Lifestyle & Parenting

Queen of Green

April 12, 2017

Blending European old-world charm with a modern-day focus on sustainability, B.C.’s capital makes for a truly supernatural weekend away. —Michelle Hopkins


stay. Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel epitomizes elegance (we can just picture those turn-of-the-century ladies, dressed in their finest, strolling the halls). It also places a major modern-day focus on sustainability. Opened in 1908, Canada’s own “Castle on the Coast” has been undergoing a facelift in the past year; dignified as ever, she now sports a more youthful look, with extra “eco-chic” aspects to boot—from a culinary team that incorporates sustainable ingredients from the abundance of farms on Vancouver Island in all its menus to a “stay green” package. Be sure to check out the 400,000 resident honeybees in the gardens (and look for their fresh honey in your drinks) and don’t miss out on meeting Roger, the hotel’s resident yellow-bellied marmot, who ensures proceeds are donated to the local marmot association. And, if going green also means staying gold to you, go for the Fairmont’s renewed gold-level offerings, featuring luxe rooms (ours overlooked the city’s spectacular harbour) and flawless service that will make you feel like royalty.


savour. Gastronomy neither the Queen nor Mother Nature would snub her nose at? Find it first at Fishhook, where former Top Chef Canada contender Kunal Ghose concocts Indian fare served Mexican style, with menu items ranging from handcrafted spiced wild seafood koftas to a “red shred” salad that will make your palate sing (maintaining Ocean Wise, local and organic standards, natch). And don’t you dare leave Victoria without a dinner at 10 Acres Kitchen, where most of the ingredients hail from proprietor Mike Murphy’s own organic farm. Finally, give culinary kudos to Q at the Empress; order the sustainably sourced seafood cioppino and you just might want to lick your plate clean.


sip. Lift your sustainable spirits with a tour of Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse, located on the city’s outskirts. Indulge in a flight of crisp made-on-site ciders while overlooking endless rows of organic orchards and the shimmering blue ocean. Next, head to one of Canada’s oldest small-batch spirits companies, Victoria Distillers, for a tasting tour; be sure to ask about the Empress 1908 gin, launching in May. Last but not least, the Empress’ own Q Cocktail Bar serves a signature cocktail, the Empress Sour—a delightful mix of pisco, ginger syrup and grapefruit—that’s not to be missed.


step out. No green visit to Victoria would be complete without at least one “supernatural” encounter. Starting from the entrance of East Sooke Regional Park, we wove our way through the West Coast wilderness with hiking guide and owner of The Natural Connection, Ryan LeBlanc. Trekking for two hours through lush rainforest, we emerged high on a crest overlooking the windswept rocky coastline of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A Kodak moment, for sure.


say "cheese". Speaking of Kodak moments, if you aim to feel like an A-lister, hire Flytographer (this unique vacation photography service, offered in 200 cities around the world, was actually launched by Victoria’s own Nicole Smith back in 2013) to capture your travel memories. As we went from the Parliament buildings to the waterfront and back to the Empress, people stared at us—some even stopped to get a better look. What fun our 30 minutes of fame were (and no blurry selfies, to boot)!


shop. Spending green takes on new meaning in Victoria, where many retailers make ethical shopping the norm. At Hemp & Company, clothing, edible seeds and even eyewear are made from (you guessed it) hemp and other sustainable materials, while the Good Planet Company is a hub for green bedding, bath and baby products, plus. At Not Just Pretty, founder Pam Skelton procures well-designed clothing, accessories, shoes, bags and beauty products using as many eco-friendly criteria as possible, while family-run Nezza Naturals creates all-natural body, bath and home-care products (grab a bottle of broccoli seed hair serum for shiny locks, and say hello to Aloe, official French bulldog mascot for the brand’s pet-care line).


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