It’s the height of summer and everyone in the city is escaping. To the beach. To the lake. We take the opposite approach and head directly into the heart of the city with a weekend escape at the Delta Winnipeg Hotel. No wrangling kids at the lake. No packing snacks, sunscreen and shovels for the beach. Just endless possibilities for escape…
Escape to comfort
Like the entire hotel from top to bottom, our room is recently renovated – it is modern and huge! As any parent who finds themselves childless for a night would agree – that king size bed is just begging to be slept in. Sleeping in is a luxury that pretty much doesn’t exist in our world, but it does in the Delta’s world, and those crisp hotel sheets and fluffy hotel pillows do not disappoint. And even though the hotel seems pretty full – of families, of groups of friends young and old, of couples like us escaping the daily grind – we don’t hear a thing.
Escape to the roof
Not everyone knows the Delta has a roof-top pool. I can actually see it from my office, so instead of looking at it longingly from my desk, I look at it longingly from the balcony of our room. With the mercury climbing to 32 degrees, it’s time to forget looking and dive right in. Ahhhh, that feels good!
And you know what feels even better? When Ansoo brings us a couple of drinks (and don’t be fooled by the Starbucks cups, that’s no iced tea!). We hoped to go for an evening swim as the outdoor pool closes at dusk, but we didn’t make it back in time. We did concoct a scheme that involved jumping from the balcony and scaling down a wall, but we didn’t have quite enough of those “Starbucks drinks” to give us that kind of chutzpah.
Escape to culture
Since this is a kid-free getaway, we’re looking to increase our cultural intake and we’re surrounded by options. We contemplate checking out Olympus at the Winnipeg Art Gallery or hitting up the Exchange District to take in the action at the Cube in Old Market Square. In the end, we choose the Dalnavert Museum, just two blocks from the hotel.
The newly reopened and restored period home was once owned by Sir Hugh John MacDonald, former premier of Manitoba and son of Sir John A. MacDonald, Canada’s first prime minister. We walk in expecting to wander the house on our own, instead we’re delighted when Mary emerges to give us a detailed tour, pointing out unique items, like a mustache cup and mustache curler – they loved their mustaches back in the day! She also tells us the stories connected to the house, its inhabitants and its contents – including how a table is linked to the North West rebellion and why Sir Hugh’s compassion for the less fortunate is the reason there is a door in the basement. Mary tells us the architect called this “a perfect family home”, and I agree, with its spacious rooms, indoor plumbing and electricity, not all that common for a house built in 1895. The attached visitor center has a gift shop with giftware, artwork and jewellery.
Escape to the river
We descend to the Riverwalk through McFadyen Park, and watch as a boats cruise by and people of all walks of life stroll along the banks of the Assiniboine River. There are guys fishing and a woman who climbs aboard a water bus, heading back towards The Forks.
But we head in the opposite direction towards the statue of the “Father of Manitoba”, Louis Riel, and the Legislative Building. We snap a few selfies in front of the fountain and I share a few snippets from the Hermetic Code Tour, an awesome tour I went on recently that exposes the secrets of this impressive building.
Escape to deliciousness
Since our home base at the Delta is in a central downtown location, we could have easily made our way to the Exchange District or to The Forks to sample some of Winnipeg’s incredible culinary scene. Instead, we decide to go local, as local as you can get, with drinks and apps at the adjoining Elephant & Castle and a Manitoba-themed meal at the hotel’s Blaze Restaurant. Both restaurants also got a makeover and the ambiance of the pub is darkly elegant, while the Blaze’s contemporary feel has a prairie twist, its artwork showing off the big skies of the heartland.
I can tell you that the Northern Lights taste like peach and watermelon and the Golden Boy is sweet as honey with a twist of lime. Also, arctic char and Saskatoon berries make an incredible combination and the tomato jam, made in house by Chef Phil, tastes as good on steak as it does in an omelette.
Escape to the SHED
Not a shed, the SHED – the Sports, Hospitality and Entertainment District. Anchored by the loudest arena in the NHL, the MTS Centre is hosting Marvel Universe Live, which explains all the pint sized super heroes in the hotel lobby.
We hit up the Shark Club, the sophisticated sports bar and gaming centre. I try to grasp how roulette works and we think we hit it big at the slots when the machine becomes a full sensory experience. Instead we win just $1.35, but have a lot of fun doing it.
Escape to reality
As the weekend comes to a close, we reluctantly check out of the hotel, savouring our last moments of freedom (and quiet!) by taking in the history and architecture of St. Mary’s Cathedral located right across the street from the Delta. Built in 1881, this church has seen downtown Winnipeg rise around it. It’s surprisingly bright inside with impressive mid-century modern stained glass adding pops of colour. As the church bells toll, it’s a signal that our summer city escape has come to an end and it’s time to get back to reality. For now – maybe we’ll need a fall city escape, followed by a winter and spring city escape, too!