It’s been a major case of summertime blues for me. The year started pretty great, with the world finally opening up again to a semblance of what it was. Mask regulations were lifted and events are now back at full capacity. But for me personally, there have been a lot of losses of late. I lost my Dad after several bouts with his health over the past year, and some friends and heroes whom I look up to have passed as well in recent months. I was desperately in need of a recharge. While vacations don’t solve all our problems, sometimes that’s all we need to bring us that bit of light when our shine has been diminished.
Saratoga Springs, New York (nicknamed “The Spa”) has always been a happy place for me. Located in upstate New York, the city is just about seven hours from Toronto, proudly sporting its official slogan upon arrival, “Health, History and Horses”. Not to be confused with Sarasota, because many friends think I’m off to Florida when I say I’m going to this beautiful summer treasure!
Water from these Springs have diverse characteristics, healing properties and a distinct flavour. Saratoga Springs water is said to have magic healing powers that help with skin ailments, assist with digestion, and more.
It is no mystery how much I love horses and every summer for a 40-day meet, among the very best in Horse Racing congregate at charming Saratoga Race Course to enjoy the sport at its highest level. The meet draws people from all over. The venue, donning its distinctive red and white stripe motif throughout, recalls traditions of yesteryear, but with modern amenities and flourishes that have connected its spirit to a new generation of attendees who either grew up like me around the sport, or just want to come out showing off their summer’s best hats and fascinators. Once the meet ends, the city with a population of just under 30,000, goes back to its regular pace as a trendy college town. Saratoga Springs is a destination of incredible taste, refinement and sophistication that somehow manages to always feel fresh.
BOOKING.COM makes it easy – and on short notice!
Because the demand is great to be in Saratoga Springs between late July to early September, finding accommodations can be pricey and difficult. BOOKING.COM makes it super easy to filter a search on their user-friendly website and App (iPhone, iPad and Android-ready). The latter is used by over 100 million monthly active users globally. You can filter your search with the options you really want from their pool of 28 million reported listings with 30 different types of places to stay. Whether you’re looking for a villa, treehouse, cottage, or a boutique hotel, Booking.com truly has it all, everywhere.
If, like me, you are known to travel on little notice, this can limit your options. BOOKING.COM made finding accommodations rather simple, narrowing down properties within a close driving distance to Saratoga Springs. Trust me, hotels here fill up months in advance, and sometimes I really don’t know if I’ll be travelling till much later than that. You’ll be relieved to know that on Booking.com, there often is an option for full refund before a particular date because the unavoidable happens!
I landed upon the stunning Desmond Hotelin Albany, New York, a scenic 25 minute drive away from my ultimate destination. Not only is proximity important. I come with a very specific set of requirements. When choosing a place to stay, I rely on reviews from actual people who have stayed at the property. BOOKING.COM has more than 283 million verified reviews from real guests who have stayed at each accommodation and booked through them. Based on this, I was able to filter my search to properties with a minimum “8.5” rating and up. The Desmond Hotel hit the mark.
Above this, I don’t travel without my beloved dog beanie and while searching “pet-friendly” accommodations, this requirement eliminated some wonderful establishments from consideration for me. On the flipside, it also paired me with a place that welcomed us and those who like mindedly don’t exclude our furry loved ones from our trips.
Travelling sustainably is also super important to me nowadays and with BOOKING.COM’s search filters, I was able to see that The Desmond is a “Level 1” Travel Sustainable Property. This means that they have implemented some impactful sustainability practices. Another thing we love about BOOKING.COM is that you can also look for properties with a “Travel Proud” badge, showing their commitment to understand and help overcome the challenges LGBTQ+ travellers face. We support businesses that support inclusivity and diversity.
If accessibility options are important to you, BOOKING.COM has filters for disabled guests, the ability to look for places that offer electric vehicle charging stations, and many more details that people might need at their accommodation.
While this hotel at first glance doesn’t appear to be particularly towering in the classic sense of a hotel, it is rather expansive horizontally. Each of its three floors are packed with rooms. There are in fact, 323 guest rooms, plus a litany of conference rooms, a 24/7 fitness facility, a restaurant (Mr. D’s – named after founder John K. Desmond, Jr.) and a beautiful indoor courtyard with greenery and a pond that is home to beautiful Koi fish. Though we drove in in an amazing 2023 Honda HRV supplied by Honda Canada, the hotel is literally right beside the Albany Airport and they offer shuttles to the airport for those who need it. The hotel lobby also features a monitor display showing upcoming departure times, a mindful added touch for those travellers flying.
Rooms bestow an elegant, thoughtful decor and here I had the pleasure of staying in a Double Queen Guest Room that could host four people easily. This was one of the best sleeps I’ve had in quite some time, with curtains that shut-out the light completely. beanie can vouch for this – she hogged the bed! In an effort to be eco-conscious, room refreshing can be done by request. We’re of the mindset that we don’t wash our towels and sheets daily at home, and wouldn’t expect the same on vacation at a hotel. There is an abundance of USB charging ports which is important, Wi-Fi, a large desk, an HDTV and temperature controls which I took advantage of.
Many hotels talk about being “pet-friendly”, but are they really? The Desmond has a grassy outdoor courtyard where dogs can stretch their legs and do their business, complete with thoughtful bag dispenser stations and bins ready as well. This means a lot, alleviating the stress of having to go far in an area we weren’t too familiar with. Parking is also free.
BOOKING.COM has an ATTRACTIONSfeature that offers users access to things to do in over 1,200 cities with over 39,000 curated bookable attractions and experiences, like tours, museums, activities, theme parks, rentals, and more. Though we know Saratoga Springs quite well, we know there is never a shortage of places to shop along their Broadway District, including delightful apparel shops or Saratoga Marketplace with numerous quality products from local retailers. If you love big box U.S. stores too like me, you’ll be pleased to know that there are super-sized versions of these in Saratoga Springs. And while you’re doing all this, why not take your furry loved one for a Spa Day of their own in “The Spa”?
Much of the action in this city centers around spectacular Saratoga Race Course in the summer. Last year alone, 1,075,586 fans visited over the span of their 40-day meet, enjoying horse racing at its highest level. The track is the world’s oldest major sports facility, having opened in 1863, and has seen legends gallop over its turf and dirt surfaces. The Oklahoma Training Track is open in the morning to the public to come see their favourite athletes train, with free parking during those hours. All of this is also a short walk away from the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, which opened in 1950 to commemorate those people and horses who have made a significant impact on the sport.
The meet at Saratoga Race Course includes marquee races which ultimately are precursors to deciding which athletes are crowned champions in North America at the Eclipse Awards at the culmination of the 2023 season. Important races include the Travers, Alabama, Test, Ballerina and the Whitney Stakes, all of which we were there for. The latter is a Grade I race valued at $1 million, named in honour of the influential Whitney family whom for generations had a huge impact on Saratoga, and this year was won by the striking gray horse WHITE ABARRIO ridden by unstoppable North American leading jockey, Irad Ortiz, Jr., for owners C Two Racing Stable & Antonio Pagnano and trainer Richard E. Dutrow Jr.
The heavy favourite going into the race was CODY’S WISH, owned by industry leaders Godolphin LLC and trained by iconic Bill Mott. The horse is named after a boy named Cody Dorman, who is living with Wolf-Hirschhornsyndrome and saw his fateful “Make-a-Wish” come true when the horse took to the boy right away. This horse has gone on to win close to $2.5 million and is widely regarded as one of the best horses in training.
The Card on Whitney Stakes day was stacked with stars and gave us the honour of seeing top three-year-old filly PRETTY MISCHIEVOUS, who won the Grade I Test Stakes. Just this past May, she won the prestigious $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks, the female companion race to the Kentucky Derby..
Last but not least, one of my favourite parts of Saratoga Springs is Beekman Street, a mecca of art, culture and food. Galleries, pubs, shops and restaurants line this charming and low key residential district if you want that downtown vibe minus all the traffic and congestion.
A full Album of photos taken at Saratoga Race Coursehere.
Saratoga Springs is a place of taste. Having been a few times over the years, my favourites align with those of locals. Hattie’s for Fried Chicken. Sweet Mimi’s Cafe for brunch and pastries – the Cinammon bread was recommended to me by owner Jeanette and I’m sold! The hotspots on weekends can see hour-long queues, so get there early and they offer free coffee for those in the queue. Uncommon Grounds makes a truly perfect bouncy Bagel, so we get why there are 30-minute queues. The Love & Lox is a hit. Historic Adelphi Hotel (also available as a property on BOOKING.COM) has been providing visitors top tier accommodations since 1877 and it houses some great spots to dine, like Salt & Char, plus a dog-friendly patio at Morrissey’s Lounge with its trendy menu spanning Asian, Italian and classic American. The Local Pub and Teahouse serves comforting pub fare and is very popular with locals. Their tender, melty Short Rib over mashed potatoes is perfection. Taverna Novo also provides an intimate and special experience if you love Italian. The latter two are on Beekman Street.
The food options at Saratoga Race Course are also great. They have their own Shake Shack and you absolutely must get the exclusive “Sloppy Track” milkshake. The track also has a branch of aforementioned Hattie’s, plus bars like the Easy Goer and Fourstardave, named after iconic racehorses who made their mark locally.Though we wish we got to spend more time in Albany, we were wowed by breakfast at trendy The Scene. This cafe has cocktails and coffee on its menu, plus several brunch options. Thoroughly enjoyed my Scenewich and Cinnamon Toast Latte set against an aesthetically-pleasing backdrop.
With it being a seven hour drive to Saratoga Springs, it’s important to take proper breaks along the way. We chose Hilton Garden Inn which is also available via BOOKING.COM and rated a strong 8.6 as calculated by user reviews. This hotel is just minutes from the Falls and equally close to wineries in the region. In addition, it boasts a remarkable Level 3 Travel Sustainable badge, a distinction reserved only for those accommodations that have made large investments and efforts to implement impactful sustainability practices. They are also pet-friendly, with grassy areas for your pet to go and thoughtful bag dispensers for your convenience. Did I mention that beanie got a welcome bag upon arrival? It’s honestly the little touches that make you want to share your experience with others! You’re literally across the road from the Outlet Collection at Niagara, or you can save up for cross-border shopping seeing that you’re only minutes from the U.S. All this, plus free parking!
Our drive to Saratoga saw new revamped Applegreen Service Stations, which were actually quite amazing, giving us reasons to stop and recharge, and making that drive bearable! Dunkin’ Donuts, Panera, Popeyes, Shake Shacks and more, plus a chance to fill up on some reasonably priced fuel. America is so spoiled!
BOOKING.COM made it easy to plan this unforgettable trip. And they aren’t just for booking a place to stay. BOOKING.COM offers flights, car rentals, taxis, activities, all of which can be organized into one place – the BOOKING.COM app or website. No more rifling through different confirmation emails from different companies – keep your itinerary streamlined and simple.
And with BOOKING.COM’s Rewards & Wallet feature, you can apply earned cash value to selected flight bookings, selected property bookings, any car rental bookings, any attraction bookings, any taxi bookings, and any insurance that you add to your trip through Booking.com.
Summer’s almost over. Isn’t it time you took a moment to recharge?
Grab a seat and join us on our journey to Saratoga Springs. A Reel of Highlights:
Booking.com, one of the world’s leading digital travel platforms, has announced its new AI Trip Planner, which will launch in beta to a selection of U.S. travellers in the company’s app on June 28th. Built upon the foundation of Booking.com’s existing machine learning models that recommend destination and accommodation options to millions of travellers on the platform every day, the AI Trip Planner is also partially powered by large language model (LLM) technology from OpenAI’s ChatGPT API to create a new conversational experience for people to start their trip planning process.
A new way to search and explore on Booking.com
Travellers can ask the AI Trip Planner general travel-related questions, as well as more specific queries to support any stage of their trip planning process, including scoping out potential destinations and accommodation options, providing travel inspiration based on the individual traveller’s needs and requirements, as well as creating itineraries for a particular city, country or region.
More tailored and relevant travel recommendations
Travellers can easily chat with the pilot AI Trip Planner to describe what they’re looking for in broad or specific terms, ask questions and refine their search in real time, with new options surfaced in just a matter of seconds. From looking for inspiration on romantic beach destination options in the Caribbean to zeroing in on a specific list of vacation homes for a family of four, with air conditioning and a pool, the AI Trip Planner makes recommendations in a quick, conversational way.
Integrated travel planning experience
The AI Trip Planner takes the trip planning process one step further by providing travellers with a visual list of destinations and properties, including Booking.com’s pricing information, with deep-links to view more details. Travellers can go back and forth between their chat with the AI Trip Planner and the Booking.com app interface as they consider options for their trip. With just a tap on any accommodation they are interested in, they can complete the reservation, as the AI Trip Planner is directly integrated into the accommodation booking experience in the Booking.com app.
“Our primary aim at Booking.com has always been to leverage technology to make travel easier,” said Glenn Fogel, CEO of Booking.com. “The recent developments with generative AI are accelerating the work we’ve been doing for years with machine learning to enhance and improve every aspect of the customer experience on our platform, whether it’s optimizing the right order to display a hotel’s photos to surfacing the most relevant reviews. Our new AI Trip Planner is simply the next step in our ongoing journey to explore how we can bring even more value, and hopefully enjoyment, to the entire trip planning process.”
“Our new AI Trip Planner provides us with some really exciting possibilities to help our customers plan and search for travel options in a very natural, human way,” said Rob Francis, CTO of Booking.com. “Oftentimes, people are asked to adapt to the confines of technology to do what they want, but with generative AI, we’re able to start having scalable, one-to-one conversations with our customers on their terms, much like how you would begin to talk about planning a trip with your partner or friends. It’s just the beginning, but we have lots of runway here to explore in order to innovate and connect the travel experience further on Booking.com, all in a safe, ethical and inclusive way.”
Beginning on June 28, the beta AI Trip Planner will become available to a growing percentage of Booking.com Genius members in the United States over the coming weeks. This means that U.S. travellers must be signed in to their Booking.com account in the app and have their language settings set to English to access the new travel planning tool.
Looking to travel like a star this summer? Booking.com and beloved musical icon, singer and songwriter Mariah Carey are offering travellers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to vacation just like Mimi this summer, with a special overnight trip package at her favorite Beverly Hills vacation rental on Booking.com, where she’s been living it up for the past three months. Now ready to hand over the keys to her ritzy summer reprieve, Booking.com has created a single trip package that includes a two-night stay at Mariah’s Beverly Hills Escape, complete with an itinerary curated by Mariah herself that spotlights her favorite places to dine, sightsee, and shop in Los Angeles.
According to a recent Booking.com survey, 43%* of Canadians prefer spending more time exploring the world over a quick getaway or weeklong trip, which is why Booking.com offers long-term stays at a variety of properties – including homes, hotels and everything in between – many of which offer reduced rates for monthly stays. Vacation rentals offer the perfect conveniences for a summer stay with features such as full kitchens, outdoor space, private pools, laundry rooms and more, with Mariah taking full advantage of her extended stay, spending quality time with family and friends.
Mariah’s Beverly Hills Escape will be available to book exclusively on Booking.com on June 21 at noon E.T., for a single stay taking place June 24 through 26. Priced at only $6.21, in honor of the first day of summer, this unique trip package only available this one time will feature:
A two-night stay at the luxurious Beverly Hills estate that Mariah rented this spring
Reservations at Mariah’s favorite restaurants, such as The Terrace, Cara, Nobu Malibu, Dan Tana’s and Craig’s
A private consultation with a fashion stylist to get Mariah-ready along with beauty and self-care tips from Mimi herself
A guide to Mariah’s favorite local attractions, including Will Rogers State Beach, Runyon Canyon, The Getty, The Hammer and The Skirball
“Sometimes a week or two isn’t enough to get away. That’s why I was thrilled to stay for a few months in a gorgeous Beverly Hills estate, which I found on Booking.com,” said the award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and record producer Mariah Carey. “My family and I enjoyed all the luxuries this beautiful home has to offer and now, one of my Lambs has the opportunity to experience LA in true Mimi fashion by staying in the same home and visiting all my favorite places in the area!”
Connecting travellers with the widest selection of properties, flights, rental cars and local attractions, Booking.com makes it easier for everyone to experience the world. For those who don’t book Mariah’s Beverly Hills Escape, rest assured Booking.com has plenty of vacation rentals across the U.S. for you to book this summer – from beach houses and woodsy cabins to lakeside retreats and city apartments, many of which offer month-long stays and longer, so you can get the most out of your summer vacation.
The pandemic certainly has changed the way we think about travel and look at the future as global citizens. Whatever your comfort level is with hopping on a plane right now for an escape, surely we all can agree we’re in need of a much-deserved break after all we’ve been through these past three years. Luxurious staycations more than ever growing in their appeal. Looking a layer beneath, travelling sustainably is also becoming a hot topic. But how does one do it all – vacation well, in ways that are eco-conscious, yet do so affordably?
It’s no mystery that we’re all trying to navigate inflation. Whether you’re just trying to buy lettuce for your salad or fill your tank with a bit of gas, money is at the top of our minds. One of the world’s leading online travel platforms Booking.com surveyed 33,000 travellers from across the globe for their annual Sustainable Travel Report for 2023. They found that 52% of Canadian travellers feel that sustainable travel just isn’t affordable. And with the wide perception that the economy isn’t going to improve any time soon, how do we prioritize what is right, yet also right for our budgets? Also, if we’re doing right for the future of the world we’re living in, should we be incentivized at least with deals?
Within that same survey, 65% of Canadian travellers said that they want to travel more sustainably over the coming 12 months. 75% of these feel that the global energy crisis and rising cost of living is impacting their spending plans. By that same token, 51% feel there just aren’t enough sustainable travel options available.
What exactly is Sustainable Travel?
Like many, I honestly wasn’t quite clear what it all meant. Something about the term itself inherently feels complex, ambitious and unattainable. But truly, it can encompass the smallest of gestures. At its core, it’s about having an awareness and making choices that benefit conservation, wildlife and the local community.
Eating locally and supporting farm-to-table restaurants while travelling can be counted as a step. Some of us are already doing this in our everyday lives. But on an even more micro scale, it can be things like taking public transit, shopping with a reusable tote or drinking with your own water bottle while vacationing. Or how about just turning off your A/C when you’re not in your hotel room?
When I think about pre-pandemic life and travel, I used to insist on my sheets and towels being changed daily at the hotel. Just because I was on vacation and thought I deserved it. Post-pandemic, I’ve realized that this is something I wouldn’t even demand at home, so how could I expect this while travelling?
When we put it this way, the concept of Sustainable Travel doesn’t seem so scary anymore. The key takeaway is that we are now asking questions and rethinking our old lives and habits.
How Booking.com is making it easier to travel sustainably
As mentioned, part of the problem travellers face is the perception that there simply aren’t enough sustainable travel options. Whether you’re searching for accommodations on Booking.com’s website or app, you’ll notice that they now have a search filter called “Travel Sustainable properties” that allows you to easily find only properties that have earned Booking.com’s Travel Sustainable badge, a global, first of its kind and independently validated recognition programme. With the launch of the program in November of 2021, they are looking to remove some of the mystique of travelling sustainably and helping make it easier for accommodation partners to contribute to sustainability efforts and be able to showcase this to travellers. When using the filter, search results come up and are grouped into three tiers, denoted by leaf badges. Level 1 properties have implemented some impactful sustainability practices, while Level 3 properties have made large investments in their practices.
You can even filter your search for electric and hybrid car rentals in 110 countries, and see the Total CO2 emissions when searching flights.
The bottom line is that while ending inflation might be out of our hands for now, Booking.com is helping make it easier for travellers to find the right sustainable options for them, anywhere they want to go.
We have a duty to leave a place better than when we were there.
1 Hotel Toronto
We had the pleasure of enjoying a stay at this gorgeous property, which boasts 112 guest rooms and suites. It is tucked away from the King Street West bustle, yet also close enough to it all. 1 Hotel Toronto is just one of many sustainable accommodations in the city and a perfect staycation choice if you just need a quick recharge with the mileage. It manages to balance sturdy sustainable design and architecture, with an oasis-like mood that is apparent the moment you are welcomed through its wood doors. Their service is phenomenal and attentive to guests’ every need.
It’s all in the details here, whether it be energy-saving Smart Thermostats in guest rooms, 100% cozy organic cotton linens to nestle you into bed, or tumblers and carafes made from reclaimed wine bottles and glass.
On a grander scope, the hotel draws inspiration from local artists, chefs, builders and the community. An example being their 1 Kitchen restaurant, green and woodsy in decor. They not only serve delicious, mindful offerings on their menu, but are also committed to generating zero waste. They have an interesting selection of cocktails and an array of biodynamic wines. The trout crudo and 1K gnocchi are both musts. And if you have room for dessert, the carrot cake.
The hotel is also home to Casa Madera, a chic and sexy purveyor of elevated Mexican cuisine. You literally do not have to leave the hotel to get a variety of refined dining experiences and this is the proof. Cocktails are scintillating and some come in flames and smoky, providing a fun little delivery experience. Recommended are the pacifico striped bass, ceviche blanco, tiger shrimp and arrachera (wagyu beef) tacos. Peanut butter mousse for dessert – no question. It is a spectacle.
If you’re there on a weekend, Harriet’s Rooftop has one of downtown Toronto’s best scenic skyline views, plus an incredible brunch.
1 Hotel Toronto is 100% certified carbon-neutral, while being LEED-certified for energy efficiency in heating and cooling. In addition to saving energy, annually their measures account for 167 tons of CO2 reduction. Above this, the hotel is home to 3,300 plants, including native plants within rooms and suites.
On a personal note, for those of us who can’t live without our pets, 1 Hotel Toronto welcomes them with open arms. They were just so wonderful and kind to our dear Beanie, always greeting her and offering her treats every time we passed through the lobby. They even offered to take footage of us for my Reel (see below). It’s thoughtfulness like this that separates a great experience from an outstanding one and 1 Hotel was exactly the latter. Eco-friendly and pet-friendly. It’s a win-win.
There certainly is no shortage of eco-friendly things-to-do and eat around 1 Hotel Toronto. A short trek away just off the Bayview/Bloor Don Valley Parkway exit, is environmental community centre Evergreen Brick Works. The space is full of trails and gardens, public art, a market with local artisans, craftspeople and small-batch producers, and more.
The Grape Witches are situated at Dundas x Ossington. It is a wine bar, a patio, a shop, an event space, a wine agency & a wine club, offering private tastings of rare organic, biodynamic and natural wines from all around the world. Fascinating to learn the stories about these wines which are hand picked and very hard to find here.
stackt market is North America’s largest shipping container market and it is literally a walk across the street from 1 Hotel Toronto. Their mandate is to support local art, music, social enterprise and cultural communities. Fast dining options include amazing selections from local chefs like Trevor Lui at Baobird, tacos at Ocaso Tacos by Rául D’souza and so much more. Beanie is a huge fan of kitschy pet clothing and supply store, Our Haru. A must-see. We may have had a little shopping spree.
Toronto is such a vibrant, diverse and ever-changing mecca. Isn’t it time you re-discovered it?
Booking.com makes it easy to find sustainable options whether you are travelling far away or enjoying a staycation near home.
BOOKING.COM have just released their Most Welcoming Places lists and Traveller Review Awards recipient. Making huge gains are Newfoundland and Labrador placing in the top 10 most welcoming places on earth! St. John’s was also named the 4th most welcoming city in Canada. Toronto, you better step it up!
As travel continues to make its return in most parts of the world, the 11th annual Booking.com Traveller Review Awards recognize travel providers from across 220 countries and territories for their commitment to providing consistently excellent service and hospitality over the course of the year. Based on a pool of over 240 million verified customer reviews on Booking.com, 1,364,415 accommodation partners, 230 car rental providers and 58 airport taxi suppliers are receiving a Traveller Review Award 2023. Italy leads the way again in 2023 with a total of 170,638 accommodation awards, followed by Spain (108,217), France (103,365), Germany (76,479), Croatia (64,206), Poland (60,721), UK (60,697), Greece (54,473), Brazil (53,658) and the US (46,839).
Hotels and apartments continue to shine
The most awarded property type within Canada is hotels, claiming 1,360 across the country. In second place is apartments with 1,360 awards, then bed & breakfasts with 979, holiday homes with 651, and rounding out the top five is chalets with 429 awards. Globally, apartments take the top spot for the sixth year in a row, with 629,421 partners being recognized for their efforts in the 2023 edition of the Traveller Review Awards.
When it comes to the countries being recognized with the most awards for homes, apartments and other unique places to stay, Italy (153,895), Spain (98,788), France (94,285), Germany (64,748) and Croatia (63,219) lead the way.
A more sustainable traveller experience
Nearly one in ten accommodation award recipients globally (122,095) have also been recognized with a Travel Sustainable badge for their efforts to operate more sustainably. In fact, Travel Sustainable accommodations were three times more likely to receive a Traveller Review Award 2023, compared to those not being recognized with a Travel Sustainable badge. Out of all accommodation types, hotels had the highest share of Travel Sustainable accommodations (15%) receiving a Traveller Review Award 2023.
Arjan Dijk, SVP and Chief Marketing Officer for Booking.com, commented: “It’s that personal attention to detail when checking in or sharing helpful recommendations to explore the destination like a local that demonstrates how our partners show up and shine for travellers in a multitude of ways each and every day. These awards are our way of thanking them for their dedication to making everyone feel welcome and to going out of their way to create incredible experiences for our customers. Whether it’s a friendly greeting from a taxi driver at the airport, sharing some local driving tips at the car rental counter or a thoughtful note waiting in the room, our passionate partners help make every trip more special.”
2023’s Most Welcoming Places in Canada and Beyond
This year’s Most Welcoming Places have all been identified based on the share of accommodation partners receiving a Traveller Review Award 2023* and provide even the most seasoned traveller with inspiration for their future trips. Here are the most welcoming places across Canada.
2023’s Most Welcoming Cities in Canada
Baie Saint Paul, Quebec
Golden, British Columbia
St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador
Quebec City, Quebec
Revelstoke, British Columbia
Moncton, New Brunswick
2023’s Most Welcoming Regions in Canada
The real stars of the show, the local properties themselves, have earned consistent Booking.com scores of 9.7 or higher across anywhere from 50 to over 400 reviews. Here are ten of the consistently highest rated Traveller Reviews Awards properties in Canada.
This year’s Most Welcoming Places on Earth span five continents and feature hidden coastal gems, rural destinations surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty, a bustling Latin American metropolis, and a fan favourite island here in Canada with its own time zone and dialect.
2023’s Most Welcoming Cities On Earth
Polignano a Mare, Italy
Hualien City, Taiwan
San Sebastián, Spain
Porto De Galinhas, Brazil
Mexico City, Mexico
Gold Coast, Australia
2023’s Most Welcoming Regions On Earth
La Rioja, Spain
County Down, UK
Marlborough, New Zealand
Ninh Binh, Vietnam
Limon, Costa Rica
Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada
North Dakota, US
For more about exploring and experiencing all these welcoming cities have to offer, check out this destination guide.
Helping travellers get from A to B
This is the fourth year that Booking.com is recognising on-the-ground transport providers for their consistently great service, with 230 car rental companies from across 150 countries picking up a Traveller Review Award 2023. Car rental companies in Spain are being recognized with the most 2023 awards (23), followed by Greece (21), France (14), Italy (13) and Portugal (11). 58 airport taxi providers, representing a total of 6,131 drivers from across 120 countries are also being recognized with a 2023 award. Companies in Spain are again receiving the most awards (11 providers representing 442 drivers), followed by Greece (7 providers representing 1,196 drivers), Italy (5 providers representing 315 drivers), Poland (3 providers representing 524 drivers) and Portugal (3 providers representing 655 drivers).
BOOKING.COMwas an official signature sponsor of the TIME100 Summit and Gala at Lincoln Center in New York, which included stars like Toronto’s own Simu Liu! The site is one of the largest travel marketplaces for both established brands and entrepreneurs of all sizes, enabling properties all over the world to reach a global audience and grow their businesses.
Booking.com aimed to further support getting important topics the increased attention they need and deserve while also providing travel inspiration for Summit & Gala attendees. The events brought together a cast of past and present TIME100 honorees and other influential figures from the worlds of art, culture, politics and entertainment with Booking.com polling the influential attendees on their summer travel plans via a survey at the brand’s dedicated activation space at Jazz at Lincoln Center.
Key insights include:
-Sustainability efforts at accommodations play a strong role in TIME100 event attendee’s vacation decisions, with 50% of survey respondents saying they would select one property over another if it had Booking.com’s Travel Sustainable badge.
-TIME100 event respondents said they prefer to stay at vacation rentals over hotels (62%).
-Trips where travelers get to enjoy the outdoors was the preference for TIME100 attendees with 46% of respondents wanting to take a beach vacation this summer and 41% wanting to take any type of nature trip.
-Experiencing local culture is TIME100 event respondents main motivation to travel this summer (37%), with relaxation not far behind at 32%.
-When asked what destination was top of the list this summer, Greece, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Colorado and Puerto Rico were the most popular among TIME100 event attendee survey respondents.