Skiing at Sunshine

We haven’t been skiing out here since we bought the condo. We are usually out at the wrong time of year, busy with updates to the condo, visiting friends or taking guests sightseeing. This trip we took a half day to go skiing at Sunshine Village in Banff.

We were going to pack our skis but a search of the Air Canada website showed that you are supposed to pack them in rigid containers. After about 1 hour of trying to get someone at Air Canada to confirm this I was unsuccessful. The baggage line told me to call customer service, customer service could only re-iterate what was on their site before telling me to call baggage. You know the drill.

It turns out that if you are only going for a half day of skiing that you are better off (from a price and hassle perspective) to rent ski equipment. So we packed our helmets and rented everything else.

Once we arrived at the airport the family in front of us was checking in soft ski bags. Exactly what we would have taken had I not been proactive enough to pre-check the Air Canada website. Turns out you are just fine taking clothe ski bags. I’m not sure whether Air Canada will cover any damages but they definitely will charge you and take them. There are plenty of articles online on how to pack soft-sided bags to avoid damage when flying.

In any event, it was April 12 when we decided to make it to the hill for noon and spend the morning in Banff showing our friends around. The weather was all over the place the Friday before leaving it was to be -1C and nothing but sun on the hill. In Canmore that same day was to be at least 8C. Well, the weather in Canmore changed a couple times and the weather on the mountain was all over the place. Welcome to life in the mountains.

Those of us who packed complete ski gear where the happiest. Others opted to leave big gloves, or goggles at home. Turns out that the weather changed based on which mountain and side we were on. I’m used to the small ski resorts that are in Ontario so this was totally new to me. Hindsight being 20/20 I’ve since found this insider tip page as to what lifts to ski at what time of day.

We had some runs in complete sunshine where we had to undo jackets. Skiing a long blue run, to the right off of the Goat’s Eye chair lift it was bitter cold, with white out conditions and icy patches. It was so bad had we never done the run before we may have stopped and walked back up the hill to where we could see as at points we couldn’t see much more than 10 feet ahead. We knew thought that about a hundred metres of this would bring us to a big bend that was well marked and the wind would disappear.

Turns out a half-day was perfect for our little group. We got to experience skiing at Sunshine and runs that seemed 20 times longer than anything in Ontario.


Getting your Ski/Snow Board Equipment out to Calgary International Airport

We will be going skiing out at Sunshine this April and wondering whether to rent or fly our ski equipment from Toronto to Calgary. We did some research and found the following helpful information:

A great summary article that details costs for a number of airlines. This is a 3rd party article from 2013 and I know that some of the pricing has already changed. E.g., it lists Air Canada charging $20 but I just checked their site and the cost was $25 as of April 2015. Ski and Board check-in information by airline.

Wow, I can’t believe I waited on hold for and searched for about 60 minutes but here is what I found out, in regards to Air Canada.

The call centre at Air Canada doesn’t believe skis can be checked without being in a rigid carrier (but they really don’t know for sure). If they would be allowed the cost would be $50.00 to get them out for 2 people and $50.00 to get them back or $100.00 for each couple.

Rigid carriers seem to cost about $150+ but trying to get one quickly in Canada isn’t easy.

You can rent ski packages (skis, poles, boots – but no helmet) for $35 to $50/person for half day at Sunshine. Cost depends on the level of equipment. Helmets are an extra $10/day. If you are just going for a quick ski day then rent. Otherwise, you are likely best to take your own equipment but double check as to whether you need a rigid ski carrier. If anyone ever finds out if you can check a soft bag on Air Canada please let me know. I’ve seen articles in which people state they’ve taken soft bags on to airlines and just wrap some clothes around the skis to protect. That leads me to believe that they may be checked but the airline wouldn’t be responsible for any damage. However, my guess is this is dependent on the airline.

Sports Experts, which is right next to our condo has a rental program that is slightly cheaper than Sunshine village. You would save $8 (April 2015 pricing) for a half day if you also rented a helmet.

Sunshine Village Rental Information.
Sporting goods store (Sports Experts) right next to our condo.


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Updates to our Tamarindo Vacation Rental Condo

We hadn’t made it down to our property in a couple of years and in March of 2012 we received a 3 out of 5 star review from a guest which caught our attention.  We love to travel and want to ensure that our properties are in great shape for our guests to visit.  We strive for 5 out of 5 star reviews and had received a 5 star review at this property just 3 months earlier (which was the last review).

We’ve had a long standing rule, that we try to stick to, that we have to visit each of our properties at least once/year to ensure that they are still holding up well.  Well, we now own 5 properties in 4 locations and it can be hard to get to every location when our jobs and lives get busy.  We try to spend a week at each property and can’t always get away for 5 weeks out of the year.

The reason we have our “visit every property once/year” rule is because most property managers will never look after a property to the same standards that we will.  They also tend to come in to the property for an hour here or there to maybe a few hours when cleaning.  They don’t get to see the property in all different kinds of lighting, natural and electric.  You notice more spending a week in a property than you will performing a property check-up that may take one hour.

Our 3 star review guest pointed out that the property didn’t have enough dishes and glasses (it sleeps 7 people so should have enough dishes and cutlery to handle 7 people).  Being so close to the beach the stove fume hood and fridge had started to get rust coming through because of the salt in the air from being across from the ocean.    I’d guess that we live 500 miles away from the closest salt water body of water.  The property manager had purchased a micro-fibre couch for us when we first furnished the property.  Never again.  micro-fibre, bare legs and sun screen don’t mix.  I’ve seen micro-fibre couches last twice as long with the same amount of use and show 1/10th the wear.  The couches in Costa Rica had seen better days after five years.

We spent over $600 on new towels, dishes, glasses, etc.,.  When you add in the cost to repaint the appliances, re-upholster couches, repaint walls, buy more artwork, we spent over $3000.00 giving the condo a refresh.  Here are some before and after shots of some items:


Cutlery

Before After
The color had started to wear off of the handles of the Cutlury

The color had started to wear off of the handles of the Cutlury

New Silverware – 2012

New Steak Knife -2012


Cutting Board

Before After
The color had started to wear off of the handles of the Cutlury

Old Cutting Board

Our New Cutting Board

 

New plates, glasses, iron, ironing board
The color had started to wear off of the handles of the Cutlury

New Plates

New Glasses

New Iron

New Ironing Board


This shows the old beige upholstered couch before it was redone in a green/blue and before we added artwork to the walls.

Before After
The color had started to wear off of the handles of the Cutlury

The old couch

New larger couch

New upholstered sofa bed

This picture shows the new artwork on the walls (we essentially got to do a storage locker art work buy).


Master Bedroom Dresser

Before After
The color had started to wear off of the handles of the Cutlury

Wood Dresser

Master Bedroom Dresser has been refinished to get rid of the scratches.


New!

The color had started to wear off of the handles of the Cutlury

New Beach Towels 2012

New Bedding 2012

New Queen Sheets 2012


Viewing a Black Bear about 40 Minutes from our Canmore Vacation Rental Condo

We were on the way from our Canmore vacation rental condo to hopefully spot some grizzly bears, and get some photos, at the Lake Louise ski resort.  It is one of the best spots within the Rocky Mountains to have a chance of seeing grizzlies.  The ski runs, cleared of trees, along with the lodge for viewing some of those areas and the gondola which still takes people up to the top of the mountain combines for a great chance to view a grizzly bear wandering the slopes of the mountain.

Unfortunately we didn’t see a grizzly bear although the tour at the top of the gondola which provides a guided tour that points out ways to spot grizzly activity was a fun time.  It is likely geared towards families but anyone of any age that enjoys nature would likely enjoy the tour.

About 40 minutes from our vacation rental condo we did see a black bear along the side of the highway.  We opted to take the Bow Valley Parkway which runs parallel to the Trans-Canada Highway as you have a better chance of seeing wildlife and it paid off.

 

On the way from our Canmore Vacation Rental we got to see a black bear on the way to Lake Louise

 

However, a lot of people had pulled over to the side of the road and were getting out of their vehicles to take pictures with the bear about 50 feet away.  Not such a good idea.  Remember these are wild animals.  Thankfully the bear was intent on his foraging and left the people alone.

 


Driving a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder

Yah, Can you believe someone actually let ME drive this?  lol

I’ve always loved cars, driving fast, taking the wheel on the open road….so when our friends who own DailyDealTips.com  told us they had an extra Luxury Car rental coupon for Affinity Luxury Car Rentals in Toronto…. I MADE THEM TAKE ME!!!!  If you have never used DailyDealTips ~ you should give it a try!  It’s an online aggregator site that pulls several Groupon/Coupon/2-4-1 type deals together on one easy to use website so you can find, compare and buy the best deals!

Me & Mukul (owner of DDT) gettting ready to drive a Lamborghini for the first time ~ notice I am at the drivers side because I AM GOING FIRST!!!

Here is the car we are driving today… it’s a 2010 Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder – too bad it was too cold to put the roof down:(.

 This car is is a V10 with a 560 horsepower engine.

For all of you non – car geek types… a honda civic has around 150 HP and a lexus IS Convertible coupe sports car has 306 HP…. so 560 is INSANE!!!!!!! this car can do 0-60 (which is 100 km) in 4 seconds!

Here is me testing the 0-60 in 4 seconds theory!

The car is built so you can drive it standard or automatic… but, with paddles – not my favorite type of standard driving, I never really got the hang of it even though over the last decade i have had the pleasure of driving a few other cars with non clitch, non gearshift, crazy paddle or button shifters… I am a gear shift loyalist.

I drove it in Standard sports mode – which if you ever get the chance to drive this car DO NOT MISS OUT ON THIS feature – it is VERY COOL!  You can feel the pure power of this undersized, over engined machine ~ there is nothing else like it! I had flashbacks of driving through Malibu a couple of years ago when you could hear the Ferrari’s & Lamborghini’s before you could see them, this car was no different. You can feel the rummble!  It was also an attention getter – I could see people checking out the car… I am a little disappointed that Mukul had people honking & giving the thumbs up… it must be a guy thing lol AND the guy who accompanied me on the test drive did tell me I was his frist lady driver… *grin*

This car was so powerful I was very aware of how fast i was going and how close I could get to other cars in milli-seconds so I was sure to give myself lots of room.

I also drove the car in non-sports mode which was a little easier, less jerky and WAY less engine noise ~ and less fun:) but if you are having a hard time handling the car you should switch to this mode.

The interior was like nothing else I had ever seen, it was luxurious, comfortable – the seat actually hugged me!

My turn is over….. 🙁

it’s Mukuls turn…. SEE he has the SAME silly grin on his face as I did!!  and that’s how we looked all day…. infact I am still smiling.  Well that’s enough photos of Mukul… esp because they are unauthorized lol

Don’t I look GREAT with this car?  It REALLY suits me ~ don’t you think?  …well, at approx $400,000.00 a pop i would have to live it the car to make the payments….. but it was nice to dream!  THANK YOU DailyDealTips.com

and I DO NOT know why i do this silly pose with all sports cars I drive….

  but here’s me back in 2010 doing the exact same pose when I drove in a NASCAR!

Until next time… VROOM-VROOM


Mind your P's & Q's

 

My sign & promotional offering pet peeves… and remember this is coming from a Veteran Visual Merchandiser who has worked in corporate marketing … I was once the person who made up the promotional offerings!  BUT, I still believe that people need to be happy with their purchase… a lesson I learned from a very smart lady, my FIRST retail boss (about a billion years agoJ).  As a store manager in a world of ever increasing sales goals & making plan, she taught her staff that you never tell someone that a skirt, or shirt, or pant looks good on them just to make a sale.  She wanted us to sell people merchandise they really liked,  then they would become return customers and tell their friends…. And now she is the VP of a national retail chain.  I think of her & her wisdom often and I know that she is one of the reasons I have ethics and high standards today.

At first, retailers tried to trick us into thinking we are getting the deal of a life time … 50% off…(actual sign says: UP TO 50% off) or $4.99 (actual sign says: STARTING AT $4.99) with the key lettering so small you had to use a magnifying glass to read it.  I think we all know this tactic now days and I often over hear customers ask for clarification before they get to attached to anything on the rack –“ is EVERYTHING? 50% off?” .

AS customers are appearing to be well versed in promotions and how they work, the signs are becoming more vague.  As retailers want to save printing cost and everyone is so aware of what goes into our landfills, marketers have started printing generic signs that are to be used several times over.  Now stores are putting up signs that best explain the promotion, but are often technically wrong.  Example, they will put up a sign that says ENTIRE STORE 50% OFF ~ when in fact they apply only the racks that are signed  or TAKE AN ADDITIONAL 50% OFF when the merchandise is regular price so it is in fact just 50% off not and additional… MY REAL BEEF AND INSPIRATION FOR THIS BOG ENTRY IS WITH AMERICAN EAGLE WHO KNOWINGLY PUT MERCHANDISE ON A SALE RACK, MARKED IT ALL AS AN ADDITIONAL 40% OFF AND THEN WOULD NOT GIVE ME THE ADDITIONAL SAVINGS…

You know I am not new at this, I always make sure that an item is not the only one on the rack because, yes, customers move stuff… and there was at least 5 more of these in a variety of sizes –that means the staff in the store placed the shirt on the rack and I should be able to purchase it at the price listed on the sign……. Instead, the sales person rudely said “yah, NOoo – not all the stuff on that rack is an additional 40% off… So,ooo, do you still want it?”.  I decided to decline as it was not the price I had intended on paying, and then I heard an ill-mannered sigh as I turned to leave the store.  Well, if the store marketing team & the merchandisers did their job, the sales person wouldn’t have had to go through the extra effort to void the sale *sarcasm*.

Thank You for letting me rant…and reading it to the end! lol

Have a wonderful day & wishing you all happy shopping experiences!

Laurie Kron

 


White Pine Vista Cottage gets a new look!

In order to keep our Vacation Rental homes in renting condition we know that we occasionally need to replace & update key items.  These are often mechanical things that you wouldn’t necessarily notice but are essential to ensure you have a solid cottage in good working order to host your family vacation.

I always wanted that ‘picture perfect’ beautifully decorated lake house or waterfront cabin…. it was never in the budget to gut our White Pine Vista cottage and make it the cover of House & Home Magazine…. but that’s what I wanted to do…. so we compromised!  I spent several years collecting nautical themed items, going through cottage magazines & websites for ideas and then I made almost everything myself  – kept the cost low & here’s how I did it!

BEFORE…

….. as you can see we aren’t going to win any design awards….at least not this decade! LOL

AFTER….

… granted, we still aren’t going to win any decorating awards but it looks much better!  For cheap & cheerful wall art, I picked up some large planks of wood at Home Depot.  I painted canoe paddles on them in bright colours and then distressed them to give it them that reclaimed piece of wood charm.  Total cost of the paddles wall art was less than $15 for all three!

NEW VALANCES ~ I picked up this nautical themed fabric in the clearance bin at Fabricland a few years ago, the grommets were also from a clearance bin at Len Mills and the rods were old ones we took out of our own home when I made custom box pleated valances… I love the large wooden rods and I am glad they are re-purposed here at our cottage.  TOTAL cost of each valance was less than $7.00

BEFORE….

Master Bedroom… it wasn’t horrible before

AFTER…..

… but I now LOVE it.  I just painted the walls a warm colour, added some cottage artwork and an orr… you ALWAYS see orrs used in cottage magazines as decorations.  Usually, vintage orrs are REALLY expensive but I hunted around and got this little guy for $5 and since I already had the cottage art this room was super cheap!

BEFORE….

second master bedroom…boooooorrring!

AFTER…..

… we couldn’t afford to spent hundreds of dollars on new headboards so I used a little creativity and made these headboards out of beadboard and old trim I had laying around in the garage…for years my husband has been asking me to clean out the garage and get rid of odds & ends… i just couldn’t part with perfectly good lumber so I am thrilled to have made it into something….and clean out my garage at the same time!

I made the wall art using old pieces of wood in our garage & I painted just the sides of this book shelf to give it a hint of nautical without being too over powering…. just kidding, I painted only the sides because that’s all the ‘left over’ paint I had in the garage…hahahhaa.  TOTAL price of this room was about $15 for the beadboard and $6 for the sisal used for the wooden buoys on the books shelf = about $21

BEFORE……

…. this room was always so basic and boring

AFTER…… 

… I used the other half of the beadboard for this headboard and remnant fabric for curtains & fish pillow…about $20 for this room.

This project had it’s challenges~ it’s always a gamble buying fabric for projects that haven’t been dreamt up yet and never easy to pick out paint colours when your not in the room or worse a 7 hour drive away!  I had to use plumbing and electrical supplies as curtain rod holders and borrow a neighbours sewing machine when I arrived and mine machine that I dragged all the way up there, didn’t work….but it all worked out and I look forward to my NEXT decorating project!


Residential Vacation Rentals are illegal in Banff National Park

Due to Parks Canada Eligable Resident regulation residential property is to be resserved for workers and students who need to live in the park full time.  The Town of Banff Residential Leases webpage provides more details.

Here is the key paragraph/line for the Town of Banff website:

Residential leases in Banff restrict occupancy to eligible residents as defined in National Park regulations.  The eligible residency provisions ensure that community residential lands are available exclusively for community use, rather than recreational or second home purposes.

If you rent a vacation rental inside of Banff National Park it is possible that it could get shut down prior to, or during, your stay.  You can rent hotel rooms inside the park and it could be possible that a house has a zoning other than residential, such as, commerical use which would make it possible but make sure you ask a lot of extra questions before you rent a vacation rental home inside the park.


Stop, slow down & check out the monkeys once in a while…

Our condo has many of the convieneces of home….BUT, things aren’t the same as at home…I’m reffering to the fast paced urban jungle where you expect 30 minute or free pizza, the same place that when the bus sign says 3:38 you can expect it to arrive at 3:38 give or take a minute.  You may also expect if they say they will send someone up soon to mean in 10 minutes….you could wait a whole lot longer than that though…

Life is slower down here, drivers might be late, the waiter might forget about you for a few minutes….I suggest you stop, slow down & check out the monkeys…..*grin*

This baby Howler Monkey was up in a Mango tree at our condo (Sunrise Condo, Tamarindo).  He was playing with another baby moneky and they were learning how to Howel… tiny little grunts, it was SO cute!

My point is, I was disappointed with our property manager when we told him our coffee maker had a broken caraf a week ago and when we arrived yesturday it was still broken… he explained that they are looking for one but they do not sell coffee makers in town so they had to wait until someone was going to the larger town near by…. Lesson learned, so I went out and looked for the monkies in the mango tree again…

Pura Vida!

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