Last weekend, Jay and I headed to Niagara Falls for a little "we time". We wanted a little time for ourselves as an early celebration for our 9th wedding anniversary, away from our busy city lives and loud, energy-filled families, and we got exactly what we were looking for while staying at the DoubleTree Fallsview Resort and Spa by Hilton in Niagara Falls. When my friends at Expedia.Ca asked if I wanted a weekend away, I didn't really even think before saying, "OMGosh YASSSS. *cough* I mean, yeah, sure." It was perhaps 10 minutes after their offer, that I got the ball rolling on booking our trip through Expedia.
Did you know you can pay for your purchases through Expedia.ca by PayPal?? I LOVE my PayPal, and being able to use my account funds this way is so very handy for me. Also, being an Expedia+ member meant that if I ever found a cheaper booking for the same resort online, Expedia.ca would match that price and provide a $50 credit for my next adventure. I love having the secure knowledge that I can book at any time, and will have the best price guaranteed for my trip.
Niagara Falls tends to get a slightly-dented wrap for being a tacky place to go. Where else are you going to find a year-long amusement park right along a street, on a hill, that ends with a massive drop into the Falls. The truth is, Jay and I have a ton of fun, happy memories throughout the years of weekend jaunts to the Falls, and I'm already looking forward to the next time we go back.
Something Funny Happpened On the Way to Clifton Hill
Two years ago, Jay and I had booked a hotel that we knew was close (walking distance) to everything we wanted to see. It was okay for a hotel. Nothing special, where we just hoped the linens were clean. We truly felt like we were maybe two of seven people actually occupying the 4-floor hotel space at any given time, and that included the employees.
The moment we arrived, we dropped our bags in our room and left to go find something to do on Clifton Hill. While heading out for our walk, I remember clearly saying to Jay as we looked across the street and saw a gorgeous hotel, "Next time we're in Niagara Falls, we have got to check out that hotel instead."
Turns out I was talking about the Double Tree Fallsview Resort and Spa, and through sheer happenstance and the help of Expedia.ca, that's exactly what we did.
Just Another Hotel in Niagara Falls
Yeah, pfft no. Double Tree Fallsview Resort and Spa is in a league of its own compared to the hotels its surrounded by. The DoubleTree is strategically placed to easily access three major tourist locations in Niagara Falls by foot. On the north side of the hotel, you have Ferry Street that will lead you to Clifton Hill, full of amusement (wax museums, arcades, Ferris Wheel, etc,) and all the familiar, mostly American restaurants you could shake a stick at.
Directly east of the hotel, down Robinson Street, you have a route that will take you right to the Falls and all the adventures it entails. As well as the Skylon Tower and IMAX theatre, and another route that will take you to Clifton Hill, bypassing the popular restaurants on Ferry Street and Victoria Avenue.
To the south side, you have a more adult area with grills, bars and the Niagara Falls Casino.
The only thing you would need a bus for is the Canada One Shopping Outlet on Lundy's Lane, with a stop for that bus (Red Line) conveniently right in front of the DoubleTree on the west side.
Putting the "Resort and Spa" in DoubleTree Fallsview Resort and Spa
Usually when thinking of hotels in Niagara Falls, or least when I do, "Resort and Spa" aren't words that are generally associated with the area's options. This is perhaps a misconconseption that only I've retained, but I was pleasantly swayed to think otherwise.
We arrived super early on Friday, through VIA Rail, so that we could get as much experience throughout our three-day stay as we wanted. It turned out to be a great move, since we wound up with a snow storm on Sunday!
Check-in definitely doesn't happen at 10:30 AM at any hotel, so we were glad that the DoubleTree could take our luggage until 12:30PM, when we could check-in.
Five Lakes Spa AVEDA
The evening before we left, I had called to see about making an appointment for a Stress-Fix™ Body Experience at the Five Lakes Spa AVEDA, found right in the hotel.
It looks so small from the lobby, but wow is it ever bigger on the inside! Insert TARDIS joke here.
Despite it being one of my favourite months, December turned out to be a super-duper crazy month in 2015 that I couldn't wait to be done with. Our whole house wound up with head colds, followed by an epically painful stomach bug, and the inlaws were in the middle of selling their home that required a couple of fixes to boot. Between managing birthday celebrations (including my dad's 65th,) and present shopping for all... Stress? Yes, plenty.
When entering the spa, there is quite a few calming and beautiful places to lounge. You might want to just sit and read there all day.
I heard a trickling water sound the moment I entered the lounge, and found this cute fella sitting on the wall.
So, the Stress-Fix™ Body Experience sounded very tempting...
Stress can alter your physical and spiritual health. The Stress-Fix™ body care line is infused with French lavender, lavandin and clary sage; all of which have been clinically proven to relax and reduce feelings of stress. Relax to a full body exfoliation treatment using Stress-Fix™ mineral rich aromatic salt followed by a soothing scalp massage. Recharge with a refreshing Pure-fume™ Steam Shower and an application of Stress-Fix™ body lotion to complete this aromatic ritual. Five Lakes Spa AVEDA Menu (pdf)
Luckily there was a spot available right when we were to arrive into the city on Friday morning. And boy, I think every jaunt I ever go on from now one should begin with a trip to the spa for a relaxing massage and steam bath. I felt like I was walking on clouds when I had left!
This wasn't the exact room I was in. That one was too dark for me to take a photo of, but it's similar. All that's really missing here is the ambient candles, and the nature sounds that were quite soothing.
The entire Stress-Fix™ Body Experience was awesome, and something I definitely want to do again. The salt exfoliation treatment left me with soft skin, free of any dead-skin flakes. The full-out cocoon snooze, where each foot was wrapped in a hot towel, and I was virtually snuggled into a multitude of warm blankets, topped off with a soothing scalp massage. I struggled a bit to not fully fall asleep right there... I tend to snore. The intense steam bath, followed by a regular shower where I got to try out AVEDA's Rosemary Mint Shampoo and Conditioner, mmmm, oh my gosh, I meant to bring a bottle home! I just have to hope that my local AVEDA has the same shampoo, 'cause I don't want another shower without it. And finally, a scented body lotion rub, that helped retain all the moisture I experienced during the previous hour. If you find yourself in Niagara Falls, I fully recommend making an appointment with Erin for your own Stress-Fix™, you won't regret it!
Tips for the perfect experience:
- If you have long hair, bring a hair clip with you that will hold all of your hair up off your body for the salt exfoliation. The spa has hair ties if needed, but you may feel better with the clip, and its something the masseuse can easily remove when needed.
- If you wear contacts, leave them in your room/at home. The steam bath is just as wet as any other kind of bath and I had to keep my eyes closed for fear of losing one or both.
My Affair with the New Pool Boy
I could count on one hand the number of times Jay and I have gone swimming together in the 17+ years that we've known each other. We even had to buy Jay a new pair of swimtrunks before our trip, because he didn't own any. It's just not his thing usually. Or, it wasn't his thing usually - we just might have changed his mind about it at the DoubleTree!
With an adult-only pool, we had a truly enjoyable time doing laps along the length and just chilling with a dead-man's float for all three days we stayed at the DoubleTree. I learned that I sincerely miss swimming as an exercise, and want to find a local pool that will let me do laps in the future. Oh, and I cannot forget to mention the heated floor tiles in the adult-only area! I wanted to take them home with me, they were so warm on my frequently cold feet.
There was also a wading/children's pool for family fun, and a hot tub to sooth our aging backs. While I didn't try out the family pool, the kids within were definitely having fun. And I couldn't take a pic of the the hot tub that is just to the left of this picture below, 'cause it was always occupied. It was definitely a resort favourite!
Instead of doing the pedestrian thing of drying ourselves off with mere towels, we took to the Dry Sauna after each swim for a nice relaxing moment in a particularly hot room that did a great job of drying our hair and suits. I imagine this room gets pretty popular on the really cold days!
The facilities also boast a covenient fitness room, which we were surprised wasn't being used more as there seemed to be a hockey tournament happening that same weekend, and the hotel was full of players.
One thing we didn't notice until we were pretty much on our way back home was that there was a microwave available for anyone's use in the pantry/vending room. While not exactly disappointed in not seeing a microwave in our room this time, its good to know that next time we visit the DoubleTree that we could reheat last night's pizza for breakfast if we wanted to.
See These Etchings at the Ochre Gallery
I'm not sure if I've ever been to a hotel/resort that included its own art gallery. The Ochre Gallery is small compared to others I've visited, but it has some beautiful pieces you just have to see for yourself. Can you imagine hunting down some fairly large maple leaves, drying them out to a certain extent, and then carving designs into them?? Without ripping the medium? There are two on display, designed by "Unknown", and as someone with a ton of patience in reserve, I cannot fathom the precision and patience required to make such beautiful pieces.
This incredible piece of art was made by an unknown artist.
Can you imagine the patience for this?? One tear and the entire piece would be ruined. The leaf is so thin, that you can see the stem's shadow behind the membrane.
There is a lot of native art on display, and I particularly enjoy these two faces that look as if they're trying to pop out of the photo. Even while standing there, the illusion makes you believe that the art piece is multi-layered, but its remarkably all on one flat canvas.
These are two of my favourite pieces. Love the illusion.
Get a Room
So, when I was finally ready to check us in, I was floating over to the desk since I had just finished the Stress-Fix™ Body Experience at the 5 Lakes Spa AVEDA. Check-in was virtually painless, took only mere moments to do, and it ended with the dude manning front desk giving me two warm cookies.
I kid you not. He gave me the keys, and then pulled out two warm cookies from under his desk. Where was he keeping them that they would still be warm by the time I was ready to check-in?? Is there such thing as a warming drawer?
Jay and I went up to our room, and wow, what a view. We could view almost everything we wanted to visit during our three-day stay, and took a moment to map our travel from the window.
In the winter, Friday nights also means fireworks, and we got to watch the display clearly from our room as well! I particularly love fireworks, and one of my favourite memories is sitting in Skylon Tower, enjoying a great meal for my birthday with my husband, and looking down at the fireworks show. Have you ever watched fireworks come up to you? The different angle is quite neat. I have a clear memory of a white chrysanthemum bursting right below us, almost reaching out for us, and I'll admit, it felt a bit magical to see. This year, it was raining, and we weren't sure if the fireworks were even going to be lit up, so we stayed inside. It was pure chance on our part that we were still able to watch the show so clearly and comfortably from our suite's window. It was close enough that we could even still hear the concussive blast through the window.
Check in on Wednesday, where I'll share all the awesomely fun places we found on our visit to Niagara Falls!
Have you been to the Falls? What's your favourite attraction?
Next time you're in Niagara Falls, you'll want to stay at the DoubleTree. The whole hotel resort thing is just fabulous here. Check out Expedia, and the free Expedia+ membership, for the best price guarantee you'll find for your next trip!