The Best Tropical Hues to Fight the Winter Blues

There’s a whole lot of winter left on the other side of Blue Monday, so it’s time to fight fire with fire, or in this case, blue with blue. Get inspired with the best Blue Monday travel destinations in the Caribbean below. 

Best Blue Monday Travel Destinations

Best Blue Monday Travel Destinations

The Blue Hole – Jamaica

I’m on a personal mission to visit as many waterfalls in Jamaica as I possibly can. To date, I have been to five and the one that left the biggest mark was undoubtedly The Blue Hole. This blue gem in Ocho Rios remains relatively quiet, compared to Dunn’s River Falls. Be sure to get your Tarzan on and swing from a rope out into the bluest water you’ve ever seen.

best Blue Monday travel destinations

Orient Beach – St. Maarten

Orient Beach sits on the French side of St. Maarten and is one of the most stunning beaches you’ll ever come across. Make sure you set aside an entire day to enjoy this beauty. 

 Best Blue Monday Travel Destinations

Tulum – Mexico

No wonder the Mayan people set up house here so many years ago. The million-dollar view and the perfect white sand below are quite simply, heaven on earth. When visiting the Riviera Maya area book a tour that includes time to explore the ruins and then play in the bluest water you’ll ever see.  best blue Monday travel destinations

Bavaro Beach – Dominican Republic

Many of the Dominican Republic’s best resorts sit on Bavaro Beach in Punta Cana. This pristine stretch of sand spans roughly 10 kilometres, so you’ll likely run out of steam before you run out of sea to admire here. best blue monday travel destinations

Luminous Lagoon  – Jamaica

The Luminous Lagoon (AKA Glistening Waters) near Montego Bay, Jamaica is one of only a handful of bioluminescent lagoons in the world that you can swim in, and probably the only water you’ll want to visit at night. Jumping in the water here can best be described as magical as it lights up around you as you move through it.

best blue monday travel destinations

Key Largo – Florida (USA)

Honestly, if you don’t listen to me then at least, take it from the Beach Boys—Key Largo is worth your time. Located at the top of the Keys in Florida, you’ll find all the blue you can handle here and then some. Rent a car and day trip your way down to Key West, and you’ll have travelled to the southern most point in the United States.

 best blue monday travel destinations

Varadero – Cuba

Cuba is a perpetual favourite amongst Canadians, and Varadero Beach is sure to chase your winter blues away with it’s crystal blue waters and practically perfect weather. 

best blue monday travel destinations

Antigua

Antigua has 365 beaches, which means you could spend an entire year exploring it’s sandy shores. Of course, if you feel like wading into the warm waters surrounding it, you’ll find no better place to let all your cares slip away. 

best blue Monday travel destinations

So what are you waiting for? Fight the winter blues with some tropical hues, by visiting one of these best Blue Monday travel destinations.

 

 

 

 

 




Manoir Saint Sauveur is the Ski & Spa Holiday You Need This Winter

Winter has arrived in Canada in it’s typical blustery nature, blanketing the world in white and leaving many Canadians scratching their heads asking, “Now what?” Five long months stretch out before us and we have but two choices; grumble through the entire season or get out and enjoy it. I’m definitely a fan of the latter, and that’s why I’m so glad we found Manoir Saint Sauveur. 

Located a short and scenic two hour drive from Ottawa, as well as from Montreal, Manoir Saint Sauveur is the perfect place to escape for a winter holiday. 

Manoir Saint Sauveur, ski, spa, holiday

Manoir Saint Sauveur recently underwent a massive renovation and the new updated look is modern, rustic, and welcoming throughout the entire property. The rooms are large, with lots of room for a family of four with all their ski gear in tow. 

Manoir Saint Sauveur, room, accommodations, cozy, large enough for 4

Let’s be honest though, holidays aren’t spent in rooms. Holidays are spent enjoying the resort and sights nearby and Manoir Saint Sauveur delivers on both counts. First up, their spa and thermal experience. 

Manoir Saint Sauveur, hydrotherapy, hot tub, sauna, pool, outdoor spa

On our first morning at Manoir Saint Sauveur, as is my nature, I wanted to hit the ground running and get out exploring. My youngest daughter however, asked why couldn’t we just stay at the resort and enjoy it. To be fair, I thought I would be bored to tears but Manoir Saint Sauveur had plenty to keep us busy. We started the day enjoying the outdoor thermal experience. I will admit that I chickened out of the cold plunge pool but the hot tub and sauna were heavenly. 

Manoir Saint Sauveur, Thermal Experience, Outdoor hot tub, spa

From there, we decided to indulge a little bit more and booked spa treatments at Le Spa Du Manoir. The spa is expansive with three levels, a ton of treatment rooms and plenty of places to find your zen. I highly recommend the Detox Treatment Facial and the Hot Stone Massage; I practically floated out of the spa after these treatments. Worth noting, Le Spa Du Manoir also welcomes teens, so it’s makes a perfect mother/daughter escape. My daughters were able to enjoy their first full spa day with me and although I wouldn’t want them to get too accustomed to this lifestyle, it was a fun treat. 

Manoir Saint Sauveur Spa

We ended our day enjoying the indoor thermal experience. Since we visited mid-week, we had the entire space to ourselves. 

Manoir Saint Sauveur, indoor pool, hydrotherapy, hot tub

The food at Manoir Saint Sauveur is wonderful and means you don’t have to leave the resort for dining if you prefer to stay put. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all available at LeTablée Restaurant. Make sure you order the pizza at least once during your stay, it’s delicious. 

The Filicori Zecchin Cafe is the perfect place to grab a specialty coffee to enjoy in front of the roaring fire place in the lobby.

Manoir Saint Sauveur, fireplace

Finally, carnivores will delight in Le M Steak Moderne, a gourmet steakhouse offering a wide selection of aged steaks.

Manoir Saint Sauveur also offers complimentary shuttles running daily to the slopes of Sommet Saint Sauveur, which is a short 3 minute drive away. Although we were a little early in the season to take full advantage of the slopes, we are looking forward to returning. Manoir Saint Sauveur is currently offering a sweet ski package which includes one night at the Manoir, one breakfast buffet at Le Tablée, and an eight-hour ski pass at Sommet Saint Sauveur for $152.50/pp. This also includes the use of the indoor/outdoor thermal experience which is exactly what you need after a day on the slopes. 

Manoir Saint Sauveur ski package

If you’re just looking to get out and explore, there is lots to see within walking distance of Manoir Saint Sauveur. Outlet malls are across the street with stores like Tommy Hilfiger, Atmosphere, Hatley, and Levi’s. Worth noting; there is also a grocery store very close by if you’d like to stock the fridge in your room with fresh fruit and snacks. Finally, the village of Saint Sauveur is adorable with a walkable main street lined with boutiques, gourmet restaurants, and gastropubs. 

Manoir Saint Sauveur, attractions nearby, what to do

Don’t let winter drag you into a pit of despair. Make a plan this year to get out and enjoy the season. Manoir Saint Sauveur is a perfect place to start. 

Thanks to Manoir Saint Sauveur for hosting Life in Pleasantville. All opinions expressed here are those of the author. 



Christmas Weekend Getaway in Toronto

A Christmas Weekend Getaway in Toronto was just what I needed to find my Christmas spirit this year.

Christmas weekend getaway in toronto

As the years go by, I find that it takes me longer and longer to slip into holiday mode. I suspect that, like most women, I spend the season making sure everyone is enjoying themselves, without taking any time to appreciate the beauty of it myself. That’s why I made it a priority this year to get out and do something. 

Christmas Weekend Getaway in Toronto

The Toronto I knew in my youth has morphed into a world-class city, so rather than plan a weekend to NYC where my dollar wouldn’t go as far, I piled my mom and daughters in the car and we headed to The Six. I’m sharing our itinerary with you so that you too can get out and bag that Christmas spirit like we did. Enjoy! 

Stay at The Chelsea Hotel Toronto 

The Chelsea Hotel is the perfect jumping off point to enjoy many of the best holiday activities taking place in Toronto, especially if you plan on getting some Christmas shopping done. The Chelsea is so close to the Eaton Centre you can easily make a few trips back to your room to lighten your load. Be sure to fuel up in the morning with something off the incredible breakfast menu at T-Bar, located in the lobby.

Christmas Weekend Getaway in Toronto

As an added bonus, Santa visits the Chelsea during the month of December, so you can get your list in with the big guy while you’re there. Make a small donation to Sick Kids while you wait and you’re successfully giving and getting in one fell swoop. 

Visit The Toronto Christmas Market 

The Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District in is only in it’s eighth year, but is cracking top ten lists around the globe as one of the best Christmas markets in the world. It takes a few hours to fully explore the stalls and shops here, so plan on spending some time. Weekends are extremely busy, so consider buying Express Pass tickets like we did. 

christmas weekend getaway in Toronto

The photo opps here are endless so also be sure to have your camera and phone fully charged. 

Don’t Miss the Christmas Windows at The Eaton Centre

As a young girl I used to love heading downtown with my mother to see the Christmas windows at Eaton’s, The Bay, and Kingsmills. In an era of online shopping and a lack of small town department stores, it’s something my young teens have never experienced. I made a point of adding a stop outside the Bay, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue to see their holiday windows and we were not disappointed. 

Christmas Weekend Getaway in Toronto

Even if you don’t feel like shopping, it’s worth your time to also walk through the Eaton Centre to see the amazing holiday decorations within, including Canada’s tallest indoor Christmas tree. At 100 feet and reaching from the bottom to the top of the Eaton Centre, it’s an impressive and beautiful sight to see. 

Christmas Weekend Getaway In Toronto

Take in the One of A Kind Show

If you’re looking for a gift that is as unique as the person you’re giving it too, then plan your weekend escape to coincide with the One of A Kind Christmas Show. The show typically runs over a couple of weekends at the end of November and in early December. 

Christmas Weekend Getaway in Toronto

If you have an Etsy addiction like I do, then you’ll love this fun shopping experience that allows you to touch and feel before you buy. Word to the wise—wear comfortable shoes, and possibly consider bringing your own portable shopping cart. I was shocked at how large this show is and how impressive the items for sale were. From high end luxury clothing to gourmet food items to exquisite jewelry to screen-printed swimsuits and literally EVERYTHING in between, this show is a can’t miss. 

Start a Ross Petty Tradition

A Toronto legend, Ross Petty Productions have been taking holiday classics and turning them upside down for over twenty years. This was my family’s first experience with a Ross Petty show, but it will definitely not be our last. Even my very skeptical teens pre-show, were Ross Petty converts post-show.

christmas weekend getaway in Toronto

I loved how this is a truly family friendly show had singing, dancing, comedy and audience involvement all wrapped up in a perfect holiday package. There was enough jokes to keep even the youngest audience members engaged, with just enough sly comedy to keep the adults laughing out loud. It was absolute perfection, so this is a must-do for your Christmas weekend getaway in Toronto. Added bonus? The Elgin Theatre in Toronto is breathtaking. 

End Your Stay At The Holiday Fair in the Square

If Toronto keeps it up, they are going to give Germany a run for their money when it comes to Christmas markets. The Holiday Fair in the Square runs in Nathan Phillips Square for the month of December. Be sure to pack your skates if you’d like to get a little time on the ice. 

Christmas Weekend Getaway in Toronto

photo credit: fairinthesquare.ca




Couples Sans Souci is Jamaica’s Garden of Eden

I’ve been a fan of Jamaica now for over 20 years, booking Sunwing flights out of Ottawa every winter to escape our bitter and unrelenting winters. In that time, I have visited a lot of resorts around the island. When asked for advice, I routinely recommend Couples Resorts to friends looking for adults-only vacations because of their exceptional service, stunning locales, and seemingly endless activities. There are four Couples properties in Jamaica and I’ve been lucky enough to vacation at three. Asking me to pick my favourite though is like asking me to pick my favourite child—impossible! 

What I can tell you is that each Couples resort is unique and one of them is the perfect fit for you. Take Couples Sans Souci in Ocho Rios, for example, which in my humble opinion, has to be the original Garden of Eden. Oh, I know, some will say the Garden of Eden was in the Middle East, but I ask you, does this not look like paradise to you? 

You might even find yourself feeling a little like Adam & Eve here. With only 150 suites on this property, it’s easy to find quiet places for two. When we visited, the resort was almost at capacity, yet there were times I felt we had the place all to ourselves. It’s important to note here that all 150 suites at Couples San Souci come with a spectacular ocean view. We enjoyed fresh Blue Mountain coffee every morning on our balcony while taking in the fifty shades of blue in the Caribbean Sea. 

What struck me immediately about Couples San Souci was the feeling of serenity upon arrival. Surrounded by dense, lush jungle and far from the madding crowds, Sans Souci is the perfect place for couples looking to push a reset button. If you’re currently debating which Couples Resort you’d like to visit you can read my articles about Couples Swept Away and Couples Tower Isle. But first, here’s what makes Couples Sans Souci so unique.

Blissful Isolation

Only the truly stressed out will understand the beauty of this. When you’re at Couples Sans Souci, you feel like there is no world beyond the lush palms and mountains that surround you; you can’t even see another resort. With a ton of nooks and crannies around the resort, you may not even have to interact with other guests if you don’t want to. If you are feeling social, the piano bar here is the perfect place to make new friends. Worth noting for those that literally do want to be Adam & Eve—Sans Souci has it’s own private au naturel beach.

A Spa As Unique As the Resort

You know when Travel & Leisure names the spa at Sans Souci the “Best Caribbean Hotel Spa”, there’s something special about it. Unlike most spas that have treatment rooms all together under one roof, the spa at Sans Souci has treatment rooms spread throughout the resort. The hydrotherapy treatment room for example, lies between a cascading waterfall on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. You’d be hard pressed to find a more serene setting. Massage treatment rooms are on cliffs overlooking the sea, and are the perfect place to have a massage for one, but even better for two. 

Those Delightful Nooks & Crannies

This was me the entire time we were at Couples Sans Souci; this is my favourite spot! No, no, now this is my favourite spot. Nevermind, I take it back, I now declare this spot right here the best. Truth be told; I never could decide. That’s what made Couples San Souci so delightful. No wonder they call it the Jewel of Jamaica. Whether is was swinging in a hammock high above the sea, or swinging in a chair looking out at it, there are hundreds of little spots to just take it all in.

One of those little gems is the mineral grotto. In use since the 1700s, the mineral grotto found at Couples Sans Souci is thought to have healing and restorative powers. Fed with cool spring water, it’s a great place to steal away with your partner for a quick dip. 

Romance Rewards

No matter which Couples Resort you choose to visit, you are eligible for Couples Romance Rewards on your second visit. Romance Rewards are accumulated based on nights stayed at Couples and as you would suspect, get better and better the more you visit. From resort credits to free massages, and other amazing perks, it’s worth your time to sign up for on your first visit, because trust me, you will be back. 

DISCLOSURE: LIFE IN PLEASANTVILLE WAS INVITED TO EXPERIENCE COUPLES SANS SOUCI WITH SUNWING VACATIONS. ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED ARE THOSE OF THE AUTHOR. 



Iconic Couples Tower Isle Doesn’t Rest on It’s Laurels – Why You Should Go

The entrance to Couples Tower Isle is a portal back in time. Lined with Royal Palms on either side, one can almost imagine they’ve landed back in the golden age of Hollywood as they approach the entrance. It’s only when you’ve checked in and learned a little more about the history of this luxury all-inclusive that you realize you truly are walking in the footsteps of Hollywood legends.

Couples Tower Isle is the OG all-inclusive—this is the resort that started it all back in 1949. Started by Abe Issa, the man they call Mr. Jamaica, this iconic resort has entertained the likes of Walt Disney, Eva Gabor, Debbie Reynolds, Errol Flynn, and many more. Time spent in the legendary piano bar, where pictures of famous visitors line the walls, one can’t help but absorb a little bit of the afterglow. I will admit, I felt rather legendary myself one night singing around the piano—but that may have been the martinis.  

Sixty-eight years later, this resort is not resting on its laurels. Still owned by the Issa family, and available through Sunwing Vacations, it is one of four Couples Resorts on the island of Jamaica, and has a devoted group of returning guests. Chatting with others at the resort revealed a couple that has been returning for 20 years after honeymooning there, friends who return year after year to connect, and a Jamaican born group that comes annually from their home in the United Kingdom. We even saw a couple who had matching tattoos of the Couples logo of intertwined palm trees on their arms.

It’s not just the guests who have sworn their eternal love either. Staff members are hopelessly devoted too. Don’t miss the opportunity to meet John, the British expat who’s been playing piano at Couples Tower Isle since 1985. Get him a drink after he’s done for the evening and be prepared to listen to one of the best storytellers I’ve ever met. The heartbeat of Couples Tower Isle though is the Operations Manager, Ms. Bailey, who has been part of the Couples family for 16 years. For me, I think it speaks volumes when resorts have staff that have stuck around for the long haul; happy staff means happy guests.

Why You’ll Want to Check Couples Tower Isle Out For Yourself 

That Island

Nothing says tropical getaway like a secluded island, which in is this case is just a short boat ride away. The catch though is this island is reserved for those that like to make sure all their body parts get tanned, so if you prefer to keep your swimsuit on you can admire it from the dreamy beach at Couples Tower Isle. Same amazing view, less risk of burning. The island is also used for weddings after 4:30 and I can’t think of a more idyllic setting to start your life together. 

All-Inclusive Spa Suites

Couples Tower Isle recently added all-inclusive spa suites to the resort and yes, I can confirm that it’s heaven. If you’re a spa devotee like me then consider booking one of these rooms and taking advantage of all the spa services you can handle at the Oasis Spa. The Buddha Pool at the Oasis spa is the perfect place to let all your cares slip away. 

The Food

Word to the wise; pack your stretchy pants. The food anywhere in Jamaica is consistently good, so to stand out you need to raise the bar. Couples Tower Isle achieves that with it’s six unique restaurants. Be sure to make reservations at Eight Rivers (lamb and tenderloin that melt in your mouth) and Bayside (delicious Asian fusion with an unbeatable view) upon arrival. Trust me, you do not want to miss out on these two restaurants. While resting on the beach during the day, don’t miss the Veggie Bar for custom smoothies (slip up to the bar above to add a little Jamaican rum – no judgement mon) and nosh on healthy snacks while watching the waves roll in.

The Time Together

It’s not called Couples for nothing. My husband and I have been fans of Couples Resorts since 2006 when we first visited Couples Swept Away in Negril. Couples Resorts knows you’re there to spend time with your partner and focus on each other. We spent the week in a kayak for two, having a romantic dinner on the beach, singing along at a Piano bar, being spoiled at a spa, and listening to a musician under the stars. At the end of the week, we walked away rested and reconnected; exactly what you’re supposed to do at Couples Tower Isle. 

Canadians can book Couples Tower Isle through Sunwing Vacations from over ten gateways across the country starting in November. 

Disclosure: Life in Pleasantville was invited to experience Couples Tower Isle with Sunwing Vacations. All opinions expressed are those of the author.