Canada’s unofficial start to the summer – Victoria Day

Queen_VictoriaFirst things first: if you live in Western Canada, you’ll say May Long, and if you live in Eastern Canada, you’ll say May two-four. Same thing!

The May long weekend is officially called Victoria Day which is a celebration of Queen Victoria’s birthday – May 24th. She ruled from June 20, 1837 until her death on January 22, 1901 which is the longest reign of any monarch, 63 years and 7 months. After her death, an Act was passed by the Parliament of Canada establishing a legal holiday on May 24 (or May 25 if May 24 falls on a Sunday) under the name Victoria Day.

Victoria Day is less than a month away, so we thought we’d give you some ideas of how to spend your long weekend. And what better place to celebrate Victoria Day than Victoria, a city that bears the same name.

Butchart GardensSince Victoria Day marks the beginning of summer, or at least that’s what Canadians would like to believe, take a trek to Victoria’s scenic Butchart Gardens. A National Historic Site with 55 acres of beautiful gardens, this is the perfect opportunity to catch the floral sights in full bloom.

Bastion Square, located in the heart of downtown Victoria, looks out on the Inner Harbour and features the city’s best restaurants and cafes. On Saturdays, it’s home to an artisan market with locally made arts and crafts, and on Sundays, features a Farmers’ Market with locally grown produce and fruits, homemade breads and pastries, authentic Mexican food, and much more.

The British Columbia Parliament Buildings exhibit the province’s true history. The Neo-baroque buildings face the Inner Harbour and are kiddie corner to The Empress Hotel. A statue of Queen Victoria stands on the front lawn as well as a statue of a soldier to commemorate the province’s World War I, World War II, and Korean War efforts. Free guided tours of the buildings are offered year-round.

thetislake_filterIf the outdoors are more your thing, you’re in luck. The Victoria area is full of stunning lakes and forests.

Thetis Lake refers to two freshwater lakes (Upper and Lower Thetis) in Thetis Lake Regional Park and is home to many Garry Oak and Douglas fir trees. The park includes several beaches and forest trails and is extremely popular in the summer.

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Swan Lake Christmas Hill Nature Sanctuary is an excellent place for year-round bird watching. The marsh around Swan Lake provides the perfect habitat for many birds and small animals, including muskrats, river otters, and minks.

When Monday rolls around, make sure to take-in the Victoria Day parade complete with marching bands, colourful floats, clowns, and over 100,000 spectators. The parade lasts about three hours, so bring a blanket, snacks, and don’t forget an extra jacket and umbrella. It is, after all, spring on the West Coast. The parade starts at Mayfair Mall at 9am and proceeds along Douglas Street, finishing at the intersection of Douglas & Humboldt in the downtown core.

There are so many attractions and beaches  to visit. But whether you decide to spend the weekend sightseeing or hiking, make sure to include Sandman Hotel Victoria in your Victoria Day long weekend plans!

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 Dine Out Vancouver!

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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!

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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.

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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

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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!

 

 

Sandman Supports the Kids This Season

KHP

For many Canadians, the holidays are a time of year filled with celebrations, family gatherings, and gift exchanges. Yet, for countless kids across the country, the season can be a difficult period to get through, and is a time when a helping hand makes a world of difference.  That’s why, this year, Sandman Hotels are making it their mission to give back to children and teens in need with an important charity campaign.

gift of giving

From November 15, 2012 to January 15, 2013 all 42 hotels across the nation will participate in Sandman’s ‘Gift of Giving’ promotion which, in partnership with Kids Help Phone, will raise funds and awareness for Canada’s only national non-profit youth counselling service. A trailblazer for essential youth services in Canada, Kids Help Phone remains the go-to service for kids, teens and young adults. Its professional counsellors offer help and hope on more than 55 issues that are of concern to kids today. That’s why Sandman is proud to join forces with them.

For the season, Sandman will be donating $1 from every reservation made under their ‘Gift of Giving’ rate to Kids Help Phone, with all donations matched by Sandman Hotel Group.

Why Kids Help Phone?

“In light of recent events not only with youth in Canada, but across the globe, we felt that it was important for Sandman to foster a Canadian-run network for youth this season,” says Salim Kassam, Vice President of Marketing for Sandman Hotel Group. “Our Company has strong family values, and we are invested in Canada’s children and teenagers, so we feel that Kids Help Phone provides one of the most vital services for kids of all ages these days.”

A Few Facts about Kids Help Phone KHP_EN_1C_RGB

In case you didn’t know, Kids Help Phone provides Canada’s leading toll-free, bilingual, and anonymous online and phone counselling and referral service for children and youth. As a non-profit group, they rely heavily on the support of companies and donors from across the country to ensure that every kid has someone to talk to in a time of need.

Available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day they also ensure that no call for help goes unheard, and their dedication is something that Sandman is proud to support.

‘No matter what young people contact us about – bullying, school, pressures, problems at home – Kids Help Phone’s professional counsellors are always there to provide non-judgemental support to kids from anywhere in Canada,” says Sharon Wood, President and CEO of Kids Help Phone. “Our service is available 24 hours a day, but we can only be there KHP_FR_1C_RGBfor kids through the financial assistance and support of companies and donors. We are delighted that Sandman Hotel Group has joined us in our mission to ensure young people across Canada always have someone to turn to. Thank you Sandman for reminding everyone that we, as individuals and as a caring community, can make a difference.”

Sandman Hotel Group will also be offering special room rates for those who book under the ‘Gift of Giving’ rate, which makes it the perfect present not only for you, but for the kids too!

To find out more about Sandman Hotel Group’s ‘Gift of Giving’ promotion, go to http://www.sandmanhotels.ca/giving

To find out more about Kids Help Phone, go to http://www.kidshelpphone.ca