This year, I’ve been all about intentional travel that allows me to explore new places while living softly. From the moment my plane touched down at Victoria International Airport, I sensed that my stay at the Fairmont Empress would be unlike any other. A personal driver greeted me in a plush Lincoln. I was whisking away to what I can only describe as a real-life version of a grand estate from Bridgerton. As we pulled up to the Fairmont Empress, with its castle-like architecture and manicured grounds, I felt utterly royal. 

Luxe Living with Fairmont Gold

Fairmont Gold / Fairmont Empress
Photo Credit: @fairmontempress / Instagram

Upon arrival, I was guided to a special Fairmont Gold reception. If you’re unfamiliar with Fairmont Gold, it’s essentially the epitome of hospitality. It begins the moment you arrive. You are granted exclusive access to a private Fairmont Gold lounge and a team of concierges. The team is ready to personalize your stay to the finest detail.

The lounge itself is marvelous, blending modern luxury with historical details that tell tales of the property’s rich past. From the exposed brick archways to the elegant fireplace, the lounge makes guests feel at home. The lounge also boasts a residential-style pantry with marvelous marble islands. Each day, the lounge serves daily deluxe breakfast, afternoon sweets and tea, evening canapés and a full-service honor bar.

Culinary Delights at Q at the Empress

Q at the Empress / Fairmont Empress
Photo Credit: @qattheempress / Instagram

After freshening up from my travels, I headed to the property’s restaurant, Q at the Empress. The restaurant offers a menu that caters to every palate, including vegan- and vegetarian-friendly options. My culinary journey began with Roasted Saanich Organic Carrots, a dish that highlighted local produce. It featured an elegant blend of whipped sesame tofu and black garlic puree. For my main course, I enjoyed the Quinoa Zucchini Croquette.

A Garden Paradise: The Butchart Gardens 

The Butchart Gardens / Victoria, B.C.
Photo Credit: @thebutchartgardens / Instagram

A private driver awaited me in another plush Lincoln and drove about 30 minutes to the majestic Butchart Gardens. The gardens offer a surreal escape with five unique landscapes: the Rose Garden, Sunken Garden, Italian Garden, Mediterranean Garden and Japanese Garden. Each transported you to different corners of the world. It was the perfect place to spend an early afternoon wandering through nature.

An Ode to Empress Gin at Victoria Distillers

Empress Gin / Fairmont Empress / Victoria Distillers
Photo Credit: @vicdistillers / Instagram

After returning from the gardens, I headed to Victoria Distillers, where I tasted their iconic Empress 1908 Gin. It is inspired by the Fairmont Empress. It’s not just gin. It’s a sensory experience featuring a blend of black tea, grapefruit peel, and butterfly pea blossom. Located on the waterfront in Sidney, the views at Victoria Distillers are unmatched.

A Royal Spa Day

Back at the Fairmont Empress, I spent the rest of my afternoon unwinding at their luxurious spa. The Empress 1908 Experience I chose was an all-encompassing treatment. It involved a luxurious 20-minute bath infused with earthly minerals and antioxidant-rich butterfly pea flowers, an invigorating Juniper oil massage and a scalp and foot scrub. 

Sunset Sips: An Evening of Sophistication

Sunset Sips / Fairmont Empress
Photo Credit: @fairmontempress / Instagram

I partook in Sunset Sips, a unique cocktail and culinary experience that blended the decorum of the hotel’s iconic high tea with the vivacity of a 1920s speakeasy. There are also savory and sweet treats to indulge in before or after dinner. I savored the vegan mushroom pâté, grilled avocado and heirloom tomato tartine and gluten-free tapioca violet mousse.

The Final Touch: A Classic Afternoon Tea

Fairmont Empress High Tea
Photo Credit: Fairmont Empress

On my final day, I felt like an absolute princess while enjoying the property’s renowned afternoon tea. This century-old tradition makes you feel like a part of history. I sipped on the Empress Blend tea and sampled an array of savory sandwiches, scones and sweet treats.