Saturday, January 22, 2011

San Juan Islands #2 on New York Times To Places to Visit List

With my Frommers Guide to the San Juan Islands due out any moment, it seems fitting to share this news.

The New York Times 2011 top destinations list IN THE WORLD includes these islands as Number 2!
To quote the NYT: “From the beaches of Mexico to the wilds of Kurdistan, the places on this year’s list take you to the end of the world and back.” So you can imagine that the San Juan folks are pretty chuffed at the recognition .... as I am since the new Frommers guide already includes what this prestigeous paper reveals.
The article praises the Islands’ amazing nature, and its dining scene, including Chef Lisa Nakamura’s new Allium Restaurant on Orcas Island, in Eastsound Village. The “eternal lure of the San Juans” is credited to its landscapes where “pastoral hills give way to broody forests and scrappy escarpments that overlook fjordlike inlets.” Praise is given for the recent annexation of Mitchell Hill to the San Juan Island National Historical Park, active land preservation efforts by organizations such as the San Juan County Land Bank, and the preservation from development of the spectacular Watmough Bay Preserve on Lopez Island with its “moody water as magically lighted as a Bierstadt painting.” The San Juan Islands were last honored on a New York Times annual list in 2008, in its “31 Places to Go this Summer” in the United States. In that list, the San Juans held the #14 position.

Other Pacific Northwest destinations chosen for the “41 Places to Go in 2011” list include two San Juan Islands neighbors: Olympic National Park, Washington (#27) and Whistler, British Columbia (#25). Other world destinations chosen for the 2011 list include Santiago, Chile (in the #1 position), The Danube, Zanzibar, Budapest and Singapore, to name a few.

To read the entire article, please go to or use the shortened link of

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Now here's a travel evolution - launched today in Vancouver.

Ever dreamt of jumping in a helicopter pilot seat and soaring over some of this province’s finest glaciers, rivers, waterfalls and forests… in your pyjamas? Well now's your chance -- virtually.

The Vancouver-based northStudio360 has just developed an interactive, 360-degree helicopter video of some of BC’s most visually-stunning landscape. These techno wizards have created a web-based video by using a custom-built rig to which they strapped six cameras to a pole and hung it out of a helicopter while flying over a 150 km track of stunning coastal mainland. To finalize the product, northStudio360 used their proprietary video merging software for a seamless flying experience.

"Until now, 360 video really gave only a ground level look at our world. We’ve literally taken this technology to new heights," said Ryan Whitehead, president of northStudio360. "We teamed up with Nimmo Bay Resort, one of North America’s top heli-adventure destinations, to showcase the wild West Coast. With the push of a button, you’re in the pilot’s seat: fly inches off the surface of a river or soar over rugged mountains, it’s entirely up to you."
Due to improvements of internet and processor speeds in the past few years, it’s now possible to deliver higher quality 360-degree video to the public and with much more dynamic views, creating new opportunities for those in the tourism and advertising sectors. In the near-future, northStudio360 plans to create videos where users can stop the footage, insert location tags (Geotag) and upload vacation photos.
To experience the software first-hand, visit

And get set for a wild ride!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Sunset Inn & Suites a REAL Vancouver find

Because I tend to blog when traveling, you might assume that life has been quieter these last couple of months. Until you realize that the last eight weeks have involved all the usual holiday paraphernalia and New Year celebrations. And now that we’re all ensconced into 2011, there’s a real sense of optimism in the air. Despite a still-shaky economy, poor job stats, rising air-fares, and weather-driven misery, horoscopes and intuitive forecasters seem determined to paint a much rosier picture.

So, going with the flow, I’ve started out my New Year in rediscovering hidden treasures of my home city: Vancouver.

Here one of my first finds right off the bat: Sunset Inn & Suites – an apartment style hotel that’s just like living as a resident whether you choose a studio or one-bedroom unit. Recent upgrades have made this modest hi-rise an amazing value-for-money place – very comfortable, spacious, well equipped small kitchens, a wee exercise room, Wi-Fi, a DVD library and even free parking -- a big bonus in any city.

What really stands out is its hospitality. It honestly feels so much more friendly and genuine that the Big Hoteliers just down the road.

And you’ve got to love its central location. Restaurants and coffee houses are on your doorstep. Granville Island and the downtown shopping district are a stone’s throw away. Because of this, Sunset doesn’t have (or need) its own in-house restaurant which gets it listed as a 3.5 star property but trust me, this under-the-radar place offers 5-star service.

Once discovered, it’s the kind of place that will become your home away from home for every visit to Vancouver.

Now THAT'S a bona fide Vancouver greatest getaway!