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Tourism BC Story Ideas, September 2009



The Torch Starts Here: On October 30th, 2009, the Olympic Flame will arrive in Canada from its home in Olympia, Greece. The first stop? Victoria, BC. To welcome the flame and see it off on its cross-Canada journey the longest domestic relay in Olympic history -- Victorians are throwing a party. After an arrival ceremony in the city's Inner Harbour, the Olympic Torch will travel through most of Greater Victoria's municipalities before returning downtown for an evening celebration. Details are still under wraps, but watch for top local musicians, dancers, artists, athletes, celebrities and even acrobats, as well as a multi-media show, interactive characters, thousands of hand-held torches, and a grand pyrotechnics finale all on the harbour-side lawns of BC's Legislative Buildings. The whole show, running 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., is free and open to the public.

Here's how to join the party:

Where to stay
Most of Victoria's grand harbour-side hotels are promising torch-warming deals: for $149 a night, you can choose from The Fairmont Empress Hotel's Light My Fire package, the Hotel Grand Pacific's From Greece with Fire rate, or the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort and Spa's Ignite the Flame deal.

Other options include the Queen Victoria Hotel and Suites' Let the Games Begin package, which includes accommodation, parking and a welcome gift for just $89; and Accent Inn's Fuel the Flame deal, which offers two nights at $79 each and a third for just $20.10.

Dates vary, but most of these packages will run from late October to early November; many also include such extras as breakfast deals or an Olympic-themed welcome gift.

Where to eat
Tricky this given that Victoria claims more restaurants per capita than almost any city in North America (after San Francisco). Some ideas: if all that running makes you peckish for something healthy, check out Mo:Le on Pandora Street for local, organic and vegan fare. In a hurry? Noodle Box, with two locations, can throw together a cashew curry or teriyaki box to go. For a pre-launch party dinner out, reserve a table at the Pacific Restaurant in the Hotel Grand Pacific or the Empress Room in The Fairmont Empress Hotel -- both are just steps from the party zone.

What to see
Victoria's pedestrian-friendly scale and genteel pace are instantly beguiling, especially in the autumn, when visitor numbers are low. Late October is a great time to visit the Royal British Columbia Museum -- one of Canada's leading cultural sites -- and check out the Sacred Arts of Tibet exhibit at The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Or, since Halloween looms on the horizon, you can join the festivities during the Ghosts of Victoria Festival to learn all about the city's darker side.

Getting there
Sail Free: That's right. If you book a two-night package through Tourism Victoria's promotional website (, they'll throw in a return BC Ferries sailing from the Vancouver area for a car, driver and passenger. (This offer is available until October 31, 2009.) Pressed for time? Check out Harbour Air, the world's first carbon neutral airline.

For more Victoria hotel deals and visitor information, see
For details about Victoria's Torch Relay celebration, see:

For more destination story ideas related to the 2010 Winter Games, visit or to read more story ideas from the Vancouver Island region, visit

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Sun Peaks: Top Spot for Olympians: So where do Olympians past, present and potential hang out between Games? One popular spot is Sun Peaks Resort, just five hours from Vancouver in the province's Thompson Okanagan region. It's here that Nancy Greene, an Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist, Canada's Female Athlete of the Century, Canadian Senator and the resort's Director of Skiing, leads mountain tours most weekends during the ski season and even offers private lessons. Other Olympians regularly seen about the mountain village are Albertville Winter Games Olympic speed skiers Kenny Dale and Lark Frolek. Present-day Olympic hopefuls living or training in Sun Peaks and nearby Kamloops include alpine skier Elli Terwiel, who's currently training with the national development team; top-ranked snowboarders Matthew Morison and Carly Thorp; and speed skater Jessica Hewitt. And it's not just locals making the most of Sun Peaks' great slopes. The Austrian Ski Team, for example, has trained at the resort since 2004, and will base at least part of the team here during the 2010 Winter Games. Members of BC's First Nations Snowboard Team regularly train at Sun Peaks' terrain park and, in March 2009, Paralympic hopefuls tested the resort's slopes during the TELUS Para-alpine Canadian Championships. Of course you don't have to be an Olympian to enjoy Sun Peaks. Come winter, there's 122 runs of fluffy powder, 40 kilometres of groomed Nordic trails, one terrain park (complete with three sections suited for varying ability levels), a tube park, outdoor skating, sleigh rides, snowshoeing, dogsledding, snowmobile tours, and even Sun Peaks' own brand of nine hole fun: snowshoe golf.

To read more story ideas from the Thompson Okanagan region, visit [Back to Press Releases Main]