A Tale of Two Destinations

Make the most of your long-haul getaway to Asia by combining Hong Kong and Thailand into one trip of a lifetime, as each destination offers a complement of  unique and memorable experiences.

CITY AND COUNTRY COLLIDE IN HONG KONG
The minute you take off on the Ngong Ping 360 cable-car for Lantau Island, you realize there’s some truth to the saying “sometimes the  journey is the destination.” From the window – or below your feet if you get  on the crystal cabin with a glass bottom – breathtaking views of  mountains, forests and the coast pass you by.

For many, a visit to the largest of Hong Kong’s islands is all about getting up close and personal with The Big Buddha, a giant bronze Buddha that draws pilgrims from all over Asia, but is equally impressive to travellers alike. Lantau Island is full of lush and beautiful places to discover, like Po Lin Monastery, with  colourful manifestations of Buddhist iconography, and The Wisdom Path. Here, 38 wooden pillars arranged in an infinity pattern display verses of the centuries-old Heart Sutra prayer, surrounded by
nothing but greenery and the occasional glimpse of the South China Sea.

The serene scene feels a world apart from the dramatic views atop Victoria Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island, where dense skyscrapers jet out as far as the eyes can see. Taking in the awe-inspiring skyline is a must for first-time visitors – it’s the iconic image typically associated with Hong Kong and where the grandeur of the city can best be understood.

Perhaps surprisingly, the world-class metropolis is also a natural getaway as a subtropical archipelago made up of over 260 islands with 70 percent rural areas. From beaches to nature trails, parks and outlying  islands, you can discover the contrast of the great outdoors along with the exciting hustle and bustle in the  hub of Hong Kong. Top options to get in touch with nature include Dragon’s Back, a ridge-top path at Shek O Country Park, considered one of the best urban hiking trails in Hong Kong; and Tai Long Wan, a beautiful bay on the eastern side of the Sai Kung Peninsula.

THE TASTE OF PLACE
With 14,000 restaurants to choose from, including Michelin dining and nightlife, Hong Kong is a city full  of endless foodie experiences. Indulge in everything from the dim sum at Tim Ho Wan, quite possibly the most affordable Michelin-star restaurant in the world, to the abalone at Forum in Causeway Bay that can cost up to $10,000.

If you’re looking to try a variety of local dishes, a tasty choice is to take part in Hong Kong Foodie Tasting Tours’ Temple Street Night Foodie Tour, where participants can eat like a local and dive into  dishes like a sweet “soup” at a 90-year-old iconic Temple Street dessert specialty shop, the region’s infamous curry fish balls; and fresh made-to-order egg puffs, a quintessential Hong Kong snack.

HONG KONG 101
WHAT TO DO: If you only have time to do one thing in Hong Kong, visit The Peak, the highest point on Hong Kong Island. Be sure to take in the stunning 360-degree panoramic views from the Sky Terrace, at  428 metres above sea level, the highest viewing   platform in Hong Kong. Keep tradition alive and ride the charming Star Ferry boats, which have been transporting passengers from Hong Kong Island to Kowloon  and back since 1888. Discover hidden treasures and get immersed in local culture by embarking on a walking tour through neighbourhoods like Old Town Central and Sham Shui Po.

DRINK IN THE VIEWS: There are no shortage of stunning rooftop bars to choose from, but why not imbibe at the world’s highest bar on the 118th  floor, 1,608 feet above sea level, at Ritz-Carlton’s Ozone bar?

STAY IN STYLE: The Peninsula Hong Kong, The Upper House, The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong, Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong and the boutique The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong are some of the luxury properties on offer in Hong Kong.

Rong Khun Temple, Chiang Rai

GET OFF THE BEATEN PATH IN THAILAND: A THREE-HOUR FLIGHT FROM HONG KONG
Rich in island-hopping adventures, stunning sandy beaches, inlets surrounded by limestone cliffs, and remarkable cities like   Bangkok and Chiang Mai, Thailand has long been renowned for its alluring beauty and spectacular scenery. Beyond its bustling capital, there is a world of hidden gems to discover across the country. For a unique  experience, head to Chiang Rai, part of The Golden Triangle, where three countries, Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos converge. Throughout the 1960s to early 1990s, this area notoriously supplied most of the world’s heroin. The fascinating history of the area infamous worldwide for its poppy fields, opium
warlords and drug smugglers can be explored at The Hall of Opium, an exhibition at Golden Triangle Park. This lesser-known gem also features picturesque and Instagram-worthy attractions like Wat Rong Khun, known as the White Temple and Wat Rong Seur Ten, known as the Blue Temple.

Since the fastest way to connect to a destination is through food, be sure to taste the staple dish made famous in the city, Khao Soi Noodles, before unwinding at one of the many fabulous luxury hotels, like the Four Seasons Tented Camp or the Anantara Golden Triangle.

MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE IN BANGKOK
Although Thailand’s capital city has many showstoppers like the Grand Palace and Wat Pho that command attention, Bangkok is constantly evolving and reinventing itself with new shops, restaurants, rooftop bars, and attractions to discover. One of the newest notable attractions is the Mahanakhon Skywalk, Bangkok’s highest observation deck at 314 metres, which offers 360-degree panoramic views from an indoor and outdoor area. The must- see add-on to any Bangkok bucket list features a glass floor with a bird’s-eye view of the beautiful skyline below.

For those who are looking for other off-the-beaten path ideas, there’s lots more to discover like the beautiful Wat Suthat temple, located close to the Giant Swing, another interesting attraction originally built in 1784. And, if you’re in the mood for shopping, there’s something for every budget from the Asiatique Riverfront, a night bazaar and mall by the banks of the Chao Phraya River, to the ICON SIAM, a new shopping centre featuring high-end shops like Chanel and Dior.

BANGKOK 101

STAY IN STYLE: The Rosewood Bangkok, Waldorf Astoria and Capella Bangkok are just a few of the new five-star luxury properties to choose from in Bangkok.

DRINK IN THE VIEWS: Relive a scene from The Hangover Part II and grab a cocktail at the Sky Bar at  the top of Lebua at State Tower. Another scenic option to watch the sunset is the Moon Bar, located on the 61st floor of Banyan Tree Bangkok, often included in the world’s top 10 rooftop bars rankings, or the open-air rooftop bar at Sala Rattanakosin, which features stunning views of the Chao Phraya River, Wat Arun and the Grand Palace.

WHERE TO EAT: The capital city is home to a wide array of culinary options ranging from world- famous street food to Michelin-starred restaurants. To get a taste for the local cuisine, try some popular dishes like a plate of Phad Thai or a pot of spicy Tom Yum Goong. For a terrific meal, head to Jay Fai, one of only three Michelin-starred street-food venues in the world, but be prepared to wait in line. Curated by the chefs behind Bo.lan, Err! Is another tasty Michelin-starred restaurant offering urban rustic Thai dishes.

Story by ANN RUPPENSTEIN

The World ‘s 17 Best Beaches

From remote stretches of sand in far-flung locales to the ever-popular Caribbean getaways, there is a bounty of spectacular places for travellers to soak up the sun, whether they seek white, pink or even black  sand. So, where should you plan your beach escape for next winter? Why not try one of the top 17 beaches in the world as voted by the experts, Canadian travel agents.

1. VARADERO BEACH, CUBA Overwhelmingly popular, Cuba’s Varadero Beach is ranked one of the absolute best. With its icing sugar sand, Varadero Beach is often described as the softest, whitest, cleanest beach.
2. GRACE BAY BEACH, TURKS AND CAICOS Photo Courtesy of Turks & Caicos Tourist Board
3. SEVEN MILE BEACH, NEGRIL, JAMAICA While it may actually only measure 6.3 miles, Negril's Seven Mile Beach still measures up as one of the top beaches in the world. With world-class sunsets, white sands, and warm waters, it's no wonder this stretch of beach is nicknamed “seven miles of heaven.” Photo Courtesy of Couples Resorts Jamaica
4. BLACK SAND BEACH (PA’ILOA), WAI’ANAPANAPA STATE PARK AND KAANAPALI BEACH, HAWAII
5. PUNTA MAROMA, MEXICO
6. Bavaro Beach DOMINICAN Courtesy of Barcelo Hotel & Resorts
7. CABLE BEACH, BAHAMAS Photo Courtesy of Bahamas Ministry of Tourism Located in Nassau, Bahamas, travellers love the Cable Beach area for its beautiful beaches and snorkelling. Many resorts and intimate hideaways are beachfront or just a short stroll away, but no matter where you’re staying in Nassau Paradise Island, you're mere minutes from wiggling your toes in the sand and frolicking in warm, multi-hued azure waters stretching as far as the eye can see.
8. MATIRA BEACH, BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA Photo by Marc Gérard
9. SIESTA KEY AND ST. PETE BEACH
10. PATONG BEACH, PHUKET AND RAILAY BEACH, KRABI, THAILAND Photo Courtesy of Tourism Authority of Thailand
11. SEVEN MILE BEACH, GRAND CAYMAN The Cayman Islands, a peaceful British Overseas Territory, is packed with endless activities, the ultimate culinary scene, and, of course, the renowned Seven Mile Beach. It's the perfect spot to stroll miles of warm powdery white sand, relax under a swaying palm tree, or dive into calm crystal-clear waters. This is paradise.
12. EAGLE BEACH, ARUBA Photo Courtesy of Aruba Tourism Authority
13. WHITEHAVEN BEACH, AUSTRALIA Photo Courtesy of Day Dream Island
14. MAGENS BAY AND TRUNK BAY, USVI
15. THE BEACHES OF AITUTAKI AND RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS
Photo Courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises
15. THE BEACHES OF AITUTAKI AND RAROTONGA, COOK ISLANDS Photo Courtesy of Paul Gauguin Cruises
16. CRANE BEACH, BARBADOS A perennial favourite of “best beaches” lists, Crane Beach, Barbados feels secluded, with towering cliffs to one side, and protected by natural coral reef. Picture-perfect pink sand, close proximity to the airport, and amenities of the nearby The Crane Resort, make this beach a stand-out.
17. HORSESHOE BAY, BERMUDA

Day | Night Singapore

Day | Night

Singapore was already the most buzz-worthy city in Asia, but then the film Crazy Rich Asians came along and kicked it up a notch, giving Singapore, a small but mighty city-state in Southeast Asia, a new level of world recognition.

CHECK-IN

Many will be drawn to the eye-popping Marina Bay Sands (marinabaysands.com), whose three towering tiers are an iconic landmark for Singapore. A stay there includes access to the amazing Sky Park with its two rooftop pools. On the other hand,
consider a quick escape from the city at the Capella Singapore (capellahotels. com) on nearby Sentosa Island. This luxury property has a quiet seafront location and upscale colonial vibe. EAT Yes, Singapore has all the premium dining options that could be expected and desired. But why not try the cuisine that is part of everyday life in Singapore and offers a delicious blend of cultural influences? Hawker centres (visitsingapore.com) are convenient collectives where individuals operate small cooking stalls and specialize in preparing specific dishes. Favourites such as laksa, chicken rice, curries and satay can be had at insanely low prices,
and enjoyed in an authentic, bustling setting. Don’t miss the stalls that have achieved a Michelin star rating, like world-famous Liao Fan Hong Kong  Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle.

GREENERY

Gardens by the Bay (gardensbythebay.com) is an award- winning horticultural destination that spans 101 hectares of reclaimed land on Marina Bay. Its massive Supertrees are vertical gardens that reach up to 16 storeys in height.

COLONIAL KICKS

Step back in time at the Fullerton Hotel (fullertonhotels.com) on the Singapore River. The old-world ritual of afternoon tea in the Courtyard, or Cantonese dim sum in Jade, can be followed by cocktails at the Lantern Rooftop Bar.

SHOP

Get your retail therapy at the newly opened Design Orchard (visitsingapore.com), which showcases over 60 local fashion
brands on the premium shopping mecca, Orchard Road.

Day | Night

When the hot, hot heat of the tropical sun fades into night, Singapore comes alive with the evening’s more moderate temperatures.

SAFARI

The Singapore Zoo Night Safari (wrs.com.sg) invites visitors to embark on an after-dark adventure under bluish lights on grounds that house over 2,500 creatures, including the Asian elephant, Malayan tapir, and Malayan tiger.

ON TRACK

Every globetrotter should  attend a Formula 1 race at some point, and the F1 event in Singapore is amongst the most glamorous (www.singaporegp.sg). The “Monaco of Asia” waits until the night time to start the race under super-bright track lighting. The race runs near the end of September.

SINGAPORE SLING

It is a visitor’s imperative to make a stop at the historic Raffles Hotel (raffles.com/singapore). It houses the Long Bar, which is where the Singapore Sling was first concocted. Be prepared to pay handsomely for a big glass of the sweet, potent drink.

LATE

The Singapore River is lit by the many clubs and bars that line the river banks at Boat Quay and Clarke Quay. The hot
tropical sun is gone, but the humid tropical night remains, welcoming outdoor dining, imbibing and revelry.

DEPARTURES

End your trip on a high note! Already known for its lush indoor gardens, Changi Airport (changiairport.com) has
this year opened the new Jewel attraction, composed of a giant, glass-topped atrium  that features a forest valley, canopy park,
canopy maze and the plunging Rain Vortex.

CALLING ALL Adventurers

DISCOVER BARBADOS DURING THE YEAR
OF WELLNESS & SOFT ADVENTURE

You can drive around the entire island of Barbados in just three hours; at just 34 km long and 22  km wide, it’s a small country. But Barbados is big in style– an island nation steeped in history, pride, culture, sport, and a wealth of natural beauty, both rugged and coastal. Don’t be fooled by the call  of the Caribbean, there’s more to Barbados than its beaches, although those are pretty spectacular, too. This year, discover every side of the island during Barbados’ year of wellness and soft adventure.

ISLAND SAFARI TOURS
Hit the open road with Island Safari Tours. Pile into an open-sided jeep that picks you up at your hotel and takes you on a back-
road adventure, zigzagging its way across the hills and fields of the interior of the island and along it’s lesser-known coastlines. All the while, a friendly guide will stop along the way for photo ops and to make sure you learn the history and culture as you go. A  terrific way to spend the afternoon.

RUN BARBADOS
Runners from around the world flock to Bridgetown, Barbados, each December to participate in the Run Barbados Marathon
weekend. Festivities kick-off Friday night with a one-mile run divided into five heats: elite women, elite men, amateurs, children, and a fun run. Saturday afternoon, the festivities amp up with live music, stilt walkers, and crowds gathering to cheer on the 5K run, 5K walk, and 10K run participants. The half and full marathons begin Sunday at 4 a.m. to avoid the punishing Caribbean heat. All races start from picturesque Carlisle Bay with race routes winding their way through historic downtown. Streets are often
lined with locals cheering on the runners. Races are professionally timed for serious runners, but still festive and light-hearted enough for casual participants, too.

CULINARY ADVENTURES
For a five-star foodie adventure, head to Oistin’s Fish Market on Friday nights. Locals and tourists alike come here to savour the daily catch that fishermen fry, grill, and BBQ at this open-air night market. Lively music and dance, a craft market, and delicious food make this a party you shouldn’t miss. Not sure what to order? Communal tables mean you can ask the person seated next to you. But don’t miss the dangerously sweet rum punch, traditional macaroni pie, and world-famous fishcakes. Worth the wait
in line.

UNLEASH YOUR INNER EXPLORER
Spend an afternoon exploring the magnificence of Harrison’s Cave, a crystallized, limestone cave characterized by flowing streams, deep pools of clear water, and towering columns. Measuring 2.3 kilometres long with the Great Hall an awe-inspiring 15 metres high, Harrison’s Cave is considered active, as it carries water and its stalagmites are still growing. There are a variety of ways
to explore the sights and sounds of the cave’s running streams and waterfalls: enjoy a comfortable guided tram tour, grab your helmets and headlamps for a three hour discovery tour of the cave just as the early explorers did, or travel the cave by foot for a closer look at the formations.

ON THE WATER
Relax on the deck of a Cool Runnings catamaran as you sail the crystal-clear Caribbean waters. Spend a full day on the water, with snorkelling stops to see shipwrecks and sea turtles, then anchor in one of the many beautiful coves of Barbados to enjoy a delicious traditional lunch. Sunset dinner cruises are also available, as well as private bookings for special occasions. For more active adventure, find your stoke at Barry’s Surf School. Whether you’re new to surfing or a weekend warrior, you’ll be hanging ten in
no time. Try Barry’s two-hour introductory course or more advanced three-day “surf stronger” package.

WALK ON THE WILD SIDE
Perched high in the hills of St. Joseph Parish, take in Barbados’ breathtaking east coast views at Naniki. Proprietor Tom Hinds, welcomes you to his peaceful property with 10 cozy self-contained cottages, pool, restaurant, and new wellness centre. Get back to nature with hiking, biking in the countryside, yoga classes, or by visiting nearby Bathsheba Beach’s incredible coastline.

Story by ASHLEY ROCHEFORT

SIX REASONS TO VISIT CLUB MED’S NEW ECO-CHIC RESORT

Nouveau Michès

Emerging from a tropical palm grove along 2,000 feet of pristine white-sand beach in the Dominican Republic’s unspoiled northeast coast is Club Med’s first new resort in the Americas in 25 years, the Michès Playa Esmeralda. A hidden paradise of all-inclusive luxury, this eco-chic retreat features four boutique villages to entice every type of traveller. In case you need any more convincing, here are six reasons to make your next vacation a Club Med vacation.

CHOOSE YOUROWN ADVENTURE.

One resort, four boutique villages. Explorer Cove is an adventurous refuge that offers multi generational families a treasure trove of activities. The colourful heart of the resort, Caribbean Paradise, suits everyone’s vacation needs. Peace and wellness await in the adult-only Emerald Jungle. Archipelago is an oceanfront, adult-only sanctuary designed with luxury seeking romantics in mind.

ECO-CHIC.

A resort with a conscience means you can feel good about your vacation. At this Green Globe certified resort, say goodbye to single-use plastics and hello to solar panels and electric shuttle services.

VACAY WITH A VIEW.

Discover a variety of inspiring and breathtaking vistas at local excursions, like El Limon’s cascading waterfall, whale watching at Samana Bay, yoga on a treetop platform, or the peak of Montaña Redonda with its swing at the top of the world – totally instagrammable!

EXCLUSIVITY.

Unique to Club Med, their Exclusive Collection vacation package embodies the sophistication and comfort of all-inclusive luxury and includes pre-arrival contact, concierge service, small group transfers, in-room continental breakfast, turn-down service, premium liquor brands, and evening champagne service.

ICONIC ACTIVITIES.

There’s fun for the whole family at Michès Playa Esmeralda with some iconic Club Med sports and activities to experience, like family paddle boarding, trying out a Hobie Eclipse or electric jet surf, taking a run or leisure walk on the fit trail, and horseback riding on the beach. THE CARAMEL SECRET. Dining in The Family Restaurant, one of three gourmet dining options on site, becomes an adventure when the kids are invited to the hidden “Caramel Room” for a decadent dessert
experience filled with their favourite treats. If the adults are looking for a treat of their own, stop by one of the hotel’s four bars, three wine cellars, beach lounge, or coffee shop.

Story by ASHLEY ROCHEFORT

Muskoka’s Top Drops

At the lake, drinking Ontario wine feels like the right thing to do for any occasion. And local wineries can —and do—spin out some very fine juice. You just need to know which bottles to buy. With that in mind, I tasted high and low to find six hidden gems that pair perfectly with quintessential cottage moments.

ON THE DOCK
2017 Redstone
Limestone Vineyards
South Block Riesling,
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara
Score: 96 | $19.15
Available at redstone.com Kick back in the sun with a glass of this sunlit Riesling. Its refreshing scent of fresh salted lime and saturated, sorbet-like attack will have you at hello. The beam-like entry tastes bright and pure, quickly unspooling with coy suggestions of white peach, lemon-lime and mango before leaving an attractive wet stone and sea salt finish. This is a stylishly complex wine with a light kiss of sweetness, mouthwatering acidity, and a sensibly low 10.5 per cent alcohol.

AROUND THE BONFIRE
2016 Tawse Winery
David’s Block Cabernet Franc,
VQA Twenty Mile Bench, Niagara
Score: 96 | $50.15
Available at tawsewinery.ca Bonding around the bonfire with friends is priceless—especially over a superb bottle of red such as this. It teems with aromas and flavours of black cherries dunked in dark chocolate, while the rich centre is intriguingly scored with elements of minerality—graphite and granite as well as a toasted nuttiness. And yes, actually, it pairs with stick-roasted hotdogs, too. Ticks all the boxes while demonstrating why connoisseurs are calling Cabernet Franc Ontario’s flagship grape variety.

AS THE SUN SETS
2017 Westcott
Rosé Pinot Noir,
VQA Vinemount Ridge, Niagara
Score: 92 | $22.95
Available at westcottvineyards.com Pour a glass of this dry wine that drinks like a Provencal rosé and watch the sun set. All easy elegance, it shines pale coral and exudes ethereal aromas of struck steel and crushed redcurrants. The attack is silky-crisp and restrained, with wispy notes of cool linen and homemade strawberryrhubarb pie, followed by a faint but resonant twist of citrus zest on the finish. Just 400 cases of this delicate rosé were produced though, so snap it up before it’s gone.

WITH GRILLED STEAK
2017 Henry of Pelham
Speck Family Reserve Baco Noir,
VQA Ontario
Score: 94 | $24.95
Available at LCBO Vintages or henryofpelham.com Baco Noir has a cult-like following in Ontario, and this particularly profound expression tastes like it was made to pair with grilled steak. Made from 35 year old vines, it’s inky dark in colour and delivers robust aromas of macerated berries, smoky tobacco and roasted coffee. Then, a cashmere crush of dark cherry and plum, cigar box and espresso fill the mouth and stay a while. Outstanding value from a top-notch Baco Noir producer.

WITH GRILLED FISH
2017 Stratus
Weather Report Chardonnay,
VQA Niagara-on-the-Lake
Score: 93 | $28.00
Available at stratuswines.com Grilled fish is a summertime staple. And it comes to life with this sophisticated white from one of Ontario’s terroir-driven producers. It offers all the concentration and weight needed to stand up to grill marks, while maintaining delicacy and elegance. Quiet scents of nougat and praline lead to a smooth entry that quietly unfolds with full-bodied flavour. Chantilly cream, sweet corn, and nuts infuse the bright citrus core, and a crème brûlée finish with a touch of grapefruit pith lend lingering appeal. A connoisseur’s wine.

IN GOOD COMPANY
2016 Leaning Post
Clone 96 Chardonnay,
VQA Lincoln Lakeshore, ON
Score: 97+ | $45.00
Available at leaningpostwines.com This impressive wooded Chardonnay drinks like fine white Burgundy at a fraction of the price. Wonderfully heady aromas of smoky lime, fresh butter and cool stone draw you toward a creamy-weighty palate shot through with bright acidity. Each satiny sip unfurls with lemon curd, toasted meringue, and freshly rolled pastry with underpinnings of chalk, marzipan and honey. Polished,poised, and worth every cent. Winner of the gold medal at the Ontario Wine Awards and Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Ontario Wines in 2018.

Story by CAROLYN EVANS HAMMOND

TAKING THE HIGH ROAD

 

What’s worse than the bumper-to- bumper summer traffic heading north from Toronto on a Friday afternoon? The car is cramped, tempers flare, kids melt down, everyone’s hungry, and we’re not even past the city limits yet. What should be a 90-minute drive turns into a mind-bending, patience- testing three-hour crawl. Well, what if I told you there’s a better way? This May long weekend — the unofficial start to summer and the official start to cottage season — instead of taking to the highway, I boarded a 40-minute flight from downtown to Muskoka. I could get used to this…

11:25 AM After a quick and friendly check-in, I take a seat in the comfortable lounge at Fly GTA Airlines at Billy Bishop Airport. With free WiFi, ample magazines, and complimentary refreshments, I take a few moments to relax before heading out on the tarmac.

11:51 AM Unlike traditional flights, as soon as all the passengers are checked-in, we can board the plane. Staff are eager to assist with luggage, if needed. A brief welcome from the pilot, seat belts buckled, and we’re ready to go!

11:56 AM Time for take-off. Nothing quite like an aerial view of Toronto’s incredible skyline. On board, I meet fellow passengers and cottagers from Lake Rosseau, Michael and Shea. It’s also their first time flying north for the weekend. “This couldn’t be easier,”exclaims Michael. “Better than traffic.” My thoughts exactly.

12:10 PM Soaring just above the clouds now. A signal is spotty at this altitude, but I did manage to get in a few business texts, with pictures, of course. Sitting back, enjoying the scenery, I feel relaxed already. What a start to the long weekend!

12:17 PM There’s no mistaking the enormous, deep blue of Lake Simcoe. I can almost taste cottage country now.

12:26 PM Zipping past the cottage- country traffic starting to build on Highway 11.
12:32 PM The scenery grows ever more familiar, as we enter deeper into cottage country. Lakes dotted with islands and windswept trees: Muskoka’s rugged landscape starts to take shape.

12:36 PM And, in no time at all, we’ve landed at Muskoka Airport. I’m impressed with the service, the ease — what a stress-free way to start the weekend. Back on the ground, I ask Michael and Shea if I might see them again on another flight this summer. “Oh yes, the value of your time and decreased stress level is worth it, it’s a no-brainer,” Michael replies. FlyGTA Airlines (flygta.com) offers flights to Muskoka Thursday through Tuesday throughout the summer months. Check back often for rates and scheduled flight times. Need a ride? FlyGTA can also arrange for airport transfers. I, for one, will be taking this route as often as possible.

Hope to see you on board!

Story by WENDY MCCLUNG