Toto, I’ve got a feeling we’re not in Edmonton anymore. Depending on which floor you exit the elevator on, you may find yourself standing among split logs in the Wild West or surrounded by a Polynesian volcanic eruption.
Connected to gigantic West Edmonton Mall, Fantasyland Hotel offers themed accommodations that are perfect for families or couples. These large rooms come with a Jacuzzi, a 42-inch LCD TV, a small refrigerator and a king- or queen-size bed—and some feature bunk beds. The 13 different themes include everything from African and Igloo to Victorian Coach and Canadian Rail. And the details are impressive: the Roman room, for instance, is decked out in marble and columns and features a round, king-size bed and a Venus-like statue that pours water into the Jacuzzi.
For adults only, the Hollywood Nights rooms are decorated in sexy purple and gold and feature a dancer pole, an intimate two-seater Jacuzzi and a window into the shower.
The Fantasyland Hotel also offers more than 25,000 square feet of meeting space, and hotel staff can help plan fun team-building activities, including an Amazing Race-type challenge around the mall.
If you can drag yourself out of your Jacuzzi, the hotel also has several dining options. Try a Kobe beef burger at L1 Lounge, and make sure to order the extraordinary fries. Or grab a table at the plush L2 Grill and try the free-range chimichurri chicken. And if that doesn’t satisfy, you’re only a short walk from WEM’s Bourbon Street restaurant row.
Opened in 1986, the Fantasyland Hotel has recently undergone a multi-million-dollar renovation to its entrance, elevators, rooms and restaurants, with more work to come in the future. Hey, even Rome wasn’t built in a day.
With more than 5.3 million square feet and more than 800 stores and services, how do you know where to start at the West Edmonton Mall? A good bet would be Simons, the chic Quebec brand that has everything from women’s and men’s apparel and accessories to home goods.
Opening this month in the mall’s swanky Europa Boulevard, it is the only Simons outside of Quebec. And what a Simons it will be. The store is 115,000 square feet and its $30-million cost includes art commissioned specifically for the Edmonton location and design elements including cones that descend from the ceiling on a pulley so women can try on clothing quickly.
Other stores opening this fall at WEM include Pottery Barn, The North Face, Steve Madden and Lolë, another Quebec brand.
Sarah Brightman on tour
Sarah Brightman has topped the charts and sold 30 million albums worldwide with her brand of classical crossover pop. The songstress has recently been in the news for her latest endeavor, tackling space.
Brightman, 52, has dropped a staggering $31 million for her part in the three-person team heading to the International Space Station for eight days in 2015.
Sip on sustainable wine from Romeo cherries at Living Sky Winery
Don’t let their backgrounds fool you: the minds behind Living Sky Winery have perfected the art of locally sustainable wine. Run by Sue Echlin (a political science major) and her husband, Vance Lester (a duck ecologist), the small operation produces fruit wines made with everything from locally grown strawberries to black currants. The couple also grows their own Romeo cherries on their estate just outside Perdue, Sask. (about 55 km west of Saskatoon).