Where to Channel Your Inner VIP on a Luxury Canada VacationBy Sandra MacGregor
Everyone deserves a bit of indulgence, and Canada, with its world-class restaurants and attractions — not to mention the country’s welcoming charm — has just what it takes to make any traveler feel like a VIP.
Here’s a roundup of some of Canada’s best dreamworthy destinations that belong on any over-the-top trip itinerary. As always, check for travel restrictions and closures before planning your trip.
Vancouver Island, British Columbia
For those in search of an elevated outdoor adventure, set course for Vancouver Island’s wild west coast to the town of Tofino. Visit the art gallery of Roy Henry Vickers, a celebrated First Nations artist. Chef Paul Moran (winner of “Top Chef Canada” in 2019) offers private catering and foraging classes for a singular Tofino tasting event. Take a float plane with Atleo River Air Service to a hidden lake for a picnic or a helicopter to a remote island for a hike.
For city slickers exploring Vancouver Island, the quaint capital city of Victoria is ideal. The award-winning Nowhere *A Restaurant is among the most talked about new hot spots in Canada and features an ever-changing tasting menu of seven to ten courses. Let someone else worry about the driving as you explore the wineries and distilleries on the city’s outskirts with Tesla Tours.
Board a seaplane to visit Vancouver Island’s most iconic attraction, Butchart Gardens, where you’ll enjoy a three-course dinner after wandering through the legendary botanical masterpiece at your leisure.
In Calgary’s East Village neighborhood, Japanese-inspired restaurant NUPO focuses mainly on fish and plant-based fare, with specialty fish dishes made with a custom dry-aging chamber. The restaurant’s omakase sushi meal is led by Canada’s first and only female omakase chef. For delicious modern Canadian cuisine, head to the aptly named eight-seat eatery, Eight, which offers an intimate dining encounter with top chef Darren MacLean.
For a nightcap, the sophisticated yet whimsical drinks at Proof are not to be missed. Placing fifth on Canada’s list of 50 Best Bars of 2020, the bar features exclusive liquors and a menu of creative handcrafted cocktails.
Opened in January 2020, Contemporary Calgary lets you tap into the city’s exciting art scene. The art gallery features a dynamic and engaging collection of local, national and international contemporary works.
Those with discerning palates should book a table at Alo, which is consistently ranked among the top restaurants in the country — and has the hardest-to-get reservations. Luxurious ingredients and cutting-edge techniques make this elegant eatery a gourmand go-to. An unparalleled (and wallet-busting) dining experience awaits sushi lovers at Sushi Masaki Saito. Michelin-starred chef Masaki Saito brings the taste of Tokyo to Toronto with a mouth-watering tasting menu.
Known as the “Mink Mile,” Toronto’s Bloor–Yorkville neighborhood houses the priciest retail space in Canada. You’ll find Tiffany & Co., Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, and Hermès, as well as Chanel‘s Canadian flagship store.
Inspired by traditional Eastern spas, the palatial Hammam Spa features transformative treatments like the Hammam Rhassoul Clay Wrap or the Céla Seed to Skin Ritual. Be sure to put aside some time to visit Toronto’s pastoral, underappreciated nearby islands with a private boat tour. Or for something truly unique, paddle out to the Toronto Islands in a heritage Voyageur Canoe where you’ll indulge in a wild-foraged, picture-perfect picnic.
If you’re yearning for classic fine dining favorites like foie gras and lobster bisque, sate your cravings at one of Canada’s best French restaurants, Europea. Overseen by chef Jérôme Ferrer, this restaurant marries the finest French techniques with the edible abundance of Quebec’s terrain.
Shop alongside Montreal’s most well-heeled residents at the newly opened Holt Renfrew Ogilvy. Two iconic Canadian brands come together to provide a carefully curated shopping outing with many luxury brands exclusively available only at the store. Montreal is also famous for its fashion designers, so why not treat yourself to a tailor-made suit by a Quebec designer like Nathon Kong or slip into a silky ensemble at Denis Gagnon.
For a unique Scandinavian spa experience with a Quebecois twist, visit Scandinave Spa Vieux-Montréal. The steam bath with eucalyptus infusion is sure to relieve muscle tension and soothe the spirit.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
If you’re looking for unforgettable, look no further than Canada’s Niagara Region, which is home not only to one of nature’s greatest wonders, but also to one of North America’s most acclaimed wine regions.
Just a 20-minute drive from Niagara Falls you’ll find the winery and restaurant combo Pearl Morissette. At the restaurant, which was named best new restaurant in Canada in 2018 by enRoute, the blind tasting menu changes daily and is a foodie’s dream, showcasing the best farms and food producers of the region. Pearl Morissette’s wines show off the quaffable side of the terroir.
Spoil yourself with a jaw-dropping bird’s-eye view of the falls via helicopter with Niagara Helicopters — you get to revel in all the wonder without the crowds. Car enthusiasts may want to opt to tour the area in a Lamborghini, Ferrari or Porsche with Ultimate Exotics.
The Niagara Region is also renowned for its ice wine, which is among the planet’s rarest and most coveted tipples. At Peller Estates you can immerse yourself in a unique ice wine tasting experience at Peller’s 10Below Icewine Lounge, an igloolike room in the cellar that is kept at a frosty 14 degrees Fahrenheit (don’t worry: parkas are provided).