First Look: Cathay Pacific's GORGEOUS New Lounge at YVR

New Cathay Pacific Lounge Vancouver, BC

[trip style = luxury]

See What it's like to fly aboard Cathay Pacific's latest-gen A350 aircraft on the Vancouver --> Hong Kong route

If you follow TS, you know Cathay Pacific ranks among my high-flying faves. Any airline that offers lotion in the Economy Class lavatories and has flight attendants who go above and beyond to ensure you have a pleasant flight—even to guests at the back of the plane—hovers at a Cloud 9-level in my trip styling books.

If the economy experience is this nice, imagine what it's like to jet-set in Business Class with Cathay {wonder no more, here's what it's like to fly + lounge in Cathay Biz Class}. 

Having experienced a taste of their Life Well Travelled experience around the globe, including the flagship lounge in Hong Kong, I was ecstatic to learn the Asia-based airline would be doing a top-to-bottom UPdo of their Vancouver lounge, including relocating it to a larger and re-envisioned space, in a nod to the market's importance and key role in the airline's growing business.

Last week I attended the grand opening of the 5,500-square-foot space, and I immediately felt at home with its sleek and woodsy design, floor-to-ceiling views of the coastal mountains, and Cathay's signature: The Noodle Bar.

Outfitted with shower rooms, food to fit every time-traveled guest and a zen physique, I considered asking if they needed an "artist in residence," but I decided I'd wait fly in Business Class again. Up, up and away!

Here's a peek: 

The edited artwork collection is a reflection of British Columbia's local culture.

The edited artwork collection is a reflection of British Columbia's local culture.

Jade-hued ceramic tiles and black harvest tables set the tone for the lounge's designer dining.   

Jade-hued ceramic tiles and black harvest tables set the tone for the lounge's designer dining.   

Wonton noodle soup, a key dish you can find at The Noodle Bar in many of Cathay's lounges around the world. 

Wonton noodle soup, a key dish you can find at The Noodle Bar in many of Cathay's lounges around the world. 

Shower rooms bathed in limestone and minted with brass fixtures and Aesop products offer a spa-like foray into flying.

Shower rooms bathed in limestone and minted with brass fixtures and Aesop products offer a spa-like foray into flying.

- Hours: Open daily from 10.30am to 3pm and 8pm to 2am; adjusted seasonally according to the Cathay Pacific flight schedule
- WiFi
- Shower rooms
- The Noodle Bar {don't miss these Cathay signature dishes: wonton noodle soup, dan dan noodle soup and authentic Hong Kong- style fish ball noodle soup}
- The Pantry: serving tapas, meats, cheeses, salads, hot food, fruits and desserts
- The Bureau: Workstations with iMacs and printers
 - Get in: The Cathay Pacific Lounge is available to First and Business Class passengers traveling on Cathay Pacific and members of the Marco Polo Club with Silver Card status or above, and members of all tiers who earn lounge passes and/or their friends and family, including oneworld members with Sapphire status or above 

[photos by @CathayPacificCa and wonton noodle soup shot by @TripStyler]

Fashion Friday :: Made for Walkin'

[trip style = urban]

Fashion Friday posts are published on the last Friday of every month by fashion blogger Heather.

Is anything more important than comfortable shoes when you're traveling? I can't tell you how many times I've regretted the shoes I packed when I valued style over comfort. Even though it is a great excuse to buy a new pair on the road...

I recently bought a pair of John Fluevog Hannah boots (shown at top left) and I've barely taken them off. They're the most comfortable boots I've ever owned and definitely Trip Styler approved! These booties are perfect for quick escapes to New York and Portland, and I know I'll be wearing them on the cobblestone streets of Europe next year. Style and comfort together in the same shoe---it's possible!

Trip Styler Tip: If you tend to pack shoes for style over comfort like I sometimes do, remember to bring a stick of Band-Aid Friction Block to avoid blisters {also available in generic form at your favorite drug store}.

Fluevogs are designed in Vancouver, BC in a studio overlooking their flagship store in one of the most striking retail spaces in the city. They're known for their durability, customer service and unique styles. They've been making some killer contemporary shoes lately and I suspect I'll become one of their many loyal customers. And since I live in Vancouver, it's great to know that I'm buying local.

{Editor's Note :: I spent some time with John Fluevog and his lovely wife in Africa four years ago while at a wedding in Nairobi. He is an extraordinarily gracious, well traveled (and well dressed, obviously) gent in case you're interested in the face behind the shoe!}

Now What To Choose?
Women (clockwise from top left)
Hannah, Astern, Malcolm, Impel, Cha Cha, Paglia, Boogie Woogie, Ard, Wizard

Men (descending from top right)
Wynn, Soros, Kashmir

More Fashion Friday
Life's a Beach
Falling for Portland
Runway Style

[shoes via John Fluevog]

Exploring Canada - Postcards {3/3}

[trip style = urban + sightseeing + wine tasting]

The past week has been a full pour of Canadian Kool-Aid---the best flavor, obviously. I just got home from BC's wine country Saturday morning, and somehow I've ended up in Whistler {where I'm writing this now} on Sunday. Though I travel {outside of Canada} almost as much as George Clooney's character in Up In The Air, I'm a little obsessed with the place I call home.

Canada's diverse. Full stop. Using Vancouver's wilderness-meets-cosmopolitan backdrop as an example, within a:

  • one minute walk, I can run beside the Pacific Ocean on Vancouver's impressive seawall network
  • nine minute {Canada Line} train I can taste world-famous gelato, nibble on local cheese or drink craft cocktails in Gastown
  • 11 minute bike ride I can sit in the sand at Kits beach and watch the setting sun
  • 20 minute drive I can go for a heart-pumping hike in North Vancouver
  • 25 minute {Canada Line} train I can eat a traditional Cantonese dim sum feast in Richmond
  • 50 minute drive I can pick strawberries in Abbotsford
  • 90 minute drive I can ski at Whistler Blackcomb, consistently voted the number one ski resort in North America
  • four hour drive/ferry I can ride Tofino's surf on Vancouver Island
  • five hour drive/30 minute flight I can sip wines in the Okanagan, Canada's second largest wine region

I could go on, but the list would never end....

Because a picture is worth a thousand words, here are some of the local finds and moments I'll never forget, snapped this week exploring my backyard.

Vancouver {A Vancouver Aquabus swishing from stop to stop around the harbor.}

{A world of flavors and vendors at Granville Island Public Market}

{"The world's best gelato" from Bella Gelateria, as voted by judges and people at the Firenze Gelato Competition in Italy. I concur; it's the best I've tasted in a long, long time.}

{Two Vancouver cocktail institutions: An Old Fashioned---taking seven minutes to make done right---at the Di6mond, and a line up of libations at Pourhouse.}

{Coffee---no decaf here---and a homemade peanut butter cup at Nelson the Seagull.}

Richmond {Learning about sustainable fishing from "fisherman frank", a second-generation fisherman based in Steveston, the largest commercial fishing port in Canada.}

{A farm-to-table education at Terra Nova Rural Park, home to projects for local schools, as well as garden plots for local restaurants and residents.}

{Bubble tea and a hot pot dinner on "food street", a three-block strip of over 200 Asian restaurants. A local expert told me that ordering bubble tea is akin to personalizing your drink at Starbucks, so I ordered a pudding-flavored bubble tea with pearls, add extra pearls and add extra pudding. The bev was giant and I drank the whole thing...and then ran on the treadmill the next morning.}

The Okanagan {It's still summer in the Okanagan, Canada's only desert. The view from my room at the Manteo Resort in Kelowna.}

{Uber local cuisine at RauDZ Regional Table in Kelowna. Crushed from nearby grapes, the dinner started with white wine sangria accented by Okanagan peaches. From there, we ate chicken poutine, Dungeness crab cakes with salsa verde and a salted caramel dessert---that in a perfect world would be bottomless.}

{Wine tasting amid vines, sunflowers and a chicken coop at the Okanagan Crush Pad, moving toward biodynamic wine making by 2014.}

{Buying local at its best; picking apples right off the tree at Matheson Creek Farm in Penticton.}

If you're interested in seeing postcards from the international bloggers on my get-to-know BC tour, check out their posts here!

[photos by @tripstyler taken while exploring BC with Tourism Canada]


Exploring Canada - Maple Syrup & All {2/3}

[trip style = urban + wine tasting]

I feel very strongly about Canada. When someone tells me they like Quebec's maple syrup, I take it as a personal compliment. I'm not from Quebec, nor do I make syrup or know anything about tapping the tree, but as big, as far, and as wide as Canada's border extends, every bit is part of me. Maple syrup and all.

Since Tuesday I've been tasting my way through Vancouver, Richmond and the Okanagan with four other bloggers from Paris, Australia, the UK and India. The maple syrup factor has come into play a lot. I blush a little hearing them gush about eating doughnuts in Vancouver, drinking bubble tea in Richmond, and sharing chicken poutine in Kelowna, again, as if I had something to do with the process.

Being a tourist in my own backyard offers a crash course in Canada all over again. And I love it. Everything is new. Even in familiar territory, it's healthy to switch into tourist 'learning' mode sometimes, because there's always a region, restaurant, shop or person that's new---something I've been discovering on this trip, as well as on jaunts to Montreal, Banff and Victoria over the past few months.

As my train was pulling into Banff National Park a few months ago, I could not believe my eyes. Surrounded by a real-time reel of nature through my glass-domed coach, the jagged, snow-dusted edges of the rocky mountains humbled my soul and put my camera in workout mode.

Oh, and by the way, when everyone in my train coach was admiring the Rocky Mountains, I took that as a compliment too, as if I painted the snow on the rocks and hand-selected the positioning of the trees below the peaks.

Speaking of real-time reels, you can find my Canadian version via instagram, twitter and facebook. Otherwise, I'll be posting a full feature on Monday. In the meantime, I'll be sipping wine on the Naramata Bench. Cheers!

[photos taken while exploring BC via Tourism Canada]

Vancouver to Seattle Must-Stops

must stops from vancouver to seattle[trip style = weekend getaway]

I can't even count the amount of times I've travelled (by car) between Vancouver and Seattle and back again. Along with my husband, we now have the trip down to an art! Too bad there isn't a car version of frequent flier miles. Whether you're crossing the 49th parallel for a flight, shopping, to visit friends or a weekend getaway, here are my tried and tested must-stops.

YVR --> SEA Must-Stops 1) The Border (Nexus) The Nexus lane is fast and efficient, 95% of the time. Spending $50 and investing two hours to apply and interview for Nexus makes border crossing, dare I say, somewhat dreamy. Otherwise, check out the border line-ups with one of these border wait apps, or indulge in orange tic-tacs at the Pacific Truck Crossing's duty-free store to legitimately jump the line and save yourself a lot of time.

2) Gas Filling up once you cross the border is a no-brainer. Gas is about 20-25% cheaper in the US, regardless of the exchange rate because the price differential is almost entirely related to gasoline taxes. So why not fill up?

3) Avenue Bread What this simple take-away or eat-in cafe lacks in decor, it makes up for in food quality. Their freshly baked bread is what they're known for, but in my humble opinion, their two most delectable dishes are Avenue Eggenues (a fresh-baked english muffin and egg breakfast sandwich, with add-ons like cheese, spinach, bacon, avocado and tomato) and the BLT&T with rosemary bread, add avocado. Where to find it: The location with the most atmosphere (pictured above) is 3 mins off the I-5 highway in historic Fairhaven (the last exit before you exit Bellingham.)

4) I Wanna Moka I have never been served coffee by friendlier, more bubbly baristas. Either they LOVE their jobs, or they're on a constant caffeine high. But seriously, this drivethru coffee bar is where it's at. And yes, their 'mokas' are good. Where to find it: Also, just off the Fairhaven exit, you won't be able to miss I Wanna Moka.

5) Optional but highly suggested: Trader Joes and/or Target. Trader Joe's, a more fun, boutique alternative to Whole Foods has everything from Two Buck Chuck ($3 bottle of bin-end wine) to fun treats, fresh flowers, great to-go salads, the best tasting sugar and salt-free peanut butter on the planet and a host of other groceries. Whether you're driving to Seattle for a flight or shopping, it's a great place to grab healthy snacks. Where to find it: The Bellingham store is just off the I-5 highway and conveniently across the street from an Avenue Bread (not the location I mentioned above).

What don't we need at Tar-jay? This weekend my husband found a great fall essential for $6, the grey waffle shirt. Need I say more? Well, I will: shopping at Target makes me wish I had a hobby/storage room to keep all the sometimes silly, but sometimes awesome seasonal stuff I find. There is no store like it in Canada. I always stock up on their allergy medication, toiletries, white platters, designer-collab clothing lines and wine (costs 50% less than in Canada). Where to find it: In Bellingham at Bellis Fair Mall, or in Marysville just off the I-5 highway.

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