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Victorian Christmas at the Grand Empress

Program Number: 18099RJ
Start and End Dates:
12/22/2014 - 12/26/2014;
Duration: 4 nights
Location: Victoria, British Columbia
Price starting at: $1,595.00 - 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.
 
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 Harbour, 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 Harbour 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: No
  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: 4:00 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: 11:00 AM


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Independent arrivals to the hotel in the afternoon. Check-in after 4:00 p.m. Welcome dinner is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. You will be staying at The Fairmont Empress Hotel that night.
  End of Program:
Independent departures from the hotel after breakfast. Breakfast is scheduled for 8:00 a.m. Check-out is 11:00 a.m. You will be staying at The Fairmont Empress Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. PASSPORTS: A valid government issued passport is required for ALL travel to/from Canada. Passport requirements are subject to change. Visit www.travel.state.gov/travel/cbpmc/cbpmc_2223.html for up to date information.
  Parking availability:
At the hotel – For parking details at the Fairmont Empress Hotel please contact the hotel directly, (250) 995-3665.
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
YYJ Airport Shuttle
phone: 855-351-4995
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$21.00 CDN per person plus tax.
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

Approximately 30 minutes. 

 

Distance:

 

Approximately 15 miles.

   

YYJ Airport Shuttle (operated by Gray Line) now offers shuttle service to and from Victoria International Airport and downtown Victoria. Call toll free 855-351-4995. (web site under construction - www.yyjairportshuttle.com/) Taxis are approximately $55.00 - $60.00 CDN one way.

 

Victoria

 

From Ferry Landing

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
Taxi

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$5 - $6 (per taxi)
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 ˝ hours. Ferry terminal is just a few blocks from the hotel. Taxi approximately $5 to $6 CDN. Approximate travel time is 5 minutes. For more information on the Victoria Clipper ferry, schedules and current fares please call 1-800-888-2535 or visit www.victoriaclipper.com BC Ferries offers service between Victoria and Vancouver and other mainland ports. Phone: 1-888-223-3779 www.bcferries.com/.

 

Vancouver

 

From Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Coach approximately $40.00 CDN plus taxes; Ferry approximately $15.00 CDN plus applicable taxes
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

Total travel time is approximately 3.5 hours 

   

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. Taxi is available from the bus terminal to the hotel for approximately $5.00

 

Vancouver

 

From Bus Terminal

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
Coach and Ferry

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Coach approximately $40.00 CDN plus taxes; Ferry approximately $15.00 CDN plus applicable taxes
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

Total travel time is approximately 3.5 hours 

   

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. Taxi is available from bus terminal to the hotel for approximately $5.00

 

Victoria

 

To Airport

 
 

Service:

 

Commercial Van/Shuttle
YYJ Airport Shuttle
phone: 855-351-4995
Advanced Reservations Required

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

Approximately $21 + tax
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

20 - 30 minutes 

   

YYJ Airport Shuttle (operated by Gray Line) now offers shuttle service to and from Victoria International Airport and downtown Victoria. Call toll free 855-351-4995. (web site under construction - www.yyjairportshuttle.com/) Taxis are approximately $55.00 - $60.00 CDN one way.

 

Victoria

 

To Bus Terminal

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$5 - 6 CDN (per taxi); $2 - 3 City bus
Prices are subject to change.

 

Distance:

 

5 - 10 minutes

   

Taxi (or city bus) from the hotel to the bus terminal in Victoria. Pacific Coach Lines offers coach service from Victoria to Vancouver; the bus goes onto the ferry to Vancouver (airport and downtown) to the central bus station. Contact PCL at 1-800-661-1725 or visit www.pacificcoach.com

 

Victoria

 

To Ferry Landing

 
 

Service:

 

Public Transportation
Victoria Transit

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$2 - 3
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

30 Minutes from hotel to the Ferry Terminal in Sidney, BC (Swartz Bay) 

   

City bus available from downtown Victoria to the ferry terminal in Sidney, BC (Swartz Bay). The ferry leaves from Sidney for the Vancouver (BC Ferries). Check www.bcferries.com for current schedule and fare information or call 888-223-3779.

 

Victoria

 

To Ferry Landing

 
 

Service:

 

Taxi

 

Per Person/One Way:

 

$5 - $6 (per taxi)
Prices are subject to change.

 

Travel Time:

 

5 minutes 

   

Taxi (or walk) to the ferry terminal in in Inner Harbour to board the Victoria Clipper passenger ferry to Seattle, WA. Travel time is 2 ˝ hours. For more information, schedules and current fares please call 1-800-888-2535 or visit www.victoriaclipper.com

 
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
(Monday, December 22)
   
 Afternoon: 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 4:00 p.m. If you arrive earlier the hotel will store your luggage and have it in your room when you check in. Meet your group leader in hotel lobby for Road Scholar registration.
 Dinner: Dinner at the Fairmont Empress Hotel at 6:00 p.m. in one of its fine dining rooms to experience the finest in personal service and outstanding cuisine.
 Evening: After dinner there will be an orientation to the program and introductions. This is a time to meet new friends and set the stage for the festivities!!
   
Accommodations: The Fairmont Empress Hotel
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 2: Historic Walk of Victoria/Christmas in Old Victoria/Trolley Ride
(Tuesday, December 23)

Note: You will be enjoying outdoor activities today. Please dress warmly for winter weather.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Embark on a walking excursion 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.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own to explore the local fare or join the Group Leader (at a local restaurant).
 Afternoon: Discover Christmas traditions and learn about about the fascinating ways Christmas was celebrated in Victoria, from the days of Fort Victoria to the present day.
 Dinner: Dinner at Milestones.
 Evening: Enjoy a horse-drawn Christmas trolley tour of downtown Victoria and gain a historical view of what Christmas was like many years ago. Curl up in a warm blanket and take in all the holiday joy and sites. Return to the Tea Lobby for a Christmas Eve sing-along with seasonal, and old-time, favorites.
   
Accommodations: The Fairmont Empress Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 3: Craigdarroch Castle/Butchart Gardens
(Wednesday, December 24)

Note: You will be enjoying outdoor activities today. Please dress warmly for winter weather. Craigdarroch Castle activity is rated as moderate 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: Experience the magic of Victoria's 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. The Castle was built as the home of Robert Dunsmuir, the richest man in nineteenth century British Columbia, and his remarkable wife, Joan.
 Lunch: Lunch at Butchart Gardens.
 Afternoon: Visit the renowned Butchart Gardens which boasts fifty-five acres of wonderful floral display, meandering paths and expansive lawns. Truly one of the loveliest corners in the world, the gardens are always in season. 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: Dinner at the Empress.
   
Accommodations: The Fairmont Empress Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Traditional Afternoon Tea/Buffet Christmas Dinner/Festival of Trees
(Thursday, December 25)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel.
 Morning: Embrace the sounds of Christmas carolers while making your way through the festive hallways; their magnificent voices ring out good cheer with traditional carols. Take a walk by the waterfront or enjoy Christmas morning Church services nearby. The historic Empress Hotel Library is a great location to enjoy a peaceful Christmas morning as well.
 Lunch: Enjoy the Carol Afternoon Tea accompanied by live choral performances. At the world renowned tea lobby of The Fairmont Empress, enjoy an array of gourmet finger sandwiches, delicate pastries and sip the original blend of "The Empress Tea". Sit back and relax as you listen to traditional Christmas performances. The Empress Tearoom, with its handcrafted tapestries, lovely moldings and polished, hard wood floors, is truly an exceptional experience for everyone!
 Afternoon: Free afternoon. Enjoy some time with new friends or stroll through the Empress and enjoy the festivities.
 Dinner: Savor a festive five 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, and women typically wear short or long, cocktail-style dresses or pantsuits.
 Evening: Following dinner, the Crystal Ballroom comes 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 5: Independent Departures
(Friday, December 26)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast at hotel is served at 8:00 a.m.
 Morning: Program ends after breakfast. Check-out time is 11:00 am.
   
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


Eyewitness Top 10 Vancouver & Victoria


Author: Eyewitness Guides


Description: A compact, illustrated guide in the popular series, featuring favorite attractions in Vancouver and Victoria.



Victoria: A History in Photographs


Author: Peter Grant


Description: 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.



Victoria, Vancouver Island Map


Author: Map Art Maps


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



A Traveller's History of Canada


Author: Robert Bothwell


Description: A readable and admirably concise march through Canadian history from prehistory to today, including a timeline.





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