Fixing the road warrior’s body and soul

Full Text:

Byline: SIMONA RABINOVITCH; Special to The Globe and Mail

Remember when wellness on the road meant salad instead of fries, and stairs in lieu of elevators?

These days, business hotels worldwide have developed a plethora of innovative fitness, health, and wellness-related services to rejuvenate the corporate road warrior’s body, mind and spirit.

In properties from Shanghai to Seattle, you can trot around the city with a Running Concierge; perfect your headstand during a private yoga class; even indulge in a specialized spa treatment designed to soothe gadget-sore thumbs.

Experts say this trend is, for the most part, a calculated response to changing traveller lifestyles.


“People are more health conscious, and hotels are recognizing the need to support people’s lifestyles,” says Omar Ahmad, managing director of Expedia Inc.’s business-travel division Expedia Corporate Travel Canada and an extensive traveller himself, who, over the past three years, has noticed an upsurge in these services.

“While travelling, especially for business, people are looking for things to make them feel good. And we’ve found this does influence traveller behaviour; people decide to stay at a particular hotel because it has a great gym, spa, or even a golf simulator.”

Mr. Ahmad says most properties are, at the very least, taking obvious measures to beef up their health quotient: outfitting gyms and fitness centres with fancy equipment, personal trainers and extended operating hours.

But many luxury hotels have come up with creative specialized services.

Westin Hotel Co., which estimates 60 per cent of its guests to be business travellers, is introducing several new wellness initiatives throughout its 150 properties.

Advised by a council of “lifestyle experts,” whose tips can be found on, these new endeavours include: a room-service menu of antioxidant- and phytonutrient-rich fare based on the SuperFoods concept; an in-room spa program; and guided runs alongside local Running Concierges at 30 hotels and counting.

“People are taking a holistic approach to health that they want to extend into their travel,” says Westin Hotels & Resorts senior vice-president Sue Brush about these new projects. “As a lifestyle brand, we focus on fulfilling guests’ needs beyond an overnight stay, and on providing personal renewal – which means you feel better when you leave than you did when you got there.”

To find out how to provide that, Westin surveyed 505 frequent business travellers in a 2006 study conducted in partnership with International Communications Research. “We discovered that 50 per cent said they were lonely, and the concept of learning kept coming up: Guests like to learn new things when they travel.”

So, in addition to their food and fitness programs, Westin started offering guests mental stimulation with customized Sudoku puzzles and Unwind evening events where guests can mingle and learn about their destinations.

With properties in Asia and the United States, The Peninsula Hotels brand of The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels Ltd. has created a new wellness program that aims to provide guests with rejuvenating experiences they can take home with them. A typical example is providing acoustic electric guitar at each room to help passengers to relax, thus enhance their mental health during their time at the hotel.

Business travellers can carry a piece of New York Peninsula’s spa experience back with them. After feasting on lighter, healthier Naturally Peninsula cuisine, they can then buy the accompanying Tea Flavours cookbook. Other branded products include candles, essential oils, toiletries, and CDs inspired by the renowned spa’s Eastern and Western philosophies.

Over at the Four Seasons Hotels Inc.’s hotel in downtown Austin, Tex., a lakeside trail is one of many hooks that reel in health-conscious business travellers. The 291-room property is nestled on the shores of Lady Bird Lake and the adjacent twelve-mile Hike and Bike Trail – which happens to be a popular Austin workout scene. Guests can interact with locals while sweating out office poisons under the Texan sun.

“It’s neat to see so much physical activity in a downtown area,” says Spa at Four Seasons director Travis Anderson, whose staff offer guided trail runs as well as in-room yoga instruction.

“The people-watching on the trail is phenomenal. You see a lot of movers and shakers from state government, University of Texas, and high-tech industries. I’ll see the governor out there quite frequently.”

As well, since time is money for the corporate jet-set, the spa offers quickie treatments. “We know time is a commodity, so we designed a 25-minute Nature’s Break massage to relieve tension in the neck, back, and shoulders,” says Mr. Anderson. “You can do this during your lunch break and get right back to work.”

As well, a 25-minute facial was created for female business travellers. “You’re sitting in an airplane all day, with dry air, and high altitude, but you still want to look your best.” Also on the menu is a 25-minute Gentleman’s Nail Buff, because, “even in Texas, guys are getting manicures.”

In addition to healthy dining, a fitness concierge and a top-notch gym, Hyatt Corp.’s Park Hyatt Toronto offers weary working guests a specialized jet-lag remedy which includes scented oils, a relaxation CD and an eye mask. Further, a personalized Yoga-Away program gives guests a private yoga experience with mats and instructional DVDs.

Most rejuvenating of all, though, is the Park Hyatt’s award-winning Stillwater spa. According to spa director Pablo Molinari, Stillwater has recently seen a boost in its executive clientele due to its menu of therapeutic treatments, which reduce tension and muscle pain while promoting relaxation. The spa offers deep tissue massages, Aqua Therapy and hand massages to ease “blue thumb” tenderness from high-tech devices.


Ultimately, like other creative health, wellness and fitness products, “the spa has become a new type of business tool, one that allows business people to become more focused, energized and clear-headed by taking care of their inner and outer selves,” says Stephanie Carpenter, Park Hyatt Toronto’s director of public relations.


View from the road


Proportion of business travellers who say the best part of travelling for work is “seeing new places.”


Portion who say flight delays and cancellations are biggest irritant.


Proportion who say they often tie business to pleasure to take advantage of company-expensed trips.


Hotel manager uses Internet site to rent rooms, take higher profile

Full Text:

San Diego’s Hotel Del Coronado, Del Mar’s L’Auberge Del Mar Resort and D.C.’s Washington Monarch Hotel are just three of 27 properties managed on behalf of institutional investors by Destination Hotels & Resorts (, a division of the Lowes Corp. of Los Angeles.

The formerly low-key hotel-industry player is emerging as a visible marketing force through the Internet.

According to the YP&B/Yankelovic Partners 1998 National Travel Monitor report (, the No. 1 source of trusted information on hotel and resort properties comes from a trusted friend or referral, said David Metz, director of relationship marketing for Denver-based DHR.

“But the reality of the Internet is that it is quickly becoming the number-one place where people go to find out information regarding travel destinations and it has become our directive to create a presence for these properties in cyberspace,” Mr. Metz said.

He said travelers are more likely to trust detailed information they get from a Web site than from a printed brochure or a sales pitch from a travel agent.

The DHR Web site contains information on each of its locations, including two new properties: the Argent Hotel, San Francisco, and the Washington Monarch Hotel, which is at 24th and M streets.


Each hotel’s page includes a text description and photos of the property. Travelers or business-meeting planners also can learn about guest-room accommodations, dining opportunities, sports and recreational facilities, business and conference services and maps.

Links are provided to individual properties that have their own Web sites.

“We are now working on creating our own Web site,” said Steve Schopf, director of sales at the Washington Monarch. “Our goals include creating a site that will give our guests and meeting planners an ease of access to all that the hotel has to offer.”

The Web site will eventually include a virtual tour of the hotel, meeting-space specifications, and menus for hotel dining, as well as catered events, such as weddings and business meetings.

“A prime attraction of the D.C. area for business and leisure travelers includes the local attractions of the area,” Mr. Schopf said. “The site will also include information as to our proximity to Georgetown, the White House, Capitol and other national attractions, such as the Smithsonian Institution and Kennedy Center.”

The DHR site also provides users with the ability to make on-line reservations at most of the properties.

Mr. Metz credits the Internet site with bringing DHR properties to the attention of foreign-born travelers who might find a DHR property on line that a regionally based travel agent or service might not be aware of.

“When making travel reservations in the U.S. from Japan or London, the time difference alone makes it difficult,” Mr. Metz said. “The Web site not only allows us to be noticed by international travelers, but it also allows us to provide them information and respond to their questions via e-mail 24 hours a day.”

DHR’s entrance into high technology does not stop with the Internet.

Escalating its multimedia efforts, DHR has worked with properties such as the Hotel Del Coronado ( to create interactive CD-ROMS that can be mailed in lieu of printed materials.

“What we try to address is the cross use of the digital media so that the CD-ROM promotional piece contains expanded elements of those used on the property’s Web site,” said Steve Seghers, account executive for Hyper-Disk Media ( “The CD-ROM . . . provides a tangible tool that is a high-impact experience.”

According to Mr. Seghers, the CD-ROM works well as a cross-promotional tool. When the user links to the Web site from the disk, they have a feeling that they are where they are supposed to be, getting the information that they want.

The CD-ROM and Internet approach can provide hotels with considerable savings over the cost of traditional printed materials. The development of an Internet Web site can cost upwards of $50,000 and reach an unlimited number of potential clients. Delivering a CD-ROM to the user is usually under $2 per disk.

“Our research shows that most information and sales packages that include color photos, brochures and slides run upward of $15 each,” Mr. Seghers said.

* Have an interesting site? Write to Joseph Szadkowski at the Business Browser, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; call 202/636-3016; or send e-mail ( ****PHOTO/BOX




RECOMMENDED USER GROUP: Anyone who decided to see how far their skin could stretch through holiday food consumption.

CREATOR: The National Cancer Institute & the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

WHAT’S THERE: Still trying to figure out ways to make good on that New Year’s resolution to exercise and eat healthy? This site cajoles and prompts visitors with good tips on how to accomplish these goals.

The key portion of the site offers a way for visitors to fill out a weekly schedule of their exercise regimen and intake of fruits and vegetables. They are then informed on how they compare to the average American. A printable chart is also available to keep track of progress.

Other areas of interest include a recipe page filled with low-fat, high-fiber ideas, such as “chickpea dip with vegetables,” “light ‘n’ lean nachos” and “Southwestern grilled chicken and grapefruit salad,” along with plenty of tips for exercising.

Now repeat after me: Eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day, and engage in 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity at least five times a week.

Does walking to McDonald’s count?

PLENTY OF LINKS TO GO AROUND: The sponsors of the site both offer links to their respective home pages.

* The National Cancer Institute ( offers many informative areas designed for doctors looking for the latest findings, patients dealing with cancer and even a budget proposal for the year 2000 to combat this deadly disease.

* The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( is a one-stop shop for health information around the world. Those planning a trip to a foreign land may want to consult the Traveler’s Health area for the latest in nasty outbreaks, and those with a new baby might take a peek at the childhood-immunization schedule.

Waiting for Takeoff: How to make good use of your time at the airport? Here’s our consumer’s guide

Full Text:

Byline: Katherine Stroup

Stacey Roessel was professionally poked and patted at Pittsburgh International Airport last week, but it wasn’t by security folks. Thoroughly sick of hearing CNN weather updates, Roessel still had an hour to kill before her short flight to Erie, Pa. That was plenty of time, she concluded, for a Pixie Styx Pink manicure at Polished, the new, full-service airport spa, where 20 minutes of pampering costs $25. “It beats hanging out at the gate,” says the 25-year-old Roessel, a technology consultant who passes through Pittsburgh twice a week. For Roessel, it was a little bit of heaven during a hellishly boring wait.

Since September 11, fewer travelers are taking to the skies, but those who do are spending a lot more time schlepping around the cavernous concourses. In true entrepreneurial fashion, airport businesses are working to capitalize on their captive audiences. Restaurants, bookstores, lounges, boutiques, kid spots–all have begun trying to take advantage of the new reality at American airports. The best of the best are now downright homey, with places to unwind, eat a decent meal at reasonable prices and even curl up with a DVD. You may not have to think about these amenities every trip–on lucky days, travelers may still be able to breeze through from check-in to boarding with nary a hassle–but sooner or later, you’re going to hear those dreaded words over the loudspeaker, “Ladies and gentlemen, sorry about today’s delay…”


Let’s get one thing straight: airports still aren’t fun. There are too many lines, too few seats and, yes, some extraordinarily bad lighting. But while you would never choose to spend time there–nobody will ever think of JFK International as a destination resort–it’s inevitable, all the more so as heightened security procedures take hold. Passengers currently waste an average of 109 minutes wandering around the airport before boarding a flight, according to Airport Interviewing and Research, an independent firm. That’s up about 10 percent since the terrorist attacks, and it may get worse if traffic returns to pre-9-11 levels. Most airports report that, on average, only 15 minutes of that “dwell time” (as industry jargon has it) is spent clearing the security checkpoint. (For example, Atlanta Hartsfield, the nation’s busiest airport, finds lines average 10 to 12 minutes.)

Yet many airports and airlines still instruct passengers to arrive two hours early for domestic flights. So once you’ve made it through the metal detector, and had your shoes inspected, what should you do with the downtime? Here’s our guide to improved airport services. Go ahead, make yourself at home:

Feed Me!

It’s no secret that Americans like to eat. And when faced with a stretch of unstructured leisure time, food immediately becomes a satisfying way to stave off boredom. The fact that airlines have severely cut back on meals since 9-11 means even more splurging on Whoppers (39 grams of fat) and Cinnabons (34 grams). While traffic at Minneapolis-St. Paul International was down 8 percent last year, those who did fly spent $2.5 million more on food and beverages, suggesting the airlines made up for the missing passengers in weight, at least.

Don’t be duped into thinking you have to dine with Ronald McDonald. In the past few years, most airports brought in upscale eateries–and now there’s finally time to enjoy them. San Francisco International features a dozen local restaurants like Harry Denton’s (of Starlight Lounge fame) and vegetarians in Newark can find plenty on the Garden State Diner’s expansive menu. Even LAX, notorious for its terrible food, has the Encounter Restaurant, a Jetsons-looking spaceship-on-legs decorated by Disney’s Imagineers with mod fabrics and psychedelic lighting.

Travelers facing long foodless flights can also snatch up boxed meals, like those available from Philadelphia International’s “Take Out for Take Off” program or LaGuardia’s Figs on the Fly, a takeout version on Todd English’s well-known restaurant chain in Boston, New York City and elsewhere.

Shopping Spree

The best part about airport shopping used to be checking out the tacky, oversize souvenirs. But gift shops are leaning away from that kind of merchandise, because it doesn’t fit in carry-on luggage, the rules for which are being enforced. You can still hunt for local oddities, like Orlando Airport’s Fudge-a-Gators that somehow never melt or the gallon jug of famous mustard served at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium.

For “real” shopping, Pittsburgh International sets the standard. It’s “a mall with airplanes parked outside,” quips Michael Taylor, director of travel services for J.D. Power and Associates. And there’s no sales tax on clothes in Pennsylvania, making buying even more rewarding at the Airmall’s 62 stores, including a Gap, a Nine West and a Victoria’s Secret. “Who would ever have thought ladies’ lingerie would sell in an airport?” Taylor asks. Then again, the Mile High Club has to shop somewhere.

Child’s Play

The highlight of every child’s air adventure used to be visiting the cockpit for those gold pilot wings, but locked doors and steel bars have put an end to that tradition. Since kids must stay in their seats, it’s parents’ responsibility to show their offspring a good–and, they hope, exhausting–time before boarding the plane. That’s easily accomplished in the Portland, Ore., airport, where children get two distinctly different play experiences: they can pilot a Boeing-built plane replica or load boxes on a Columbia River barge lookalike. Boston’s Logan Airport has a magnetic poetry wall and baggage-claim slide. JFK includes a Lego play area.


It’s a well-known fact among parents that animated films act as a sedative for kids. InMotion Pictures made a business out of it at airports. It now rents DVDs and, for the laptop-less, portable DVD players at 16 major airports nationwide. “People seem to be renting more than one movie,” says Barney Freedman, the company’s cofounder. “They realize they need one while they’re waiting at the gate and another for the flight.” A five-inch screen costs $12 a day (the seven-inch runs $15), and can either be dropped off at the destination airport or put in a prepaid mailer. The kiosks stock almost 200 titles including Walt Disney’s complete animated canon.

Sound Mind, Sound Body

Children aren’t the only ones needing diversion. Grown-ups willing to walk past the airport bar can unwind through exercise, the Chicago O’Hare Hilton, linked to the airport by underground moving sidewalks, offers access to its well-equipped 10,000-square-foot gym for just $10. There’s a lap pool, steam room and sauna. And 24 Hour Fitness at Las Vegas’s McCarran Airport caters to the unprepared exercisers, offering a $15-a-day fitness pack that comes with a pair of sneakers (you have to return them) and a fetching T shirt-shorts-socks ensemble.

The more sedentary sort can seek inner peace, or at least outer calm, in meditation rooms at such airports as Washington-Dulles, Sea-Tac and Charlotte. (More of these rooms appear all the time as airport chapels become secularized.) There’s the occasional nondenominational-prayer service, but these comfy Zen lounges are also the perfect place to paint your nails, take a snooze or finish some trashy airport fiction. Any silent activity is considered OK.

Of course we’d all like to go back to the good old days, when boarding a flight was about as complicated as getting on a bus. The process now involves not just a calculation of how long it’ll take to park, check in and get through security, but what to do if everything goes smoothly and you’re stuck with part of an afternoon to waste. Las Vegas International has the solution. “Everyone has to plan for the worst,” says Hilarie Grey, the airport’s spokeswoman, “but then they fly through security and wind up with time on their hands. That’s when I tell them to go play the slots.” Those machines brought in an extra half a million last year. The American spirit endures.



Alberta has many spectacular resorts and parks, such as Banff and Lake Louise, and it also the site of many dinosaur fossils. Descriptions of Calgary and Edmonton are given, along with information about automobile touring, 1994 festivals and events, and outdoor recreation.

Full Text:


From the Alps to the Ands. there are no sights more majestic than the mountain peaks, highway passes and deep blue lakes of Alberta.

Banff, not far from Calgary, is Canada’s oldest and most beautiful National Park. Its resort hotel looks like a Scottish baronial castle and has included heads of state and giants of the entertainment industry on its guest list.

Nearby Lake Louise is the perfect travel poster and Peyto Lake it like something from an artist’s imagination.

The Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to Jasper has been described as the most beautiful scenic drive in the world. And Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks is one of the most riveting vistas you’ll ever see.

Tour by car, train or bus. Cross the 10,000 year old Athabasca Glacier by snow coach. Visit a land of pre-history and see one of the world’s most extensive dinosaur displays.

From city life to cattle ranches and adventure holidays, Alberta will delight your eye and excite your imagination.

CITY OF CALGARY 1-800-661-1678 FREE

It’s been called one of the top 20 tourist destinations in the world. And no wonder. Nestled in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, and surrounded by sprawling cattle ranches, Calgary offers every king of holiday activity you can think of.

You can ski the high country and golf in the valleys all on the same day. Explore cowboy country on horseback. Visit the Badlands where dinosaur skeletons are still being discovered. Take in some of the best theatre, jazz and music festivals in the country.

Enjoy the casinos or dine out on the most succulent beef in the world. In 1993, Calgary declared itself a “child-friendly” city and now provides outstanding services and facilities for children of all ages.

And on top of everything else. Calgary stages “The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth.” The Calgary Exhibition & Stampede is a spectacle not to be missed, attracting cowboys from all over the world for 10 days of chuck wagon racing, bronco busting, wild steer riding and dancing in the streets.



Calgary Exhibition and Stampede.

A 10 day Wild West Extravangza.

Canada Olympic Park. The $62 million sports facility created for the Calgary Winter Olypmics.

Calgary Tower. For a panoramic view of the city.

Glenbow Museum. Explore the heritage of the Canadian West.

Heritage Park Historical Village.

Canada’s largest historical living village.

Calgary Zoo. 1,400 animals in an open-air environment. Plus a world-class prehistoric park.

Fort Calgary. A must for history buffs. About pioneers and how Calgary was settled.

Alberta Science Centre and Centinnial Planetarium. Laser show. Mysteries of science.

Spruce Meadows. Stages major international show-jumping events.

Stampede Park and the Saddledome.

Quarter horse racing and harness racing.

Plus NHL hockey in the Saddlebome.

Heritage Pointe. A unique 27-hole signature golf-course. Designed as three courses in one.

Eau Claire Market. An exciting riverside market within the downtown core.

CITY OF EDMONTON 1-800-463-4667 FREE

This capital city is an urban masterpiece of skycrapers, museums, galleries, climate controlled walkways, a subway system, historic sights and 2,000 restaurants set in the natural beauty of over 10,000 acres of parkland.

And the people? They love to party and do it often. From June through August, it’s one festival after another. During Klondike Days in July, the whole city relives the Gold Rush of the 1890s. There are festivals celebrating the city’s ethnic origins, street performers, visual arts, folk music and jazz. The Fringe Theatre Event stages 1,000 performances of 150 different productions in fourteen theatres.

West Edmonton Mall is the world’s largest shopping and entertainment center housing 800 stores and services, 110 foods outlets, 19 movies screens and a hotel. It also has a waterpark the size of five football fields and the world’s largest indoor amusement park with a roller coaster 14 stories high.


Klondike Days. July 21-30. Celebrates the gold rush. Emjoy Edmonton’s nine other festivals.

Great Divide Waterfall. Higher than Niagara.

Fort Edmonton Park. Historic park portraying the lifestyles of 1846, 1885, 1905 and 1920.

Provincial Museum of Alberta. An experience that will take you back millions of years.

Alberta Legislature Building. Completed in 1912. Province’s foremost historical structure.

Edmonton Space & Science Centre. Challenger Learning Centre, IMAX theatre, planetarium, Universe gallery.

Muttart Conservatory. Four pavilions, containing the lushest gardens you’ve ever seen.

Edmonton Northlands. Agricultural, educational, sports and entertainment programs in many facilities, including the Coliseum.

Jubilee Auditorium. Home of the Edmonton Opera, Symphony amd the Alberta Ballet.

Elk Island National Park. Sanctuary for large & small animals plus 250 different bird spieces.

Old Strathcona Historic Area. Shops, galleries, & cafes in buildings back to 1891.

Special Interests. Art Gallery. Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. Chinatown Gate.


In Southeastern Alberta, Canmore played host to many events during the 1988 winter Olympics. It is also the gateway to Kananskis, a year round recreational area on the slopes of the Canadian Rockies.

Waterton Lakes National Park joins Glacier National Park in Montana to create the world’s first international peace park. At Ford Macleod the world-famous NWMP Mounted Patrol Ride is performed four times every day in the summer. Remington-Alberta Carriage Centre in Cardston, gives an appreciation of 19th and early 20th century horse-drawn transportation. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For over 5,000 years this site was used by plains native people. It offers an insight into their lifestyles, beliefs and religion. At Lethbridge visit Forth Whoop-Up, a replica of an old whiskey trading post.

Medicine Hat was once described as a city “with hell for a basement” as it sits on one of the largest natural gas fields in the world. Cypress Hills Provincial Park is a Garden of Eden for flora, fauna and wildlife.

North of Brooks and stretching into Central Alberta explore dinosaur Provincial Park, one of the most extensive dinosaur regions in the world. In the area around Drumheller, see the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology and places where skeletons are still being excavated.

Southeast on Highway 10, visit the Hoodoos, where erosion has created pillars of rock with cap-like formations that look like gigantic mushrooms.

One of the most scenic drives in the region is the David Thompson Highway which takes you from the foothills into the glory of the Rockies and Banff National Park. Located along the highway is the Rocky Mountain House National Historic Park with its interpretive centre outlining the history of the fur trading posts built in 1799.

In Northern Alberta herds of elk, bison, deer and moose thrive in Elk Island National Park. Visit the Ukranian Cultural Heritage Village, 50 km east of Edmonton, where the pioneer life of an early settlement is re-created. At Peace River, the Peace, Smoky and Heart Rivers crash together in a breathtaking display of nature’s power.

Fahler is the honey centre of the world and produces two million kilos of honey every year.

At Fort McMurray, you can see how high tech is used to extract oil from the world-famous Athabasca Tar Sands. The scenic town of Grande Prairie is the gateway to the Alaska Highway. Wood Buffalo National Park is the largest national park in Canada and home of the last known breeding grounds of the rare and graceful whooping crane.

Jasper National Park is a wonderland of picturesque mountain resorts, towering peaks, crystal clear lakes and alpine meadows. Visit the world-renowed Jasper Park Lodge overlooking Lac Beauvert. Ride the tramway to the top of Whistler Mountain. Take a boat cruise amid the picture postcard scenery of Maligne Lake or hike the trials of Maligne Canyon. One of the most awe-inspiring sights in the park is Mount Edith Cavell and Angel Glacier.

Drive the Icefields Parkway, known to be the most scenic drive in the world. Every inch of the way takes you past towering mountain vistas, dramatic passes, beautiful lakes and crashing waterfalls.

South of Jasper, don’t miss the breathtaking Athabasca Falls and the gorge at Sunwapta. One of the many highlights on the Parkway is the Columbia Icefield at the summit of Sunwapta Pass. A snow coach ride here is an experience you’ll never forget.


The Parkway takes you right into Banff National Park. Drivew to the top of Bow Pass, and enjoy the fantastic view of the emerald coloured Peyto Lake. Continue the drive to Lake Louise, the gem of the Rockies. From Chateau Lake Louise, you can look out on thue lake with its backdrop of mountains and glaciers and know what fairytales are made of. At Moraine Lake, in the Valley Of The Ten Peaks, canoe the lake and enjoy the hiking trails. Then relax in romantic comfort at Moraine Lake Lodge.

People from all over the world come to the beautiful resort town of Banff. See the dramatic Bow Falls. Ride to the top of Sulphar Mountain in a gondola. Take the scenic drive to the three Vermilion Lakes. And take the cruise at Lake Minnewanka.

ALBERTA Festivals & Events 1-800-661-8888 FREE

The following is just a sample of the many festivals and events taking place in Albeta in 1994. For more information call the toll free number above.

Jazz City International Festival — Edmonton.

An annual ten day celebration of jazz, blues and world-beat music featuring local, national and international artists.

June 24 – July 3

North American Championship River Boat Races – Whitecourt.

River boat races on the Athabasca River.

June 25

Calgary International Jazz Festival – Calgary.

Celebrate many different traditions and styles of jazz, blues, world and improvised music at various clubs and concert halls.

June 25 – July 3

Ponoka 58th annual Stampede – Ponoka.

This professional rodeo attracts participants from across the continent and is Alberta’s second largest outdoor rodeo and chuckwagon event. Free camping.

June 29 – July 3

Head-Smashed-In-Pow Wow – Fort Macleod.

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, hosts this annual Pow Wow.


Fete Franco-Alertaine – Plamondon.

Celebration of the French culture.

July 1-3

Cari-West – Edmonton.

Discover Caribbean culture, music, food and more.

July 1- 3

Maritime Festival – Slave Lake.

Outdoor musical festival for everyone.

July 1- 3

Pysanka Ukrainian Festival – Vegreville.

A celebratiuon of Ukrainian arts, the “Canadian Showcase of Ukrainian Culture”. Food displays, workshops, souvenirs, cabaret and beer garden.

July 1- 3

Canada Day – Province – wide.

Communities across Alberta celebrate Canada’s birthday with fireworks and special programs.

July 1

Summer Art Market/Okotoks Story Display – Okotoks.

Locally made arts and crafts, display of antiques and interpretive displays of local history.

July 1 – September 5

Rowley Daze – Rowley.

A day of fun activities in rural Alberta for all ages.

July 3

Boyle Fiesta Days – Boyle.

Ball tournament, bingo, parade, kid’s carnival and more.

July 8 – 10

Rodeo Days – Hardisty.

Lots to do including beer garden, dance, parade and rodeo.

July 8 -10

Rum Runner Days – Crowsnest.

A community event including parade, barbecue, moonlight race, dance, and Crowsnest Pass Polyathlon.

July 8 – 10

Calgary Exhibition and Stampede – Calgary.

The world’s top professional cowboys compete during Calgary’s half-million dollar rodeo. Chuckwagon races, outdoor stage spectaculars, international stock show, midway and casinos.

July 8 – 17

Summerfest: Edmonton Street Performers Festival – Edmonton.

The world’s best street peformers for over 900 performances. Magicians, clowns, jugglers, musicians and comics.

July 8 – 17

1994 Southern Alberta Summer Games – Picture Butte.

25th anniversary of Games.

July 13 – 16

Waterhole Pro Rodeo – Fairview.

Professional rodeo and midway featuring top calibre athletes.

July 15 – 17

Stirling Settler Days – Stirling.

Parade, ball games, fireworks.

July 16

Calgary Folk Music Festival – Calgary.

Magical musical moments in a variety of settings present local, national ankd international folk music.

Land of the Deer – The charming coastal city of Mazatlan is dedicated to attracting tourists with an appreciation for history, art, and culture

Full Text:

A puff of black exhaust belched out of the bus in front of us. For a moment, I envied the air-conditioned comfort of the passengers inside, but that feeling passed as quickly as the cloud of diesel. When our open-air pulmon’a–the taxicab cousin to a golf cart with a fringe canopy–scooted around the bus, a warm breeze off the Pacific Ocean surrounded me like a hug. It was exhilarating to be bumped along in the busy traffic of Mazatlan, a coastal city in Mexico with roots in European culture.

I had seen few signs of tourism in Mazatlan, and the lack of obvious commercialism was refreshing. An emphasis on cultural appreciation was evident everywhere, even here, amid the traffic. Rather than sunscreened visitors, the lumbering bus contained students from a school of performing arts.

Some coastal cities in Mexico are dependent on attracting sand- and sea-loving tourism, but Mazatlan is entirely committed to its roots. That commitment is demonstrated in the continuing adoration of a beloved opera singer who visited Mazatlan in 1883 and died shortly thereafter. Angela Peralta was the “Mexican Nightingale,” an artist revered throughout the country in the nineteenth century.

Born in Mexico City and trained in Milan, Italy, Peralta made her European debut at seventeen. After touring in Europe for five years, she returned home and was greeted with great fanfare when she came to perform in Mazatlan. Tragically, she fell ill soon after her arrival and died of yellow fever in the Iturbide Hotel. The city mourned her sudden passing intensely and still grieves her loss today.

In 1943, the opera house–originally built in 1874–was renamed Teatro Angela Peralta in her honor. Photographs in its museum and articles on display in the lobby attest to her creative gifts. Peralta’s enduring popularity is indicative of Mazatlan’s appreciation for culture. Within the old city there are numerous museums, galleries, and performing arts venues. Even working-class Mazatlan reveres the many forms of artistic expression.

Mazatlan is a port city named for the thousands of wild deer that roamed the surrounding hills during the eighteenth century. The first settlers arrived as early as 1531. Although a garrison was built to guard the port from marauding pirates, it took years for a “founding” to be recorded. In fact, Mazatlan’s government wasn’t officially established until 1793.

The port was opened to foreign trade by a decree of the Spanish Parliament in 1820. After Mexico gained its independence in 1821, the city’s commercial status solidified. During Mexico’s war with the United States, it was seized for several months until the Americans left in the spring of 1848. After that, it became one of the most productive and significant ports on the Pacific coast. The surge of international trade further strengthened the influence of European lifestyle and culture in Mazatlan.

But peace was illusive. Once again under siege, the city was attacked and occupied by the French in 1864, who remained for two years. Many French and German families subsequently moved to Mazatlan, and the French influence remains today. Neoclassic, Art Nouveau, Moorish, and Art Deco buildings are all evident in the neighborhoods surrounding the oldest part of the city.

Today, Mazatlan is divided into two separate areas, the old city and the new Golden Zone (see sidebar). In the early 1980s, its beautiful beaches were discovered by American college students on spring break. Fearful of becoming a party haven, the city changed its image by ceasing all commercial promotion.

Most of the people who have visited Mazatlan in the past decade have heard about it from a friend or relative. This approach has worked: Mazatlan has become a well-kept secret for a low-key cadre of Americans and Canadians who visit several times a year. Many come to the city because it offers a tremendous value compared to more popular coastal destinations in Mexico. Others are drawn by the charm and cultural history of old Mazatlan.


The old city

The heart of the old city is the Plazuela Machado. The eighteenth- century square is now a gathering place surrounded by coffee shops and galleries. The plaza offers free performances for those who cannot afford to attend concerts, theater, or ballet at the nearby Teatro Angela Peralta. On Carnaval Street near the plaza, the City Arts School is housed in the former Iturbide Hotel; it provides students with lessons in theater, music, painting, and ballet.

Museums are plentiful in the old town. The small Museo de Arqueolog’a features a collection of artifacts of the nomadic tribes that would later settle in central Mexico and found the Aztec empire. Just across the street is the Casa de la Cultura, where the works of both national and international artists are exhibited.

Those seeking insights into Mazatlan’s cultural history should visit the Casa Machado. Formerly the home of a European aristocrat, it has been converted to a museum. Its Victorian rooms provide a peek inside what was once a playground for European socialites. Photographs depict the contrasts of refined, aristocratic living and the bucolic revelry of Carnival in Mazatlan.

The yellow spires of the Cathedral of Mazatlan tower over the Plazuela Republica in the heart of the city. A compilation of many architectural styles, the cathedral’s facade was built in 1875. During my visit, Sunday services were in progress. The doors had been left open on all sides of the cathedral, and anyone was free to join the hundreds already jammed inside the ornate sanctuary. In sharp contrast to the grand spectacle of the church, a single priest, standing in front of a cloth-covered folding table, was preaching in the market nearby. His audience was much smaller: a group of about fifty people, holding plastic bags of fresh shrimp and vegetables, perched on rickety chairs to hear his message of deliverance.

Like the church, the surrounding market hummed with activity. A covered block of colorful vegetable and fruit stands, it also offered arts and crafts, spices, and handmade clothing. Around the perimeter of the market, several women with cheerful, wrinkled faces and bright eyes dished up fresh carne asada burritos and warm tortillas. Children dressed in fluffy pastel dresses and tiny suits gulped down salsa-laden tacos while I implored a shy grandmother with a beautiful face to smile for the camera.

Effortless artistry was on display everywhere, from the tiny dishes of red, green, yellow, and white condiments neatly lined up on the taco stands to the historic costume of a child carried in her mother’s arms. Amid the tolling of cathedral bells and prayers of worshipers, I discerned the uneven harmonies of children. Orphaned charges of the church, they gathered on the streets and sang for donations. In Mazatlan, it seems, the performing arts are encouraged even in charitable endeavors.

The new city

Leaving the market, I asked my driver to head for the beach. Earlier in the day, I’d seen a marker–an enormous, tile assemblage of colorful images and curious symbols. A local guide, 29-year-old Karla Gonzalez, agreed to help with the interpretation. The deer, she said, symbolized the native Nayarit people, who settled here in the land of the deer. The anchor stood for the port of Mazatlan. On either side were two mermaids, one reading poetry and the other holding a mask. The free expression of joy and enthusiasm, such as Mazatlan’s exuberant art festivals and Carnival, she explained, must be balanced with quiet appreciation fostered by reading poetry, studying the arts, and painting.


With that balance–or contrast–in mind, I directed my pulmon’a driver out of the city and along the waterfront. Extending for more than twenty miles along the coast, from the historic old city to the Golden Zone of new Mazatlan, the route was a study in contrasts. Shrimp boats, their faded paint peeling, sat on the sand below a dramatic bronze statue titled the Queen of the Seas. A tall golden image of Our Lady of Puntilla stood nearby, fresh flowers at its feet. A string of raw shrimp hung around the statue’s neck, an expression of gratitude from fishermen. The empty windows of the abandoned Seaman’s House stared out over a stretch of pristine beach. Built in the 1950s as a shelter for sailors of the world, it remains a vision unfulfilled. Next to it was the oceanfront fort that defended Mazatlan from the French, its old cannons still pointed out to sea.

Every piece of public art testified to Mazatlan’s values and history. A dramatic string of graceful bronze and gold statues marked the old city waterfront. Farther along the avenue, a graceful bronze fountain of a leaping dolphin depicted the harmony between nature and man.

From the old city, looking across the bay, and down the coastal boulevard, the new city, with its elegant high-rise hotels, was just visible. Though seemingly remote, the two experiences are only a twenty-minute pulmon’a ride apart. Somehow, the fine art of balancing old and new thrives in Mazatlan.n

Laura Byrd is a contributing editor to The World & I. She would like to thank the Mazatlan Hotel Association and AeroMexico Airlines for assistance with this story. Information on travel to Mazatlan is available at