Jet Set: Collingwood

While cottage weekends have come and gone, it’s still nice to get out of the city from time to time, if only for the night. While most of us probably associate Collingwood with skiing, hot chocolate and the Blue Mountain Village, trust us, there is whole lot more to do in Cwood all year round. One of our favourite times of year to head up north is during the fall, as the scenery and changing leaves on the drive up are always breathtaking. So if you’re looking for a quick getaway, we suggest jumping in the car and heading to one of Ontario’s most beautiful regions.


Scenic fall road.

Where to stay:
While there is no shortage of hotels and condos in the Blue Mountain Village (our personal favourite is the Westin Trillium, overlooking the whole village) why not try something different and check out one of the quaint bed and breakfasts in town? With Victorian decor and “modern British” cuisine, the Bacchus House, located three blocks from downtown Collingwood, is sure to make you feel like you’re on a mini vacation. For a more historic feel, there is is the Joseph Lawrence House which was built in the 1800s and is now a Heritage Home. Other B&B options include the Thurso House, Willow Trace Bed and Breakfast and Pretty River Valley Country Inn

The view from the Westin Trillium.

The beautiful, historic Thurso House.

What to do:
Whether it’s adventure, relaxation or both you’re after, there is always plenty to do in and around Collingwood. Start your day off at the Scenic Caves, do a guided tour, check out the suspension bridge, tree top walk or zip line: the views are breathtaking. For more activities  check out the Tees Please driving range or Adventure Park at Blue Mountain where you can try anything from mountaintop Segway tours to the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster. 


Next, you don’t have to go to Niagara to taste local Ontario wines. Georgian Hill Vineyards offers tastings Wednesday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., we can think of few things better than sipping wine in the countryside. We suggest you end your day at the Scandinave Spa where you can unwind and enjoy the hot and cold baths, steam rooms (the eucalyptus room is amazing) and relaxation areas. Massages are also available if you want to turn it into a full spa experience.

View from the suspension bridge at the Scenic Caves.


Scandinave Spa.

Where to eat:
While the Blue Mountain Village offers pretty much anything you can think of, it’s often very crowded and VERY touristy. We suggest sticking to downtown Collingwood, or even venturing to Thornbury, the next town over, where you can find some of the most quaint and delicious restaurants around. Start with lunch or brunch in town at Cafe Chartreuse, Duncan’s Cafe, or our personal favourite, The Tremont Cafe. While the Tremont has some of the tastiest brunch food we’ve had, they also serve a pretty great (albeit a little pricy) dinner. Other great options, and places we’ve gone back to time after time include Tesoro, The Huron Club and Azzurra. And if you’re willing to make the drive to Thornbury (and we suggest you do) be sure to try Simplicity Bistro, one of many delicious restaurants in one of our favourite little towns. Note, Simplicty Bistro also offers a pretty divine brunch. 

The beautiful Tremont Cafe.

Azzurra Trattoria by night.
We hope we’ve changed your perception of Collingwood as nothing but a winter tourist trap. With more and more people choosing to live there year round, the restaurant and outdoor activity scenes have really flourished in the last few years, and are only going to get better. 



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Rant AND Rave: Snowboarding vs. Skiing

Some of us want to make the best of winter. We love the waft of beaver tails lingering in the air. The crisp air and cozy nights in blankets with tea. We also love being active. Some of us on the fourth floor are skiers and some are snowboarders. Here are our thoughts on which ride trumps the other.


Ross Rebagliati wannabe’s

 

Lara: As a young girl I learned how to ski on the bunny hill at Earl Bales and moved up to Lakeridge, but my heart was never in it. When snowboarding became the new “it” sport, I jumped on the bandwagon. My friend Hayley oozed the cool snowboarder vibe, was an instant pro, quickly became a teacher, and gave me lessons on her front lawn “slope”. I was in love and seriously dove in a few years ago. I crave road trips to bigger mountains, am constantly looking for new gear, and love the culture – a.k.a. poutine and nachos for lunch and talking about every ride, how good or bad or fast it went. Gnarly dude.

 

Christina: I’ve been a boarder since ’96, when an embarrassing ski accident (involving moguls and a younger child) caused me to see the light. I have never looked back. I think the ultimate reason boarding is better is the outcome after falling. When you bite it on skis, it’s downright embarrassing. As a skier, you yard sale on the hill, poles tossed in every direction, one ski sliding down the hill and with the other 20 yards up. You have to climb back up the hill (awkwardly, because walking in ski boots is the pits and your onesy ski suit is inevitably too tight) and collect all your gear piece by piece. Thankfully, as a boarder my equipment never strays. When I fall, my board is attached by a leash. I can sit down on the hill, strap back in and still look good doing it.

Abby: Skiing! Even though I am into snowboarding, I’ve only done it once. It was a blast, but hard on my wrists from a million falls, and my knee was aching by the end of the day, unaccustomed to being flexed for hours at a time. 
Skiing feels smoother and freer. I used to figure skate competitively, so skiing came easily. I love to push myself and go down moguls, triple black diamond hills and occasionally venture into the half-pipe. There’s no way I’d get that thrill factor with snowboarding – I’d have to put in years just to avoid giving myself a concussion.
 
It’s also easier to get around on flat ground (instead of doing that awkward pigeon-toed snowboard walk).

Rachelle: I love alpine skiing. I’m originally from Montreal and the skiing in Quebec is great. I love the speed, the amazing workout and and the cute après ski outfits. My husband and I love the good food you can always find in ski towns.

The former skier/snowboarder:  


Matt: The year was 1998. I was a very good skier, had a pair of K2’s and all. I made the horrible mistake of trying to impress some ladies, so I tackled a triple black diamond hill. My ski fell off on a hairpin turn, I crashed through the orange barrier fence, launched over a cliff and had my fall broken by a lone tree. Ski patrol tied me to a spinal board on a sled and took me down the hill to emergency. Along the way I saw the girls. Needless to say, they were not impressed. I was on crutches for two months. Sadly, I haven’t skied or snowboarded since, but put me down for drinks by a chalet fireplace.




What about you – skis or snowboard? Tweet us @rockitpromo.

First jobs: Alana

To continue our first jobs series, Alana tells us all about the joys of working at a specialty ski and outdoor apparel shop.

Other than babysitting for my neighbours, my first “real” job was in the retail industry when I was 15. I worked at The Sign of the Skier for three years, selling ski jackets, hats, gloves and accessories in the clothing department.

Every three weeks we were required to attend product knowledge meetings about the mechanics of how each jacket was made. I knew coats inside and out – literally. 

I could tell customers how waterproof, windproof, breathable and durable each coat was, and why. I was also taught the importance of layering, and which fabrics should be layered where. Not to mention advising on which gloves, hats, snow pants and long underwear were the best bang for your buck. 

I knew this Helly Hansen performance jacket intimately. 
It was always pretty fun to see the look of disbelief on customer’s faces after explaining the inner workings of a coat they were interested in. They couldn’t believe a kid could know that much information about one product.

The best part about working at The Sign was the fact that I worked with my mom, twin sister and two best friends. That’s not to say that we loved working after school, but it definitely made it much sweeter that we could work together. One of my all-time favourite memories was in the spring when we had no customers and things at the store slowed right down. My friends and I would play practical jokes on each other… until one went terribly wrong. 

It was kind of like this, only not as composed.  

We’d hide behind the racks of clothes and jump out to scare each other. One time, a friend and I were hiding in the pant rack when a customer came and started flipping through the pants. We froze and stayed silent, hoping he would go back downstairs. But he didn’t. 

He saw us hiding in the pants, looked at us weirdly, and walked away. I was too embarrassed to talk to him, so my friend dealt with the aftermath. My boss was not impressed. 


My first job was a good experience. It taught me the importance of happy customers, a good attitude, team work and many other qualities that have been paramount in my growing career.