This year we will again travel to beautiful British Columbia for High Tea and a full day of sightseeing. You will want to wear your finest frock (the Empress and the Gardens have a dress code) and of course a beautiful hat. An extra bag is suggested to carry walking shoes. When we disembark from the Coho ferry we can engage one of Victoria's finest horsedrawn carriages and tour the area, or arrange a cab to convey us 14mi. north to the Gardens. After Tea you can sight see, shop the wonderful downtown Victoria, or take in the Gardens. Contact the Victoria Trip coordinator if you have questions.
The Jewel of the Pacific, The Empress is one of Victoria's highlights. Cresting the city's Inner Harbour, this 460-room hotel was built in the Edwardian style and recently restored to its original grandeur, with antique furniture and luxurious decor. Considered to be the most photographed attraction on Vancouver Island, The Empress was originally designed by Francis Rattenbury, and opened in 1908.
Rising regally on the banks of Victoria's Inner Harbour, the Empress is the symbolic centrepiece of Victoria and conveniently located adjacent to the Convention Centre, Parliament Buildings, Royal British Columbia Museum, shops and local sites. The hotel has long been accustomed to entertaining Hollywood celebrities; Rita Hayworth, Jack Benny, Pat O'Brien, Douglas Fairbanks, Katherine Hepburn, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Tallulah Bankhead, Roger Moore, John Travolta, Barbara Streisand, Harrison Ford and a host of others have passed through its lobby.
In true British tradition, the hotel is famous for its elegant Afternoon Tea - served to over 75,000 visitors annually! Savour tea in the finest tradition, accompanied by berries and Chantilly cream, scones, crumpets, preserves, sandwiches, pastries and tarts, all served with silver service in the main lobby!
The Butchart Gardens is one of the world's premier floral show gardens. Jennie Butchart began to shape this magnificent landscape in 1904. She established, in the style of the grand estates of the period, several distinct gardens to evoke a range of aesthetic experiences. An abandoned limestone quarry was transformed into the dramatic Sunken Garden, a reflection of the early 20th-century beautification movement and an exceptional achievement in Canadian gardening history. Through successive generations of the Butchart family, The Gardens has retained much of its original design, and continues the Victorian tradition of seasonally changing the outstanding floral displays covering more than twenty acres!!.
Due to increased border security requirements, you WILL REQUIRE at least a PASSPORT or an ENHANCED DRIVERS LICENSE for Customs and Immigration. The Coho Ferry fare is about $16.50 each way. The Empress High Tea is about $59 CAD, the Gardens Tea is $30 CAD. Separate Garden admission is $29. A carriage ride is about $21.00 per person. Cab fare is $45 one way (divided 4-5 passengers). We will meet in the Registration Area around 7:30 AM. Note that a small US border entry fee may apply to non-US citizens (see Travel Information, Traveling Across the Border).
In 2004 when the Esprit ladies returned to The Empress after a one year absence, the group was approached at the front door by a sturdy man in a blue blazer and an earphone hanging out of his ear. He inquired "Are you from Emerald City?" and uncertain of his intent, the trip organizer Debra Darling simply answered "yes". He then proceeded to explain how The Empress lamented the ladies' absence the previous year and he escorted the ladies in for a fine afternoon of tea.
The Esprit Ascot is the highlight of Tuesday's activities. This lively and exciting event is your chance to recreate the adventuresome fashions of a day at the races.