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Beat Winter SAD: Book a Staycation

Beat Winter SAD: Book a Staycation

We are almost through January and the countdown to spring is ON! OK, it’s 50 days, and yes I’m counting. I’m really working on finding ways to make this winter not seem as long, cold, or depressing as 2019. Last week, I shared a post about beating winter Seasonal Affective Disorder by taking a vacation.

This week, I’m sharing an AWESOME recommendation for a staycation. Sean and I spent a relaxing ~24-hours at Hotel X Toronto in downtown Toronto and it was a really nice mini-getaway. If you’d like to see more of my stay in video, check out my Staycation highlight on Instagram.

Hellooooo snow!

I magically picked the BEST day for a staycation because we had a major snowstorm that morning. I arrived at noon for a hot yoga class and to see the amenities before checking in at 3pm.

From the moment you walk in the hotel, it feels luxurious. It makes for a great staycation because there are lots of plants, several restaurants, a great gym, and amenities, meaning you don’t have to leave the hotel. There’s also a kid’s play center if you have little ones. I have added the Guerlain Spa to my ‘must visit‘ list for next time.

Hotel X Toronto definitely has a resort-type feel. There’s a pool on the roof that I imagine is absolutely stunning in the summer. Yes, I did test it out in the winter. Scroll down!

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Thank you, Hotel X and Duet PR for hosting our stay. The thoughts expressed here are my OWN, obviously. It was a really nice experience. Highly recommend! 

Beat Winter SAD: Take A Vacation

Last winter was really hard, we had one of the coldest seasons in ages, there was ice everywhere, and my arm was messed up. I spent most of the winter inside our house going Marie Kondo through every cupboard and drawer. This winter, I’m determined to find joy in simple things and actively make an effort to warm myself up and beat winter SAD.

Varadero Beach, Costa Rica

I wrote a few posts with ways I’m trying to combat Seasonal Affective Disorder with the hope it will help make our days a bit brighter. Some take a little more money/planning but others you can do at home right now. I’ll update this post with a link to each so you can scroll once they’re live.


Vacation

The easiest way to boost your mood in winter? Take a vacation. I know this isn’t an option for everyone with work/family/finances but if you can do it, it’s so nice. This year, I took a 7-day all-inclusive trip to Cuba with a friend. We have been talking about doing a low-key beach getaway at the start of January for 2+ years and finally did it! Cuba was a good option because we were not going for luxury, our conditions for the trip were affordable, beach, sun.

The beach was beautiful and the sun was hot. The food wasn’t luxe but we managed to eat simple, the main things I ate were bread, rice, fruit, pasta, and eggs. I read an entire book, took heaps of photos, and finished the week well-rested and refreshed. We went to bed early (and sober) most nights. I stuck to Amy’s 1K a day challenge and did some type of activity each day (long walk, dance, NTC). It was just what I needed and a perfect reset to start the year. I feel more creative, inspired, and ready to show 2020 WHO I AM.

I went to Cuba for the first time about 10 years ago and when I tried to blog or access the internet, it was a no-go. If I could access, it was expensive and super slow. Luckily, things have improved a bit! With Telus EasyRoam, I was able to have full 3G/LTE and access my data plan from home for $12/day. It allowed me to keep up on emails and share my vacation via social media.


If you are looking for somewhere to go. Here are a couple of vacation spots I’ve been to and recommend.

Anamaya Resort, Costa Rica

A couple of years ago I took Sean to Costa Rica for a much needed digital detox. I absolutely LOVE Costa Rica, it’s my favourite country to visit (so far). Over the last decade, I stayed at Anamaya Resort twice for a full week of yoga and surfing. It’s located on the southern Nicoya Peninsula of Costa Rica, Pacific Ocean, near Montezuma, about 30min drive from Santa Teresa. If you are looking for a super relaxing getaway with great organic food, fitness, nice people, and a great vibe, go here. Highly recommend.

All-Inclusive in Mexico

One January, Sean and I spent a week in Cabo at Sheraton Los Cabos Hacienda Del Mar. The resort was really nice, beautiful beaches, buffet, spa, pools, and several restaurants on-site. We rented a jet ski in town, surfed a small beach, and went on a boat adventure. We really appreciated having (pretty good) wifi included in our stay. I’ve also been to Playa Del Carmen, Mexico which has a lot of beautiful resorts. Mexico is a nice winter getaway, just remember to be smart and safe.

Online Deal/Last Min Getaway

If you need to GTFO and soak up the sun ASAP, Cuba is pretty affordable. We stayed at an all-inclusive on the beach that had multiple pools, bars, restaurants. We went off the resort a couple of times to eat and overall each spent ~$100 the WHOLE WEEK. It was not fancy but I was grateful to be in warm air, sun, and sand.

There are some pretty good deals online today for Blue Monday. I highly recommend signing up for Rakuten before buying online because they are partners with TripAdvisor hotels.com, Expedia, a bunch of airways, and car rental companies. Save yourself some $ and get cashback on your purchases. I earned over $200 last year from stuff I bought online (hello, Amazon). I hope you find a good deal! I’m heading to breakfast with Sunwing at YD Square where they’re giving away a couple of trips today.


My next post in this series is STAYCATION and I’m excited to share about our awesome day with Hotel X Toronto this past weekend. Together we can beat SAD!

Casie Stewart, signature, iPad Pro.
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PHOTO DIARY: Cannes Film Festival 2019

I can hardly believe it’s almost TIFF! It feels like we were just in France for Cannes! After our trip to France, I was so incredibly tired, I’d spent most of May traveling or at conferences. I posted a few photos in this Telus post about our Cannes adventure but I wanted to share more about the experience so I don’t forget anything. It was a really cool experience!

From the moment I saw the red carpet and Cannes main building I was in awe. I’ve been watching celebrities grace that carpet my whole adult life! When I picked up my badge, I had this moment of “omg, we’re really doing this!”. I was there in charge of content for The Holy City, a film co-produced by Sean’s company, Occupied VR.

I loved walking the streets and people watching. Cannes is full of character with old cobble streets, beautiful beaches, a merry go round on the main strip, huge yachts lining the harbor, and bustling patios lining the sidewalks. I was happy to learn there are multiple Zara stores in case you have a wardrobe emergency and a tuxedo rental place if you need one a hurry.

A couple of my fav moments were walking out to paparazzi behind Elton John, walking past Chloë Sevigny, and seeing Tilda Swinton sauntering down the street in a gorgeous muumuu. She was stunning!

Each day we walked or took an Uber down to the festival building. In order to get inside, we had to pass security including bag search and badge check. We spent most our time on the first floor of the building in the XR Hub, on the film sales floor, or at the international pavilions.

XR Hub, Festival de Cannes 2019

The Holy City premiere was on the 2nd day of our trip so the rest of the time was showing it to industry people, doing demos, and taking meetings. I was in charge of social for the film so I spent a lot of time walking around documenting. Totally in my element!

International Pavillions, Festival de Cannes 2019

The Canada Pavillion was just outside the main building and a good spot to take a break, get a coffee, sit on the beach, or charge my phone. They hosted a mixer on one of the nights, it was great to see some other Canadians in film.

Croisette Beach, Cannes

I ate a lot of baguettes in the first few days. 🥖 After the novelty wore off, I was determined to find other options with less bread and butter lol. I imagine it might be a bit tough in France if you are vegan or vegetarian, lots of meat, cheese, and dairy.

We rented an Airbnb about a 15min walk from the main strip. It was a cute listing and had all the amenities we needed including a pull-out couch in the living room. That’s where I slept we had a big night our because I snore and move around a lot haha.

Bright 1-BR for 4, terrace+parking (apt 606)
Our Airbnb in Cannes

Our place was the top floor od the building with a huge terrace. It was a nice place to come back to in between long days of being at the festival and then going out at night.

View from our Airbnb, Cannes, France

We had a couple fun nights out! Similar to TIFF, there’s big parties by production companies or film studios and a lot of premiere parties. We attended the party for a film that was up for the Palme d’Or (Portrait of a Girl on Fire) after meeting the costume team at a bar on the street. So fun! One of the other hot spots was Petite Majestic, a small dive bar that took over the street when it got late with all kinds of people drinking and talking loudly. It was my fav place!

Sean and the guys went to a couple of big premieres. Getting tickets when you have a pass was kind of like a lottery were you requested admission from the login portal. It was so Sean to see him all dressed up. What a babe!

I stated home and ordered Uber eats including BEER. I love France. Europe is amazing. Maybe one day we will have this in Canada? He did check my ID before handing over the goods from his motorbike.

People were dressed up at all times of the day, there were tuxedos everywhere! Patios were lined with people smoking and drinking wine, even the McDonalds patio was full with tuxedos grabbing a quick snack. I wish I had a photo of them! 😩

There were also heaps of people dressed up looking for tickets to premieres with small handmade signs.

On the way home, we passed through Munich, Germany. Beautiful and clean airport, still can’t get over the smoking lounges though. Crazy!

Thankful for the experience to go to Cannes w/ Sean and work on the film. Hope we can get back to Cannes another time but if not, happy to check this off my bucket list!

We worked a lot but also had a few dinner dates and long walks under the stars. All around great time!


I’m excited for TIFF19! I’ve been to one pre-screening so far and have a couple more next week. Tomorrow I’ve got a pre-TIFF facial! I’ll be doing a wrap up of TIFF films & events in 2 weeks.

Making the most of summer until then! Have an amazing day!

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Found on Film: Memories from Bondi Beach, Australia

Casie Stewart at Bondi Beach

Last week I took a couple mystery disposable cameras to be developed and one was from Australia in 2004 while I was at university. It’s crazy to think how many apartments and places this camera has been. My life has changes to much but this year was such an important time of my life.

Let’s go back in time, this is pre-blog and social media, I was 21.


I decided to go to Australia because it was the furthest place away from Canada. I’d always felt a down under connection my family is from NZ and I am New Zealand citizen. My BFF Cheryl and I both had no idea wtf we wanted to do after college so this was a really great option. We could drag out school for another year, spent it in Australia (hello beaches & babes!), and turn our marketing diploma into a degree. Australia is just full of amazing beaches and the best way to experience them is to hire a campervan from somewhere like campervan hire Brisbane, so that you can park up metres away from the sand and sea. That way, you’ve always got everything you need and you save so much money on accommodation, as well as having some amazing views.

I think this exact day was the first time we went to Bondi Beach. These were taken at the top of the hill before you go around the bend and see the water. It’s so beautiful, if you haven’t been, I highly recommend it. One of the most beautiful and magical places. Cheryl and I ended up making friends with some people who lived in the white building overlooking Bondi Icebergs. There were so many internationals living there, it was like nothing I’d ever seen. So many people in their 20’s, different accents, young, hot, and having fun.

Cheryl and I eventually moved to Bondi from the suburb of Paramatta after finding a way to get out of our residence agreement. We went through two shitty apartments and worked part-time in different stores. My shop sold cute outfits on Hall Street and Cheryl worked at the shoe store down the road closer to the beach. I remember going into the kitchen in our second place and seeing the hugest cockroach in my life. Nobody ever cooked in there. Cheryl and I shared a bedroom with two beds, there were clothes everywhere. Through the magic of great scheduling we only had classes Monday-Wednesday, leaving us with plenty of time to spend all our money, make heaps of friends, and tan tits out on the topless beach. It really was A TIME.

When I think back to who I was then, I was so green, so new. I thought I had it together but when I got to Australia, realized I was really in for a real adventure. That year defined a lot of who I am today. It was the first time I was on my own, solely responsible (or irresponsible) for every decision I made. I made a lot of dumb choices, was bad with money, and drank too much but it was really fun. I learned so much about myself, what I wanted, who I was, where I wanted to go.

That’s the thing about growing up, nobody really knows what they’re doing at the time but if you know what you want, you can make a path in that direction.

It took me years to pay for university in Australia but even that taught me a few lessons. It was an investment well worth it. By studying in Australia, I learned so much outside the classroom about life, love, and taking chances.

I’m often not sure where my path is going on the day-to-day but I try to stay in line with my values. It was such a treat to find this camera and the photos brought back heaps of memories. Even before I had a blog I loved to document.

Here’s to digging up old memories and whatever the future may bring!

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