This summer leave behind city stresses to indulge in one of the season’s most delightful offerings: gardens. Canada’s National Capital Commission is in the midst of a floral bonanza.
If you want to start the garden tour even sooner ditch the bumper highway traffic from hubs like Toronto and vouch for the VIA train service for refreshing views of green countryside, bucolic farms, and old timey towns where you swear you saw the tumbleweed roll.
Once there take your pick on which side of the Ottawa River to begin the garden tour. In Gatineau, the Mosaiculture Gatineau 2018 is all abloom. The floral fantasy albeit fleeting as the unique garden park closes in mid October has managed to blossom into an array of finely sculpted living green creatures, some of them taking on a life of their own.
In Ottawa, garden lovers hop aboard a catchy retro bus for a trippy ride along Ottawa’s new Garden Promenade, a local experience of 40 gardens and 70 garden experiences.
But as in all good vacays and urban getaways, the big question of the hour is where to lay down your head. Perhaps the Four Points by Sheraton Gatineau Ottawa might entice. This mid-priced hotel is affiliated with the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), the award-winning loyalty program, so guests can win Starpoints.
The hotel, while a new build incorporates vestiges from the former monastery now the conference center that once stood on the site. Ideally situated, the 201-room property is walking distance to nearly everything. There is a string of local restaurants, many with unique dining and wine menus and wine. The Jacques Cartier Park, home to Mosaiculture Gatineau is a hop, skip and a jump down the street, while the fabulous Douglas Cardinal-designed Canadian Museum of History with its wild entrance of prairie grasses is strategically across the street.
Straddling along the ancient Ottawa River, the National Capital Commission combines two cities in one visit: the French-style experiences of Gatineau in Quebec and the alluring experiences associated with the nation’s capital in Ottawa.
Once at the hotel, the local hospitality quickly surfaces. There’s a cooling station of ice water and a basket of fresh local peaches which serve as a welcome refresher on this sweltering hot day where humidex records soar.
The hotelier celebrates its past incarnation with a tribute wall of black and white stills of the Notre Dame Church which burned down in the seventies.
The main lobby incorporates artful designs combining natural wood stump furniture with whimsy sitting ball cushions one can shift to any space.
The Suite Pluses:
Choose from five room categories like the spacious one and two bedroom suites to the popular traditional rooms. My traditional corner king room on the fourth floor had a king sized bed, flat screen TV, fridge, free Wi-Fi, and an in room coffee and tea station, with a complimentary water bottle replenished daily. The muted tones of the room interior coupled with dark woods is fabulously modern.
Dining: The anchor restaurant L’Ardoise is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The resto features locally sourced menu items inspired by the slow food movement which is popular in and around Gatineau. The breakfast buffet serves unlimited scrambled eggs, fresh croissants and sweet juicy peaches and blueberries. A casual seating environment diners can also enjoy more intimate private seating by the L’Ardoise Lounge.
The Bar: Tucked away off the main lobby, the L’Ardoise Lounge is a relaxing spot from which to enjoy a beer while recounting the garden sightseeing. This Four Points hotel location has its own Chief Beer Officer (it’s almost no surprise that nearly 2,000 people applied for this job either) so expect a carefully chosen selection of what the property calls, “Best Brews” from around the world.
Amenities: For fitness, the Fitness Center is fully stocked with state-of-the-art gym equipment. The indoor pool has saltwater (good for the environment) with carefully placed skylights.
Surprises: The hotel regularly runs themed packages such as the VIP Mosaiculture Gatineau 2018. Every Wednesday happy hour (5:30 pm to 6:30 pm) features one complimentary craft beer from BDT Les Brasseurs du Temps and munchies from the kitchen.
Overall Impression: This French modern property doesn’t pretend to be something else and offers a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere ideal for garden lovers who enjoy local menu items and experiences.
You can make your reservations at the Four Points by Sheraton Gatineau Ottawa website. Weekend rates are from CDN$129 while weekday rates are from $159. Compare rates at Hotels.com or Travelocity.
Photography: Ilona Kauremszky and Four Points by Sheraton Gatineau Ottawa.