peas: Resembling coins, these beans are said to bring prosperity in the New Year and are often enjoyed in the traditional southern dish known as Hoppin’ John, which in some households, may be preceded by a hopping dance performed around the table by the children.

Buttered Bread: New Years Day in Ireland is also known as Day of the Buttered Bread (or Sandwich, depending on the Gaelic translation). Tradition says buttered bread placed outside the door symbolizes an absence of hunger in the household, and presumably for the year to come.

12 grapesGrapes/Raisins: Tradition in Spain says 12 grapes or raisins eaten just before midnight (one at each chime of the clock) will bring good for all 12 months of the year, so long as you finish all 12 before the final stroke!

Greens: Because of their deep emerald color resembling money, healthy, hearty greens like kale, spinach, and collards are believed to bring wealth (and of course, health!) to those who enjoy it early and often in the New Year. For legume or meat-based dishes, a garnish of parsley is also said to ward off evil spirits.

Pork: Bring on the bacon! As pigs root forward while they forage for food (as opposed to cows, who stand still, or chickens, who scratch backwards), pork in all forms is enjoyed by many hoping to embrace the challenges and adventures that await them in the coming year.

Long Noodles: Signifying longevity in Asian culture, a stir-fry of unbroken noodles is a tradition believed to bring good health and luck in the New Year. Those who can eat at least one long noodle without chewing or breaking it is said to enjoy the longest life and best luck of all!

Lentils: Resembling tiny coins, the custom of enjoying lentils in the New Year is a common Italian tradition said to bring wealth.

Cornbread: Golden yellow and inarguably delicious, cornbread is especially popular in the South. Because its color is similar to that of gold, this bread is enjoyed by those hopeful for a prosperous year.

Round Foods: Cakes, pastries, cookies, and round fruits like clementines are often enjoyed on New Year’s Day as their shape signifies the old year has come to a close and the coming days hold the promise of a fresh start.

Whole Fish: In Chinese culture, serving fish whole (both head and tail intact) symbolizes prosperity, abundance, and a good year to come (from start to finish).

No matter how odd different traditions may seem to us, though, these customs share an optimism that’s hard not to appreciate. Out with the old, in with the new!

So no matter where or how you celebrate, Sandman Hotel Group wishes you a very happy and healthy new year. From us to you, may 2014 be full of joy, laughter, and loved ones.
Happy New Year in sparklers

Sandman’s Tribute to Fathers

Father & Son Golf

What does it mean to be a dad?

Most fathers would probably cite the same qualities — and employ much of the same language — if asked that very question. Most would say a dad provides. A dad protects. He tries to teach, often by example, if only because so many fathers still embrace the “strong, silent” stereotype, and so many dads find that showing rather than telling can frequently be a more eloquent method for imparting a lesson.

In fact, of all the familial “hoods” — motherhood, childhood, fatherhood — the latter has probably changed less, in fundamental ways, than the others over the last several generations. Motherhood is largely unrecognizable (in many positive ways) from the institution of, say, the 1950s, while childhood sometimes seems to be redefined with each new alarmist magazine cover: Our kids are too lazy! Our kids are too busy! Our kids are too coddled! Our kids are too stressed!

Father-and-Son

But fatherhood? For the most part, today’s dads are still good-natured. Much as their fathers and their fathers’ fathers did before them, maybe a little more “enlightened,” more “sensitive,” more “attuned” than their old men, but generally working on the same basic principles: Raise good kids. Don’t spoil them. Help them stand up. And, every once in a while, let them fall down. Love them, guide them — and then, as painful as it’s going to be — let them go.

From all of us at Sandman, to Bob Gaglardi, founder of our company, and every dad out there, Happy Father’s Day.

No need to travel for a vacation

staycationNeed a vacation but don’t know where to go? Easy – Sandman Staycation. A what? A vacation in your own city where you get to truly explore sites and attractions while staying at your local Sandman hotel. Perfect way to truly enjoy your time off.

So now that you know where your vacation will be, it’s time to plan the itinerary.

Act like a tourist. Most people travel far to visit museums in other countries but have yet to visit the tourist attractions in their own backyards. When you check in at the hotel, ask for some brochures for nearby museums, hikes, and parks. Or, visit the attractions that you’ve always wanted to see but never have.

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Take your taste buds on a trip. Treat yourself to a culinary adventure by indulging in different ethnic food each night. Never been to Greece? Perfect. Find the closest Greek restaurant and make sure to try the ouzo.

Watch a foreign movie. Instead of stumbling on your words while attempting to communicate with foreign locals, just watch a movie with subtitles. Check to see if your city has a movie theatre that shows foreign films. Wouldn’t it be great to go to Paris without the long flight?Photographer

Take photos. This is your chance to really act like a tourist. Ask strangers to take pictures of you in front of famous buildings and statues. Make sure you have a camera strap and hang your camera around your neck. This way, you actually look like a tourist.

 

So next time you need a break from reality, but don’t know where to go, remember: a Sandman Staycation is right around the corner.

Sandman Celebrates the Season with Rockford wok|bar|grill

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The holidays and New Year’s Eve are among the best times of the year to throw a big party with all your friends or relatives. Whether it’s the snow, the decorations, or the music, something in the air makes everyone and everything just a little more merry and bright.

However, if you’re planning to be the host of one such festive fete, then you’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of you. From the appetizers, to the drinks, to finding enough time to simultaneously monitor the door while playing DJ and cleaning dishes, it’s an overwhelming task even for even the most seasoned iron chef/party planner.

That’s where Rockford wok|bar|grill comes in handy. With locations at Sandman Signature Hotel & Suites Prince George and Sandman Hotel & Suites Edmonton South, they’ve outdone themselves this year with an inspired New Year’s menu that is perfectly suited for get-togethers and parties.

rockfordFor only $34.95 a person, your guests can choose from a long list of mouth-watering soups, salads, entrees and desserts ranging from roasted butternut squash-sweet potato bisque, to charbroiled AAA sirloin topped with lemon-parsley butter and a side of mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.

Value some good vegetarian options? Their roasted root vegetable ravioli or Rockford greens are not to be missed.

Got a sweet tooth? Don’t you worry because the menu has your choice of a vanilla custard tart with fresh berries and whipped cream or sticky chocolate date pudding with vanilla bean gelato and chocolate butterscotch sauce.

To top it off? A fresh, crisp flute of bubbly prosecco to get the celebration started in style!

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Yup, it’s pretty safe to say that if you’re looking for the ideal place to hold your holiday party, Rockford’s got you covered. Plus, with our plush Sandman Signature beds just an elevator ride away, you can celebrate all night long and into those lovely wee hours of the 2013 morning.

Stay Safe This Season, Take the Elevator Home with Sandman

Why wait for a cab?

Why wait for a cab?

If you’ve ever been stuck in the rain, wearing your finest attire at 1am in the morning while trying to flag the umpteenth cab that’s passed you by, then you know the dilemma of the age old holiday party.

In general, holiday spirit is a good thing. However, when it comes to holiday spirits, the story is a tad more complicated. In moderation, alcoholic holiday beverages can be delicious and entreating, but in excess they can prove to be more trouble than you bargained for.

Celebrate safe!

Celebrate safe!

Yet, the season is a time of year when most people overindulge in one too many of a lot of things, so more likely than not, you will not be alone in your festive follies. Not to worry though, a little planning and preparation is all you need to make sure your celebrations end on a high note, and most importantly, they are all you need to ensure that you and your loved ones return home safe, sound, and well rested!

Throughout December and January, severalof our hotels (such as Sandman Suites Surrey — Guidlford, Sandman Hotel Vancouver Airport, and Sandman Signature Hotel & Resort — Vancouver Airport) will be participating in special holiday rates that are focused on making sure you have an easy alternative to driving home. The mode of transportation? Faster than a cab and cozier that a crowded bus, all it requires is the simple push of an elevator button.

All you have to do is quote the rate when you call to book your stay, and you’ll receive the discounted rate for the dates that you need (some blackout dates and restrictions apply — select locations only). That way you can eat, drink and be merry to your heart’s content – plus you’ll also have a comfortable, convenient, and plush bed waiting for you when you’re all done.

take the elevator home surreyWith RCMP across the nation once again launching their Counterattack campaign, we’re not the only ones strongly advocating planning ahead for your night. Whether it be staying in a hotel, finding a designated driver or hailing a cab – any safe way home is a good way home.

One benefit to choosing a hotel for your alternative? With Sandman you’ll be guaranteed a good night’s rest too!

No matter where you are or what you do for your festivities this year, Sandman wishes you a very merry holiday season and encourages you to stay safe when it comes to party planning. Now that’s a real reason to celebrate.

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