If there is one thing I love more than shopping, it is traveling. There is nothing like the thrill of getting another stamp on that passport page. The thrill is made more exciting when family is with me on the trip. Family vacations here and abroad are precious moments that top my list.
Over the holidays, we visited relatives in Canada and the United States. For Christmas, we explored the natural beauty of Vancouver, visiting my brother-in-law Robin Valdes and his family. Vancouver is one picturesque seaport, blessed with majestic views and lush landscapes. The entire city seems to be geared toward family-friendly activities, with places designed for kids of all ages.
The Grouse Mountain Skyride is one exciting example. The quick ride to the top of the mountain takes you to a whole new world for either snow-based winter activities or outdoor adventures in summer.
Family shopping is the thing to do at Granville Island. There’s a lot of handicraft places for me to explore, but also a Kids Market with interactive crafts shops, toys and candy shops, and a giant arcade for the younger crowd.
Robin told me that in the summer, there’s a free water park on Granville Island that sprinkles more fun, with a chance to splash around in the spray park and glide down water slides.
Every May, the Vancouver International Children’s Festival is held at Granville, drawing lots of visitors of all ages.
During our stay, we were lucky enough to avoid the Polar Vortex plaguing the more eastern side of North America. We enjoyed a short run along the seawall at Stanley Park. The rest of the group rented bikes and visited the Vancouver Aquarium.
For our New Year’s holiday, we headed to Lake Tahoe, California, for some skiing happiness, this time with my brother Andrew Prieto and his family. With spectacular views of the lake, the ski runs at Northstar were challenging yet so beautiful.
My youngest, Athena, took her first ski lessons. She did well, although the ski boots were too heavy for her, and so she decided to just play in the snow for the next few days.
The teenagers went for a combination of snowboarding and skiing that they totally enjoyed. They had a lot of fun with the ski slope signs, including one that said: “Caution: Trees don’t move.”
We were blessed that the entire family vacation was stress-free and injury-free.
With a virtually endless array of things to do, the Village at Northstar is a beehive of activity all year round. We enjoyed live music on the Village Stage on weekends, free skating, bungee jumping, and ongoing activities sponsored by the various boutiques and eateries. The unique, laid-back style of Northstar California Resort combines California cool with a sophisticated alpine village atmosphere.
The City Club
After visiting both sides of our families abroad, we celebrated more family milestones in Manila. Alphaland big boss Roberto Ongpin held an intimate dinner party at City Club with his children, who were visiting from London. Also present enjoying the birthday dinner at Hai Shin Lou were Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family, including Senator Nancy and Mayor Jun-jun, and Alphaland president Babes Oreta and his lovely wife Babot.
The newest private leisure club in the metropolis, The City Club occupies the top three floors of the six-story podium of Alphaland Makati Place. Upscale property developer Alphaland Corporation has opened this club that caters to members’ business, lifestyle and fitness needs.
The mixed-used complex has several restaurants, the Bar and Game Room, Tabacalera Cigar Divan and The Tea Room. The state-of-the-art athletic complex includes indoor tennis, basketball, squash and badminton courts.
On the wellness side, there is a spa, a landscaped pool, Jacuzzi area and a playground for kids. Full-service function rooms are also available for private meetings or events.
Alphaland’s other high-end leisure estate projects are the island-resort club Balesin and the upcoming yacht club Marina.
Pinoy online travel site
For avid travelers like me, check out www.tripmoba.com, the first Filipino online travel site that makes local travel easier. This first Philippine-focused travel engine is a revolutionary portal, developed by Philippine-based e-commerce company Transnational eGlobal, Inc., a member of the Transnational Diversified Group.
Some of the country’s top editors and representatives of the local travel community were all abuzz at the press launch of tripmoba.com at Aracama Restaurant in Bonifacio Global City. Aracama was reinvented as a tropical destination for the night.
Guests were treated to personalized cocktails flavored with Don Papa Rum. Chef Fernando Aracama’s sumptuous culinary fare included Pinoy-fusion dishes like crispy bagnet wraps, skewered chicken inasal and a lambanog-infused sago’t gulaman.
Lucky attendees won raffle prizes, including a stay at The Bellevue Resort in Bohol and at Costa Pacifica Raintree in Baler. The grand prize was an all-expenses-paid trip to Club Paradise in Coron that went to lucky Liza Ilarde.
Zaki Delgado, president of Tripmoba.com, took the stage to formally introduce the website that will make local travel more exciting.
Looks like we’re going to have a wonderful year of travel ahead. I am headed for Cebu two weekends in a row, for Sinulog next weekend and then for the opening of The Henry Hotel thereafter. As I’ve always said, it really is more fun in the Philippines. Amidst all the challenges and travails our country has gone through, we are still grateful for our lives and the times we have celebrated through our many festivals throughout the year.
Speaking of celebrations, I would like to congratulate my cousin Bianca Santos as she wed her beau Joey Tambunting last Friday. We were all at the family reunion of the De La Paz family at Casa Roces earlier that week, so it was a great chance for all the Prietos, Tuasons, Legardas and Valdeses to celebrate the New Year.
Follow @tessavaldes on Twitter or visit www.tessaprietovaldes.com.