MOROCCO: MARRAKECH, SKOURA & ESSAOUIRA


Marrakech Mèdina

Marrakech Mèdina

Morocco has been, for lack of a better term, a bucket list place for me to visit. There has always been something mysterious and romantic about the country. It could be because I know my mom backpacked there in the 1970s and her recollection was of only really great experiences. Or perhaps because of the stories of famous rockstars like Jimi Hendrix, Keith Richards and Bob Dylan just being cool AF there. Definitely a draw was that my favourite designer of all time, Yves Saint Laurent, lived there part time and drew so much of his inspiration for his collections from his love affair with the country. Finally, Africa is a continent I have never visited before and have always wanted to. So, the time came to take the plunge and plan the trip. 

I’m writing this blog to shed some light on my planning process, top picks and the experience while in the country because I have received many inquiries since returning about where to stay, where to go and general cultural questions. Please feel free to reach out to me if there is anything I haven’t covered!

Small note: at first I was considering doing both Portugal and Morocco since they are geographically close but once I started really looking into all of the places I wanted to visit in Morocco the decision was easy to just focus solely on the one country. 

My top 4 places to visit were all located in the center of the country. I’ll be sharing details on Marrakech, Skoura, Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Camp in the Sahara Desert, and Essaouira. With that said, should I ever go back I would definitely spend time in the northern part of the country in places such as; Chefchaouen, Fez, and the fabled Tangier. 

Moroccan Landscape

Moroccan Landscape

First things first, accommodations. I wanted to make sure where we stayed was fabulous and that I would feel both comfortable and excited to stay there. One of the many great things about Morocco is the cost for accommodations. I found mostly 4-5 star riads and hotels for the cost of 3 star hotels in North America. I spent a lot of time on reviews as well as I sourced out influencers who have travelled to Morocco for their tips on where to stay and eat. I spent hours researching! It paid off, I loved everything about the places we stayed. In addition to details in accommodation I’ll add in tips about what to wear, where to eat and what to see. 

So…what to pack!?

Note: Morocco is primarily a Muslim country so as a female it’s respectful to at minimum cover your shoulders and knees. While I saw that many tourists did not follow these guidelines I personally think it’s a show of respect for the culture and religion of the country you are guest in. While a few of my photos in this blog show my shoulders I had in fact been wearing a scarf and removed it just for the photo. 

Here is a list of what I brought with me and there were only about 2 items that I did not use:

  • Linen: pants, skirts, dresses, tops and scarves

  • 2-3 dresses with short sleeves, if they have thin straps just bring a scarf to drape over your shoulders

  • 3-4 tops (linen or something pretty for dinners and a t-shirt for casual)

  • 1-2 skirts

  • Espadrilles and flat shoes (covered toes)

  • 1 pair of low heeled shoes (no one really dresses up a lot there)

  • 1 pair of sneakers

  • Light jacket or sweatshirt

  • 2-3 scarves

  • Sun hat + Sunglasses

  • Backpack, cross body bag and/or belt bag

Most of the items I packed

Most of the items I packed

MARRAKECH // Bustling // Beautiful

We arrived in Marrakech and were met by a driver arranged by the riad, he took us right to the edge of the old town and from there a guy with a cart loaded up our luggage and walked us through the walled gates to our accommodations. Tipping is defintitely expected, we often gave about $3 (20 dirhams) for a service such as that.

Note on cellular data: Right in the airport I bought a 4GB data card for $45 CAD and used it the entire time I was there! Otherwise most Canadian cell providers have really crappy options for African travel and you will pay way too much, like around $300 for 10 days!

Escaping the heat at the Riad

Escaping the heat at the Riad

Riad: Riad Dixneuf la Ksour

Located just on the outer edge of the walled city which is called ‘old town’. It makes it really convenient for when you arrive and depart from the city. The team at the riad was so warm and welcoming. They made us feel very at home. Top things I loved about the Riad included the rooftop patio where I could catch a few rays without feeling uncomfortable about being in a swim suit. The breakfasts were delicious! Fresh made msemen (crispy, flaky flat cakes), fresh eggs any way you want them, fresh fruit, strong coffee, fig jams, yogurt and honey. So good!!! 

Médina: Wandering the Médina was a highlight I was looking forward to but I’ll be straightforward and say, depending on what floats your boat, this was something I wouldn’t do again in Marrakech. Other towns have much smaller and less intense ones to spend time in. It was culturally very interesting but with the heat and the amount of people trying to all squeeze down the narrow streets paired with mopeds ripping through at high speed, it was just too much for me. With that said, really happy to have explored them at least once. I choose to wait until the Essaouira Médina to shop. 

Marrakech Médina

Marrakech Médina

Eats: 

Le Jardin for lunch - slip into a hidden garden wishing the Médina to enjoy fresh juices and smoothies or a light lunch amongst orange trees and lush trees. 

El Fenn for dinner - a hot spot with the jet-set crowd this hotel and restaurant was conveniently located right next to our riad. We enjoyed crafted cocktails on the rooftop prior to enjoying a seafood dinner of Dakhla lobster. Note: this dinner cost around $150 which included wine which is pretty reasonable compared to N. American prices to dine out.

Rooftop at El Fenn

Rooftop at El Fenn

For our last night we ate at the riad which was made by a local chef. She made us an delicious tajine of chicken, lemons, and figs served with fresh baked khobz from the souks. 

Hammam: The Moroccan version of a spa. Omg, this was quite the experience. Keep in mind it was unseasonably hot outside, around 40 degrees celsius. I chose the traditional hammam plus massage. I spent 20 minutes laying on a hot slab sweating like crazy (basically a sauna) before being scrubbed down head to toe with an argan oil and salt scrub. Finished with a relaxation massage. If it hadn’t been so hot out I would have loved the first part more. Regardless, it was beautiful inside and I felt transported to another world while in this subterranean oasis. This hammam was called Elisa and was right next door to our Riad.

Car Rental: : After reading multiple review I felt confident that if I booked through Auto Europe we would be able to get a car on the other end. They essentially just book the type of vehicle you want at various rental companies. Still, they had great reviews. We rented a 4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser based on the recommendation from the owner of our desert camp, Nick. See separate post /Morocco: Glamping in the Sahara Desert/ for specifics on that journey.

Tip: Ask for a gps, which actually ends up being a portable wifi box so that you can use your google maps. It was incredible, we literally had wifi everywhere we went. Even in the desert! Why can’t Canada catch up with this type of easy and affordable technology? And it only cost $40 for the whole 10 days!

Toyot Land Cruiser - the bare minimum for desert driving

Toyot Land Cruiser - the bare minimum for desert driving


The drive: We woke up early to leave for the airport to pick up our rental vehicle and thankfully didn't have many problems attaining the vehicle, but make sure to check over your vehicle and document the dents etc as well as the tires. We knew we were heading to the desert and the tires on this vehicle were pretty worn down so they switched it out for another one.

The drive to our next destination was estimated at 4.5 hours through the Atlas Mountains which is a winding road that switchbacks most of the way. You are on the road with semi trucks and motorbikes and tourists. It’s a bit crazy but if you have travelled a lot and have driven in other countries it really is not that daunting. Just accept that all the rules that apply in Canada do not apply there, it’s a bit more of a free for all. With that said, they drive on the same side of the road as us and generally it felt pretty normal.

With the landscape changing gradually from forests to mountains to desert there is lots to see along the way. Be aware of the guys on the side of the road selling red crystal rocks, they are painted! I did however buy a beautiful big piece of rose crystal from the Atlas Mountains to use as a centre piece on my coffee table.

Next we drove through Ouarzazate which passed by this incredible historical site called Aït Benhaddou which was a trading post between Timbuktu and Marrakesh dated hundreds of years ago. Most recently it was used in the filming of The Game of Thrones. Tip: go early to avoid the crowds.


aït Benhaddou

aït Benhaddou

SKOURA // Hidden Gem // Oasis

After a long drive we arrived in Skoura which I picked as a rest stop for one night en route to the Sahara.

Lodge: L’Ma Lodge

This place felt like it was plucked right out of my dreams. The property is owned by a European couple and their children. They have owned the land for 20+ years and have spent that time building the lodge and gardens. I felt like I was in a daydream in the 70s. There were rugs and pillows under trees all over the property. Hammocks hanging from palms. A glistening pool with day beds. Our room had a small patio and the rooftop was covered in pillows, throws and lounge chairs with a view of the tops of the palm tree oasis. Sunset from up there was perfection.

We stayed for one night only and met some really fun people (at kitties) and dined on tagine, olives, fresh baked bread and some lovely Moroccan wine. Perfect little pitstop!


SAHARA DESERT // Adventure // Awe Inspiring

With an early start, we set off towards M’Hamid. M’Hamid is a tiny town on the edge of the Sahara Desert which is where we planned to meet our local guide that Nick set up for us. This part of the drive was pretty cool too, it was endless palm tree groves before it turned in to just sand and rocks. We met our guide at a small hotel and were told that we should have put diesel in at the last town which was one hour behind us. Thankfully our guide, Nourdinne, was a local of this town and brought us to a small station that was closed - it was Ramadan and most businesses were not on regular hours - the owner opened up and gave us a jerry can of diesel. With a full tank we were off!

Note: To follow the rest of this story focused specifically on our stay at the Erg Chigaga Luxury Desert Camp head back to the main blog page and scroll.

After our stay in the desert we exited west of where we entered through a town called Foum Zguid and proceeded to drive for 9 more hours all the way to Essaouira which is on the west coast of Morocco on the Atlantic Ocean. We could have spent the night along the way at one of the towns such as Taroudant, and were highly advised do that because the drive would be to long but we decided it would be so much better to just get to the final destination and chill out for the final leg of the trip. So drive we did, well actually I’ll give my husband Jon full credit for that. I slept most of the time.

Note: Make sure to pack snacks for the road based on your dietary preferences. I had the grand idea that I would intermittent fast until about 2pm and get something along the way. There was literally nothing except for little convenience stands that had only packaged junk food because it was Ramadan. So I managed with a bag of plain potato chips and an orange juice for the drive. I should have planned better.

En route to the coast

En route to the coast

ESSAOUIRA // Coastal Charm // Relaxing


We arrived in Essaouira to the very welcome sight of the ocean and the even more welcome temperature of 22 degrees celsius. After the heat of the previous 6 days this was much needed.

Hotel: We parked our car and found our hotel Madada Mogador (which I found on Mr & Mrs Smith) and got settled. The room with a patio was perched right on the wall of the old town and over looked the ocean and had a perfect view of one of the buildings that was in Game of Thrones (nerding hard here).

Eats: Below our hotel was their restaurant La Table which I was then able to have my first proper meal of the day (I like to eat) which was a perfectly cooked white fish filet wrapped in a banana leaf and some local seasonal veg plus lots of local white wine and I was tapped out for the night. Another great restaurant is called Umia which was traditionally French with a Moroccan infusion.

Most of this part of the trip was beach, explore, sleep, rinse repeat for the next few days. Some highlights included a day trip to the little surf town of Sidi Kaouki which was only a 30 min drive from the hotel. This place was so adorable and picturesque. It’s a destination for adventure seekers who are capitalizing on the consistent presence of wind. The western coast is VERY windy. There were wind surfers, surfers and some brave sunbathers speckled along the beach. Jon went for a surf and I lay out to get a tan after being head to toe in clothing for the past week. I got some sun but I also got a second layer if skin in the form of sand. I’m not kidding when I say WINDY!

Mèdina: This is where I finally did a little shopping because the market was slightly calmer than Marrakech. I brought home some plates and textiles however I wanted to take it all home! There is major interior decorating inspiration there so watch out!

Note: Essaouira was not an exception to the experiences we had across the country regarding being asked for money at every turn. This is understandable and comes with the territory so as long as you respond with a firm ‘No Thank You’ said in either of these two languages you should be fine - ‘la shoukran (Arabic) or non merci (FR) - you will probably need to say it several times so try not to get frustrated.

The final day arrived and we packed up and left early for the 2.5 hour drive back to Marrakech to catch our flight to Casablanca and then on to Montreal. Not much of note for this part of the journey but I will say that if you are driving you need to be aware of the police check stops.

Note: There are police check stops outside almost every town you go through. They are not very interested in tourists and waved us through every time but that was because we were adhering strictly to the speed limits. On our way back to Marrakech, we were going 6km over the 60km limit and they pulled us over and only charged us the equivalent of $20CND. Canada should get on board with that pricing!

On the journey home it was mainly just airports and one airport hotel in MTL. But the entire way home my mind kept flickering back to all the really amazing and unique experience and sites that we saw. Many Moroccans said to us that visiting their country is less of a vacation but more of an adventure. I completely agree! I would suggest that if you have never travelled before this should not be your first experience abroad but if you have a few stamps on your passport and feel confident to just go with the flow and experience the adventure this is definitely one of my favourite countries to visit and I would definitely return!

Please feel free to comment below or reach out on IG or via email (phaedra@styleista.ca) if you have any other questions!

XO, Phae














SHOPPING: LOCAL YYC BOUTIQUES

While we love shopping at the mall, we also really enjoying checking out the local shops and boutiques in our city. It’s very important to us to support these amazing local business that offer something unique to our community.



ERA STYLE LOFT

Era Style loft Calgary boutique shopping

An upmarket women’s boutique offering versatile, modern and timeless apparel for the everyday woman, no mater what your role. Era Style Loft, originally started by two sisters in Saskatoon is now opening their second location here in Calgary! They officially open their doors on Monday March 11, 2019 at 917 - 17th Ave SW. The big draw is their Grand Opening Party on Thursday, March 14th from 5-9. Where they will have bubbles + wine, small bites, and beats by Mikey Da Roza. They will also be offering 25% off everything all evening as well!!!

Shop online too!

 
Adorn Boutique Calgary pretty local shop

Locate in the historical neighbourhood of Inglewood, this pretty little boutique carries a beautiful selection of carefully curated feminine apparel, jewelry and accessories. Perfect place to get your pretty on! Peek at the online shop as well.

 
APT 22 local boutique calgary shopping

This chic west end boutique has been a long time favourite of ours, offering modern and boho clothing and jewellery at affordable prices. Best place for festival fashion! Check out their online shop as well.

 
This fun boutique is for the everyday extraordinary! A little something for everyone from bright colors and patterns, to jumpsuits and pretty things. They have a carefully curated collection of vintage decor, homewares, clothing and accessories as well.   Find it all here   .   And use  CODE: STYLEISTA15 for 15% off  your next purchase!

This fun boutique is for the everyday extraordinary! A little something for everyone from bright colors and patterns, to jumpsuits and pretty things. They have a carefully curated collection of vintage decor, homewares, clothing and accessories as well. Find it all here.

And use CODE: STYLEISTA15 for 15% off your next purchase!

 
The CoutuKitsch collection is curated and hand crafted by a small local team in Calgary. Offering high quality, long wearing plated metals paired with natural crystals and delicate details to the modern woman. Shop at their shared space at   The Livery Shop   in Inglewood or   online  .

The CoutuKitsch collection is curated and hand crafted by a small local team in Calgary. Offering high quality, long wearing plated metals paired with natural crystals and delicate details to the modern woman. Shop at their shared space at The Livery Shop in Inglewood or online.

 
A cute boutique in the heart of Marda Loop that carries trendy brands and pieces to update your wardrobe. Fun and flirty silhouettes to chic coats, shoes and hats. Great spot for vacation finds as well.   Shop Online .

A cute boutique in the heart of Marda Loop that carries trendy brands and pieces to update your wardrobe. Fun and flirty silhouettes to chic coats, shoes and hats. Great spot for vacation finds as well. Shop Online.

 
Unique and affordable runway style fashion for the one of a kind human. Kate Hewko’s collections are undoubtably an outlet for expression, defying age and the status quo. Curating pieces from shoes and hosiery to sunglasses and one of a kind exaggerated gem stone rings, everything is fierce and fabulous! Shop the collection in store on 17th Ave or   online  . See details for her next fashion show on our   events page   .

Unique and affordable runway style fashion for the one of a kind human. Kate Hewko’s collections are undoubtably an outlet for expression, defying age and the status quo. Curating pieces from shoes and hosiery to sunglasses and one of a kind exaggerated gem stone rings, everything is fierce and fabulous! Shop the collection in store on 17th Ave or online. See details for her next fashion show on our events page.

 

~xo B

SHOPPING: VESPUCCI CONSIGNMENT

Vespucci is one of our favourite consignment stores in Calgary, they literally have something for everyone! They have shoes, boots, clothing, outerwear, fine jewelry, furs, handbags and accessories. Here are some of the amazing finds that they have in store right now. Plus they are having a 10% off sale!

Top to Bottom / Left to Right:

Brunello Cucinelli Jacket $498 / Size M

Chanel Top $298 / Size S

Brunello Cucinelli Sweater $248 / Size S

Phillip Lim Dress $198 / Size 6

Vintage Valentino Dress $1,198 / Size 8

Sandro Pink Dress $278 / Size S

Burberry Dress $298 / Size 12

Balmain Blazer $898 / Size 40

Shoes / Various Prices

Shoes / Various Prices

Valentino Rain Boot $448 / Size 39

Gianvito Rossi Boot $598 / Size 38

Louis Vuitton Bag $1,598

Gucci Fringe Bag $998

Hermes Wallet / Price Upon Request

Chanel Bag / Price Upon Request

VESPUCCI CONTACT DETAILS

Tel: 403-252-9558
Fax: 403-252-7297
Email: vespucciconsignment@gmail.com 

Hours

Monday – Wednesday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Thursday: 10:00AM – 8:00PM
Friday – Saturday: 10:00AM – 6:00PM
Sunday – Holidays: 11:00AM – 4:00PM

Address:

8244 Elbow Dr SW Calgary, AB, T2V 1K4





AWARD SHOWS: OSCARS FASHION 2019

Last night the 91st Academy Awards took over Los Angeles and the stars came out to play!

We just love awards fashion and the Oscar’s always caps it off as the final show of the season. See below for a breakdown of our Best Dressed picks for 2019.

BEST

MICHELLE YEOH - ELIE SAAB: This is a classic Oscars dress but the appliqué and the off the shoulder details make it special.

MICHELLE YEOH - ELIE SAAB: This is a classic Oscars dress but the appliqué and the off the shoulder details make it special.

EMMA STONE - LOUIS VUITTON: All elements of this look are perfect. From her hair colour, to the shoulders, to the all over embellishment. On point!

EMMA STONE - LOUIS VUITTON: All elements of this look are perfect. From her hair colour, to the shoulders, to the all over embellishment. On point!

ANGELA BASSETT - REEM ACRA: One of the top colours of the night, hot pink! Loving the bow and the long ponytail.

ANGELA BASSETT - REEM ACRA: One of the top colours of the night, hot pink! Loving the bow and the long ponytail.

CHARLIZE THERON - DIOR HAUTE COUTURE: This colour stood out and the tailoring is impeccable.

CHARLIZE THERON - DIOR HAUTE COUTURE: This colour stood out and the tailoring is impeccable.

STEPHAN JAMES - ETRO: This Canadian boy is killing it! Red velvet, lapel pin and white boots! Love!

STEPHAN JAMES - ETRO: This Canadian boy is killing it! Red velvet, lapel pin and white boots! Love!

EMILIA CLARKE - BALMAIN: Love everything about this dress; 80s inspo, architectural bodice and the purple/silver effects.

EMILIA CLARKE - BALMAIN: Love everything about this dress; 80s inspo, architectural bodice and the purple/silver effects.

WORST

RACHEL WEISZ - Girrrrrl, there is way too much happening with this look: romance on the bottom, matrix cape and a renaissance headband - nope!

RACHEL WEISZ - Girrrrrl, there is way too much happening with this look: romance on the bottom, matrix cape and a renaissance headband - nope!

If you want more details on these looks please check out our segment on BT Calgary this morning: LINK

XO ~ Phae

~ all pictures below to Vanity Fair ~

AWARD SHOWS: GRAMMYS FASHION 2019

This year the Grammys were a little…for lack of a better word, bland. Don’t get me wrong, there were some stellar performances and some notable fashion but there were some major players missing (cough, cough…Beyonce) and the fashion was all safe, not many risks taken.

Regardless, let’s get into some looks that we liked and ones that we did not! Also, click HERE for our segment from this morning on Breakfast Television Calgary where we breakdown our top 5.

BEST

LADY GAGA

Gaga looked simply beautiful in this look and her hair/makeup was perfection and really showed her natural beauty.  Dress: Celine

Gaga looked simply beautiful in this look and her hair/makeup was perfection and really showed her natural beauty.

Dress: Celine

HEIDI KLUM

Many people were squawking about the frills on her sleeves but that is what made it interesting! Loved this look.  Dress: Stephane Rolland

Many people were squawking about the frills on her sleeves but that is what made it interesting! Loved this look.

Dress: Stephane Rolland

ANNA KENDRICK

This dress is a ‘90 throwback and I love it! I would 100% wear this.  Dress: Ralph & Russo

This dress is a ‘90 throwback and I love it! I would 100% wear this.

Dress: Ralph & Russo

HENNESSY CAROLINA

Brenna and I did not agree on this one but I love it because it has drama and the colour paired with her hair is perfection. Does it look like she forgot her pants? Yes. But who cares! Plus she is Cardi B’s lil sister so she is cool by association lol! Love it.  Dress: As much as I tried to find the designer I could not. Unknown.

Brenna and I did not agree on this one but I love it because it has drama and the colour paired with her hair is perfection. Does it look like she forgot her pants? Yes. But who cares! Plus she is Cardi B’s lil sister so she is cool by association lol! Love it.

Dress: As much as I tried to find the designer I could not. Unknown.

CARDI B

To be clear, we do not think this is best dressed but it is totally worth a conversation. Cardi doesn’t play it safe which is awesome. However, she looks like a Disney character from the Little Mermaid. It’s true, you see it too right?!!!  Dress: Vintage Theirry Mugler

To be clear, we do not think this is best dressed but it is totally worth a conversation. Cardi doesn’t play it safe which is awesome. However, she looks like a Disney character from the Little Mermaid. It’s true, you see it too right?!!!

Dress: Vintage Theirry Mugler

ZURI HALL

Love the colour pairing and the silhouette, so pretty!  Dress: Unknown

Love the colour pairing and the silhouette, so pretty!

Dress: Unknown

WORST

KYLIE JENNER

NO! Too much. The sleeves that turn into gloves. Satin shoes. Stringy hair. Just a hard no.  Designer: Balmain - for the record, I love the house of Balmain, just not this look.

NO! Too much. The sleeves that turn into gloves. Satin shoes. Stringy hair. Just a hard no.

Designer: Balmain - for the record, I love the house of Balmain, just not this look.

KATY PERRY

Not feeling this look on Katy.  Designer: not sure, too lazy to look.

Not feeling this look on Katy.

Designer: not sure, too lazy to look.

POST MALONE

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That is all.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. That is all.

LEON BRIDGES

I love love LOVE his music! With this outfit thought, I can only think of the Boy Scouts of America.

I love love LOVE his music! With this outfit thought, I can only think of the Boy Scouts of America.

TIERRA WHACK

This outfit is WHACK.

This outfit is WHACK.

JOY VILLA

This is just f-cked up. She also carried a bag that said ‘make america great again’. Not cool.

This is just f-cked up. She also carried a bag that said ‘make america great again’. Not cool.

Thanks for joining us in this space and we would love to hear your thoughts so shout out on IG or in the comments below. Fashion speaks to people in different ways and we are all able to express ourselves through clothing which is truly a beautiful thing.

XO, Phae

~ we do not own these images they have been sourced from google ~

TRAVEL: GIRLS WEEKEND IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS

Hi friends! It’s been a minute since we posted a blog, we have been taking a little time away from posting on IG, our blog and other social media outlets. As much as we know it is important to keep our friends and followers engaged we have also felt like there is a lot of ‘content’ out there just for the sake of posting something. We only want to post when we are excited about something, we hope you agree…

On that note, we are excited about our stunning backyard that is the Canadian Rockies! Brenna and I decided to take a quick couple of days out of our schedules and spend them in the mountains. For those who are winter enthusiasts, know that there are endless outdoor and indoor adventures to be had. Whether it be cross country skiing in Canmore, watching the ice sculptors in Lake Louise or zenning out in the new Nordic spa at the recently renovated Kananaskis Lodge, there is literally something for everyone.

We planned on one day + night of fun out and about in Canmore followed by one night in Kananskis with Camp Hooha.


So, what to wear? This winter has been significantly more mild than the previous one here in Calgary so we decided to keep it simple with interchangeable outfits that can play double duty. Check out our list below for items and outfits.

WHAT TO PACK: Brenna and I have similar yet slightly different styles overall. We decided to keep it simple (as you should when heading to the mountains). We each brought 3-4 outfits. Here is an easy packing list for you ladies heading to the mountains, whether it be with gfs, significant others or family.

  • Plaid (OBVI) jacket or fleece - see pic of B

  • Anorak in Green or Black for versatility - see pic of P

  • 1-2 pairs of denim

  • 1-2 pairs of tights

  • 1 oversized cozy sweater, sweatshirt or cardigan

  • 1 short sleeve + 1 long sleeve t-shirts for layering

  • Lace up hikers - see pic

  • Toque with pom-pom

  • Swimsuit for the hot tub

  • Sunglasses (sunscreen)


WHERE TO STAY: With so many options it was hard to choose where to stay. We had specifically heard of two new-ish hotels in Canmore, The Malcolm and The Lamphouse. We settled on The Lamphouse and were very happy with our stay. Essentially they have a virtual desk and your check-in info is sent to you electronically. We arrived two hours earlier than our scheduled check-in time and we called the customer service # and were greeted right away and allowed to check in early which kicked off our day perfectly, aka - we headed to happy hour at the Grizzly Paw for Caesars :)


WHERE TO EAT: We did a tour of eateries while in Canmore; The Grizzly Paw, Tavern 1883 , Crazy Weed and Communitea.

Grizzly Paw - Your classic pub but with a twist on the traditional pub menu offerings. Try the house dry rubbed chicken wings - SO good!

Tavern 1883 - A fun crowd, easy going service team and live music on the weekends! Try the skillet nachos, omg.

Crazy Weed - Top dinner recommendation in Canmore hands down! Fabulous fresh menu in an upscale yet casual environment. Try the Arctic Char.

Communitea - Healthy, healthy, healthy! We went for both breakfast and lunch the following day! Try the Pacific Avocado Toast, it’s ridiculously good.


WHERE TO SWEAT: New to Canmore is the Wildheart Yoga & Barre Studio. We booked in for a 9am Barre class on Saturday am and got our little butts kicked! Then went downstairs to Toniq for turmeric shots.


KANANASKIS NORDIC SPA: One of the newest and hottest places in the Rockies right now is the Kananaskis Lodge and Spa. The lodge is newly renovated and the rooms are nice and fairly spacious but a bit expensive ($400/night for a standard double). The spa looked lovely from afar but the waitlist was so long (3-5 hours) we did not get to experience it. I definitely will be back before the season is over to try it out.


We seriously live in one of the most beautiful places on this planet and we don’t connect with it enough. B and I had the best time playing in the mountains! We could have added another day to go for a nice long hike as the weather was fairly mild while we were up there. Grassi Lakes and Ha Ling are both well traveled trails that all levels of hikers can explore. Note: the latter is somewhat more difficult, like nature’s stair master haha.

Thanks for coming along with us!

XO, Phaedra

TRAVEL: THE COTTAGES ON SALT SPRING ISLAND

Rested and rejuvenated are a couple words I would use to describe how I am feeling since staying at the The Cottages for a week this August. I first discovered The Cottages when I was planning a visit over Christmas last year. I booked a couple days to have a visit with my mom on Salt Spring Island (SSI) last December and when I arrived and checked in I fell in love! Fast forward to summer 2018 and I have been invited back by their team to enjoy a full week in one of their rustic yet modern cottages on Bullock Lake. 

If you have been reading this space for some time now you will know that I was raised on SSI. My family moved to the island when I was 4 years old and I left at 18 right after graduating high school. I spent several years traveling and attending university and felt quite content exploring the world then settling in Calgary, AB. Funny how things work out and after some time I started missing the island more and more, after trying to put my finger on why, I finally realized it was simply because I missed home. Familiar places and faces that are a part of who I am. So now I try and go back as often as possible.

For this visit I hoped Brenna could join but she was unable to so I invited a couple gfs from Vancouver, Karen and Jen. Both were new to visiting the island so I made sure we did it up right, Island Style! Here is a little day in our life:

MORNING:

Breakfast time

Breakfast time

I love to cook, especially when I get to use fresh, organic, local products sourced from some of the hundreds of farm stands around the island. The kitchens at The Cottages are fully equipped making prepping and entertaining a breeze. You have everything you need in the kitchen; coffee maker, flatware, cutlery, glasses, pots, pans and so on...just bring your favourite ingredients and get creative.

*not pictured - I also bought a crab from the fishery and cooked an epic crab + pasta feast - it was drool worthy, just sayin'*

Morning coffee from  Salt Spring Coffee

Morning coffee from Salt Spring Coffee

AFTERNOON:

Well fed and caffeinated we headed into town to check out the Saturday Market which is famous on SSI for it's local vendors, artisans, craftspeople, famers and musicians. Then popped over to the Salt Spring Wild Cider for lunch - mainly a liquid lunch ;) 

Tablescaping

Tablescaping

Omg, these guys are nailing it! From the cider produced onsite to the new menu featuring healthy, local deliciousness we did not want to leave! Note: try their Hopped Apricot and their award winning Dry and Semi-dry ciders - these can all be ordered online as well...worth it..TRUST!

Living the good life

Living the good life

Local Organic Meatballs with farm fresh slaw and Stuffed Dates with Chorizo...nuff said.

Cider + Appies

Cider + Appies

From here we headed back to The Cottages and back down to the lake with cider in hand and bikinis on bods.

Wild blackberry bushes at The Cottages

Wild blackberry bushes at The Cottages

For snack time we added in a little more local fare including some SSI goat cheese, SSI Tomato Jelly (try this on grilled cheese - dying) and fresh picked blackberries off the bushes that line the lake at The Cottages.

Salt Spring Wild Cider on the dock at The Cottages

Salt Spring Wild Cider on the dock at The Cottages

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Oh did I mention Bullock Lake is private? So only the guests of the property and few other surrounding  landowners can enjoy this perfect little jem. 

Lake life 

Lake life 

Basically this is the best place to unwind with friends and family!

After a day of running around we wanted to just take it easy, everything we need is there, lake, private verandas, friendly staff, fun guests, nature, cozy living rooms, king sized beds...speaking of king sized beds...

EVENING:

Truth be told we had been dancing until the wee morning hours the night before at Moby's ocean side pub so this night in particular we stayed in. The units have wifi and some are outfitted with TVs so the unwinding options are endless. I chose comfy pjs, tea and good book.

Relaxation on point 

Relaxation on point 

Added in some Salt Spring Island candles to my zen space because I am friggin' obsessed with scented candles. Like it's a real problem. The team at SSI Candle Co. sent me some of their favourites and now I have a few more to add to my collection.

SSI Candle Co.

SSI Candle Co.

My top 4 scents I love by season are: 

Spring: Sitka

Summer: Full Moon

Fall: Chai

Winter: Hearth

Plus I brought along my other obsession from the Gut Lab girls in YYC - Glow which I stir into tea or coffee on the daily. Lights out after that. 

Adding in my favs: SSI Candle Co. and Gut Lab (from YYC) added to my tea

Adding in my favs: SSI Candle Co. and Gut Lab (from YYC) added to my tea

If you have not been to Salt Spring Island I highly recommend you consider a visit. The sense of community on the island is incredibly welcoming to visitors and you will truly start to understand the draw of the natural beauty of this little island nestled between Vancouver Island and the mainland. And visit at any time of the year, there is no bad time to be on SSI, every season brings new delights and mild temperatures. Below is a little more detail on the what The Cottages have to offer in terms of real estate and rentals. And if you do chose to visit my little hometown, please don't hesitate to reach out to me for a list of recommendations from a 'locals' perspective.

REAL ESTATE + RENTAL INFO:

Real Estate: Prices start at $309,900 for one of these very special Southern Gulf Island retreats. If you have been considering the purchase of a vacation home, there’s no better place than here! From location to turn key access to speculation tax exempt this is a solid investment...I'm considering it!  

Nightly Rentals: The Cottages are available to rent year round. Whether you want a summer getaway or a winter retreat, it's all so easy here!

I literally did NOT want to leave. This place has a very special place in my heart now and the people here are starting to feel like old friends. 

- To the Team at The Cottages a HUGE thank you for having me! I will be back soon! 

Until next time!

Until next time!

XO, Phae

*All photos + video courtesy of the talented Jon Suk*

IG: @jonsuk

FB: Jon Suk Media

ROAD TRIP TO KIMBERLEY IN A 2018 BMW X1

This past weekend we had the pleasure of taking an all-new 2018 BMW X1 on a road trip to Kimberley BC, courtesy of Dilawri's BMW Gallery + Calgary BMW

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It was a pleasure to drive! It is a smaller SUV or SAV ("Sport Activity Vehicle") as it's called, but it is super roomy inside. In fact the roomiest vehicle in it's class! The ride was so comfortable and spacious. Also it had the speed you expect from BMW with a 228 HP TwinPower Turbo engine and was very fun to drive!

 
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The interior was just a gorgeous as the exterior. We loved the Head's Up display which projected the speed and other driving info on the window, directly in the field of view, to ensure your eyes are always on the road. Safety first! We also enjoyed that the back 3 seats could each be folded down, either separately or together. Very versitile!

 
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Once in Kimberley, we stayed at Northstar Mountain Village Resort, which was perched at the top of the hill with stunning views!

 
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One of which was a Momma brown bear and her cub, right out our back door! Was an amazing experience to watch them! Go to our Instagram stories to see full video. (under "cars") Don't worry we watched safely. 

 
Kimberley BC food drink restaurants the Nest

We had some awesome meals at some really great spots! Highlights were The Nest (in Marysville) - new restaurant with amazing food + service and a cute patio, Pedal And Tap - great spot for healthy and delsicus lunch/dinner + drinks, The Shed - for drinks and snacks, The Old Bauernhaus' Restaurant - authentic German fare in an authentic German setting, and the newly named pub, Canoes and Brews (formerly BJ's)

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When we weren't driving the beemer or filling our tummies, we were out enjoying nature. We took in the sights, sounds and smells exploring the Lois Creek Trails and even did our own outdoor mini boot camp. It was a perfect relaxing get away. 

The BMW X1 was the one for all of our adventures!

CONTEST: THE MOTHER OF ALL GIVEAWAYS

We have partnered with Dilawri's BMW CALGARY + BMW GALLERY and SAKS FIFTH AVENUE to bring you

the MOTHER of all giveaways!

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Mothers day package giveaway yyc

Contest Details:

  1. Make sure you like/follow: Calgary BMW (FB/Insta), BMW Gallery (FB/Insta), Styleista (FB/Insta), and Saks Fifth Avenue Calgary (FB only).
  2. Like our post relating to this contest.
  3. Tag 2 friends.

5 Bonus Entries: Test drive a BMW of choice at your nearest BMW retailer. Subject to but not limited to current/expecting mothers. Celebrate all mothers by entering! Winner to be revealed May 13th, 2018 during the Styleista Road Trip to Kimberley, BC - follow along on our Instastories.

CONTEST: ERA STYLE LOFT

WINNER: @manditory

It's contest time friends!

I am totally obsessed with this online boutique, Era Style Loft! They have a brick and mortar store in Saskatoon but they offer e-commerce and free shipping and returns! So with that fact I think us Calgarians can have some fun on this site. See below for details, contest runs from Tuesday, April 3 and ends Friday, April 6 @5pm - Winner announced on Monday, April 9 on our IG: @styleista_ca

They have all the best contemporary brands:

  • Parker NY
  • Mother Denim
  • Alice + Olivia 
  • Equipment
  • Maison Irem
  • Current/Elliott
  • Joie
  • and so much more!

See image below for details! 

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BEST OF LUCK!!!

XO, Phaedra

NAILS: UPTOWN NAIL BOUTIQUE & SPA

When Uptown opened I was like ohhhhh yes! Calgary needed an elevated experience for the nail lover. Now after 2 years they are going strong and it is because of the experience the owners and technicians provide. From knowing Tony and Vanessa remembering your name when you arrive to what you like to drink, for me it's a bottle of water and an espresso shot every time. 

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They have all the top polishes including Chanel to Opi and can do any type of style or art. My favourite service is the 'powder dip' which involves less soaking, buffing and UV light. The real reason why is because of how long my nails have grown naturally! No tips or gel just strong nails with a few coats of the powder dip. They also have services for men and kids!

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If you haven't tried Uptown yet we highly recommend that you do! Give them a call today and tell them Styleista sent you and give them the code: STYLEISTA10 to get 10% off of your services in the month of March *must be a first time customer*.

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XO ~ Phae

SURVEY: LUXURY + SUSTAINABILITY

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We do have a passion for the finer things in life, with escalating expectations from sophisticated brands. If we chose to, the dollars we spend can be a vote for conscious, sustainable and responsible brands. Fashion has immense power. That is why researchers at the International University of Monaco are studying sustainability in the fashion and luxury sector. They are asking for consumers' viewpoints about sustainability in a survey. Please consider taking the survey, and sharing with colleagues, contacts and friends.

Here is a link to the research survey. Let's see what consumers feel about sustainability. Please let your friends know that the survey will help sustainability researchers, it takes about 10 minutes, and is formatted for computer, and not cell phone or tablet use. There is an incentive to complete the survey by February 27 as the researchers are giving away one new Hermes silk scarf to one lucky respondent at the end of February! 

Clink this LINK to complete the survey and enter to win!

Many thanks!

Judi Hepner and the Styleista Team

BEAUTY: SKINCARE REGIME FOR CANADIAN WINTERS

As residents of the Great White North we need to treat our skin differently than our friends on the coast and in the south. We have a dryer harsher climate and our skin needs to be treated with care that is catered to our environment. In Calgary we experience long periods of dry harsh cold. This can create dryness, redness and breakouts. 

Up until 4 years ago I was not really that interested in spending time and energy testing skincare products, I would just use what my friends said they used or whatever brand I was drawn to based on their marketing. What I have learned is that almost all mainstream or specialized brands we are exposed to in magazines and advertisements are designed for climates that are more temperate than ours. Designed to cater to the greater population. Many have wonderful qualities and can make your skin feel fantastic. I am sure each of you reading this has a brand or product they love and that is fantastic, please share!

I am writing this blog because I have finally started paying attention to my skin because I now have a skin guru that has designed a specific regime just for this climate. And thank goodness cause I probably would still be lazy around this subject. I am much more obsessed with shoes!

Below I am sharing my favourite products that help me (and my skin) through this YYC winter.

Step 1: Cleanse

This Cyberderm jojoba cleanser starts thick but adding a few drops of water brings forth a milky texture that is lightweight and gentle. $32

Step 2: Tone

I love this Thayers toner because it smells delicious, is not harsh and is very affordable at $20.

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Step 3: Mist

XO Treatment Room has expanded their product line to include this Rocket Mist that pulls product deep into the hydrolipic skin layer. Basically it upgrades your skincare regime, giving you more bang for your buck. $62

Step 4: Hydrate

Moisture Mass is another fabulous new face care treatment that XO has launched. XO Moisture Mass is hydration tailor made for dry skin and dry environments. With a three dimensional glycol-matrix delivery system that releases moisturizing molecules sequentially into the stratum corneum, resulting in a highly significant improvement of both immediate and long term skin hydration. $115

xo face rocket mist

Step 5: Day

Obviously the next step for daytime is sunscreen. I used to layer my sunscreen under my moisturizer because I felt I needed both for protection and moisture. Now I just use the Rocket Mist and layer on this Cyberderm Sunscreen because the sunscreen doubles as a moisturizer. Less steps means quicker mornings. $32

cyberderm sunscreen

Step 6: Night

In my opinion what you do with your skin at night is the most important. Especially how you should never sleep in your makeup! I don't think I need to go into why right? I am sideying some of my friends right now.

Repeat steps 1-3 and proceed to 6. If you follow us on social media you will probably have noticed how obsessed I am with XO Treatment Room's XO PM. It's like a mini trip to the spa when you pat it into your face. The aromatherapy is so soothing and the lightweight texture is just heaven. Designed with a precious blend of anti-inflammatory antioxidants, vitamins and lipids from the highest quality sources this will bring you sweet dreams and fresh, hydrated skin when you wake. $190

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If you you're as in need of guidance about your skin as I was than if I tell you one thing this year that you take away please let it be this...go see Annie at XO Treatment Room to get her to put together a specialized skin care regime just for you. Trust me you will love it and her!

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Stay warm,

XO ~ Phae

FASHION: BEST CELEB STYLE MOMENTS OF 2017

As we come to the end of 2017 I am reflecting on the fashion gifts of the past year. We were given lots of memorable looks + many that left a bad taste. So let's celebrate the TOP 5 'best' moments for what they gave us, whether it be a hells yes moment or an omg whyyyyyy? moment.

TOP 'HELLS YES' GOES TO: CELINE DION

Celine was not often referred to as a fashion icon, her voice has always been iconic but her fashion choices in the past have fallen flat. In 2017 she has been feeling herself and she delivered us so many fashion gifts! Celine gave us a consistent runway of looks that nailed it while she was on her European tour. We must also give major props to her stylist, Law Roach, who orchestrated this amazingness.


TOP 'LOVE IT' GOES TO: ZENDAYA

At 21 years of age Zendaya has made her mark on the fashion world. She shows her personality through her clothing and style choices and takes risks but remains relatable to all ages. She is gorgeous and talented and most recently co-starred in The Great Showman. Keep your eyes on this one, she is tracking towards style greatness. Ps. Law Roach is behind this perfection too!


TOP 'NEWBIE' GOES TO: MILLIE BOBBY BROWN

If you haven't watched Stranger Things then what is wrong with you? Lol, kidding but not kidding...it's a full on 80's throwback and spooky but not too much to give you a permanent creep out. Anyway, back to fashion...Millie Bobby Brown has been making some headlines with her style in 2017. Some argue she is too young to be inundated with the pressure of always dressing on point for every event, that it is too much for a young girl. I say, let her play dress up! Let her have her fun. When I was a kid/teenager I lived to wear beautiful clothing. Millie Bobby is also setting  great example for kids her age. 


TOP 'WTF' GOES TO: KATY PERRY

I've never really been a fan of Katy Perry, I tried to like her after watching her documentary but it never really stuck. No offence Katy! I also keep hoping she will get her style sorted out...like please leave her California Dreams candy coated wardrobe behind and show her quirkiness through some savvy style choices. I'll add that to one of my wishes for 2018. Cause in 2017, I Ken-Not with Katy.


TOP 'OMG WHYYYY?' GOES TO: JARED LETO

I think my problem with Jared Leto's 'style' in 2017 is that he could be so HOT! Why don't you just let yourself be hot Jared?


Feel free to comment or debate if you agree or strongly disagree, makes it all more fun!

Have a happy and stylish New Year friends!

XO, Phae

LIFESTYLE: A DAY IN OUR LIFE W/ THE BMW X3

As fashion stylists we spend a lot of time on the road. Driving from client to client, store to store and loading and unloading our vehicles. So when we had the opportunity to partner with BMW and spend the day with their highly anticipated X3 we immediately said yes! 

To really put this ride to the test we brought it along for a day in the life of Styleista. We spent a typical day from start to finish and found that the X3 made our day easy and efficient. 

AM - I picked up the X3 at Calgary BMW and was given the full rundown (aka. BMW Delivery) of the features and attributes of the 2018 model including some of our favourites: Gesture Control, Parking Assistant Plus w/ Surround View and Ambient Lighting. 

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Next I went to pick up B for a workout. We like to start our days with fitness any chance we get and if we can we go together. We headed to 9 Round in Marda Loop, with our tunes cranked on the Harman/Kardon Sound System for a  30 min kickboxing sweat fest!

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MIDDAY - From there we used the On-board Navigation to plug in Our Daily Brett so we could have a quick power lunch with our stylist Sam and plan the rest of the day. Our favourite part of the navi system was the 'Speak Address' feature. Saves so much time instead of typing it in! 

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Of course we had to do a little shopping at ODB because they have the best curated inventory of home and kitchen wares there. The automatic rear hatch made it easy to be hands free while loading up our goodies.

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AFTERNOON - Last stop of the day was a pull for a photo shoot that we had in our schedule. We now had a third person in tow and she loved the Adjustable Rear Seats in the back which also folded down easily to allow us to store a rolling rack. Another note on the seats, as the driver I really liked the Lumbar Support feature. It was much more supportive than most I have experienced. Some other notable features that I loved as the driver were; the Lane Keep Assist, Active Cruise Control w/ Stop & Go and the Blind Spot Alert. Oh! And the coolest feature was the Parking Assistant; it senses parking spots in lots or parallel and when you activate feature by holding down the command, the car parks itself for you! 

Overall, for what we do as stylists the X3 fit our needs perfectly! It would also be wonderful for anyone with a small family or who spends a lot of time on the road. The X3 gives the driver and passengers an effortless driving sensation, has powerful agility and optimum traction in every corner. We give it an A+!

For more info click here, if you want to take a test drive ask for Jason at Calgary BMW in the SW or visit BMW Gallery in the NW and tell them Styleista sent you!

X0 ~ Phaedra 

SHOPPING: HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE TO YYC

Tis the season to give! From big ticket items to small stocking stuffers. We have broken down some of our top spots to shop for those on your Christmas List located in 3 of our fav neighbourhoods.

INGLEWOOD

*Note: Unwind over handcrafted cocktails at the Deane House 

The Livery Shop: They have the best stocking stuffers! Everything from Lavami charcoal soap to Treeline camp socks to Coutu Kitsch accessories.

Lavami Charcoal Facial Soap

Lavami Charcoal Facial Soap

plant: Pretty obsessed with this little greenhouse nestled in Inglewood. With the winters we get here in YYC it is a treat to walk into this green space full of succulents, botanicals and artisanal goods. There are so many great gift giving ideas for the botanist in your life.

Air Plants - Similar available at plant in Inglewood

Air Plants - Similar available at plant in Inglewood

THE CORE & BELTLINE

Maison Birks: A great gift for him under $1000 could be a luxury watch from Birks in the CORE Shopping Centre. We are finding these days that less women are tending to wear watches but the guys are still very much in the watch game. They are a timeless gift - all puns intended - and will always make them think of you.

Gifts for him >$1000

Gifts for him >$1000

Saje: Saje supports wellness. Located in Mount Royal Village, Saje is not just about pretty smelling essential oils, they focus on promoting wellness for all areas of your life. From digestion to pain to sleep, there is something for all of your needs. One of my favourite items is the Halo roller ball which helps me with headaches. Great stocking stuffers!

Oils from Saje

Oils from Saje

KENSINGTON

Peasant Cheese Shop: They have it all, from meat & cheese to maple syrup. We all have a foodie in our lives and they make it easy to curate custom baskets and giftable items. My favourite concept is the Monthly Cheese Club. Ummmm, yes please!

Similar items available at Peasant

Similar items available at Peasant

Kensington Wine Market: Clearly the next suggestion is going to be for the wine lover. These guys know wine and can help you pick out any grape (or spirit) that will check off the most discerning connoisseur. Cheers! 

Similar items available at KWM

Similar items available at KWM

GIFT CERTIFICATES: We offer personalized gift certificates to those in your life you want to give the gift of style. Inquire to info@styleista.ca

Happy Shopping!

XO ~ Phaedra