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Victorian Christmas at the Grand Empress

Program Number: 18099RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/23/2012 - 12/27/2012; 12/22/2014 - 12/26/2014;
Duration: 4 nights
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Price starting at: $1,445.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Holidays
Meals: 10; 4 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 4 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian    

Revel in the spirit of the season amid the history and ambiance of charming Victoria and the opulent, turn-of-the-century Empress Hotel. Presentations and field trips mingle with horse-drawn trolley rides and traditional sing-alongs as you stroll the historic streets of Victoria and learn of Canadian holiday traditions. On Christmas morning, immerse yourself in holiday atmosphere as carolers wander the hotel halls.




Highlights

• Witness the magical holiday transformation of magnificent Butchart Gardens with a display of thousands of twinkling lights.
• Be regaled with true accounts of how Christmas was celebrated during the days of Fort Victoria and the gold-rush era.
• Take part in one of Victoria’s grandest traditions — Afternoon Tea at the Empress — and top off Christmas Day with dinner in the Crystal Ballroom.



Activity Particulars

Easy walking on relatively flat terrain; optional stairs.



Christmas Evening dress code is semi-formal, with a jacket and tie requested for gentlemen.




Date Specific Information

12-22-2014

Enjoy the latest in hearing technology — listening devices — on this date.




Victoria

This provincial capital on Vancouver Island is blessed with spectacular scenery and a mild climate year-round. Home to Butchart Gardens and the Empress Hotel, Victoria is rich in First Nations history, marine coastal ecosystems, cultural attractions and European charm that dates to its years spent under British colonial rule.



Accommodations
Five-Star accommodations at the historic Fairmont Empress Hotel; indoor heated pool, saunas and fitness room.

Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
George Baker

George Baker grew up in Brazil and Argentina, but the affable fellow found his way to Toronto in 1956. After graduating from the University of Toronto and logging a successful career in advertising and public relations, George has relished a second career as a charming, entertaining leader of historical walking explorations of downtown Victoria, Chinatown and The Empress Hotel, which has entertained the likes of Jack Benny, Katherine Hepburn, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Barbra Streisand and Roger Moore.
 
Teresa Weir

Teresa grew up on a dairy farm in Southwestern Ontario, Canada, and earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in acting from the University of Windsor. After graduation, she moved west and has lived in Edmonton, Jasper and now Vancouver. Her acting career has taken her to Fringe festivals in three provinces, elementary schools throughout British Columbia, and she now spends time role playing for students in various health care programs. She regularly works special events such as the Vancouver International Film Festival. With a love of the outdoors, Teresa camps as often as she can. In 2011, she hiked 68 miles of Scotland’s Speyside Way. Teresa looks forward to meeting Road Scholar participants and sharing with them her love for the region.
 
John Adams

John Adams is the author of “Old Square-Toes and His Lady: The Life of James and Amelia Douglas.” Part historian and part storyteller, John has turned a passion for the past into a long career in history. His family-owned business, Discover the Past, provides a variety of historical educational programs for the community. His natural, lively, humorous and clear style makes his presentations both informative and memorable.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   The Fairmont Empress Hotel
  Victoria, BC 4 nights
 The Fairmont Empress Hotel
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: The Fairmont Empress Hotel, located on Victoria, British Columbia's, inner harbor, was named for Queen Victoria, Empress of India. Designed by Francis Rattenbury and built by the Canadian Pacific Railway, the Victoria Fairmont Empress Hotel has enchanted guests to Victoria BC since its opening in 1908. Rising regally on the banks of Victoria's Inner Harbor and representing the center of British Columbia's Capital City, The Fairmont Empress has been completely restored to her turn-of-the-century beauty. The Fairmont Empress displays the grandeur of a bygone era, her facilities and services meet the needs of today's traveler. There was some consideration in the 1960's to tear down the aging hotel and build a modern high rise, but public outcry over the idea lead to a four million dollar restoration instead, called "Operation Teacup." The "Royal Restoration" was completed in 1989 at a cost of forty-five million dollars, and added modern facilities such as an indoor swimming pool as well as refurbishing all the guest rooms. Today the Empress hotel retains all of its old world charm and grandeur with antique furniture and opulent decor, while at the same time offering modern luxury.
  Contact info: 721 Government Street
Victoria, BC V8W 1W5 Canada
phone: 250-384-8111
web: www.fairmont.com/empress
  Room amenities: Plush bathrobes, cable television, in-room movies, coffee maker, mini-bar fridge, hair dryer, luxurious down-filled duvets, telephone & voice mail, and windows that open to outside. Excellent Room Service. Internet access available, and a Business Centre.
  Facility amenities: The Fairmont Empress features many exclusive amenities; exquisite dining, Victorian-era architecture, executive business services and the luxurious Willowstream Spa. Enjoy our Afternoon Tea in the magnificent Tea Lobby surrounded by handcrafted tapestries, lovely moldings and polished, hard wood floors. Afternoon Tea is one of Victoria's greatest traditions, and one of the many services that sets The Fairmont Empress apart. The Fairmont Empress has a fully-equipped gym and indoor heated pool and whirlpool area. The Fairmont Empress also offers in-room services such as a work area, computer dataports and direct phone lines. Laundry services are also available.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: Various upgrades Upgrades available to arrange please call the Tour Office at the Empress Hotel at (250) 995-3665 or email emp.tours@fairmont.com. Please mention that you are part of the Road Scholar (Elderhostel group) and they can provide complete details on availability and additional fees.
  Check in time: 3:00 PM
  Additional nights after: Various upgrades Upgrades available to arrange please call the Tour Office at the Empress Hotel at (250) 995-3665 or email emp.tours@fairmont.com. Please mention that you are part of the Road Scholar (Elderhostel group) and they can provide complete details on availability and additional fees.
  Check out time: 12:00 PM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Check-in after 3:00 pm. Dinner is scheduled for 5:00 pm at the hotel. You will be staying at The Fairmont Empress Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Breakfast is at 8:00 am. Program ends after breakfast. Check out by 12:00 noon. You will be staying at The Fairmont Empress Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. A valid government issued passport is required for ALL travel to/from Canada. A US law known as the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) requires those traveling to/from the United States by land & sea to also have a passport or other appropriate secure documents (NEXUS card). Passport requirements are subject to change. Visit www.travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html for up to date information.
  Parking availability:
For parking details at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, Victoria, please contact the hotel directly at (250) 384-8111.
Transportation
To Start of Program
  Location:  Victoria, BC
  Nearest city or town:  Victoria
  Nearest airport:  Victoria International Airport
  From End of Program
  Location: Victoria, BC
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Travel Details
 

Victoria

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
AKAL Airporter
phone: 250-386-2525
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$20.00 CAN per person one way.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

Approximately 30 minutes. 

 

Distance:

 

Approximately 15 miles.

   

AKAL Airporter provides daily 1/2 Hour Service to & from Airport to all Hotels and Motels in Greater Victoria and to and from Victoria International Airport. Shuttles operate from 4:00 am until midnight or until last flight clears. Reservations are recommended. Taxis are approximately $50.00 CAN one way.

 

Victoria

 

From Ferry Landing

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
Taxi

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

CAD$5 - $6
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

5 minutes 

 

Distance:

 

Walking distance to hotel.

   

The Victoria Clipper passenger ferry is from Seattle from Victoria. Travel time is 2 ½ hours. Ferry terminal is just a few blocks from the hotel. For more information on the Victoria Clipper ferry, schedules and current fares please call 1-800-888-2535 or visit www.victoriaclipper.com

 

Victoria

 

From Bus Terminal

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
City Bus

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

CAD$2 - $3
Prices are subject to change.

   

Pacific Coach Lines picks up at scheduled stops in Vancouver (including Vancouver Airport) and goes onto the ferry to Victoria, then on to the main bus station. Contact PCL at 1-800-661-1725 or visit www.pacificcoach.com City bus or taxi from bus station to the hotel.

 
Driving Directions
  Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay/Nanaimo Terminal) Turn left on Hwy 1. Approx. 1 1/2 hours on Hwy 1 Hwy 1 becomes Douglas Street. Turn right at Belleville Street. Take another right on Government Street. The Fairmont Empress is located at 721 Government Street.
  Vancouver (Tsawwassen Terminal) Docks at Swartz Bay Terminal. Proceed south on Hwy 17 from airport. Hwy 17 becomes Blanshard Street at the city limits of Victoria. Continue south on Blanshard Street. Turn right on Belleville Street. Continue on Belleville Street for two blocks. Turn right on Government Street. The Fairmont Empress is located at 721 Government Street.
  Victoria International Airport Proceed south on Hwy 17 from airport. Hwy 17 becomes Blanshard Street at the city limits of Victoria. Continue south on Blanshard Street. Turn right on Belleville Street. Continue on Belleville Street for two blocks. Turn right on Government Street. The Fairmont Empress is located at 721 Government Street.
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Check-In and Orientation
(Sunday, December 23)
   
 Afternoon: ARRIVAL & CHECK-IN: Participants are encouraged to arrive a day or two before the program starts to be able to spend a little more time enjoying the city. The hotel offers reasonable rates on extra nights, and also on room up-grades. It isn’t necessary to change rooms when the program starts. Check in at the Fairmont Empress Hotel is any time after 3 pm. If you arrive earlier the hotel will store your luggage and have it in your room when you check in. Program Orientation starts at 4pm. Please check the lobby event board for the location of the meeting room.
 Dinner: WELCOME DINNER: Dinner at the hotel in one of its fine dining rooms to experience the finest in personal service and outstanding cuisine.
 Evening: ORIENTATION: Program orientation and welcoming of all participants. This is a time to meet new friends and set the stage for letting the festivities begin!!
   
Accommodations: The Fairmont Empress Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Craigdarroch Castle/The Tradition of Tea/Horse Drawn Trolley Ride
(Monday, December 24)

Note: This activity is a level 3 due to the fact that there are stairs encountered at the historic castle; no elevator is available. There is also a short walk uphill to get to the castle.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Craigdarroch Castle. Experience the magic of Victoria history with a visit to Craigdarroch Castle. Built in the late 1800s and decked out in its Victorian finery for the holiday season, the mansion features magnificent woodwork, period furnishings, and the most prominent collection of stained and leaded glass on the West Coast. Craigdarroch Castle was built as the home of Robert Dunsmuir, the richest man in nineteenth century British Columbia, and his remarkable wife, Joan. After her husband's death, Joan ran the family empire from the Castle. There are 39 rooms furnished lavishly in the 1890s–1900s period. With over 20,000 square feet of space, the house and gardens are being restored exactly as they were originally built. On most days you will find artisans busily working on restorations.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel. The Executive Chef takes a special interest in preparing wonderful meals - and accommodates special diets.
 Afternoon: LECTURE: The Tradition of Tea. Learn the rich background of the tradition of Afternoon Tea during a special presentation this afternoon. The time honored tradition will be explained as well as an explanation of the tea trade throughout the world, and the various kinds of teas and their health benefits.
 Dinner: CHRISTMAS EVE: The festive menu for Christmas Eve is a feast for the senses. In appreciation of this special occasion, this even has a semi-formal dress code with a jacket and tie requested for gentlemen.
 Evening: FIELD TRIP: Christmas Trolley. Enjoy a 45 minute horse-drawn Christmas trolley tour of downtown Victoria. Tours are fully narrated on decorated 20 passenger trolleys and give a historical view of what Christmas was like in Victoria many years ago. The trolleys are covered and warm blankets are provided. Afterwards, return to the Tea Lobby for a rousing sing-along with seasonal, and old-time, favorites.
   
Accommodations: The Fairmont Empress Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3: Traditional Afternoon Tea/Buffet Christmas Dinner/Festival of Trees
(Tuesday, December 25)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: CHRISTMAS DAY: Carolers stroll the hallways letting their magnificent voices ring out good cheer to uplift your spirits with traditional carols. Christmas Morning church services are available nearby as well as several easy walks around the waterfront, or to the park one block away. The historic Empress Hotel Library is available throughout this program, so people can enjoy the morning in the Library if they prefer. Seize the moment to suspend yourself in time, enjoying a peaceful Christmas morning.
 Lunch: AFTERNOON TEA & ENTERTAINMENT: Enjoy the Carol Afternoon Tea. Participants are invited to sip history, art and character accompanied by live choral performances. Afternoon Tea is one of the main attractions of the Victoria Empress Hotel, enjoyed by over 100 000 people every year. The Hotel serves its own special blend of tea in fine Royal Doulton china and is served in the magnificent Victoria Fairmont Empress Tea Lobby surrounded by handcrafted tapestries, lovely moldings and polished, hard wood floors.
 Afternoon: Free afternoon
 Dinner: CHRISTMAS FEAST: Christmas dinner includes a Festive 5-Course Christmas Menu, Empress-style, in a magnificent setting decorated like a winter wonderland. Live entertainment and carolers accompany the event. In appreciation of this special occasion, this event has a semi-formal dress code with a jacket and tie requested for gentlemen.
 Evening: EVENING ACTIVITIES: After dinner the Crystal Ballroom is alive with music and dancing. As well, the adjoining Tea Lobby is a cozy place to enjoy the view of the Inner Harbor to watch the lights on the yachts as they bob in the water. This is also a great time to stroll through the grand halls of the Empress Hotel to view the spectacular Festival of Trees, a collection of decorated trees benefiting BC’s Children’s Hospital.
   
Accommodations: The Fairmont Empress Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Historical Walk of Old Town Victoria/Lunch Your Own/Butchart Gardens
(Wednesday, December 26)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: FIELD TRIP: Historical Walk of Victoria. Spend 90 minutes walking through Old Town, the historic heart of Victoria, where Christmas traditions and colorful stories abound. Hear true accounts of how Christmas was celebrated during the days of Fort Victoria and the gold-rush era. Many indoor locations are included, with places to sit. After the walking tour, you will have free time to explore the downtown of Victoria on your own, take in a visit to the Royal BC Museum with its excellent displays, or step next door to the museum for a tour of the Parliament Buildings (Legislature).
 Lunch: Lunch on your own to explore the local fare.
 Afternoon: EXCURSION: Butchart Gardens. Visit the renowned Butchart Gardens. The world-famous Butchart Gardens boasts fifty-five acres of wonderful floral display, meandering paths and expansive lawns. From the exquisite Sunken Garden to the charming Rose Garden, the gracious traditions of the past are carefully maintained. Truly one of the loveliest corners in the world, The Butchart Gardens is always in season. However, they are particularly intriguing during the holiday season, when tens of thousands of colored lights combine with evergreen swags and wreaths of holly and winter berries to line walkways and festoon lamp posts in the gardens. The ever-popular Twelve Days of Christmas displays are tucked away within The Gardens and a recreational skating rink creates a truly spectacular winter wonderland.
 Dinner: FAREWELL DINNER: Our final dinner will be at Butchart Gardens, in the former residence of the Butchart family. The restaurant is decorated in holiday finery and serves evening dinners accompanied by a solo pianist playing holiday melodies.
   
Accommodations: The Fairmont Empress Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 5: Independent Departures
(Thursday, December 27)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: INDEPDENDENT DEPARTURES: Program ends after breakfast. Check out time is 12:00 noon.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


Insider's Guide Victoria & Vancouver Island


Author: By Gerald Hill | Kathleen Hill


Description: GUIDEBOOK, 2007, PAPERBACK, 360 PAGES A quirky, personal guide to Vancouver Island by two residents, with a focus on out of the way places, food and cultural attractions. Organized by neighborhood, the guide includes excellent listings of where to eat, stay and shop.



Victoria, A History in Photographs


Author: Peter Grant


Description: HISTORY, 2010, PAPER, 112 PAGES The story of Victoria, British Columbia from its days as a mining colony to its development into a city. Nearly 150 archival photographs are organized together with a short text.



Fodor’s Vancouver & Victoria


Author: Fodor’s


Description: GUIDEBOOK, 2011, PAPERBACK, 336 PAGES A practical guide in the popular series, saturated with valuable information on accommodation, shopping, sights, and dining.



Victoria, Vancouver Island Map


Author: Map Art Maps


Description: MAP, 2002 A folded map of Victoria, Vancouver Island, at a nice scale of 1:25,000.



The West Beyond the West, A History of British Columbia


Author: Jean Barman


Description: HISTORY, 2007, PAPERBACK, 450 PAGES A fascinating history of the Canadian province from the 18th century to the mid-1990s. The author weaves portraits of major personalities and events into a readable overview of the many cultural and social influences that have shaped the region.



Looking at Indian Art of the Northwest Coast


Author: Hilary Stewart


Description: ART & ARCHITECTURE, 1979, PAPERBACK, 111 PAGES A concise, illustrated overview of the diverse art produced by the peoples of the Pacific Northwest. It focuses on the spiritual and cultural meaning of common motifs in the carvings, weavings, and masks that characterize the rich art of the area.





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