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(2017 - Winter/Spring Issue)

Writer: Cynthia David

Located on Florida’s Atlantic coast two hours north of Miami and two hours southeast of Orlando, St. Lucie County is an undiscovered paradise featuring the City of Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and 34 kilometres of breathtaking beaches on Hutchinson Island where you can enjoy horseback riding tours. Exuding Old Florida charm, the county has preserved the period architecture of Fort Pierce where a weekly farmers’ market is ranked among the top five in the U.S. Indian River Lagoon is the nation’s most biologically diverse estuary while the Fort Pierce City Marina provides top-notch amenities for boaters and anglers. Home to PGA Village where three PGA courses, a golf-learning centre and a 14-hectare practice facility are open to the public, Port St. Lucie also hosts the New York Mets during spring training. Endless dining opportunities range from unique bistros to popular chain restaurants and the area offers a variety of accommodation choices including one of the country’s only all-inclusive resorts, quaint hotels and motels, condo or home vacation rentals, as well as camping and RV sites. VisitStLucieFLA.com

CIBC has taken service to new heights by opening its first mountaintop ski-thru ATM installed outside the Roundhouse Lodge on Whistler Mountain. The new standalone ATM provides easy access to cash for purchases at cash-only vendors before heading back down the slopes and offers the same range of banking services available at all CIBC ATMs. The ski-thru ATM will be active throughout the 2017 ski season and is one of many experiences CIBC will be offering as part of a brand-new, five-year partnership with Whistler Blackcomb. cibc.com; whistlerblackcomb.com

Starting in May 2017, Air Canada Express will add non-stop service to six new U.S. cities including southern hot spots Savannah, Georgia; San Antonio, Texas; and Memphis, Tennessee. All routes will be serviced year-round except Savannah, to which service will operate six times a week between May 1 and October 15. Flights to San Antonio, Memphis and Savannah will depart from Toronto while Denver, Colorado and Phoenix, Arizona, flights will originate in Vancouver. Daily service from Montréal to Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, begins May 26. All routes will be served by regional jet aircraft and scheduled to ensure convenient connections with Air Canada’s domestic and international schedule. aircanada.com

With volunteer vacations gaining popularity among Canadian travellers to Jamaica, the Jamaica Tourist Board has posted a volunteer page on its website to help visitors connect with organizations. For instance, the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation works to improve the learning experience by building and renovating schools on the island. Also committed to community education through its Rockhouse Foundation, Negril’s Rockhouse Hotel arranges volunteer experiences at a nearby school while the Sandals Foundation supports local conservation efforts. The Great Huts in Port Antonio provides complimentary or subsidized accommodation for volunteers working at their homeless shelter and rehabilitation centre. Individuals with specific skill sets in education and healthcare might contact Breds Foundation in the Treasure Beach community of St. Elizabeth. visitjamaica.com/volunteer

Travellers booking trips with the Toronto-based small-group adventure operator, G Adventures, will be supporting local communities in Belize, Indonesia, Kenya, Mexico and Nepal in 2017—named International Year of Sustainable Tourism. Five new social enterprise projects include a guided bike tour on Caye Caulker, Belize; local meals at restaurants in Playa del Carmen, Mexico and Nakuru, Kenya; and homestays near Chitwan National Park in Nepal and inside Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park in Java, Indonesia. gadventures.com

The tragic death of nine blue whales in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2014 allowed scientists from Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum to study how Earth’s largest animal evolved, how they communicate and why their numbers are declining. Their findings, including a giant skeleton, are featured in Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story, which opens March 11 at the ROM. In other news, phase one of The Bentway, a new public space being carved out of a forgotten area under Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, is expected to open in July, welcoming public markets and arts, exhibitions, musical performances and more. seetorontonow.com  

Since 2004, WestJet has flown hundreds of thousands of guests directly to Phoenix, Arizona. The Calgary-based airline recently added a second Arizona destination with its new non-stop service to Mesa, located about 30 kilometres east of Phoenix. From old west towns and Broadway musicals to its Desert Botanical Garden, Mesa has much to offer visitors. Flights depart Calgary three times a week and once a week from Edmonton. westjet.com 

Halong Bay in Vietnam has long attracted tourists to take in its majestic landscape and culture. The recently opened Paradise Trend Hotel now offers visitors a second land-based alternative to spending the night on a boat, the most common accommodation choice available in the area. Featuring 78 elegantly appointed rooms, the new property is located next door to the posh Paradise Suites Hotel, which debuted two years ago on Tuan Chau Island, the gateway to Vietnam’s most famous natural attraction. Guests at both hotels have access to two restaurants, a spa and a boutique and are encouraged to spend more time exploring the surrounding area and relaxing on the beach. paradisevietnam.com

Until March 26, 2017, l’Hôtel de Glace invites you to discover the beauties and mysteries of the North Pole—the inspiration behind the hotel’s architectural design and its unique suites. Newly located at Valcartier Vacation Village just 20 minutes north of Québec City, the 2017 ice hotel promises visitors a one-of-a-kind experience and opportunities to discover different cultures and civilizations and meet important figures. Featuring cocktails served in sparkling glasses made of ice, the Ice Bar will be hotter than ever with two must-go party nights scheduled for February 17 and March 10. hoteldeglace-canada.com

In 2016, the city that never sleeps welcomed an all-time record 60.3 million visitors. To continue this upward trend, NYC & Company unveiled signature dining and theatre promotions, which, along with the best hotel rates of the year, promise to make winter 2017 the most affordable value period ever in New York City. For instance, two-for-one tickets for Off-Broadway Week (February 27–March 12) go on sale February 13. And while you’re planning your New York getaway, check out how you can save up to 50 per cent with the New York City Explorer Pass and New York CityPASS. nycgo.com/nonstop

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