Best of 2015

The ultimate resource for the people by the people, Trip Advisor, has posted their comprehensive ‘Best of 2015‘ lists.

Curious as to the best all inclusive resorts? What about the best beaches? It’s all there! Defintely check it out.

One of my all time favourite beach holidays has earned the number two spot on the world’s best beaches list. Congratulations once again to the Turks and Caicos islands! We stayed at the Ocean Club Resort, located right on Grace Bay beaches. It was glorious!

If you’d like to go to the Turks and Caicos islands, both Westjet and Air Canada will take you there. A round trip flight from Winnipeg will cost about $550 at an average sale price.

Since the Turks and Caicos main tourist island of Providenciales is a developed island with services and standards similar to North America and Europe,  you will not see all-incluvice packages offered as the norm. Here, except for the Beaches Resort and Club Med which ARE all inclusive, you will pay as a european style vacation, sourcing your own food and beverages.

Did your favourite beach make it to the list? Where would you recommend? Please do tell us in the comments. Have a question about the Turks and Caicos… just ask! I’ll do my best to answer or find you resource that can.

The signature pink umbrellas of the Ocean Club Resort on Grace Bay beach, Turks and Caicos
The signature pink umbrellas of the Ocean Club Resort on Grace Bay beach, Turks and Caicos.

Let’s talk chowder!

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Nearly 30 below zero at home tonight and my thoughts return time and again to this fabulous chowder. It was a meal to remember from Durty Nelly’s Pub in downtown Halifax, Nova Scotia.

At the corner of Sackville and Argyle Streets, it was an easy walk from the harbour and perhaps 10 minutes from the Scotiabank Centre, home of the QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads hockey team.

Chowder is a regional specialty and each pub and diner boasts their own recipe. You really can’t go three blocks in Halifax without another chowder option.

This one at Durty Nelly’s was a hot and hearty blend of savoury seafood. The scallops were huge and delicious. Two thumbs up!

I could go for a bowl right now. But, I think I said that already!

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Deal Alert: Toronto $185

Nope, $185 isn’t for a one night stay in a Toronto hotel. It’s for a round trip Westjet flight. Taxes and airport fees included!

It’s an unadvertised deal. A price match to New Leaf’s bid for Canada’s business. You won’t find this deal on Westjet’s twitter feed or on a fancy rotating banner on their website. Heck, it doesn’t even register on their ‘best price calendar.’ But it’s there!

Prices subject to change without notice. Grab a deal while you can. Maybe take in a Blue Jay’s game in late April? Or jet away with your girlfriend for a romantic February weekend in the big city.

You’re welcome!

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Not cold enough? $325 to Yellowknife

If you love winter and winter sports, you might want to take your ambitions north.

I’ve rarely seen such a deal on Yellowknife, NWT.

To my surprise, you can leave Brandon Manitoba at 6am and arrive just after lunch in Yellowknife. The Westjet service will cost you as little as $325 if you choose the right dates.  From Winnipeg, also $325.

If you’ve got a friend in Fort McMurray, Alberta do let them know of the sale on their destination as well. And ask them if it’s ever been as low as $313, taxes in, return flights.

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Planning the epic playoff trip.

The key to planning a playoff trip is to act quickly and decisively. There are three things that have to come together in order for this to happen.

  1. Know the date. Until you know the specific date when the games are being played, you’re in limbo.
  2. Transportation. Is this fly or drive?  And if it’s air fare you need, know that last minute prices can be steep. Are there alternate airports you can look at?
  3. Tickets. Do you have a reliable, trusted source for tickets?

When the Winnipeg Jets made the playoffs in April 2015, I knew I had to go. HAD TO! I bought tickets on-line (Stub Hub) within minutes of the games being confirmed. That was actually the easiest part

The biggest problem became acquiring a reasonably priced flight to Anaheim. Flights to the closest and most convenient airport, SNA, (John Wayne Airport) were already priced beyond my budget. LAX was the next one I considered, however the connections and times were going to fail me. At this point I considered re-selling my tickets. That’s when it occurred to me that I had enough airline points for a free flight to PSP. (Palm Springs) Though I normally wouldn’t have thought of Palm Springs, it was genius. It was a direct flight from YWG (Winnipeg). With no connections, that meant I could fly out the morning of the game.  I cashed in my points for the ticket, and arranged a rental car. Even in traffic, it would take 2 hours or less to drive to the arena.

The last piece of the puzzle was a hotel. Considering the trip was completely focused on the big game, I used Hotwire.com. Any well-rated area hotel would do.

It was mere days later that we were off and racing to Anaheim. The flight was on time and we arrived in plenty of time for the game. With the rental car safely parked at the hotel we grabbed a cab to the rink. We met up with dozens, maybe even a hundred like-minded fans at a nearby pub and then made our way to the game. While our team did not win, it certainly was a victory for the sports fan. What a memorable experience!

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From this event, I offer 2 tips.

  1. Check your loyalty clubs. You might just nab a free last minute flight. Huge savings over steep last minute cash prices.
  2. If you are going with a few people, consider renting a car/driver at the airport, rather than choosing your own rental car and fumbling with GPS and a stressed designated driver. We ran into a group of 8 that had hired a limo to/from Palm Springs. At a cost of about $100 per person, I thought they were genius.

 

When your team hits the playoffs for the first time in 20 years....
When your team hits the playoffs for the first time in 20 years….

 

Game 2 of the series.
Game 2 of the series.