GUEST POST: Hotel Stays Filled with Delightful Surprises

Intercontinental Hotel

I asked Michelle Dias what she had to say about travelling for work, and here’s what she had to say:

Before working in the hotel business, I thought that the “big-box” branded hotels were all the same: cookie-cutter versions of the same formula, like your neighborhood Best Buy or Target. Boy, was I wrong! I am now one year into my role as Marketing Manager, PR and Communications, with the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) and I have seen my fair share of hotels. From hotels in Vancouver to Atlanta to Nisku (5 minutes outside of Edmonton’s airport), the 13 brands we represent all have similar standards, but each hotel comes with a unique surprise waiting to be discovered. Typically when I go on a business trip, I have the pleasure of getting a hotel tour. It’s a great way for me to get to know the staff and the property. Although friendly smiles and great hospitality come standard, there have been surprise “WOWS” that I won’t soon forget. After a year of jet setting, here my favourite delightful surprises that I have stumbled upon during my hotel stays:

1. A bowling alley, arcade, and huge fitness facility at the Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo

Crowne Plazas are known and enjoyed for their upscale facilities (restaurants, meeting spaces etc.) and cool décor. When touring the newly renovated Crowne Plaza Kitchener-Waterloo, I was shocked to see their underground bowling alley and arcade – which was formerly a parking garage. This space looked like a gamers-dream, and a perfect space for business and leisure guests to unwind. LPGA Golf Professional and Canadian-favourite Brookie Henderson recently took a swing and got a hole-in-one (surprise, surprise!) while playing on the mini-putt course in this cool underground space.


2. Piece of the Berlin Wall at the InterContinental Hotel Montreal InterContinental Hotel

I kid you not! This section of the Berlin Wall was given by Germany to Montreal for the city’s 350th birthday. I’ve been to Berlin, Germany and have to say that the piece of the wall inside the InterContinental is so lively – it really brings that part of history to life. The graffiti looks freshly painted and the markers at the base give you an informative lesson into this grime piece of Germany’s history.



3. This amazing view!

One of my most memorable trips this year was to Vancouver. I was lucky enough to be there for Canada Day and was awestruck by the nature, the number of fit people (seriously, everyone hikes and jogs), and also the vast amount of green space. Coming from Toronto – I feel as though Vancouver has a certain Euro-style: everything is modern, the buildings are glass, and it’s so clean. After hosting an SEO workshop at the Holiday Inn Vancouver-Centre, I was given a tour of the property and stopped for 5 minutes to play tourist while on the building’s highest level overlooking the Pacific ocean.

holiday-inn-vancouver, Intercontinental


I know most hotels are just a stopping ground for travellers – folks are more concerned with seeing the outdoor sites and neighborhoods, but I would encourage you to learn about your hotel on your next trip. Some hotels are historical buildings or conversions from old factories, while some house priceless art or have entertaining game rooms.


InterContinental HotelAUTHOR BIO:

Michelle Dias is an energetic, A-type traveler who doesn’t travel without a detailed itinerary. She is a known over-packer who enjoys taking photos and over-sharing on social media. In her role with IHG, Michelle is responsible for Marketing and Public Relations for all Canadian hotels.

Follow me as I travel @MichelleHotelLife

Photo Credit: [Hotel], [InterContinental Photos]

Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites: A Weekend Getaway

Photo Courtesy of Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites
Photo Courtesy of Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites

Fall. That time of the year for me, and many others, where summer bliss has faded away, and the winter blues and it’s associated stressors begin to creep in. It’s that time where the weather starts to change before you’re ready, and work inevitably seems to get more stressful. This of course, is a compelling story that screams vacation and the necessity to temporarily escape. The reality is, however, that not everyone can afford to take off for a week before the busy Christmas season, which makes a staycation the perfect solution. For most city dwellers, their first thought would be to venture over to Niagara or somewhere up north to experience the serenity of the countryside. But sometimes, these options can be costly and time consuming to plan.

Enter Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites.


Just fifteen kilometres north of the downtown core, the Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites has a large property that takes guests away from all of the chaos, coining itself as an Urban Oasis. Though it’s main specialty was once Conference hosting, it has evolved into so much more than that. I had the pleasure of getting some quality R&R at the Toronto Don Valley Hotel, where I indulged in the many amenities and treats that made me feel like I was truly on vacation, and here’s why:

Location, Location, Location

Not too far from Downtown Toronto
Not too far from Downtown Toronto

The TDV is situated on the outskirts of the city to provide the ultimate resort-like atmosphere with an injection of urban lifestyle to its guests. At a good distance from the hustle and bustle of the city, guests can actually feel like they are escaping, but without the hassle of a long drive to rural areas.

Surrounding the TDV are the Shops at Don Mills – a superior outdoor shopping centre bustling with restaurants, cafes, premium shops, and a movie theatre. If you really want to escape urban life however, fear not – the TDV neighbours the Flemington Park Golf Club and the Charles Sauriol Conservation Area, ideal for the adventurous type who enjoy the outdoors and prefer to do something active.

Pamper Yourself

The Toronto Don Valley Hotel has an indoor and outdoor pool. In the summer, one can lounge by the pool and bask under the sun while sipping cocktails. On the other hand, the stunning indoor pool should not to be missed. A large circular pool, encased in floor to ceiling glass creates the unique and picturesque environment of swimming below the falling leaves or snow-capped trees. Though you won’t need to warm up after taking a dip in the heated indoor pool, it never hurts to soak in the hot tub as well. If this seems a bit too sedentary, and you feel like exerting some energy, try their fully equipped fitness centre.

Photo Courtesy of Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites
Photo Courtesy of Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites
Photo Courtesy of Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites
Photo Courtesy of Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites









Indulge Your Taste Buds

No experience is complete without a delicious meal, and the hotel’s DV Bar I Bistro is certainly prepared to satisfy your palate. I had the pleasure of indulging in a three-course meal starting with Ahi Tuna Tataki salad, followed by the traditional Steak & Frites, and topped off with a delectable chocolate mousse cake to satisfy my overbearing sweet tooth. Couple that with a glass of Pinot Noir, and I was in Heaven.

Sleep like a King

Toronto Don Valley’s newly renovated rooms are something to admire. Not your typical pint-sized room crammed with two double beds, the TDV provides plenty of space to ensure your overnight stay is cozy and luxurious. I was particularly impressed with the modern furniture and interior design. The king-sized bed was like sleeping on a cloud, which made the wall-mounted plasma screen TV even better for viewing. The room was so big that it almost seemed like it had a separate living room space with a lovely upholstered single loveseat, a lamp, and a small table – perfect for a morning read and coffee.

Photo Courtesy of Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites
Photo Courtesy of Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites


So, all in all, mission accomplished:

I left the Toronto Don Valley Hotel & Suites feeling refreshed and revitalized.


The cherry on top was that I didn’t have to sit through a long car ride, or wait in pesky airport lines to get home, as I was only a short car ride away. I think I found my new go-to for future weekend getaways or one-night escapes!