What’s New in Victoria, BC. March 2011 News

Tourism Victoria’s Monthly Media Newsletter


Rising regally on Victoria, BC’s spectacular Inner Harbour, The Fairmont Empress showcases the spirit and energy of Vancouver Island in grand style. With her turn-of-the-century beauty, The Fairmont Empress has been a longstanding host to many visiting royalty and is excited to celebrate the new generation with a month long series of events. For the die-hard royal-watcher, hotel guests are invited to join the Rise & Shine with The Royals for Breakfast on Friday, April 29 at 3 am PST to watch the live broadcast of the Royal Wedding. Breakfast will be served from 3-6 am and is $39.00 CDN per person; guests wearing robes and pajamas are welcome and may request a late check out. Later that afternoon, the front lawns of The Fairmont Empress will welcome the public for their Royal Subjects Tea, where “Afternoon Tea To-Go” is available for $20.00 CDN. This picnic treat includes a cup of tea, traditional scone, cream, jam, mini sandwiches, delightful Empress-made pastries and a flag to wave. Grab a hat, bring a blanket to sit on and be prepared for a special announcement from “The Queen” herself on The Fairmont Empress Flag Deck. Dog lovers are encouraged to deck out their canine companions for the best dressed doggie contest. And to top off the celebrations, The Fairmont Empress is hosting an exclusive Royal Dinner to be served on the Queen’s China, previously only used by Her Majesty. Expect a selection of dishes from Royal Menus that the Queen herself ate from on previous visits to The Fairmont Empress. Three exclusive dinners will be held on April 29 – May 1 for an intimate number of guests and tickets are $150.00 CDN per person. Reservations are highly recommended; for more information visit http://www.fairmont.com/empress/vanity/royalty  

The town of Sidney, 20 minutes outside of Victoria, BC has proclaimed the week of April 24 to 30, 2011, as Royal Wedding Week. During this special week, all Sidney businesses are encouraged to decorate in a royal red, white and blue theme in honour of the nuptials. In London the wedding venue will be Westminster Abbey – in Sidney the Mary Winspear Community Centre will be the place to celebrate this happy and momentous occasion. A Royal Wedding Breakfast and Brunch will take place on April 29th at 9:00 am and 12:00 pm meals are $20.00 CDN and guests will watch a recording of the special ceremony. Those attending are encouraged to dress in royal wedding attire. Outside of the celebrations, visitors to Sidney will enjoy strolling the main street, Beacon Avenue, down to the oceanfront walkway and marina. Along the way, bakeries, coffee houses, art galleries and home decor and furnishings stores will be welcome stops for a leisurely royal afternoon. Sidney considers itself “Canada’s only book town” and boasts a love of both new and used books with almost a dozen bookstores on one street. For further information on Sidney’s royal events, contact Councillor Kenny Podmore, Town of Sidney 250-655-4631.

With all the royal parties to attend and wedding season right around the corner, sometimes shopping on vacation is the best way to ensure an original outfit. Several of Victoria, BC’s local dress boutiques offer plenty of ways to stand out in the crowd. Bernstein & Gold is part fashion house, part homewares retailer, part spa and wholly a local gem. From frock to shoes and accessories, hostess gift and a little bliss treatment, B&G is the ultimate pre-party stop. Lark & Sparrow, in Victoria’s charming Cook Street Village has a constantly evolving collection of party dresses, unique casual pieces and lovely jewelry – perfect for bridesmaid gifts or a personal vacation memento. And, if a true original is desired, Covet’s in-house designer and tailor can create the perfect dress. Inspired by the Old-World art of dressing and nestled in Fort Street’s Antique Row, a treasure-trove of antique pins and vintage jewelry, Covet’s clients will be sure to find that perfect something old and something new. And, if the ideal topper for any wedding outfit is a hat; Roberta’s Hats offers a plethora of choices – from the traditional top hat to modern interpretations of the Fascinator, to help the wearer discover their inner royalty. For more information visit www.bernsteinandgold.com, Lark&SparrowFB, www.covetalterations.com  and www.victoriahat.com. 

In anticipation and celebration of the Royal Wedding, Point Ellice House National Historic Site in Victoria, BC will be hosting a Tea and Toast on Thursday, April 28, 2011 from 11:30 am to 1:30 pm. Their Royal celebration will mark the opening of Point Ellice House for the 2011 season and the public is invited to enjoy, as in the days of  H.R.H. Prince William of Wales’ great-great-great-great grandmother, HRH Queen Victoria, a formal afternoon tea with scones, devon-style cream, preserves from the garden and lemon curd, fruit, and tea sandwiches. Point Ellice House has made special note that Prince William dislikes champagne, so toasts to the bridal couple will be carried out with the Point Ellice House special blend of tea, with lemon or milk, of course. Point Ellice House is accessible by car, bus and most charmingly, by water taxi from Victoria’s Inner Harbour. In support of the historic house museum, refreshments will be offered at $10.00 CDN each or two for $18.00 CDN. Hats and gloves encouraged; wedding attire optional. Point Ellice was the 19th century home of Peter and Caroline O’Reilly and their children, Frank, Kathleen, Mary Augusta and Jack. The house remained in the O’Reilly family for three generations, becoming a provincial historic site in 1974. Point Ellice is also nationally designated and is considered Western Canada’s finest collection of Victoriana in its original setting. For more information visit www.pointellicehouse.ca.

Not everyone gets to marry a prince or princess, but all can be treated like one at several of Victoria, BC’s spas, with their royal-themed spa services and treatments. The Fairmont Empress’ Willowstream Spa is a fairytale setting for their Royal Empress Renewal, a specialty facial with relaxing hand and foot treatments; $119.00 CDN for 60 minutes. A local secret, Silk Road’s Spa offers the Palace Pedicure, an Imperial Palace Asian-inspired treat that is a completely natural departure from its chemical counterparts. Walk away on a cloud, knowing there is no toxic rain to follow; Palace Pedicures are $55.00 CDN for 60 minutes. And for brides making Victoria their destination wedding location, the Merridale Spa at Merridale Cidery offers a wide range of Spa Wedding Packages as a treat to the bride, her bridesmaids or the new couple. Imagine sipping cider while being pampered in the tranquility of the country. Merridale Ciderworks, located 45 minutes north of Victoria, BC, encourages you to do just that at their day spa set in the heart of their working cidery. The spa offers a full range of spa treatments – have a massage overlooking their orchard and meadow or opt for a pond-side manicure…the scene is positively pastoral. For more information visit www.fairmont.com/empress, www.silkroadtea.com and  www.merridalecider.com.


Once the drink of kings mead, or honey wine, has made a resurgence on Vancouver Island’s local food scene. Mead has gained a reputation as a giver of life, wisdom, courage and strength down through the ages, which may be why it was a popular choice for wedding celebrations and is thought to be the source of the term ‘honeymoon’. Local mead producer, Tugwell Creek Meadery, located 25 minutes outside of Victoria, BC blends varietal honeys and berries from Vancouver Island to produce an award winning beverage. Just in time for Spring, Tugwell Creek Meadery will open May 1st for their 8th season and offers tastings and self-guided tours. A visit to the meadery may be just enough encouragement for a shy groom’s wedding proposal. For more information visit www.tugwellcreekfarm.com.

Victoria, BC was named as a tribute to the United Kingdom’s longest-serving monarch, but Victoria’s reign is not the only royal legacy the city embraces. Abkhazi Garden has received international recognition for its unique west coast design, but it is the story of two royal lovers that has captured people’s hearts. War and imprisonment kept Georgian Prince Nicholas Abkhazi and Peggy Pemberton-Carter apart until they were able to finally reunite in Victoria to create what they called “A garden that love built.” Known for its collection of splendid rhododendrons and azaleas, visits in April and May guarantee breathtaking displays of colour and is the ideal setting for a cup of the garden’s fundraiser tea, Royal Abkhazi produced by local tea purveyor Silk Road. The tea is a graceful blend of black teas, vanilla, citrus and of course, soft florals, and reflects the passion of this modern-day romance in a garden. In 1946, the property that is now Abkhazi was purchased by Peggy Pemberton-Carter who came to Victoria after spending close to eight years in a Japanese internment camp outside of Shanghai. She was soon reunited with Prince Nicholas Abkhazi who she had met and fallen in love with in Paris in the 1920’s. Married in Victoria, they began building their garden and home. Slightly more than one acre, the garden features native Garry oaks, ornamental evergreens, significant rhododendrons, rock and alpine plants, naturalized bulbs and examples of Japanese maples and weeping conifers. Abkhazi Garden is maintained by volunteers of the Land Conservancy of BC. For more information visit www.abkhazigarden.com and www.silkroadtea.com.

With the Royal Wedding just around the corner, many couples are looking to fulfill their own fairytale romance with the perfect wedding. Victoria, BC is a cosmopolitan island destination that boasts world-class accommodation, spas, food and wine – all the makings of a memorable wedding destination. Breathtaking mountain and ocean vistas, beautiful gardens and quaint heritage charm make Victoria one of the world’s most desirable destinations for a romantic getaway. So, if the bride’s dream has been to get married in a castle, Victoria’s Hatley Park, is one of Canada’s largest and most diverse National Historic Sites. At the centre is a magnificent castle built in 1908 by former British Columbia Premier and coal baron, James Dunsmuir. For those with an appreciation of the arts, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is a stunning location in the heart of the city. The beautiful 19th century Spencer mansion and modern galleries, along with their permanent collection of 15,000 objects d’art from Asia, Europe and North America, provide the perfect cultural setting for a picturesque event. And for the English Rose, The English Inn’s Tudor style manor houses and English gardens make for a timeless wedding, but with their professional wedding planners giving each ceremony every modern convenience, leaving more time for the blushing bride to bloom. For more information visit www.hatleypark.ca, www.aggv.bc.ca, and www.englishinn.ca.


March 2011


please contact:

Cathy Ray

Manager, Travel Media Relations

(United States)

Phone: 250-414-6985


Holly Lenk

Manager, Travel Media Relations

(Canada & Overseas)

Phone: 250-414-6974


Lisa Pilling

Coordinator, Travel Media Relations

Phone: 250-414-7390


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