Ballet With the Ball: A Love Story

women's world cup, FIFA
Originally published by John Lanchester, National Geographic, June 2006

Why do we fall in love with soccer? What happens?

At some deep level, the reason soccer snags us is that good soccer is beautiful, and it’s difficult, and the two are related.

A team kicking the ball to each other, passing into empty space that is suddenly filled by a player who wasn’t there two seconds ago and who is running at full pelt and who without looking or breaking stride knocks the ball back to a third player who he surely can’t have seen, who, also at full pelt and without breaking stride, then passes the ball, at say 60 miles an hour, to land on the head of a fourth player who has run 75 yards to get there and who, again all in stride, jumps and heads the ball with, once you realize how hard this is, unbelievable power and accuracy toward a corner of the goal just exactly where the goalkeeper, executing some complex physics entirely without conscious thought and through muscle-memory, has expected it to be, so that all this grace and speed and muscle and athleticism and attention to detail and power and precision will never appear on a score sheet and will be forgotten by everybody a day later–this is the strange fragility, the evanescence of soccer.

It’s hard to describe and it is even harder to do, but it does have a deep beauty, a beauty hard to talk about and that everyone watching a game discovers for themselves, a secret thing, and this is the reason why soccer, which has so much ugliness around it and attached to it, still sinks so deeply into us: Because it is, it can be, so beautiful.


women's world cup

The 2015 FIFA Women's World Cup is finally here!

Canadian Living magazine went behind the scenes with the Canadian national women's soccer team. From superstitions to pre-game food to the musicians they rock out to (you won't believe who!), here are the secrets to team Canada's success.

How do you celebrate a win?
“Usually by singing Celine Dion … After one of our big wins last year, or a couple of years in the Cyprus Cups, we had the stereo system in the locker room and we popped in Celine Dion and started singing at the top of our lungs. And that’s usually, as a team, what we do. If anybody walked by they’d think: What a bunch of crazy Canadians. I can’t sing worth anything, but I am singing at the top of my lungs.”
– Goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc, 31 years old, from Maple Ridge, B.C.

“A lot of dancing, music … (and, after a tournament) Celine Dion’s Power of Love, that’s a good one.”
– Forward Melissa Tancredi, 29, Hamilton, Ont.

“Usually in the locker room we end up singing some kind of Celine Dion song … You can thank Karine LeBlanc for that one.”
– Forward Christine Sinclair, 27, from Burnaby, B.C.

women's world cup

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten from a coach?
“Just to be confident in my own skill and my own ability and just to believe in myself. As a girl growing up you’re not expected to be boisterous or look into yourself and be who you are, it’s always like ‘stay in the back, be a team player.’ For a coach to come up to you and say ‘you’re better than you think you are,’ and to push it out of you is the best advice I’ve ever gotten.”
– M.T.

The team’s pre-game rituals
“Music is a must. And, for me, when I put my shin guards on and my cleats, and even when I get my ankles taped, it’s always left side first …”
– M.T.

More of the team’s pre-game rituals
“Left to right: you’ve gotta put on everything from left to right (when getting dressed for the game). And definitely say a prayer. I always say a prayer right before I enter the field and during the national anthem.”
– K.L.

“I always have to make sure my laces are tied extremely tight before a game. If they’re too lose it sets me off.”
– Forward Jonelle Filigno, 20, from Mississauga, Ont.

women's world cup

Favourite pre-game meals
“My pre-game meal is always a big plate of pasta.”
– J.F.

“Pre-game it’s usually plain, simple pasta. Especially with an Italian as a head coach, she’s all about the pasta and the crostata before a game.”
– C.S.

“Actually a lot of us have been taking these goo packets, which are supposed to be a lot of simple sugars right before we play and they taste like chocolate icing, so they’re delicious.”
– Midfielder Diana Matheson, 27, from Oakville, Ont.

Post-game snacks
“Post-game, right away we have Parmesan. It’s gonna sound weird to people but Parmesan is what I look forward to. Parmesan is the first thing we eat in the locker room, as weird as that sounds. I’m a cheese-lover, too, so it works.”
– M.T.

“Certain members of our team are obsessed with Parmesan cheese. I’m not quite there: It’s hard for me to want to stick a brick of Parmesan cheese in my mouth after a game!”
– C.S.


As a Canadian owned and operated company, with hotels in both Canada and the UK, Sandman Hotel Group is excited to cheer for both Team Canada and Team England. Who will you be cheering for?

Click here for a full tournament schedule.

World Cup, women's world cup, FIFA

Love is in the air And it smells romantic!

love_124610029 quote

Valentine’s Day = Love & Romance.

Every February, across the world, candy, flowers, and gifts are exchanged between loved ones all in the name of romance.

Roses
The rose, which is undoubtedly the most popular flower in the world, speaks of love and has been the choice of lovers in every century. If you rearrange the letters of the word rose you get Eros, the god of Love.

Cupidcupid
Cupid was one of the gods of mythology. In Latin, the word Cupid means “desire”. Cupid is typically represented as a chubby, naked, winged boy or youth with a mischievous smile. He possessed a bow with a quiver of arrows by which he transfixed the hearts of youths and maidens. Cherubs are descendants of Cupid. They are depicted as lovable little winged creatures without arrows and quivers. Cherubs were typically not mischievous like Cupid.

Dinner and a movie are nice, but why not step it up? February 14th is the perfect excuse to go all out for a loved one and do something you normally wouldn’t do.


love_114016054Sparkling, wine, chocolates, breakfast in bed… No matter where you are in Canada, Sandman has the perfect, romantic packages to spoil your loved one.

Sandman Hotel & Suites Calgary Airport has an ideal romantic weekend getaway for you and your significant other. Each Romance Package includes:

  • Accommodations
  • $30 gift card to Moxie’s Grill & Bar
  • A bottle of sparkling wine
  • Late (2 pm) check-out

Celebrate love at Sandman Hotel Langley this Valentine’s Day with the ideal romantic getaway. Each Romance Package includes:

  • Accommodations in an Executive Queen Suite
  • A dozen roses
  • $10 gift voucher to Denny’s per night
  • A bottle of sparkling wine

Sandman Signature Langley Hotel would like to make this Valentine’s Day your best one yet. Each Romance Package includes:

  • Accommodations in the Executive Jacuzzi Suite
  • Sparkling wine
  • A dozen flowers
  • Chocolates

Every day is Valentine’s Day at Sandman Hotel Penticton. With beautiful surroundings and an array of activities, we know you will create unforgettable, romantic memories. Each Romance Package includes:

  • Accommodations
  • A bottle of sparkling wine
  • Chocolate covered strawberries

Book Sandman Signature Prince George Hotel‘s Romance Package and let us take care of the details. Each Romance Package includes:

  • Accommodations in the Honeymoon or Executive Jacuzzi Suite
  • A bottle of sparkling wine
  • A dozen roses
  • A box of chocolates

Everyone deserves a special Valentine’s Day which is why Sandman Hotel Saskatoon is offering two amazing packages, ensuring there is something for everyone.

Package 1

  • A box of chocolates
  • $50 gift card to Shark Club Bar & Grill
  • Complimentary upgrade to the next best room type

Package 2

  • $40 Denny’s gift card
  • Kids amenities (chocolates, chips, and candy)
  • Complimentary upgrade to the next best room type

Sandman Signature Toronto Airport Hotel would like to present you with the ideal romantic getaway for you and your significant other. Each Romance Package includes:

  • Accommodations in one of our romantic Signature Suites
  • A bottle of sparkling wine
  • Breakfast in bed

Enjoy a night of decadence in a Penthouse Suite at Sandman Signature Vancouver Airport Hotel & Resort. Each Romance Package includes:

  • A bottle of sparkling wine
  • Chocolate covered strawberries
  • $20 gift certificate to Chop Steakhouse & Bar

love_151436003

Falling in love with British Columbia & Alberta, all over again

Beautiful British Columbia and Wild Rose Country are complete understatements when it come to one of the most beautiful videos ever shot.

Ben Brown, an English videographer, truly encapsulated the beauty and thrill of living in Canada and makes everyone want to get out there and travel.

Watch this mind blowing video and tell us your favourite part. Enjoy!

Stay Warm with Sandman This Winter

Stay warmThe cold winter months have very few redeeming qualities. Many animals find that the best thing to do is simply sleep through it while studies show that human beings sleep more during the winter months as well. One of the few redeeming qualities of winter is snow.

There are few things more magical than looking out the window from your house and discovering those first flurries gently falling to the ground. Then the snow builds up outside our houses and we know the time has come to put on warm slippers, a cozy blanket, and curl up with some hot chocolate.

If snow and cold weather aren’t your thing, don’t worry. Sandman is the perfect place to stay warm this winter.

This winter, the Sandman hotels across British Columbia have the perfect offers to keep you warm.

Sandman Signature Kamloops Hotel

CorpKingDon’t let the winter blues get you down…
Sandman Signature Kamloops Hotel has the perfect warm-up package for you.

Experience British Columbia’s Friendliest City this winter with exclusive rates sure to keep you warm during the cold winter months. Simply book this offer before December 31, 2014 and save 25% off the Best Available Rate. There’s never been an easier way to stay warm and get away at the same time. Book Now

Sandman Hotel Revelstoke

SAND Revelstoke_Lobby 3It pays to plan ahead!

Reserve and pay for your winter getaway booking a minimum of 21 days in advance and save 15% off the Best Available Rate.

Now that’s savings made easy. Book Now

Sandman Hotel & Suites Kelowna

SAND_Kelowna_TowerSuite02Get the royal treatment with Sandman Kelowna’s Suite Deal!

For a limited time you can book an Executive Tower King Suite for $159 (normally starts at $184)! You’ll also receive a $50 gift certificate to Chop per reservation.

With over $75 in savings, you don’t want to miss out on the suitest deal in town!  Book your reservation online today. Book Now

Sandman Signature Vancouver Airport Hotel & Resort

SIG_Vancouver Airport_ExteriorPlan your weekend getaway with Sandman signature Vancouver Airport Hotel & Resort and receive incredible savings.  Book the Weekend Best and save as much as $50 on your accommodations!

Make your reservation online or call us at 1-800-SANDMAN (726-3626).

Sandman Hotel Penticton

poolWant to save while you stay with Sandman? Sandman Penticton’s got the perfect package for you. Simply book 2 or more nights and receive 15% off the Best Available Rate for a room of your choice.

Home to some of BC’s most celebrated wineries and surrounded  by picturesque lakes, mountains and  scenery, you can experience all that Penticton has to offer while enjoying our wonderful accommodations. Book Now

See you this winter!

Which way to the beach?

Whether you’re looking for a stretch of sand to spread out and relax with a good book, an outdoor court to spike a volleyball, or a catwalk to strut your stuff, Vancouver’s got it. You’ll easily find a beach everywhere you turn.

The following is a list of some of the best beaches in the city.

Kitsilano Beach

Kitsilano Beach

If Vancouver is “Hollywood North,” then Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach – or “Kits Beach” to the locals – is our Venice Beach. Buff and bronzed bodies are sure to make their rounds but don’t be wary, you’re sure to fit in somewhere amidst the mix of joggers, stroller-pushing families, sun-worshippers, and everyday loungers. Grassy patches above the tide line are perfect for tossing the disc, the tennis courts are always popular, and the beach attracts volleyball players from all over the city. And don’t forget Kits Pool where kids and adults can splash away the day in an outdoor, heated salt-water pool with a wrap-around view of the city, ocean, and mountains. It’s almost three times the size of an Olympic pool.

Jericho Beach

Jericho Beach

When all the elements are right, fishing and a picnic at the Jericho Beach pier makes for a perfect evening. Enjoy the long, sandy stretch with stunning views of the North Shore Mountains and downtown core. It’s also a great spot for sailing, windsurfing, sea kayaking, and beach volleyball.

Spanish Banks

Spanish Banks

To commemorate the discovery of the Spanish explorers in 1792, the British named this particular shore Spanish Banks. The least crowded of Vancouver’s beaches, this stretch of sand is a wonderful retreat for those who wish to escape from the pace of city life. Skimmers alert: this is the perfect place for skim boarding once you learn the optimal tidal conditions.

English Bay

West End Beaches

The southern edge of the West End neighbourhood has two of the most attractive waterfront urban environments – English Bay and Sunset Beach. Amazingly, this large stretch of sand is no more than a 30-minute walk from Sandman Hotel Vancouver City Centre and an easy 10-minute walk from Sandman Suites Vancouver Davie – Street, with no commercial exploitation intruding on the peaceful environment. In summer, English Bay becomes a jumping off point for rollerblading adventures, strolling for ice cream, and picnics. Kids will love the floating slide and parents will appreciate the full time lifeguard. It’s also the place to lay down your blanket and look up to the sky during the Honda Celebration of Light international fireworks competition (2014 dates: July 26th, 30th & August 2nd)

Third Beach

Second & Third Beaches

Second Beach is a quick stroll north from English Bay into Stanley Park. Like Kitsilano Beach, Second Beach also has an immense, heated outdoor pool. Further along the seawall lies secluded Third Beach, which is due north of Stanley Park Drive. Locals tote grills and coolers to this spot, a popular place for summer evening barbecues and sunset watching.

Wreck Beach

Wreck Beach

This six-kilometre long, secluded beach is Canada’s first and largest, legal, clothing-optional beach. It’s located at the western tip of Vancouver, adjacent to the University of British Columbia campus, down a long flight of steep stairs. On a summer weekend, as many as 14,000 visitors flock to the beach which stretches from the Musqueam Reserve to Spanish Banks West. Vendors Row, located down the middle of the beach below Trail 6, offers snacks and refreshments. Note: Wreck Beach enthusiasts are a loyal and protective bunch who take their right to “bare” arms, legs and everything else pretty seriously.

Why Waste Time at the Beach?

Research shows that the sound of waves alters wave patterns in the brain lulling you into a deeply relaxed state. Relaxing in this way can help rejuvenate the mind and body.

Also, floating in water means blood is diverted around from our lower limbs and pumped towards our abdominal region – the part of the body near the heart – because we are no longer standing upright. Fresh blood being pumped around the body brings more oxygen to our brain which makes us more alert and active.

Fresh air for sleep

If you’ve ever wondered why we always sleep more soundly after spending the day on the beach, it’s because of the sea air. Sea air is charged with healthy negative ions that accelerate our ability to absorb oxygen. Negative ions also balance levels of seratonin, a body chemical linked with mood and stress. Which is why after a holiday you feel more alert, relaxed, and energized.

So next time you’re looking for an excuse to spend the day at the beach, the real question is, “Which beautiful Vancouver beach?”