We all dream of the long, luxiuriant trip abroad. 7 blissful days of work-free, concentrated fun in the sun. Or fun in the rainforest, or desert, or island. Wherever. As long as it’s a certain length of time away from the harsh demands of our busy realities, we are happy.
Down-trodden office workers even dream of year-long escapes where they can backpack and bartend their way to fun and adventure. Let’s leave our day-to-day existences for as long as we can, seems to be the philosophy.
As the length of time away becomes increasingly important, I want to focus on instead on weekend getaways.
I recently partook in one to the charming city of Montreal, Quebec. As I settled in to my train seat, ready for the longish journey from Toronto I felt unexpectedly excited and immediately refreshed. It was not a flight to Bangkok but instead a humble train journey within my own country. Why the excitement?
Because it was something out of my routine. While it was cheaper and only 3 nights – this mini-trip would prove to be the opportunity for me to refocus, re-energize and rest.
Walking to my hotel I was remembered that the family member that I was sharing this long-weekend trip with was a member of the SPG Loyalty Program. Entering the lobby of the Le Centre Sheraton Montreal Hotel I remembered why I had been eager to stay again. The well appointed hotel lobby featured a pleasantly diverse group of travellers, from all over the globe. I could hear the array of languages being spoken and feel the excitement of each traveller as they got ready to explore the city. As a single, female, minority, traveller I never feel out of place in this elegant, yet modern hotel.
The perks of being a Starwood Preferred Guest were apparent to me right away. As I was taken to the Sheraton Club perched atop the hotel on the 37th hotel I wondered what could be so special about a lounge. As it turns out a lot. The views were spectacular, looking out at the tip top of Montreal’s multitude of glass office towers. Beyond the great view, the Sheraton Club had comfortable seating in a very spacious setting with complimentary coffee and tea all the time and a (very good) free breakfast and (generous) evening snacks (think melted brie and smoked salmon galore).
The treats in store for loyalty program members continued as I entered our hotel room. Greeting me was a plate of complimentary macaroons, a bowl of fruit, and San Pellegrino. A thoughtful note accompanied it and all I could think was “I will become a loyalty member as soon as possible”.
While at this point I did not want to leave this dreamy hotel, I of course ventured out to experience everything Montreal had to offer. Dinner at the superb Garage Beirut was amazing. Lebanese food elevated beyond your neighbourhood shawarma, the kebabs were laced with delicate spices and the hummus was excellent. I recommend getting a reservation as the small, but very classy, basement space can become crowded.
The rest of the weekend was packed. We went to the MAC which with its central location is a great space to quickly explore for cutting edge modern art. For more traditional art I went to Old Montreal, dropping in to the many eclectic and boutique art galleries the neighbourhood is dotted with. Be sure to check them out even if you don’t want to buy. There is some really unique art to view and the gallery owners are always welcoming.
These are only a few of the highlights from my short trip to Montreal. Why was it so special? Because it gave me a breather when I needed it, a distraction from busy, big city life. I relaxed in much the same way I would at an all-inclusive (alright, without the azure waters) and rejuvenated as much as I would at club in Singapore. This trip was an opportunity to not get away from real life, but instead to re-energize for it.
We will never really get away from our realities, because they are made up of the mundane and stressful elements that constitute all peoples’ lives whether they live in Rome or Vancouver. Instead what we can do is give ourselves a break, a time to come up for air, a place to sit back and relax and rethink what is working in our lives and what is not. For the savvy traveller even the bed and breakfast in the neighbouring county is chance to explore and grow.
For those in Toronto, Ottawa or anywhere nearby I really recommend the beautiful city of Montreal, Quebec.
Stay tuned for more weekend getaway ideas here soon!