I couldn’t find research to back this next statement, but sometimes I feel like tourists know more than locals when it comes to hotspots in a city. I mean, locals know where the everyday essentials are, but they don’t always go the extra mile, they tend not to explore close to home and don’t necessarily splurge on staycations. But if you factor in the cost of travel, you may be ahead if you just stay close to home and treat yourself! And if you’re too busy to get away for an entire weekend, consider what you can do in just 24 hours. Katie Hession (Yow City Style) and I were up for the challenge when Outaouais Tourism put together a decadent stay for us to experience 24-hours of R&R in Gatineau: Nordik Spa, Biscotti & Cie and The Wakefield Mill were on the agenda!
I’ve lived in Ottawa for just over 15 years, and by now I feel that I have experience most of what Ottawa has to offer, which is why I love discovering new places and things in the city. We tend to forget that there is a whole new place next door, waiting to be discovered! I vowed, not long ago, that I would try and get my feet wet, and learn a little bit more about the gems hiding away in Gatineau, which is why I am so happy to share this post with you.
I was recently invited to spend a fabulous VIP evening with the gracious folks of the Casino Lac Leamy‘s PR team. I almost forgot how much fun it is to party with the Quebecois! They have an immense passion for life and all things food, culture, music and entertainment. We chatted, wined and dined and had the opportunity to hear first hand about all the amazing experiences that the casino has to offer. From first class dining, to adrenaline pumping games and gorgeous views of the city, there is no shortage of amusement on the other side of the bridge.
This year, Casino Lac-Leamy is a sponsor of the RBC Bluesfest and a big part of their message is that your night doesn’t have to end after the concerts are over. So, grab a $10 uber across the river and keep the party going! No doubt you’ve heard the commercials. I suggested they organize a fairy ride to bring you there. Can you image how much fun that would be?!
The night started off with an exclusive boat ride on Leamy lake. This boat and tour is exclusively reserved for high rollers, as a way to thank their loyal clients. I was impressed, to say the least, and most of all flattered to take part in the entire thing. I had the honour of popping the bubbly and we toasted to a fun girls night out!
We then headed over to Arome Seafood and Grill, one of three restaurants located inside the Casino. We sat on the lovely terrace and had the tender 70 day dry-aged beef with lobster tail for dinner (YUM!) The appetizer was a crab and fish cake, and an assortment of sweets for dessert to end the night. It’s hard to tell in the photo (sorry bad lighting), but the sculptures on the tray are completely edible and made of sugar. We had a mini roulette table on our tray. The level of detail is astounding! All the work is done by an 84 year old confectioner who works full-time producing exquisite sugar sculptures all day, every day.
The image of the fridge (sorry to my vegans and vegetarians) is a one-of-a-kind cutting edge process of aging meat. Arome receives their beef aged at 35 days, and they age it for an additional 35 days: 70 days in total! The aging process helps to tenderize the beef and release different flavours you otherwise wouldn’t get in the meat. The fridge is openly displayed at the entrance of the restaurant and vigilantly monitored by the chefs.
Now we party! I’ll have to admit, after all that food, I was very sleepy and not in the party mood. But once we started playing in the Zone, my energy levels kicked in! The Zone is crazy! Like, you need a short attention span to survive. There is so much going on, but it’s so much fun at the same time. I played roulette for the first time and won a cool $43. Not bad, not bad! The hosts on the main stage are so much fun and super entertaining. It’s amazing to watch them go from one game to the other and keep up with the pace. I would fail at this job, I think.
Because mama knows when to cashout, we left the Zone on a positive note and headed to Alea night club, the angular dome on the second floor. I really wish I wasn’t a grandma that night. I totally would have stayed to dance, the music was awesome. (Note: don’t book a huge meal and go dancing on the same night… it’s not gonna happen!)
If you’re just scrolling through the post quickly, the least you can do is grab my tips on making the most out of your Casino Lac-Leamy Experience!
Try the Brazilian BBQ dinner on Friday and Saturday nights at Arome. It’s grilled and served on the terrace and only costs $37 for AYCE!! (All you can eat)
Get the girls together and experience 5 star dining like no other at Le Baccara. The prices and service are not as intimidating as you think.
It’s a $15 Uber ride from the Glebe to the Casino.
Do you have a boat? Awesome! Dock your boat at the Casino’s marina and walk right in! PS- it’s the only Casino in the world that has a marina directly attached to it!
If you like live music and cover bands, the party is always happening at Bar 7. Also, I saw a lot of cute boys… (where the single ladies at?)
You can now play “Win for Life” on a slot machine. There have already been 2 winners! (Can you imagine?!)
BRUNCH people, BRUNCH! If you love to brunch, make sure you call in ahead of time and book your reso at Arome. It’s supposed to be out of this world!
Treat yourself to a night stay at the Hilton, book your spa day experiences or lounge on the poolside patio.
I was invited to attend the media preview of the new Simons in Gatineau last night, that is set to open its doors at 11 a.m. this morning inside Les Promenades Gatineau shopping mall. The good news is that Simons is also scheduled to open an Ottawa location on Aug. 11, 2016 at the Rideau Centre.
One of Canada’s oldest family owned company’s, Simons is now being led by Peter Simons, CEO and 5th generation Simons family member. We had the pleasure of getting a personally guided tour of the store with Peter and had an opportunity to get cozy with Simons true Mission and Vision.
Here are 10 things that I learned last night:
- Simons is one of the oldest Canadian family owned business, founded in 1812 by Peter Simons in Quebec City.
- The Simons family business model is all about supporting local and doing world class business in Canada. Although this may cost them more, they are passionate about being a fully Canadian business.
- Simons loves to experiment with different brands that offer a creative and fashion forward feel at a great value. These sub-brands will evolve as fashion trends do, but the Simon brands focus on remaining classic and timeless.
- Simons is a large supporter of Canadian Arts and Culture and believes that they need to be integrated in their community. They also strive to support as many smaller initiatives as best as they can.
- Every store has a creative Canadian collaboration, including Douglas Coupland and Julie Tremblay. For the Simons Gatineau store, Julie Tremblay has created “Metamorphique” a large scale art installation in the centre of the store, suspended between positive and negative spaces in the ceiling. This large piece was created in her Brooklyn studio and disassembled into 18 pieces to be relocated to the store. It took 1 year to create. The inspiration behind this concept comes from the patterns we see in the movement of nature, whether organic or inorganic matter. The textures and shapes in this piece also resemble the movement of textiles and fabric.
- Every store is carefully designed with architecture in mind, to maximize the shoppers experience.
- All clothing is available to purchase online, but their major focus is serving their clients in-store with a true Canadian customer service approach.
- Although Simons doesn’t carry a specific Plus-Size line, their “Contemporaine” brand, targeted to a more mature crowd, goes up to XXL.
- Simons is working on a few initiatives to reduce their carbon footprint and provide more eco-friendly options. They are looking for discovery brands that are advancing environmental and social initiatives.
- Simons approach to fashion is allowing women and men to mix their brands, which is why they carry a wide range of price point and style selection.
Thank you to Emily Lynne Smith from The Best of this Life for capturing some shots of me swooning over the purse section at Simons!