I went west (for the first time ever)… and I liked it!
Friends and followers are normally surprised to learn that I have yet to fully discover Canada’s west coast. A jet setter at heart, I’ve preferred to stick to more tropical destinations, always using a sandy beach as my go-to escape. However, if there’s a time to roam our beautiful land, this is the year to do it!
Canada’s 150th birthday has inspired me to see more of our country. Last month, I received an invitation to visit the Land of Lemurs at the Calgary Zoo. Knowing it would be an excellent learning opportunity for my boys, and, selfishly, a chance to visit Alberta for the first time, I enthusiastically accepted. I made a list of things I wanted to see and do, and four hours later, we were in the heart of cow town!
I feel like we accomplished so much in three days, mainly because Calgary seems to have everything in super close proximity. We rented a vehicle for a chance to do a little sightseeing in Banff and Lake Louise, but if you cabbed it straight from the airport to downtown Calgary, you’d also have easy access to a huge assortment of activities. Here’s what our itinerary looked like.
Day 1. We booked a morning flight to make the most of the time change, gaining two hours as we coasted into Calgary at 10:00am. From there, we picked up our car rental and drove straight to Banff, basking in the wonderfully scenic landscapes along the way. Just 90 minutes from the city center, there’s no better place to truly appreciate the awe-inspiring beauty of Canada like Lake Louise and neigbouring Moraine Lake.
While the views were spectacular in summer, I’ve heard that they’re absolutely breathtaking in winter. So if you’re looking for a great Canadian destination to visit over the next few months, take note!
Returning from our sightseeing, we checked into the beautiful Westin Calgary. Centrally located in the heart of the downtown district, the hotel offers spacious accommodations, including striking views and signature perks such as Westin’s Heavenly Bed and Heavenly Bath.
Day 2. We spent a fun-filled day at the Calgary Zoo and of course had a chance to hob-nob with the lemurs. I think of myself as a zoo connoisseur; having visited world-class zoos such as the Toronto Zoo, San Diego Zoo and the Bronx Zoo in the last six months alone, I can vouch that the Calgary Zoo has joined my list of favourites!
That evening, we totally lucked out: The Phantom of the Opera happened to be showing at the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium the weekend we visited. In fact, we caught the second-to-last show!
Day 3. I really needed to get some work done (I know, I’m a spoilsport on vacation!) so my husband took the boys to the Westin Calgary’s heated indoor pool. The peaceful pool area offers stunning views of the majestic mountain peaks and is open 24 hours from Sunday to Thursday.
For lunch, we indulged in poke – yes, poke in Calgary! We received a recommendation for a brand new place, Madison’s 1212, and were tickled pink with our meals. If you’re in Calgary, try their poke nachos!
Of course, at this point you may be asking, why call the post Westin Weekends in YYC? Simply put, our stay at the Westin Calgary greatly contributed to the overall enjoyment of our trip, and I very much want to share the reasons why!
1. Location, location, location. I know I alluded to it previously, but did you know that the majority of Calgary’s most popular attractions are less than three kilometres from the hotel? Ideally situated in downtown Calgary, the Westin Calgary offers the best of the city at your doorstep. Attractions such as Stephen Avenue Walk (Calgary’s only pedestrian mall), Glenbow Museum, Calgary Tower, Calgary Stampede, Fort Calgary and, of course, the Calgary Zoo, are only a stone’s throw away from the hotel. If you can spare a 20-minute drive or cab ride, check out Heritage Park, Spruce Meadows or CrossIron Mills.
2. Affordable Accommodations. Room options range from Traditional Rooms to Executive Junior Suites, and if you’re spending a weekend away, you’re in luck – rates begin as low as $129 CAD per night. Plus, you may be able to take advantage of one of these special offers, including free weekend parking, sweet suite savings (20% off Executive Junior Suites), kids eat free with purchase of an adult meal, or my personal favourite –
“Book one night at our regular rate, get your second night at rates equal to your birth year. Happy birth year to you!
First night: from $169
Second night: rate equals your birth year (Born in 1968? Pay $68.)
Rates will be confirmed at check-in upon presentation of valid ID
Valid for Thursday, Friday and Saturday night arrivals only.”
We recently stayed in an Executive Junior Suite and I can confirm that it was a spacious, oversized retreat with luxurious amenities, a spectacular city view and very large balcony!
3. Westin Weekends. It’s actually a thing! Westin knows that weekends are a time to recharge and gear up for the week ahead- that’s why they offer late checkout on Sundays and extended breakfast hours all weekend long. But friends, you have no idea how awesome it is – when you book a Westin Weekend, they offer 3pm checkout so you can sleep later or explore the destination longer. 3pm! What a luxury!
We had a 6:00pm flight on Sunday night and I can’t tell you how much we appreciated having a place to stay right up until 3pm. I hate the feeling of being displaced – you know, that homeless time period when you’ve checked out of your hotel but your flight isn’t for hours. However, I hate not making the most of a vacation day even more; that’s why I always book an evening flight. With Westin Weekends I get the best of both worlds – a home base until late-afternoon and the chance to enjoy my destination a little longer. (And, if I’m being honest, access to a clean bathroom so I can freshen up before my flight.) You get me Westin, you really do!
Special thanks to Westin Calgary for generously upgrading our accommodations so we could fully enjoy all the hotel, and Calgary, has to offer. We have plans to visit once again early in 2018 and we already know where we’ll stay!
Have you visited Calgary? What’s your favourite thing to see and/or do?