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GIRLS GETAWAY AT THE FANTASYLAND HOTEL

Author: Heather Egger

Heather scribbles stories by moonlight in Edmonton. Every summer Sunday, you’ll find her out in the countryside chasing two muddy-puddled preschoolers. Cuddled up by a log cabin fireplace in Jasper is her happy place and good food is her passion.

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Check into your favourite illusion at the Fantasyland Hotel then head out into West Edmonton Mall – the largest indoor shopping and entertainment complex in North America – to eat, swim, slide, ride and shop, shop, shop. Having everything right at your fingertips means more time for shoe shopping and all that other fun, too. On our girl’s getaway, my mom, daughter and I explored, played and shopped the mall all day – then lounged under Tiki-lights in our PJs, until the little one’s eyes grew heavy and she fell asleep in Nana’s arms.

Stay a World Away

The hotel is famous for its theme rooms with beds in igloos, trains and trucks – and whole floors that transport travellers to ancient Rome, the Wild West and glamorous Hollywood. Stay in an African safari room with bamboo bunk beds, drift away in a desert oasis in an Arabian nights suite or hop aboard the Canadian Rail theme to sleep in a replica rail car. Choose a corner family suite with separate bedrooms and a Jacuzzi nook dressed up with a volcano or Roman statue of Venus.

We chose the Polynesian theme, so the hallways on our floor were lined with red and green geckos and tall wooden idols standing guard – and our room had cool details like wild-eyed Tiki night-lights and a grass hut roof. Our room also had a deep luxurious soaker tub and cozy sitting area next to big windows for doing each other’s nails over coffee in the morning – and for a well-deserved Mai Tai at night.

Shop, Play, Shop

With more than 800 stores and services right outside your door, you’ll be out early to explore one of the ten biggest malls in the whole world. Bring your own stroller or rent a car-shaped one at guest services – at 5.3 million square feet, the mall is the size of a small city and little legs will need to ride. You’ll discover exclusive shops, brand-name designer fashions, one-of-a-kind boutiques and lots of shoes, glorious shoes!

Staying here, you’ll also have plenty of time to play around in the mall’s nine family attractions. After a nap – another wonderful reason to have a room in the mall – go glow-in-the-dark mini-golfing, ride the upside-down rollercoaster, watch the sea lions slide and dive, and descend into the undersea aquarium. In the gigantic indoor waterpark, take a zip-line across the huge wave pool and catch an endless wave on the Tsunami surfing machine.

Eat on Bourbon St.

The hotel has a café in the lobby, a lounge and restaurant on the second floor and room service available too. Or wander past the life-size pirate ship to Bourbon Street for dinner – one of the mall’s theme streets with a Vegas-style twinkling night sky, comedy and nightclubs, a piano bar and lots of family-friendly restaurants. If you’re still game after supper, the stores are open until nine most nights, the bowling alley is open late or just head back to the room for a soothing Jacuzzi – and a Mai Tai. You’ve earned it.

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