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Family Vacations in Toronto, Lifestyle talk, Toronto Family Travel, Vacation Travel

How to Avoid Expensive Holiday Airfares

March 12, 2015

Save on AirfareAs many of our guests are, you may be on the go and expected to travel frequently, whether for business or pleasure. (Check out our tips here on how to get the best deals.) But sometimes, the only time you can get is over the holidays –when everyone else is traveling. Here are some ways how to avoid expensive holiday airfares.

1. Do not book last minute. More likely than not, the closer you travel to your desired date of departure, the higher the price of your flight. You may be lucky and get a last minute fare -if others are not going to your destination or it’s not a popular destination – but the best advice is to book as far in advance as possible. This advice is especially useful for summer travel to Europe and the recommended time to book is around three to six months in advance, if possible. Rumour has it, however, that the ideal number to book in advance is 49 days or 7 weeks in advance.avoid expensive holiday airfares

2. Be flexible with your dates and times. Inflexibility could result in a higher airfare. If you cannot budge on your date or time or if you’re traveling on a weekend, this will increase the costs of your flight. But if you can travel on an early weekday (Monday to Wednesday or even a Saturday, as some experts say) or in the early mornings/nights or nudge your date a day or two, it could be worth the change in savings.

3. Track your fare. Services like Yapta and airfare watchdog enable you to track and analyze when your flight price will increase, which can help you make decisions.

4. Alternate modes of tranAvoid Expensive Holiday Airfaressportation. If your flight is too expensive, consider driving to your destination or taking an alternate airport like Buffalo (a popular option in recent years). What you will lose in time, you will make up in savings.

5. Points. If you can’t get around the cost for an airfare, using your airline points (if you are loyal to one airline), Air Miles, or a co-branded credit card that will accumulate points for you, will help towards the cost of your flight.

How do you avoid expensive holiday airfare or save on flights? We’d love to hear your tips! Do check out our top ten essential travel apps for your next trip here. Of course, if you’re staying in Toronto, check out our properties.

Downtown Toronto, Food & Recipes, Lifestyle talk, North York

Top 10 Restaurants in Toronto, 2015

March 6, 2015

Top 10 Restaurants in TorontoWith Spring just around the corner, getting out on the town made us think of our favourite restaurants in Toronto. It’s a mix of those classics you might find on a list like Winterlicious mixed with newer restaurants and cafes. If you’re looking to get out of your furnished apartment in Toronto or try something new at one of Toronto’s many diverse and delicious restaurants, look no further to our comprehensive top 10 restaurants in Toronto. Our list is in no particular order.

1. Bar Isabel. It’s no surprise that this Spanish-inspired restaurant with a Black Hoof twist (owner Grant Van Gameren used to co-own the Black Hoof) is on many top ten lists. We love the chorizo, grilled octopus, and basque cake with sherry cream. Be on the lookout for Van Gameren’s anticipated opening, Bar Raval, this year. Reservations are recommended.

2. Canoe. Canoe remains one of the best restaurants in Canada and a homage to haute Canadian cuisine. It is the perennial place for a special occasion with views of the Toronto Islands and CN Tower to match from the 54th floor of the TD Tower. You’ll be lucky to sit at the chef’s table and interact with Chef John Horne. It is a treat! It is also one of our picks to drink with your fellow corporate executives.

3. Big Crow. Big Crow is the city’s answer to a backyard BBQ, complete with an Algonquin and Canadiana theme year-round (in winter they bring out the blankets and heaters). Chow down with your friends over ribs smothered in pesto sauce, steel-trout poke nachos, and s’more ice cream sandwiches in the summer.

4. Fat Pasha. Another extension of Anthony Rose’s empire (including Big Crow, above), Fat Pasha is your excuse to eat through the MiddleTop 10 Restaurants in Toronto Eastern trend. We love the dips (especially labneh and hummus) and the nutella babka cake. A must if you’re looking to venture out of your usual tastes.

5. The Black Hoof. Since 2008, The Black Hoof has set Toronto on the charcuterie trend and remains the best place for the boards. It has since expanded its menu so you can more adventurous parts of an animal (whether it’s offal or horse) and never fails to impress the tastebuds. We love the staples of charcuterie, bone marrow, and cheese but give the horse tartare a try. Try its intimate cocktail bar across the street, aptly named Cocktail Bar, pre or post meal.

6. Electric Mud BBQ. Owned by Black Hoof alum, Colin Tooke and Ian McGrenaghan, Electric Mud BBQ is their second outpost of the Electric empire (Grand Electric around the corner on Queen West slinging out tacos). Chow down on good ol’ BBQ, bourbon alongside a great soundtrack at picnic tables with your friends. The ribs are classic but we return for the chicken, crack rolls, and $2.50 pints of Great Lakes Beer on Monday nights. They also now deliver. We love a good deal!

7. Origin. Tapas has become one of Toronto’s biggest culinary trends and Origin executes it in an original fashion. The restaurant is so popular it has expanded from its original location at King and Church to Origin North at Bayview and Sheppard (a sophisticated option near our furnished apartments in North York). We love the deviled eggs, tostones and guacamole, hand rolls, miso glazed cod, and dulce de leche. Look for chef Claudio Aprile to expand his repertoire of fresh, global dishes to the Toronto PeTop 10 Restaurants in Torontoarson Airport soon.

8. Eastside Social. One of Leslieville’s newest additions to the neighbourhood, Eastside Social is casual enough to sit and chat with someone at the bar over a dark n stormy yet sophisticated enough for a date. Share their inventive fish charcuterie platter. Their oyster special is every Tuesday and Wednesday.

9. Campagnolo. Our pick for Italian cuisine, chef Craig Harding, continues to deliver the classics that make us feel like it’s okay we can’t hop on a plane at a moment’s notice to Italy. You’ll salivate over his burrata with roasted grapes, spaghetti all’matricana, rabbit saltimbocca, and his famous budino.

10. Mildred’s Temple Kitchen. For the brunch lovers, Mildred’s Temple is large enough to accommodate your group but popular enough for you to be waiting in line even 15 minutes after opening. It’s worth the trek to Liberty Village. If it’s one thing to order it’s those fluffy, blueberry pancakes.

It’s difficult to add our all of our top 10 Restaurants in Toronto (honorary mentions go to Lady Marmalade for brunch, Porchetta & Co. for lunch, and Chantecler for dinner).

What are your favourite restaurants in Toronto? What are the restaurant openings in Toronto you’re looking forward to?

Fitness and Health, Lifestyle talk

Top 5 New Workout Trends in Toronto

January 30, 2015

New Workout Trends in TorontoJanuary is the time of detox and new year’s resolutions. Though our furnished apartments in Toronto offer amenities like fitness centers and aqua spas, sometimes it’s a good idea to switch up your routine and try something new. Here are some interesting new workout trends in Toronto .

1. Indoor Surfing. That’s right. Surfing indoors! Since you might not be able to hit the beaches of Hawaii or Costa Rica, Surfset Toronto has brought the surfing trend to you on Yonge, just north of Eglinton (close by to our properties in North York). The surfboard -balanced on stability balls – is used for toning exercises influenced by yoga and pilates. Try out your best hang-ten pose in one of the most exciting workouts in Toronto right now!

2. Archery Tag. The new Archery District in Scarborough combines your secret loves for laser tag and the Hunger Games in one, sweaty and social activity. Take your bow and arrow after a lesson anNew Workout Trends in Torontod like the classic game of tag, shoot your opponent with foam-tipped arrows in over 5,000 square feet of astroturf. A perfect location to head on out to from your short term rental in Scarborough – The Forest Vista location.

3. Axe Throwing. As much as it’s a fun bonding experience with friends, it’s also a legitimate league (and one way to exercise those triceps). The Battle Axe Throwing League (BATL) has become so popular, it now has two facilities. Make sure to book in advance.

4. Branded Workouts. Big fitness corporations are aligning with local studios and gyms to capitalize on community. In Parkdale, the popular NTC (Nike Training Workouts) for women , at the Academy of Lions are fitness regimens led by world class trainers designed by Nike. Similarly, Lululemon has a number of community events on a regular basis led by their yoga ambassadors. Check individual stores for local events. Here is one example.

Workout Trends in Toronto5. Obstacle Courses. As an alternative to the Crossfit craze, obstacle courses are a fun way to get a full body workout without the military atmosphere of drills. Popular ones across the city are Monkey Vault and Alpha Fitness that will prepare you for the Spartan and Tough Mudder races that are gaining momentum in North America.

What is your workout trend? Do you prefer to work out in a group environment – game setting?  If you try one of these new workout trends in Toronto, let us know how it goes!

Downtown Toronto, Food & Recipes, Lifestyle talk, Vacation Travel

The Best Destinations for 2015

January 23, 2015

Best Destinations for 2015 As we settle into 2015, we may be thinking about our travel plans for the year and our vacation plans or island escapes. Our list is based on destinations that have dominated travel magazine headlines; places that are newsworthy, have flown under the radar for the past few years, and are booming with new hotels, attractions, events or dining scenes.

Nashville, Tennessee
No longer solely the destination for starry eyed country musicians, Nashville has become a mecca for foodies; less honky-tonk and more Music City, home to popular musicians like the Black Keys, Kings of Leon, and Taylor Swift. Until the ACE Hotel comes along in 2016, try The 404, a hotel and restaurant hybrid, housed in a former garage (very similar to Chicago’s Longman & Eagle). Get acquainted with the burgeoning hip neighbourhoods and food scene with Walk Eat Nashville! tours. Don’t forget to get a reservation at the new outpost of Husk, from famed chef Sean Brock, who interprets Southern cuisine in a modern way. Late night? Check out hipster-themed Pinewood Social, where you can drink, eat, lounge by the pool, bowl and sing karaoke. If you’re looking for an alternative to Los Angeles or Charleston for a fun weekend escape, this is your ticket.

Toronto, Ontario
This year, your home away from home, Toronto welcomes the Pan Am Games from July 10-24. The metropolis is gearing up with the games with new facilities, including the Best Destinations for 2015 revitalization of the West Don Lands. Explore the Corktown Commons park (with a picturesque view of the city skyline) and a pit stop at new, upcoming cafe, Odin. New restaurants and bars are opening up at a rapid pace. Look out for Bar Isabel’s second outpost, Bar Raval on College Street and try the sleek Rush Lane if you haven’t had a chance. DelSuites has furnished apartment rentals in Toronto for short-term stays, including a review of our 300 Front Street West property. We also have guides to North York, Mississauga, and Etobicoke, if you need a place on the edges of the city. Here are ten photos and ways to get inspired to see the beloved T Dot.

Portugal

Situated on the western edge of Europe, Portugal is a great country to explore independently and solo. Travelers are now taking advantage of its coastal delights (by the beach and on the table); its stylish hotels; and more affordable prices than its European neighbours. Ride the historic tram 28 through the city of Lisbon; take a day trip to the Unesco-world heritage site, Sintra, with its glorious mountains and architecture; or head north to Porto, with its golden beaches, its first Michelin-starred restaurant at the Yeatman hotel, or a wine tour of the Duoro Valley. Don’t forget to bring home some port!

Best Destinations for 2015 Taiwan
Off the radar of other Asian countries, Taiwan is a clean, active and filled with delicious and affordable eats. Taipei has experienced growth in the past five years and is expecting a few new hotels like the W, Mandarin Oriental, and Citizen M to open in the next two years as it ramps up to be named the World Design Capital in 2016. Taiwan is more than its capital. The ideal R&R can be found in the idyllic Sun Moon Lake. With its hot springs hotels and meandering bike paths, it’s a nice 1-2 day getaway. Take the high speed trains down south to the majestic Taroko Gorge (ideally, if you can get a guide to drive you there, it is a drive of a lifetime). Further south, you’ll find another food capital: Tainan. Tainan is known as the city of snacks and is as chock full of street food as it is Taipei, whether it’s tofu, chicken chop or those addictive steamed dumplings (xiaolongbao).

Myanmar
This country formerly known as Burma until 1989 feels like going back in time. That said, now at the helm of democracy activist, Aung San Suu Kyi and with a change in government in 2010, Myanmar is rising to the top of traveler’s wish lists. E-visas make the process to explore a little bit quicker too. As a result, travel magazines list Burma at their top destinations and consequently, a flurry of hotels, restaurants and other trappings of western civilization will result in places like Yangon and Bagan to meet tourism demands. Like any good traveler, do your research, and try to glimpse at this magical place and meet the locals while you can. There are quite a number of tours here including Woodland Travels, G Adventures, and Kensington Tours.

What are your travel plans for 2015? What would you include on your best destinations for 2015?

Lifestyle talk, Sun Destinations, Vacation Travel

Sunny Getaways and Island Escapes for 2015

January 8, 2015

Sunny Getaways and Island EscapesWhen the Canadian weather gets cold, wet, and slushy, thoughts immediately scurry to soft white sands and eight hours of sunlight. Sunny getaways and island escapes vary from year to year. If you have a case of cabin fever in your temporary housing North York or Toronto, it’s time for an escape or some R&R this winter. Our sunny getaways and island escapes for 2015 are based on destinations that are a mix of those destinations that have been newsworthy but also offer the luxury you’re looking for on a vacation.

Cuba
Cuba may be at the top of your list for that cheap and cheerful vacation since President Barack Obama’s decision to lift American trade embargo against Cuba, after 54 years. Though American citizens can’t legally travel to Cuba yet, it could happen sooner than you think. Whether it’s an all-inclusive getaway to Varadero, a historic trip to Havana, or less-visited spots like Cayo Santa Maria, Cayo Coco, Trinidad, or Holguin,or tour more parts of the island via cruise, Cuba is having its moment. It’s your moment to bask in those beach glory days.

Bermuda
No longer a site for just the rich and famous, 2015 is the start of Bermuda’s moment in the sun. In October of 2015, it will host the America’s Cup World Series, the first stage of competition in the America’s Cup, a racing circuit which features the best sailors in the world. This competition is the lead up to when they host the America’s Cup in 2017. Though known for its sailing and its famous beaches, Bermuda needs to be known for its scenes in both food and culture. Check out one of the best collections of Bermudian art at Masterworks (and take that instagram-worthy photo of the John Lennon statue just outside); concoct your own scent at the perfumery; or take a bike ride (tour or solo) the historic Railway trail. If you can’t make it for the America’s cup, fly into town for the Rugby Classic in November. Whether you’re having a high end meal at local favourite, Port O Call, on bustling Front Street or just want a great sandwich like the sky-high fish-stacked one on raisin bread at Art Mel’s Spicy Dicy, you won’t go hungry!

Your retreat? Rosewood Hotel’s Tucker’s Point, complete with its own beautiful artwork at the Point restaurant; some of Bermuda’s best golf courses, and its own beach. That is if you’re not ordering room service in one of its spacious suites with a view of the Atlantic Ocean outside of your balcony.

St. Lucia
Listed as one of Lonely Planet’s top ten countries to visit in 2015, it’s our pick because it offers a mix of a luxury all-inclusive vacation and an adventurous element with its Sunny Getaways and Island Escapesscenic trails on lush landscapes. Whether you opt to stay at themed luxe resorts like the BodyHoliday by Le Sport or Boucan’s stunner, Hotel Chocolat, they’re both great resorts alongside activities like hiking the Tet Paul Scenic Trail or the adventurous trails of the iconic Pitons. Taking a family vacation? Coconut Bay is a great option with its waterpark and paintball facilities. Bonus: there is an adults only section to the side of the resort.

Haiti
It has been five years since an earthquake rocked Haiti but it doesn’t still have to be off your radar. The western Caribbean island is set for a rebirth from the ashes. For you, the traveler, try a tour from G Adventures. Their cultural and sustainable tours will enable you to visit a foundation teaching arts to at-risk youth, learn about Vodou culture, savour creole cuisine and visit Basin-Bleu in Jacmel. If you wanted to partake in the voluntourism trend and help those still affected by the earthquake, there are a few organizations out there making that happen. Yoga Ventures has two retreats in July and October that will offer a mix of volunteering with daily yoga. Elevate Destinations combines a beach vacation with a volunteer trip and works with the Edem Foundation – a non-profit supporting the education of children in Haiti and the development of economic activities in Haiti by working with local communities and offering youth leadership programs. Not into volunteering? You can stay at a number of new hotels that have opened up in Port-Au-Prince recently like The Best Western Premier Sunny Getaways and Island EscapesHaiti and the new Marriott hotel to open early in 2015.

Indonesia
If you’ve been looking to go somewhere further afield, Indonesia may be your ticket to an island escape. Opt for popular Bali with its luxurious infinity pools and rice paddy fields, or booming Jakarta (Fairmont, Raffles, and the St. Regis are opening properties here in the next year). Our picks in Bali include the Chedi chain of resorts or the secluded One Eleven Hotel, offers pools and private yoga in each villa. Yoga retreats are equally as popular for the R&R you need away from your regular routine. Desa Seni and The Yoga Barn in conjunction with Bali Spirit offer holistic yoga programs and accommodations.

We hope our 2015 island escapes have given you inspiration for your 2015 winter vacation. Where are some of your favourite sunny getaways and island escapes?