Get To These 5 Incredible Destinations On Your Tax Return

It’s that time of year – little brown envelopes are appearing in mailboxes everywhere with a long-awaited piece of paper tucked inside. No, not your Hogwarts acceptance letter – arguably better, it’s tax return time.

If you’re feeling the itch to travel but don’t know where you’re going to come up with the money to get to your dream destination, look no further than your tax return.

Even if you only see $800 staring back at you, these five incredible places are not out of reach!

Photo: @hidemycoat

Miami, Florida

Soak up the sun in sizzling Miami, where the beach is hot and the nightlife is hotter. With roundtrip flights out of Toronto starting at CAD $366, you’ll be on the golden sands and trendy streets of South Beach before you know it! A perfect spot for a girls trip or Bachelorette party.

Photo: @tayseesnyc

New York City, New York

In the famous words of Frank Sinatra, if you can make it to NYC, you can make it anywhere. The good news is, you can absolutely make it here! Round trip, non-stop flights out of Toronto are only CAD$472. To further cut costs and enjoy all the city has to offer, don’t stay in Manhattan – try Williamsburg! It’s trendy and fun with a lot of great brunch spots. Spend some of your days exploring vintage shops and getting lost in the Brooklyn burrow.

Photo: @ohhcouture

Tulum, Mexico

From Toronto, fly roundtrip, non-stop into Cancun for CAD$421 and take a 2-hour transfer along the jaw-dropping coastline to gorgeous Tulum. Relaxing on the beach or by the pool of a chic AirBnB, it’ll be hard to believe you got here on your tax return.

Photo: @whole.being

Quebec City, Quebec

Take the VIA Rail Canada for a sweet CAD$150 this year and visit a city close to home. Quebec City has all the old-world, European charm one could ask for without breaking the bank. If trains aren’t your thing, a non-stop, roundtrip flight from Toronto will get you there in a little under two hours for CAD$345.

Photo: @elenacanostyle

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

If you’re in the mood for a bit of a splurge all while keeping within a reasonable budget, the Dominican Republic is the place for you. Santo Domingo, the colonial capital city of the DR, has recently been revamped and is having a major moment. Merengue dancing in the square, dinners on a quaint restaurant patio during the sunset – Santo Domingo has romance down to an art. Fly roundtrip, non-stop into Punta Cana from Toronto for CAD$1,740 and find yourself in Santo Domingo in a mere two and half hours via airport transfer!


7 Unique Wellness Spas Around The World

It’s the end of the long week, you’ve worked hard and you’re tired. You’re dreaming of a far-off destination to slip away to and unwind. If this sounds all too familiar, then you are most definitely due for a designated spa vacation.

Here are the 7 best spas around the world you should plan your next relaxing escape to.

Palm Trees and a pool at the spa

Photo: @yaanwellness

Yaan Wellness, Tulum, Mexico

From its luxurious decor to its soothing offerings including yoga, moon Temazcal Ceremonies and more, Yaan Wellness deserves a top spot on this list. For those looking to completely immerse themselves in an energy healing experience, Yaan Wellness has treatments such as herbal and flower baths in copper tubs, purified crystalline water pools and deep muscle relaxation techniques. It was also recently named “Best New Hideaway” in the Condé Nast Traveller Spa Awards 2017.

Gorgeous pool in Bangkok, with server and the spa

Photo: @mo_bangkok

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, Thailand

Another spa to win in the Condé Nast Traveller Spa Awards 2017 is the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok spa for “Most Outstanding City Spa.” With the spa’s delicate outer architecture and sumptuous treatment offerings, the century-old mansion has become a renowned spot for relaxation. Visitors to the spa can enjoy traditional Thai massages, reflexology, specialist facials, and a healthy food menu to enjoy while on property. Packages offered at the spa range from full on beauty pampering to spiritual wellness and exploration.

Pizza + a Pool in Italy Lake Como

Photo: ghtlakecomo

T Spa, Lake Como, Italy

There may not be anything dreamier than overlooking breathtaking Lake Como in a state of pure bliss directly after an indulgent massage. This otherworldly perfection is available at Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s T Spa. The chic and modern spa boasts luxurious anti-aging and anti-stress treatments to rid of all your wrinkles and worries. End the day with a refreshing dip in the infinity pool and watch the sun go down behind the lush Italian hills.

Photo: @aroharetreats

ARO HĀ Wellness Retreat, Queenstown, New Zealand

Getting back to nature is one of the best things we can do for our bodies, minds and souls. In one of the most nature-centric countries in the world, the ARO HĀ Wellness Retreat allows its visitors to do just that. Set in breathtaking Kiwi landscape, the spa encourages its guests to B.R.E.A.T.H. which stands for “being, relating, eating, activity, toxicity and healing,” creating an all-encompassing, wellness experience.

St Annes Spa Ontario

Photo: @megojmac

Ste. Anne’s Spa, Ontario, Canada

Visitors to Ste. Anne’s Spa can expect an incredibly tranquil experience complete with a chic and rustic atmosphere. This Canadian country spa is dedicated to making its guests feel absolutely at home. They encourage laughter and conversation and dedicate themselves to ensuring the utmost comfort for their guests. Being pampered is not just a treat for the patrons of Ste. Anne’s, its a way of life. With packages such as Day Spa Getaway, Overnight Getaway, Yoga Retreat and more, there is something for everyone here.

Chicago Spas

Photo: @nastasiaspassport

Waldorf Astoria Spa & Health Club, Chicago, Illinois, USA

Modern and chic facilities, top notch services and an iconic location make this spa one of the best the US has to offer. The spa invites busy city dwellers to unwind and destress after a hectic week. From its vast treatment offerings and focus on fitness and health, this urban mecca for relaxation is a must-try for visitors to Chi-town!

Photo: @fscaironp

The Spa, Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza, Cairo, Egypt

Continuing with breathtaking spas found within iconic hotels, The Spa at the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at Nile Plaza is the place to visit for those in search of much-needed R&R in bustling Cairo. Enjoy a massage with a view as treatment rooms overlook the famous Nile River.

The 5 Best Beachfront Restaurants In Mexico

A meal with a view, its what we’re all after and the best place to find it this summer is Mexico!

This Caribbean paradise is chock-full of restaurants that are perfectly situated on white-sand beaches, which all happen to be waiting for you take a seat and savour.

To help you out on your search for the perfect dinner locale, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 5 beach front restaurants in Mexico.

Best Beachfront Restaurants in Mexico

Los Cabos: COMAL

Located in Los Cabos’ beautiful, contemporary Chileno Bay Resort and Residences, a part of the Auberge Resorts Collection, COMAL presents its patrons with authentic and mouthwatering flavours from the region including duck carnitas and market crudité. The three-level restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating with panoramic views of the water. The chic atmosphere paired with the masterfully crafted dishes make for an über-romantic evening with your loved one.

Sun umbrella and beach beds on tropical beach

Cancun: La Habichuela

For 38 years, La Habichuela has been serving up incredible Caribbean-Mexican cuisine with spectacular sunset views on the side. This incredibly designed restaurant with floor to ceiling glass windows is situated in the hotel zone and overlooks the Niputche Lagoon. Whether you’re seated inside or in the lush garden area, you cannot miss the breathtaking sunset over the water. Pink, orange and yellow hues in the sky enhance an already delicious meal.

Best Beach Front Mexican Restaurants


Tulum: Be Tulum

The rustic-chic decor is just the start of the beauty that Be Tulum brings to every dish they serve. Each meal is plated to perfection and all taste as incredible as they look. Hidden from the road, visitors to Be Tulum are treated to the awe-inspiring reveal of the restaurant’s fabulous atmosphere and tranquil beachfront views. To feel like a VIP and dine like one too, this is absolutely the place to Be.

Mayan Riviera: Coral Grill and Bar

Mayan Riviera: Coral Grill and Bar

The Viceroy Hotel in Mayan Riviera boasts some of the best beachfront dining in the region. The Coral Grill is the perfect dining option for those in search of a fresh meal as they serve up locally caught seafood and organic produce – truly the definition of “from farm to table.” The Viceroy also offers Dining Experiences – to step up the romance, request a private dinner on the beach, complete with candlelight and exotic flower arrangements.

Best Beachfront Restaurants Mexico

Acapulco: Zibu

For a unique twist on Mexican cuisine, try Zibu who offers a fusion of Mexican and Asian ingredients dubbed MexTai. The combination of the two makes for an incredible menu with items such as marinated fish with julienned mango and Indian nut to sweet coconut soup. Overlooking vast blue waters and vibrant green hills, the restaurant’s terrace defines dinner with a view.

Icing & Glitter Spends 72 Hours On The Shores Of Tulum

Tulum has been on my travel bucket list for the past year, so when the trip was finalized, I was practically jumping out of my skin with excitement. I visited Cancun about three years back, and as much as I enjoyed it, I had no plans of making a trip back there, primarily because I found that all it really had to offer was the all-inclusive experience. Tulum, however, is a completely different ball game. There is no shortage of things to do and there’s truly something for everyone. From the Mayan ruins to the Cenotes, to every single Instagrammable restaurant I visited, Tulum truly holds a special place in my heart. I put together a travel diary for those of you who decide to visit, which I highly recommend you do!

How to get there: Tulum is about an hour and a half away from Cancun. You can get there using either a private car or shuttle service, but be sure to book in advance to avoid any confusion once you get there. My hotel organized a car for me, which cost about $190 for a round trip.

Where to stay: Tulum isn’t the place for you if you’re looking for an all-inclusive experience. Most hotels are small, secluded and have an eco-feel to them. I stayed at Mi Amor Hotel which I cannot recommend enough. It’s located about five-minutes away from the main hotel strip, with a stunning view of the ocean. Although you can’t go into the ocean on account of the hotel being located on top of rocks, the beach is a two-minute walk away. The staff are extremely warm and helpful, arranging everything from transportation to snorkelling equipment for me to borrow.

Where to go: There are an endless amount of places to explore in Tulum. Since I was only around for three three nights, I barely touched the tip of the ice berg and would happily go back in a heart beat.

Cenotes are arguably the best part of Tulum. I visited two while I was there, the first being Cenote Dos Ojos which was an otherworldly experience. It’s a natural freshwater body located within a cave where you’ll find bats and fish, and the water is quite literally clearer than that in a swimming pool. This was a particularly memorable experience for me as I faced my fear of water in order to explore it. The Cenote is actually quite deep, so you can even dive there if you’d like to, although I was pretty sure my heart would stop beating if I even tried. Next to Cenote Dos Ojos is Cenote Nicte-Ha which is an open waterbody. Nicte-Ha has a bit of a whimsical feeling to it on account of the leaves and lily pads floating about.

You cannot leave Tulum without exploring the Mayan Ruins of Tulum. They are located on the beach and take about an hour and a half to walk through. I personally didn’t get a tour guide, choosing instead to read through while I walked around. Be sure to arrive early as it becomes jam-packed with tourists as the day progresses. The ruins open at 9, and although I arrived at 10 it was still a tad too crowded for me.

Where to eat: The food was quite possibly my favourite aspect of Tulum. On my first night, I dined at Unico, which had excellent ratings and was conveniently located within my hotel. The food was absolutely delicious, I highly recommend the Wild Snook.

On my second afternoon, I ate at Posada Margherita, a shabby-chic Italian joint located right on the beach. With the food, you can hardly go wrong with everything – it’s all prepared fresh and bursting with flavour. I tried two of the pasta dishes, both of which were delicious. Afterwards, I visited the beach right outside, and out of all the beaches I visited, this was the cleanest one in Tulum.

The most memorable dining experience I had, however, was at Gitano, a Mezcal Bar and restaurant. The interior has a rustic feel to it, with wooden tables and boho-chic tapestry. Gitano is located in the jungle side of Tulum, and at night, the whole restaurant is lit up with fairy lights and chandeliers within the trees, giving it a dreamlike quality. I went on a Friday night, which I think is the best night to go. There was a live band unlike anything I’ve ever heard – the manager, Seth (who is truly wonderful) described it as Indian Jazz on account of the sitar player. At 10pm, there was a DJ who played the most incredible music which was sort of a transition between the soothing live band and a harder DJ who comes on later at night. Now regarding the food, I ordered the ceviche, and three types of tacos (beef brisket, fish, and shrimp), all of which blew me away. The beef brisket one in particular was unforgettable. The drinks here are also to die for – it will put anything you’ve had in the past to shame. I ended my meal with guava cheesecake, something I never thought I would enjoy but could have happily gone to eat seconds of.

On my last night, I visited Safari for dinner, which was recommended to me by the manager of Gitano. Now if you’re after a super luxe experience, Safari isn’t for you. It’s a very basic restaurant, completely bare bones – the operations are conducted out of a food truck, but my goodness the food is to die for. The Shrimp A Mole Verde tacos were the best I’ve had in my life, and the rice and beans gave a new meaning to the dish. The owner, Luis, has been in the food industry forever, having worked everywhere from New York to Australia, so he really knows what he’s doing.

Tulum Travel Diary
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Julia Mateian’s Guide To Tulum: The 6 Best Places To Eat

Mexico is a serious foodie paradise – tacos, guacamole, nachos, burritos, do I really need to say more?

Although the all-inclusive formula is still very popular among tourists, the industry of boutique hotels and trendy restaurants is growing up. Located in Riviera Maya, the region of Tulum is now one of the hottest spots in Mexico.

Jetsetters from all over the world are visiting this bohemian paradise. Not only are the beaches incredible but you will also find some of the coolest restaurants in the country.

Here are some of my top foodie spots that you can simply not miss:

Tulum Food Scene

1/ Nômade Tulum: Everything about the Nômade Tulum is exceptional – bohemian luxury at its best! You can either eat in the gorgeous dining room (so much interior inspo!) or pick a day bed with views of the ocean. The plates are very well presented (Instagram material) with fresh and local ingredients. The zucchini noodles and the Green Envy Bowl are recommended. While you’re there, make sure to check out the rooms too, you might want to book a night – or two!

Tulum Food Scene

2/ Coco Tulum: Long tanning sessions call for some well-deserved margaritas right? Head over to Coco Tulum for happy hour and enjoy some electro music while sipping on some refreshing drinks. Order a pizza and make new friends in this groovy atmosphere.

Tulum Food Scene

3) Restaurare: What about lunch in the jungle? Restaurare is one of Tulum’s best vegan spots, hands down! They support local products and farmers and their flavours are unique! Try the guacamole and the curry dish – you’ll see, healthy never tasted that good!

Tulum Food Scene

4) Posada Margherita: I always end up craving Italian food when I travel. If you love fresh pasta a stop at Posada Margherita is mandatory. The decor is absolutely adorable with lots of vintage finds and wood furniture – the attention to details is remarkable. Obviously order a pasta dish but give the shrimps a try too!

Tulum Food Scene

5) Gitano: If you’re looking for a cool place to eat out with your friends, Gitano is the answer! Start with a mezcal cocktail (their speciality) and share all plates with the amigos. My personal favourites are the shrimp tacos & the summer ceviche. Make sure to head to the Jungle Lounge after dinner and dance the night away.

Tulum Food Scene

6) Hartwood: So here’s the thing about Hartwood. Being the busiest restaurant in Tulum implies that reservations are necessary – but they can be very tricky. I highly suggest showing up in front of the restaurant at 2pm to make sure you get a table for the same night. Hartwood is the perfect date night spot with its cozy wood-fire grill and decor surrounded by lots of candles. Menu changes daily so it gives you the perfect reason to go back!