Enjoy an afternoon on The Veranda

The Veranda at The Fairmont Empress has opened for another season. The venerable grand hotel has always held a prime location on Victoria’s waterfront, overlooking the great lawn and out to the Inner Harbour.   The Veranda, located under the “Empress” sign at the old front door of the hotel, is the ideal spot to leisurely spend a summer afternoon sipping a classic cocktail like the Empress 1908.
Ferries and boats come and go while the tourists and locals stroll The Causeway, double-decker tour buses wait alongside the lawn waiting to take visitors to Victoria’s attractions, watch it all from your chair in the sun under the ivy covered arches.
The Veranda isn’t just for cocktails, The Fairmont Empress Chefs have created a fine “farm to fork” menu to satisfy your desire for an afternoon nibble or evening meal.  Special occasions like Canada Day add to the appeal of The Veranda with other events happening throughoEmpress 1908 Cocktailut the season. No matter what your occasion, make The Veranda a destination on your next visit to Victoria.

The Veranda is open from 11:30am to dusk or chilly; – whichever comes first. The Veranda provides heaters, wraps and sun shades for your enjoyment. The Veranda offeres bistro style seating and is first come, first serve; no reservations required.

Royal Baby Month at The Fairmont Empress

20111030-203212.jpg
The Fairmont Empress Tea Lobby

In Britain, bookies are taking bets on whether it will be a prince or a princess for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as the Royal Baby’s mid-July due date grows ever nearer.  Here at home, with a century of royal connections, The Fairmont Empress is the perfect location to celebrate the arrival of the new Royal. The venerable hotel is partnering with Victoria’s C-FAX Santas Anonymous Society to collect donations of new toys, clothing and gift cards to help children in need in the community.

Starting tomorrow, July 5 until July 31, 2013,  a “Royal Crib” will be set up in the Tea Lobby of the hotel to collect donations from guests and locals paying tribute to the newest member of the monarchy. In exchange for a donation to the C-FAX Santas Anonymous Society, the hotel is offering a 10% discount for Afternoon Tea on the day of the donation.

“The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have shown how strongly they believe in philanthropy, so I feel they would be pleased to know that we have chosen to do just that to celebrate the arrival of their first-born. We are also thrilled to partner with such a strong community leader as C-FAX Santas Anonymous Society to help us with collecting and distributing the donations,” said Fairmont Empress General Manager, Don Fennerty.

Any local residents and guests who wish to partake in this celebration and the grand tradition of Afternoon Tea while making a donation to C-Fax Santas Anonymous at The Fairmont Empress are advised to book in advance and ask for the “Royal Baby celebration”.   Reservations for Afternoon Tea may be made at emp.diningres@fairmont.com or by calling 250 389 2727.

Follow the Royal Baby Celebrations on Twitter @FairmontEmpress or Facebook.com/FairmontEmpress

10 Reasons to Visit Victoria

I’ve had to make a number of trips to Victoria recently and as weather has improved it’s reminded me what a great getaway spot we have waiting for us just across the Salish Sea.
As a former resident and someone who gets to regularly fly over to Victoria (via Helijet) I thought I’d assemble a few of my favourite things to do in the City of Gardens. (in no particular order)

10: Inner Harbour Causeway – surrounding the bustling inner harbour this pedestrian walk way is abuzz with activity. A great people watching spot, like Times Square or Picadilly Circus, if you wait long enough someone you know will pass by.
9: Eating – Victoria is full of great restaurants, pubs and eateries. Blessed with the bountiful waters of the Pacific Ocean and fertile fields of the Saanich Penisula at its doorstep, Victoria’s chefs have a plethora of ingredients at their fingertips.
8: Beacon Hill Park – in a city filled with parks and gardens, this 200 acre urban oasis has something for everyone. From open fields, colourful manicured gardens, natural woodland trails, children’s petting zoo, ponds and water features, cricket pitches, the world’s 4th tallest Totem Pole and the Cameron Bandstand.
7: The Fairmont Empress – It’s central prime location ensures it’s the first view visitors arriving into the harbour as they sail into dock. The history of Victoria and the hotel go hand in hand, the small archives in the lower level is a favourite place to show visitors a slice of yesteryear. Also a social hub of the city; from dining in the luxurious Empress Room, leisurely sipping cocktails on The Veranda, to the classic curry buffet in The Bengal Lounge and of course the all important Tea Lobby are all as much entertainment as they are restaurant/lounges.
6: Government House Gardens – This National Historic Site, the Official Residence of Governors of Vancouver Island and later, the Lieutenant Governors of British Columbia, is set amongst 14 acres of formal gardens surrounded by 22 acres of rare Garry Oaks. From dawn to dusk the grounds are open to the public, free of charge.
5: Golf – with the year round mild weather, less rain than most of the Pacific Northwest, the dozen + Victoria area golf courses range from simple community par 3 courses, to Jack Nicklaus designed public courses to exclusive member’s only clubs, most with some of the most amazing scenery anywhere.
4: Festivals and Fairs – Throughout the summer there is a bounty of fun family festivals around the city: Oak Bay Tea Party, Victoria Folk Fest, Busker’s Festival, Saanichton Fair, Rifflandia all bring a wildly diverse audience to town.
3: Royal British Columbia Museum – bestowed with royal patronage by Queen Elizabeth in 1987, one of the foremost natural & human history museums in the world this is one of the must sees in Victoria. Even locals like to make regular visits to see the permanent exhibits, like the lifelike dioramas of Westcoast rainforests and Old Town or the many exclusive travelling exhibits the RBCM is able to secure yearly. The just opened Queen Elizabeth II by Cecil Barton: A Diamond Jubilee Celebration exhibit.
2: BC Legislature / Parliament Buildings – hand in hand with The Empress, the Parliament Buildings frame the Inner Harbour. Home to our provincial legislature, while amazing to roam the grounds around the building gazing at the architecture and many statues, the majestic building is also open to the public to get a glimpse at the history inside the building.
1: Butchart Gardens – perhaps the most renowned attraction in Victoria, Butchart Gardens is a gem. 55 acres of spectacular show gardens is alive with colour throughout the seasons. Summer evening fireworks events are a huge draw and their Christmas season filled with brilliant lights and the 12 days of Christmas displays are sure to get anyone feeling the spirit of the season.

Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Month at The Fairmont Empress

This weekend marks the central weekend celebrating the Diamond Jubilee of HRH Queen Elizabeth II with festivities happening all over Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Here at home, The Fairmont Empress in Victoria is celebrating their tie to the British Royal Family with a month full of Queen’s Jubilee events and specials, honouring her 60 years on the throne. The Queen has visited The Empress 5 times over the decades, now you can carry on the tradition and create your own Royal memories; sipping tea from regal Empress China, ordering the Queen’s favourite cocktail Bombay Dry Gin and Dubonnet red, served with lemon and ice in the Bengal Lounge or walking the same hallowed halls as the Royal Family.

The fun begins tomorrow!

Diamond Jubilee Gala
The Fairmont Empress’s newly renovated Ivy Ballroom will host the Diamond Jubilee Gala. Expect tasting stations, a welcome drink, and musical entertainment. Wear your finest threads for this Royal Bash! Saturday June 2, 2012, doors open at 7:30pm. CAD $90 per person/ticket, advance purchase required.

Tea At The Empress

Sparkling Brunch
Don’t miss our Sparkling Brunch in celebration of the HRH Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. Indulge in a glass of sparkling wine while you enjoy classic British fare as well as our Empress-ive brunch offerings like Eggs Benedict, a local seafood bar, a Prime Rib carving station, and a decadent dessert buffet from our Pastry Shop. Ivy Ballroom from June 3 10am-2pm. $60 per person.

The Royal-Tea Experience
The Fairmont Empress introduces a twist on our famous Afternoon Tea. Introducing The Royal-Tea Experience, a tea tier of three delectable cheeses from the famous cheese makers of Salt Spring Island served with a tawny port and a fresh serving honey out of the honeycombs of Chef’s honey garden served at your table side. 24 hour advance booking required. From June 2 until August 31 only. $89.95 per person.

Queen’s Dinner
Our Executive Chef will design a six course dinner with a course from each decade of HRH Queen Elizabeth’s reign. The first 40 guests who book will dine off the rarely used “Queen’s China”, reserved only for royal visits. June 5, 2012, from 6pm to 9pm in The Empress Room. $160 per person for a six course dinner including a glass of bubbly. Chef has royal culinary surprises in store for this memorable evening.

Bengal Lounge

Royal Dog Show and Tea Party
A royal celebration would not be complete without a dog show and tea party. In partnership with The Scruffy Dog Barkery, join us for a dog show full of prancing, parades and prizes. Afternoon Tea to go is $25 per person and available onsite. Bring a blanket, chair and your sense of fun for an afternoon of family fun! Sunday June 3, 2012

Willow Stream Spa at The Fairmont Empress
Introduces “Fit for a Queen” Willow Stream Spa is fit for a queen no matter the occasion. Regarded on the Condé Nast list of best spas in Canada, Willow Stream is an urban oasis. Have your make-up done, your feet scrubbed, and nails painted by the best in Victoria.

For more information on any of the Diamond Jubilee events visit fairmont.com/empress or call 1.250.3849.2727 for dining reservations
Visit The Fairmont Empress on Facebook  or on Twitter at @FairmontEmpress