WoW Blog

A Fabulous Day at the Fairmont Empress!

November 24th, 2014

If you live in Victoria, we're sure you've been inside the Fairmont Empress. But you probably haven't been to the Vice Regal Suite, its most exquisite (and expensive!) room. And that's exactly where our WoW members got to network in November's event. We were pampered by their amazing catering, indulged by Willow Stream Spa, and encouraged to explore Canada's Castle on the Coast. Talk about being 'WoWed!'

And as if the Vice Regal Suite wasn't grand enough, Event Sponsor Magical Moments Decorating also used beautiful gold accents and decor to enhance the suite and make it even more spectacular. It was a morning of true luxury, and we were more than happy to enjoy this ultra-posh side of the Empress. After collaborating with our fellow WoW Members about ways to make our wedding businesses even better, we left this event relaxed and excited for the new year.

Networking with Friends ... and Fowl!

The only thing better than networking with our fellow WoW Members? Networking with fellow WoW members with stunning views of the Inner Harbour! We've developed many meaningful relationships over the year, and being able to mingle and catch up in such a premier location was really a treat.

In fact, it looked like such a fun time, that this little seagull stayed and watched the whole time - clearly, he knew this was a happening party, and he wanted in! We're thinking about making him an honorary member! Thanks to Member Anita Voorsluys from Willow Steam Spa for catching this fun pic.


High Treats

Of course, it wouldn't be a WoW Event if we didn't have some high-quality fare to nosh, and the Empress certainly delivered. Their High Tea is a must-do at least once in your life, and so we were more than happy to enjoy their exquisite coffee, special blends of teas, and delicate treats. The catering was exquisite. As we later learned from our Historical Tour Guide, Mandy Dray, The Empress has been serving traditional afternoon tea for 106 years, so they certainly know what they're doing! If you ever attend Afternoon Tea at the Empress, be sure to try some of these creations, which we can now all personally vouch for:

Mango & Curried Chicken on Dark Rye

Freshly Baked Scone with Strawberry Jam and Empress Cream

Lemon Curd Meringue Tart

Assorted Parson Macarons

Cucumber Sandwich with Saffron Loaf 

Since this was a morning event, we had to keep our drinks family friendly. But our hosts shared an old cocktail recipe from 1908. We think this would be so fun for your next Downton Abby viewing party, or any time you're feeling nostalgic.

Empress 1908 Cocktail

1 1/2 oz of Empress Tea Infused Vodka

3/4 oz fresh lemon juice

3/4 oz Simple Syrup

3/4 oz Egg White

Steep your favourite vodka with our Signature empress blend tea for 4 hours.

measure ingredients and shake vigorously with ice

strain into martini glass with a half sugar rim

 Pairs well with a mini scone


Journey Back in Time

We weren't just plied with fabulous finger food at the Empress. Our hosts also treated us to a fabulous historical presentation, offered by Mandy Dray of Walk Abouts Histoical Tours. The Empress is 106 years old, and Mandy brought us right back to its early days. We were regaled with the hotel's eventful history, including gossip about its famous guests and wealthy residents, and stories about the dramatic rise and fall of its famous architect, Francis Rattenbury. Mandy normally takes guests on 90 minute tours, but she was kind enough to accommodate us with a shorter, WoW-only presentation. And she certainly left us rapt and wanting more!

Like Mandy says, 'if these walls could only talk, the stories they could tell” We especially loved learning about the 'Dowagers' who really gave the hotel a lot of its character. These wealthy widows from England would steam-ship their way to Canada and end up enraptured with the Empress, some extending their stays for up to 40 years. We can certainly think of worse things than taking up residence in this amazing landmark!

Mandy's Tours take place May to October, and they really bring the Afternoon Tea experience to life. After experiencing one first hand, we'll be recommending her to any Empress fans looking to learn more about its unique and storied history. 

Great Solutions to Common Problems

After all the fun and games, we Wowies know how to get down to business. And November's event might have been our biggest brainstorming session yet. Prior to the event, we'd asked members to come with their burning questions, about their biggest business challenges. Part of our WoW mandate is to support our member's growth, so networking about our most important issues was a great way to finish the morning.

After identifying our most common, shared problems, we split into groups of 5. From there we worked together to come up with creative solutions. And oh, to be a fly on the wall – the conversations were so engaging, and since we're all wedding industry professionals, we were all familiar with each other's issues. After our lively discussions, we reconvened to share our solutions.

The 5 challenges we explored were: Pricing, Competition and Brand Awareness, Client Education, Staffing Issues (especially with Part-Time Staff), and Marketing. Stay tuned to the blog, as we'll be sharing our solutions over the coming months! 

Final Hurrahs

This was an extra special time for WoW to be at the Empress. First, you might have heard the buzz around their new holiday skating rink. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to check it out first hand, before its grand opening. Magical and enticing, the rink is now open to the public, and we hope you'll get down for a gorgeous afternoon with your family or a romantic date with your significant other.

For a sneak peak, here's a photo taken by Member Nicole Forbes, from Joe the Bartender Ltd. & Connoisseur Catering, who shared it on Twitter and her company's Facebook page:

Our Event also corresponded with the announcement the Empress is now under the new ownership of Nat Bosa, a Vancouver-based developer with big plans for the hotel. What a treat to be there on such an historic day.

And finally, like always, we never leave our WoW Events empty-handed. Jo Ann Hirschi of Tiers of Joy was the delighted winner of a Spa Gift Basket. And we all left with a gift certificate to the Willow Stream Spa, which we're sure will come in handy over the often stressful holiday season. And our famous Empress Tea should keep us on our toes, too!

Thanks again to our three amazing Showcase Sponsors: The Fairmont Empress, the Willow Stream Spa, and Magical Moments Decorating. They put on a truly memorable event. And thanks to photographer Matthew Schlauch from Snap Magazine, for showcasing our event so beautifully.

Finally, with the holidays just around the corner, we hope Members will mark their calendars for December 9. We're excited to be hosting our holiday bash at the Sandman Hotel Victoria, and if last year's party is any indication, it's going to be a great time, with lots of dancing, prizes, and a special gift for all WoW Members in attendance! Get your dates ready!


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