26 FEB 2014: Not everyone wants sun and sand, nor do they want mountains and snow. Some people simply want to lock the front door of their home and go away to be pampered. Our goal was to head to Hotel Le Crystal in Montreal to celebrate the end of nine weeks in a cast.
The getaway started with Porter Airlines in a quick flight to Montreal.
No cast any longer, but I’m slow walking and can’t stand long. If your clients have mobility issues, book a wheelchair when you book their tickets, it’ll then go just as smoothly as the flight. The big glass of wine in a real glass on the plane helped too.
We opened the door to our Diamond Collection penthouse suite, and wanted to stay forever. This one bedroom suite is very spacious, and filled with light because of the floor to ceiling windows that not only open, but open onto a large patio. I told Eric Hamel the director general that it was one of the top three suites I’d stayed in. He thought I was exaggerating.
A friend once asked me what travel writers talk about when they’re travelling. “ How to turn things off and on.” I responded. She thought I was being funny. Nope, I was being brutally honest. And I’ll bet you too have some stories to tell about not being able to find the switches to turn lights off and on, find plugs while crawling around on the floor, and finally yelling at the front desk and then having to apologize.
I travel with an eye mask, just in case I can never get the lights off. A flashlight just in case I can’t see where the lights turn on, and an extension cord in case there isn’t a plug where I need it.
Everything worked in this suite, and was right where it was supposed to be. And even I could work everything including the Nespresso. Our tower suite was oversized except for two tub chairs in the living room that I’m sure were made just for me.
We couldn’t completely leave the office at home, so we enjoyed the executive desk, high speed Internet, and all the trappings of an office in its own separate area so work wasn’t staring at you the whole time.
Oh the bed! The king mattress (I want one) was just right. The duvet is made from Canadian white duck, with a high thread count, the Imperial mattress cover with a 100 percent feather filling, and the TV at the end of the bed, made it a seductive place to linger, but then the fireplace with the huge TV above it was a nice place to watch the Olympics too.
I’ll be dreaming about that bed. Every night we’d find a nifty treat on it, maybe maple syrup candy, maybe a lip balm.
Let's just say, it was a great place to get away from it all. Room service was fast, the hot food was hot and the cold food cold.
Speaking of food. Oh my! They have a new team of experts in the kitchen these days, and intend to make LaCoupole their restaurant a destination in itself. The wine bar with floor to ceiling windows offers a complimentary local art show once a month. What a way to relax and meet other guests and locals.
Chef Anne Desjardins has created a new signature menu along with Cedric Desilets, newly promoted to chef so he can promote products from the region. The roast boar had been such a success it was sold out by the time we got around to ordering.
The hotel brags they have Chris Natale, an award winning mixologist. He made some amazing drinks. Did you know Caesars were invented in Calgary?
Hotel Le Crystal is individually owned so everywhere there were unique touches.
When I used to travel Canada on business I would have loved to have stayed in their Urban Suites, again with a separate bedroom that shuts off. It would have saved money had I been able to hold small meetings in the living room of my suite.
The bathrooms were a spa unto themselves, but the 12th floor has AMERISPA offering a range of treatments that had guests purring with satisfaction. There was a fitness centre, a saltwater indoor pool, saunas, and an outdoor hot tub. You could hear other guests raving about the hot tub, and the view of Montreal from the St. Lawrence River to Mount Royal.
Certainly the location is right nestled in the heart of the Business section, the entertainment District and just steps away from the Bell Centre. A block away are some of Montreal’s famous shops and restaurants on Rue Saint Catherines.
Shopping was out for me sadly but I could not resist peeking in at the World Trade Centre, which connects to the Underground City. I wanted to see the piece of the Berlin Wall that was given to Montreal in 1992. This massive glassed-in-atrium is a must see, and the shopping is great too. This is the longest underground city in the world 33 kilometers.
You can’t stay in a hotel suite in Montreal for days, without poking around. Our solution was to take a three-hour coach tour and get a peek - a great way to see what you want to go back and see.
“So was everything perfect? ” said my friend, a suspicious travel agent? “Well I could have used another waste can beside my desk. And there are two condos being built nearby…and if you listen very closely you can hear the construction noise, but you have to listen.”
The expert on All Inclusives, Sam delivers up-to-date info on alternate Wednesdays in her column All Inclusives.