Tripadvisor top 100 hotels

Together with their top destinations, TripAdvisor also published their top 100 places to stay. Canada has three entries in the top luxury hotels:
17: Fairmont YVR airport hotel
27. Hotel Dominion 1912, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada
95. Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada

I would have rated the Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver or Chateau Lake Louise higher – I wouldn’t don’t see an airport hotel as a wonderful place to stay, no matter how luxurious.

The rest of the top 10 luxury hotels in Canada:
4. Auberge Saint-Antoine, Quebec City, Quebec
5. Loews Hotel Vogue, Montreal, Quebec
6. Hotel Nelligan, Montreal, Quebec
7. Four Seasons Resort Whistler, Whistler, British Columbia
8. Hotel Gault, Montreal, Quebec
9. Le Place d’Armes Hotel & Suites, Montreal, Quebec
10. Sofitel Montreal, Montreal, Quebec

Some interesting hotels among their top 10 hidden gems in Canada:

1. Harbour House Hotel, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario
4. Alpine Village – Jasper, Jasper National Park, Alberta
6. Mt. Engadine Lodge, Canmore, Alberta  <- keep an eye out for this lodge. Up and coming.
8. Patricia Lake Bungalows, Jasper National Park, Alberta
9. Chateau Beauvallon Mont Tremblant, Mont Tremblant, Quebec
10. Artisan Inn, Trinity, Newfoundland and Labrador <- another property to keep an eye out for. Very cool place.

Tripadvisor top 100 destinations

Another top 100 list, this time it’s TripAdvisor’s first ever top 100 destinations, as measured by ratings and popularity rankings.

The top destinations are:
1 Milford Sound
2 Queenstown

Canada has eight destinations in the top 100:
9 Banff
16 Victoria
19 Lake Louise
52 Vancouver
55 Niagara-on-the-Lake
61 Quebec City
77 Whistler
88 Jasper

Not bad, but what’s interesting about the entire list is that all the places are popular tourist spots; there really are no new or off-the-beaten track locations. This is obvious from the Canadian list – all tried and true locations. That is even the same for the top 25 Canadian destinations. No St. John’s Newfoundland, nothing in Nunavut, etc.

There is only one Indonesian location in the list – Ubud in Bali. But despite the smog and overcrowded streets, Beijing made it onto the list. Obviously, it’s still popular with mainstream travellers.

Great photos from New Guinea

My friend Will Betz has a great collection of New Guinea photos, but never had a chance to post them online yet. He’s finally scanned and posted a sample. Check out the images of bowerbirds, they’re amazing. The males of these New Guinea birds build massive structures, and will collect all kinds of colourful objects to attract females. What guys won’t do to get the girl…

The sample includes some great shots from South America and Africa as well.

Visit Elu lodge in Nunavut

Elu lodge is a high-end Inuit-owned lodge, across from Victoria Island on Nunavut’s mainland. If you are looking for an escape to the heart of Canada’s Arctic, and want to see its abundant wildlife, look no further than this lodge. See a recent article on the lodge in the San Fransisco Chronicle for more information.

Second Galileo satellite launched

The EU finally launched its second Galileo test satellite. Why is this significant? Because the much-delayed project will eventually (currently by 2013) provide an alternative to the American GPS system. It is supposed to be more accurate, and complementary to GPS, which will mean more satellites to receive signals from.

The end of cheap air travel?

There has been a lot of news recently about the woes of the US airline industry. With the skyrocketing prices of fuel, airlines are starting to feel the pain – in a major way. My good friend Will Betz talks about some of the potential doomsday scenarios. If this trend continues, we could see some major impact on global tourism. Tourism in Canada would be heavily impacted as well, since we rely mainly on air travel for our international arrivals.

National Geographic’s Geotourism Challenge

Ashoka’s Changemakers and National Geographic and  have launched the first Geotourism challenge. The competition has received 320 entries (out of 456 nominations). Sadly, there are only twelve Canadian entries, of which four are actually in Canada. They are very worthwhile, though: Pioneer Farm in PEI (stay at a self-sufficient farm), The Muskwa-Kechika Conservation initiative in northern BC, the Evergreen  Brick Works in Toronto, and Chanterelle Country inn and cottages in Nova Scotia.

There were some interesting Canadian nominations as well (those are operators who were nominated, but did not choose to submit an entry). Check out the Mountain hostel, Delawana Inn, Sacred Rides, and Nipika Mountain Resort.

Turning tourism product into experiences

Our team at the Canadian Tourism Commission recently released an Experience Toolkit – to help small tourism operators turn their products into experiences. We’ve received great feedback from the industry, but today also got some coverage in the marketing media. It’s rewarding to see the success of our work.

Deep authenticity: staying with the locals in Newfoundland

More and more people are looking for authentic experiences, wanting to get a real feel for the places they visit. But for some even that is not enough – they really want to become part of the communities they visit.

An innovative new experience in Newfoundland lets you do just that: you get the key to three houses in small outports, a rental car and a custom-written guidebook. In the book you’ll find the contact information for locals who can help you get to know the community. Before long, you’ll be out fishing, and hosting kitchen parties! Read the full article in the Globe about Cape Race Adventures.

Are travel guides all bad?

The travel writing industry is abuzz over the upcoming release of Thomas Kohnstamm’s book detailing his life as a Lonely Planet travel writer. He supposedly plagiarized content, didn’t visit the places he was supposed to go to, slept with waitresses, etc., etc. In reality, it turns out that it wasn’t all that bad. In a recent interview, he takes back some of the things he said in earlier interviews. Of course, by then the main stream media had picked up on the juicy tidbits.

So, are travel guides, just that – guides, or are they bibles? I have used a lot of guidebooks in my travels, and spent a lot of time sending updates to Lonely Planet’s guides. As far as I am concerned, they are just rough guides. Stuff will be missing, out of date, or wrong, but that is the fun of it. But if you find errors, don’t whine about them. Instead, take the time to write the publishers, or post an entry on the publisher’s forums.

Do I buy guidebooks when I travel? Always.

Which ones? Depends on the destination. I always compare Rough Guides, LP, and Moon Handbooks. For North America, Moon often has more in-depth titles. For other countries, Rough Guides tend to be more in-depth, with better writing (more background info, especially about culture, and more opinionated), and they cover more out-of-the-way places. But Lonely Planet covers more establishments, has more practical information, and offers more titles. For example, there are no Rough Guides for Mongolia and Bhutan.

When I go to a country for an extended period of time, I buy several guidebooks. For example, in Bhutan, you need the Lonely Planet, as well as Francoise Pommaret’s Odyssey guide, and Bart Jordan’s Bhutan, a trekker’s guide. For Mongolia, get the Lonely Planet guide and the Bradt guide.

Are the LP guides to Bhutan and Mongolia any good? Both will invariably have some errors, but Michael Kohn (Mongolia) lived there for three years, and knows the country as well as anyone writing about it. Stan Armington (who wrote earlier editions of the Bhutan guide, as well as several of the LP Nepal guides) has been in Nepal since the early 70s, and was one of LP’s first authors. He as good as they come.

There were a couple of bibles out there, though. The ultimate travel guide is probably the Indonesia Handbook by Bill Dalton, founder of Moon Publications. Sadly, it is out of print, but it put all other Indonesia guides to shame. It truly was the travel bible to Indonesia. Even so, it had its share of errors, and Bill was the first to admit it when I met him in Jayapura, West Papua. Bill spent about 20 years researching every edition of his Handbook. No travel writer has spent so much time criss-crossing the country. But in the end, it even became to much work for him.

The other one was the Moon handbook to Tibet (also out of print). About three times as thick as any other Tibet guide, it truly went into great depth. It’s a shame that both are gone now.