Victoria is well known for it’s vibrant character, gorgeous views, and temperate weather. But what it’s probably known best for is its stunning gardens. Throughout all of Victoria, you can find hanging flower baskets, beds of pansies and gardenias, as well as our signature English roses. With the sunshine starting to stream in, we thought it would be helpful to compile some of our favourite gardens to explore throughout the city! Next time you feel like you have nothing to do, check out one of these gorgeous sites. You might even learn something!
While Butchart Gardens is the obvious choice for the #1 spot in Victoria for flowers, we thought that the quiet serenity you can find within the Spring Prelude Gardens should at least be mentioned within the list. With rotating designers and horticulturists, this quaint spot offers a different view from every angle, and is filled with some of your favourite flowers, as well as a few ones you probably have never seen before! Featuring a calming koi-pond, boarded walkways, all while in the comfort of the indoors, this garden is a perfect way to dip into the sweetness of spring.
Another local favourite, though on a smaller scale, the Abkhazi Gardens offer an intimate, refined garden experience. With sloping rocks, endangered Garry Oaks, and diligence that has kept this beautiful establishment open for 40+ years, this garden is perfect for those who need some time to reflect and enjoy nature. Built by a couple who dedicated their lives to cultivating this 1.6 acre lot, the love and passion that goes into maintaining their work is clear. And if you’re in need of some light refreshment, there is a public teahouse on the grounds as well. Little known, but well-loved, this is a sure-fire way to enjoy your afternoon.
Maintained by the University of Victoria, this garden is a wonderful sprawl to explore. The Finnerty Gardens have over 4,000 different trees and shrubs with more than 1,500 rhododendron and azalea plants, as well as much more. It also offers a self-guided walking tour, if you wish to educate yourself about the beautiful eco-system that uVic has helped create. The Gardens themselves are free, and offer trails, as well as grassy nooks to have a picnic in. This space offers a calm energy to those who visit, and the large grounds allow privacy for reflection. Another classic, West Coast garden to explore.
Built in memory of a rose-expert husband, this beautiful Rose Garden is situated in the heart of scenic Oak Bay. While the gardens themselves are small, treating yourself to a leisurely stroll from Oak Bay Avenue to these beautiful gardens is sure to help make the trip worth it. With coffee shops, art galleries, and a pottery studio open to the public, there is much to do within Oak Bay. After you’re finished exploring, head straight down the avenue to these stunning gardens. With over 500 blooms of many varieties, this idyllic slice of Victoria is sure to bring out the romantic within you!
While there are many stunning gardens in Victoria, these are the ones I found to be most enjoyable. Are you a fan of any other gardens of Victoria? Comment below and tell us, or let us know if you visited any of the gardens mentioned above!
Premiere Suites Proudly Supports the Victoria Hospitals Foundation at the Visions Gala
This year Premiere Suites Victoria had the pleasure of attending the Visions Gala in support of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. What an incredible event to attend and support! The Visions Gala has been running for 26 years to raise funds for purchasing equipment for Royal Jubilee and Victoria General Hospitals in Victoria. The aim this year was to raise $635,000 for leading edge cardiac equipment in seven areas of cardiac care.
More than 300 community and health care leaders attended this spectacular event at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, which raised an all-time high of $698,000. The night consisted of an exciting live auction where items up for bid included a nature expedition on Newfoundland, a luxury Hawaiian getaway, an Arizona golf vacation, groceries for a year, and so much more. The silent auction included even more travel, artwork, spa packages, and dining & entertainment. We took advantage of the tablets provided to do our bidding over the dinner hour whilst enjoying a gourmet meal. Although we did not take home any auction items, a couple teddy bears from the bear raffle did find loving homes with us! The bear raffle itself was a significant contributor to the event, collecting $16,000 for the cause!
Our fellow Victorian’s continue to give in a big way. Over the course of this 27 year event, $7.8 million has been raised for our two local hospitals. It is an honour to support an organization that works so hard to improve the health care in our community!
Celebrating 150 years of Canadian Pride
Canada 150 marks a celebration like no other. Over 100 free live performances are scheduled for 11 days leading up to the culmination of events this Saturday, where nearly 50,000 proud Canadian’s will gather in Victoria’s Inner Harbour to celebrate what it means to be truly Canadian. For those needing a brief history refresher, Canada Day, formerly known as Dominion Day, marks the historical event in which Canada gained their independence from Great Britain in 1867.
Canada Day celebrations kick off at 12pm on July 1st. The day will be filled with multicultural artistry, diverse food & beverage offerings, and live music, and of course a grand finale fireworks display to commemorate our nation.
Grab your flags and be sure to check out this eventful Canada 150 Day schedule in downtown Victoria:
Main Stage, BC Legislature Lawn:
12pm: Coast Capital Savings living flag tee shirt pickup
2pm: Coast Capital Savings living flag photo
3:00pm: Elder Blessing
3:15pm: Esquimalt Singer & Dancers
3:30pm: Lekwungen Traditional Dancers
3:50pm: “O Canada” – Valdy & The Childrens Choir
4:10pm: Stella Swanson & The Rosie Joyfuls
4:55pm: CIBC Reaffirmation Ceremony
5:30pm: Dirty Mountain
6:15pm: De Temps Antan
7:10pm: En Karma
8:05pm: The Funk Hunters
Harbour Stage, Ship Point Inner Harbour:
12:30pm: Mexican Folklore Dancers
1:15pm: Lilia’s Polynesian Dance Co
2:00pm: To be announced
2:50pm: Sooke Community Choir
3:30pm: Shan-e Punjab
4:15pm: Fortune Killers
6:00pm: Stinging Belle
7:00pm: Deep Sea Gypsies
8:00pm: Band of Rascals
Join Premiere Suites and the Women’s Real Estate Network to find out if Corporate Rentals are right for you!
When: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 to
Where: Premiere Suites, 834 Johnson Street, Victoria, BC
Price: CAD25.00 /per person (Refund policy)
Please come join us and be inspired by an amazing panel of Women real estate investors, business owners and educators. We have an incredible line up of speakers that will be sharing their knowledge, expertise and stories with all of us.
Does the thought of making extra money with a vacation or corporate rental locally or globally get you revved up? Are you confused about the regulations and the amount of work involved? Is a turnkey property that someone else manages for you they ticket for you?
Join Rachelle and Beverly as they give an overview of what to expect and how to prepare to enter this now global billion dollar economy.
President & Managing Partner
Rachelle was teaching French at the University of Victoria when she first heard about Premiere Executive Suites. She was intrigued by a hotel model that utilized fully furnished condos for accommodation, and after some investigating with her business partner they purchased the franchise for Victoria BC. 10 years ago they started with one apartment and $3000, which has now grown to nearly 50 apartments and a staff of 10. In her years of running the Victoria location, Rachelle has enjoyed meeting new guests and clients from all over the world. She enjoys traveling, particularly cycling trips through Europe, and is very fond of French white wines.
Owner and founder of the Magical Marketing Booth, Beverly combines twenty years of diverse experience with her passion and expertise in the tourism and hospitality industry. Bev has held senior sales and marketing roles in the hotel industry and has used her strategic alliances ability to garner exclusive, long-term business agreements with prestigious clients. Bev delights in using her creativity to offer clients unique insights, perspectives and relationships gained through consistent and proven successes.
Her “magical” ability is in her enthusiasm for matching a large network of suppliers and buyers in the leisure, luxury, corporate, incentive, and educational markets. Her strong community involvement spans tourism and chamber boards, chairing organizations such as Vancouver Island Meeting Planners & Suppliers, the Liaison Committee of CFB Esquimalt, Friends of Protecteur, VI South Film Commission, and the Victoria Hospital Foundation. Bev plays golf, is dedicated to her family and friends, and loves to travel and experience new adventures. Premiere Suites Victoria is thrilled to have Beverly join our team! Her warm, outgoing demeanor and drive for professional growth are an inspiration to us all.
Experienced Bylaw Officer
Eleven years in municipal government with five years focused on bylaw enforcement in two of Vancouver Island’s largest municipalities. In this general overview, Mia will highlight common enforcement matters to consider before buying a property and how to manage your way through the compliance process should a violation occur. The key is understanding the regulations and doing your due diligence.
6:15pm – Registration
6:30pm – Laurie & Liza welcome and real estate up-dates
7:00pm – Mia Frankl
7:30pm – Rachelle Keeley & Beverly Booth
8:00pm – Discussions, questions, roundtable
Your $25 Pre-Paid admission will include an evening of real estate knowledge, networking with like-minded women, a glass of wine and light snacks.
We look forward to seeing you there!
The 10 Things You MUST do During the Holiday Season in Victoria BC
Victoria is a magical place, and it truly comes alive during the holiday season. The city is adorned with twinkling lights, carolers and buskers liven up the streets, and festivals & events take place in every neighbourhood. Premiere Suites Victoria has narrowed down the top 10 events you do not want to miss this holiday season!
1) Vote for your favourite Christmas tree while supporting the Victoria Hospitals Foundation at the 25th Annual Festival of the Trees. Hosted by both the Fairmont Empress Hotel and the Bay Centre this year, you will look up in wonder at 85 beautifully & creatively decorated trees
2) Magic of Christmas at the Butchart Gardens is a holiday tradition that you do not want miss. This family friendly, pet friendly event runs the month of December into early January, and features the “12 Days of Christmas” light display throughout the gardens, along with festive brass bands and Christmas carollers, as well as outdoor ice skating.
3) Beat the crowds at the malls and visit Father Christmas in Old Town. You can get your picture taken and share your holiday wishes with this jolly spirit at the Royal BC Museum. Santa will be waiting for you on Fridays-Sundays from 11am-3pm on the first 3 weekends in December.
4) Feast your senses on the creative inspirations constructed entirely by holiday gingerbread! The Inn at Laurel Point is host to Canada’s National Gingerbread Showcase, where professional and amateur bakers alike display their masterpieces for all to enjoy.
5) The boats in Victoria’s Inner Harbour are lit up in a vibrant display of Christmas lights during the Marina Light Up. Take in the delightful display as you wander the downtown causeway with a loved one, hot chocolate in hand.
6) On Saturday December 3rd, come be a part of the Ogden Point Christmas Light Up in support of the Mustard Seed. Stay and see the IEOA Lighted Truck Parade, which begins at Ogden Point at 6:30pm and arrives at the Western Speedway by 8:30pm with many viewing locations in between!
7) Marvel at the lights of Centennial Square and downtown Victoria from atop the 20 meter Ferris Wheel Ride. Santa will be there, along with food vendors and holiday entertainers – sure to make this a memorable Christmas event.
8) There is no better place to do your Christmas shopping than at one of the many Christmas Markets offered in Victoria. Find that perfect something for that special someone in your life made by a local vendor with love.
9) Bundle up and bring the family down to the Delta Victoria Ocean Point Resort to enjoy one of Victoria’s great Christmas traditions – Christmas Starlight Cinema in the Inner Harbour. Don’t forget your lawn chair, blanket, and warm drinks – heaters provided by the hotel.
10) Unleash your Christmas spirit as you sign and dance along with the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir. You will have a hard time staying seated through the high-energy sounds of Motown, R&B, Gospel, and Raggae!
The message is clear, concise, and simple. “I attract to my life whatever I give my attention, energy, and focus to, whether positive or negative.” This is the Law of Attraction in a nutshell. I have to admit the first time I was introduced to the Law of Attraction I was a little skeptical. I hadn’t yet heard about the theory, and it was my old boss who gave me a CD to watch at home. Did you see I just dated myself there? Ah well. Disk in hand, my 20 year old brain immediately sent off warning bells because a) it was work related (or so I thought), b) I thought self help was cheesy (20 year olds have it all figured out, right?), and c) in no way was I going to volunteer 2 hours of my evening without getting paid (I had a lot to learn). Except that I did volunteer those hours and I did take something from it. I may not have been acutely aware of it, but my life did seem to take a turn for the better. My career was taking off, I got married, achieved awards, won a free cruise, and several months later yet another free trip. I felt lucky. Really lucky. I did get a little carried away with the luck factor and started buying lottery tickets for the first time in my life. Of course I wasn’t THAT lucky, but it did make me really think about it all. Maybe it wasn’t luck bringing me all these successes, but my own positive energy enabling me to create these things I wanted in my life.
What prompted this thought is the arrival of an anticipated event in Victoria. Michael Losier is a motivational speaker, radio host, and bestselling author the Law of Attraction. He is hosting a full day event to teach you how to apply the Law of Attraction to your advantage so you can use Law of Attraction deliberately to attract more ideal customers, clients, opportunities, and resources for a successful business. Register for the full day event on October 1st here: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/michael-losier-law-of-attraction-tickets-27317255647
With Labour Day behind us and temperatures reaching into the 20’s, the stage was set for a weekend of indulgence as thousands gathered at the Royal Athletic Park for the annual Great Canadian Beer Festival. The energy was high as people sipped on local and national brews reaching as far east as Nova Scotia. Victorians are serious about their beer, with artisanal beers gaining popularity every year. Listen beyond the buzz of tipsy chatter and you will hear conversations about lactic fermentation, quinoa and amaranth composition, cask conditioning, aromatics, finishes, and how toasted coconut and curry powder add a whole new meaning to India Pale Ale. Victoria’s own Spinnaker’s featured local ingredients this year, with fresh hops grown right on site at Spinnakers, and local honey being showcased in their Queen Bee Honey Kolsch. Albeit a beer festival, crowds gathered at Tod Creek Cider, who featured an organic triple-hopped craft cider. Music kept the vibe elevated throughout the day, and food trucks satiated the festival goers so they could keep drinking until the end.
For one magical weekend we came together to celebrate two things that go together so well. Canada and Beer: a match made in heaven.
One of my favouite events in Victoria is just around the corner. My taste buds feel like 10,000 tiny children waiting for Christmas to arrive, fiery with anticipation of the scrumptiousness soon to follow: Dine Around Victoria, 2016. You will be salivating, too, once you check out the menu’s offered at over 60 participating restaurants. 60! Good thing the event runs until March, because with 3 course menu’s prepared at $20, $30, $40, or even $50, there is a LOT to choose from.
Oh and I must mention this. If you are at all like me and could spend hours perusing the menus, narrowing down the Can’t-Miss-List from obscenely long to acceptably long (if you were to eat out every day that is)… you will probably want to pencil the Dine Around Launch Party into your schedule.
From 5:00-8:00pm on February 18th, 25+ restaurants have prepared bite sized samples to showcase their Dine Around menu, along featured craft beers from VQA wines to compliment. The Victoria Conference Centre is where you will want to be on February 18; tickets available online at http://www.ticketrocket.co/event/details/87113/dine-around-stay-in-town-menu-launch or at the Victoria Visitor Centre and Spinnakers Spirit Merchant Stores.
In the meantime, you can find me curled up at home in front of the fire with a glass of wine a good menu:
If you are looking for something to engage and inspire you this month, the Belfry Theatre’s feature play, “The Valley” is running through the month of February, and is drawing praise nationwide:
“A wonderful piece of writing…not to be missed” Toronto Star
“Relentlessly topical – and deeply empathetic” The Globe and Mail
“Macleod has a wonderful ear and eye for the everyday details of Canadian life.” Calgary Herald
The strength and fragility of everyday people is the cornerstone of Joan MacLeod’s work and The Valley is her latest gem. In this timely and moving story, a dramatic police encounter binds four people together – a mother and her teenage son, a policeman and his wife. How they – and all of us – are connected is the stuff of great drama.
Located in the friendly Fernwood neighbourhood at 1291 Gladstone Avenue, the Belfry is a professional not-for-profit theatre company that produces contemporary theatre with an emphasis on Canadian work. I encourage you to visit Belfry Theatre’s website for play schedules and calendar of events: http://www.belfry.bc.ca/calendar/
I love summer. I am a summer gal through and through. The warm lazy days that stretch late into the night. The smell of barbeque in air. The sound of lawnmowers and the smell of fresh cut grass. The feel of the sun warming your back. There is so much to love about summer. Did I mention the long summer days? How could one not feel on top of their game with so many hours of daylight energizing you through long lists of tasks and engagements? …So what happens when the leaves start to fall, the wind carries a bite, and the clocks fall back? Halloween comes and goes with a stir of excitement, and then I catch myself whispering of summer’s distant return. But I am determined not to live half a life, one that not just thrives when the sun warms you from above and the wind is at your back, but one that can be equally as rewarding in darker (wetter) days. I am a firm believer that there is a silver lining to everything, even the seasons. With the arrival of Autumn comes an opportunity for change, reflection, and growth. Growing up, Autumn marked the start of a new school year, a chance to meet new friends, take new classes, and try new things. A fresh start if you will. That feeling has instilled within me to this day.
So as much as you may long to stay in bed with a good book on a rainy day (and there is something to be said for that), this post is about inspiring you to get outside and experience some fall friendly activities on our treasured Vancouver Island.
1. Goldstream Park. Running mid to late October through to early December, Goldstream Park is home to the world class salmon spawning stream with thousands of Chum Salmon returning every year. Did you know that salmon see reds, purples, and pinks very well? Avoid wearing these colours to get an up close look at fish actively building nests and watch for spawning behavior. Make a day of it and bring something to cook up on the BBQ pits in the day use area along the river. The forest canopy provides a natural umbrella in drizzly weather.
2. Craft fairs. Many Christmas Craft Fairs begin in November, and why not get a head start on your list by supporting local artisans at the same time? Who doesn’t love some hand knits, preserves, and Christmas baking? Check out:
3. Pamper yourself at the Spa. Everyone deserves a little pampering every once in a while. Victoria hosts some incredible spas, and my personal favourites are located just outside the city: Sante Spa at Bear Mountain (http://bearmountain.ca/Westin-Hotel/Spa) and Brentwood Bay Spa (http://www.brentwoodbayresort.com/spa/spa-overview.htm). Also worth noting are the Spa Magnolia, Spa Sereine (the 30 minute Indian Head Massage is incredible), Sapphire Day Spa, and Silk Road.
4. Take a winery tour. You need look for farther than our own backyard to find some incredible wineries. Just a short drive to Mill Bay (mini-roadtrip!) will bring you to one of my favourite wineries, Cherry Point Estate Wines. Although the bistro closes at the end of September, tours and tastings are offered year round. Do not miss the chance to try the Cowichan Blackberry Dessert Wine. It’s like summer in a glass. Oops, there I go again…. http://cherrypointestatewines.com/
5. Take a cooking class. Fall is the perfect time to learn a new recipe or two. Companies such as the London Chef, Cook Culture, and Olive the Senses offer classes for foodies and beginners alike. My husband came home the other day from a corporate team building day at the London Chef with a pocket full of Eastern recipes. Being the one who normally does the cooking, I just about jumped out of my skin with excitement. And that got me to thinking, wouldn’t this be a fun idea for a birthday party?
6. Shop (for weather appropriate clothes). I grew up in Ontario where the seasons were extreme. If it wasn’t too cold to go out, it was often too hot, too humid, too stormy. To prevent us all from going stir-crazy in the house, my mom would load us kids up into the Chevy and take us to the mall. A change of scenery did us all wonders, and a little retail therapy never hurt either. I have come to learn that owning a comfortable, quality, water-proof jacket is KEY to surviving winter in Victoria. That and a pair of rain boots. I have not put my feet into rubber footwear since elementary school, and that is nearly 20 years of wet sneakers and soggy leather boots. I stand converted. If you do not have a pair in your current collection of footwear, make that be your next investment! If you are looking for a place to shop, I encourage you to branch outside of the malls for a taste of locally designed men’s and women’s fashion boutiques found on trendy Lojo (lower Johnson St). You can also find an eclectic mix of independent delis, boutiques, bookstores, toy stores and more at the seaside village of Oak Bay Avenue.
7. Walk the breakwater. Cozy up with hot chocolate and lots of layers and go embrace the elements. The 850 m. iconic breakwater was built between 1914 and 1916 to protect the Ogden Point piers which were being constructed simultaneously in anticipation of a trade increase due to the nearing completion of the Panama Canal. Yes it will be windy, wavy, and wet… but that is the point! (refer to point #6)
8. Plan a trip. The internet is great for researching destinations and reading reviews, but I strongly encourage you to get out of the house and go visit a travel agent. Let them tantalize you with exotic destinations, load you up with glossy brochures, and build you a custom itinerary. Even if you are not ready to book just yet, the process will bring you that much closer to making it a reality. In the meantime, it doesn’t hurt to dream a little dream…
9. Leaf through the volumes in Booktown. Sometimes there’s just something about wandering around a bookstore and discovering new things that Amazon can’t beat. Visit Munro’s Books on Government Street — recognized as one of the 10 most beautiful books stores in the world.
10. Be a tourist in your own town. I went out yesterday and bought a travel guide book for Victoria. I have also lived here for 20 years. Yet, there is so much yet to discover, this I am sure. Venture somewhere new, or revisit a long forgotten site and see it through new eyes. I must mention one of Canada’s most beautiful and diverse heritage estates, Hatley Castle. Built in 1908 for coal baron and Premier, James Dunsmuir, this 40-room mansion is a classified heritage building.