A Greener Getaway: A Sustainable Day Trip from the City to the Countryside
If you prefer the hustle and bustle of the city, does it mean the serene tranquility of the countryside is beyond your reach? Do road trips have to be gas-guzzling, or is there a greener way to travel? Can luxury living and eco-consciousness go hand-in-hand?
Toronto has just been named one of the top 25 best cities in the world to live and work in the prestigious World’s Best Cities by Resonance Consultancy, making it the highest-ranking city in Canada. This study evaluates metropolitan areas with more than one million in population around the world based on their Livability (walkability score, biking routes, landmarks, and airport connectivity), Lovability (nightlife, restaurants, shopping, attractions, and Instagram hashtags) and Prosperity (educational attainment, labour force participation and GDP per capita).
Concord CityPlace is the largest master-planned community in Toronto, with 30 residential towers, 120,000 square-feet of retail, an eight-acre park, library, schools, and a community centre; it is an urban oasis culminating the best of Toronto. While the city has much to offer, sometimes you want a change of scenery as well. This led to the trio of questions above— whether downtown living means giving up access to the countryside, if day trips can be a green journey, and is sustainable luxury an oxymoron.
To answer these questions, I took out a Tesla and embarked on a lovely day trip from Concord CityPlace in the heart of the city of Toronto, to the fabled Langdon Hall Country House Hotel & Spa in Cambridge, Ontario.
Not only did I enjoy a lovely meal at their restaurant, which was recently awarded Restaurant of the Year by Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants, I also enjoyed a lovely manicure at the Spa, honoured as Best Luxury Spa by Luxury Lifestyle Awards. More importantly, I curbed my carbon footprint by driving an electric vehicle, and thanks to the wonderful EV infrastructure at Concord as well as at my destination, getaways can be eco-friendly in so many ways.
Concord's Sustainability Story
Concord has always been eponymous with sustainability and innovation. If you missed the story on this blog about Concord Green Energy’s contribution to sustainable communities, you can check it out here. Planning for infrastructure needs and requirements of Canadians has always been a cornerstone to Canada’s first urban master-planned community builder.
Concord now has over a $1 billion portfolio in wind, hydroelectric, and solar assets generating power across Canada. With eight solar and four wind projects in Ontario and other green energy projects of scale in other provinces, Concord generates more than enough energy to power 175,000 electric vehicles annually.
Its dedication to eco-conscious living, especially with EVs, is evident in every facet of its developments. In 2009, Concord made headlines when the Cosmo building in downtown Vancouver became the first condo in Canada to embrace electric vehicle charging. Then in 2021, Concord’s Central development became Ontario’s first residential building to offer 100% EV parking. Today, King’s Landing boasts the highest number of EV charging stations in any Ontario condo.
The new Concord Sky will also be offering 100% quick charge parking stalls. At close to 1,000 feet tall, it is an iconic addition to the downtown Toronto cityscape, and a big step towards sustainable infrastructure and future living.
Tesla X 2023: an Epitome of Luxury and Green Mobility
Our trusty steed for this adventure is none other than the Tesla X 2023. It is instantly recognizable for its sleek design, especially the panoramic windshield and the cool falcon wing doors. For a road trip, the impressive charging range of approximately 565 km on a single full charge means drivers can venture out from the city with confidence.
Another favourite feature of new model is the ability to configure the car into a seven-seater, with enough room in each row for adults as well. Also, I am impressed with the abundance of storage space. With a trunk and a frunk, there is enough room for everyone’s coats and bags and everything else you want to bring for your road trip, such as extra cables—you never know when they might come in handy when you are travelling.
Last, but not least: Caraoke! Tesla’s version of karaoke allows you to play and sing some of the most popular karaoke songs, right in your car. It displays song lyrics directly on the screen without interfering with any critical information the driver needs to drive safely.
Ready, Sat-Nav, Go!
As I embarked on my eco-friendly journey, the Tesla X 2023 revealed itself as the perfect travel companion. Its state-of-the-art GPS system simplified trip planning, ensuring a smooth and hassle-free adventure whether exploring the towns and cities along the 401, embracing winter’s beauty on nearby ski slopes, or checking out the tech hubs of Kitchener-Waterloo.
What sets the Tesla’s GPS system apart is its intelligence. It considers factors like elevation changes, weather conditions, and traffic to estimate energy consumption and suggest ideal charging stops. This dynamic system minimizes range anxiety, allowing you to focus on enjoying the journey.
Navigating the 100-km journey from Concord CityPlace to Langdon Hall was effortless, courtesy of the Tesla’s intuitive touchscreen interface. Not only does it offer precise turn-by-turn directions, but it also provides real-time information on nearby charging stations. With just a few taps, the course was charted. The system showed that the vehicle would have 48% power remaining by the time I get to my destination, and knowing that there were charging stations at Langdon Hall meant complete peace of mind.
Arriving at Langdon Hall: a new meaning to R & R
As I pulled into the roundabout at the front of the stately mansion, I was greeted promptly and courteously. Seeing that I was driving a Tesla, I was directed to the EV parking spots, which to my delight, were located closer to the main house than the others. As I plugged in the car, a thought came to me: with EV travelling, the term “R & R” has a new meaning—it is not just rest and recuperation, but “relax and recharge” as well, both for the car and the humans.
A Sanctuary of Heritage and Luxury
Langdon Hall, a Relais & Chateaux property, is known for its grounds, its dining experience as well as its spa. This landmark of elegance traces its roots to the early 19th century. Originally a private estate, it was transformed in the 1980s into the prestigious luxury hotel and spa we know today.
Since I had a bit of time before our lunch reservation, I decided to explore the gardens first. Langdon Hall’s famous garden dates back to the early 20th century, and forms an integral part of the property’s identity. A favourite backdrop for wedding photos and outdoor parties, it features meticulously designed landscapes, including manicured lawns, vibrant flowerbeds, and tranquil ponds. It was designed by John Charles Olmsted, son of Fredrick Law Olmsted, who designed New York’s Central Park.
Savouring Sustainability in the Gardens
As I strolled along the gravel pathways dividing the geometric beds, I noticed jet black tomatoes growing among marigolds and—wait—onions? What appears like a formal garden at first glance is actually a mixed planting of herbs vegetables and ornamentals. As I was marvelling at the incredible combination, I met Assistant Head Gardener Reynard Lohleit.
He explained to me that Langdon Hall places a strong emphasis on sustainable and organic gardening practices. They grow their own herbs, vegetables, and edible flowers for use in the restaurant, contributing to a farm-to-table dining experience. He even pulled a plump purple carrot right out of the ground for me to taste. The sweetness was incomparable to store bought ones.
In the past two years, they have added fruit trees, and he highly recommends the golden raspberries, which are bigger and sweeter than the red variety.
A Delectable Guilt-free Dining Experience
Many come to Langdon Hall just for the dining experience. This comes at no surprise, as executive chef Jason Bangerter has made the restaurant an international dining destination since he took over the kitchen reins 10 years ago, winning one prestigious award after another.
I was particularly impressed by his dedication to support and develop sources for sustainable, responsibly produced ingredients. As a Feast On certified partner, Chef Bangerter is a champion for Ontario products by ensuring 80% of all food and drink in the restaurant is sourced locally from Ontario. The commitment to quality and sustainability still shows when sourcing ingredients beyond Ontario. As a long-time Ocean Wise partner, every seafood item on the menu is an ocean-friendly choice.
The appetizers were as much a feast for the eyes as for the tastebuds. The sweet meat of lobster was arranged artfully on white onion soubise, coriander and sauce verge. The smokiness of cured trout juxtaposed with the freshness of cucumber jus and sweet honeydew.
Entree choices included a vegetarian risotto, poached scallops with red pepper jus, king salmon with wild leek, poussin with foraged mushrooms and braised Ontario lamb with garlic confit.
The waiter tempted me with their dessert menu, but I had to regretfully decline, as it was almost time for my spa appointment. Note to self: I must try the mille feuille whole fruit chocolate pastry with London Fog tea ice cream next time.
Slow Beauty at the Spa
A visit to the spa is a must in order to truly immerse oneself in Langdon’s peaceful country oasis. They are one of few spas in Ontario to offer facials using Valmont products, and the Swiss brand is renowned for its anti-aging prowess. The use of rare and precious Alpine ingredients also ensures a pampering experience like no other.
For manicures and pedicures, they use SpaRitual products, which are made with all vegan ingredients sourced with organic essential oils and extracts. Free of synthetic dyes, parabens and petrochemicals, it offers a clean beauty experience that feels luxurious at the same time. They even gave me a care package after the treatment, with a file, a nail buffer, and the bottle of polish that was opened especially for me.
You can also add a Sound of Colour Therapy to your mani and pedi. This unique experience merges the beauty ritual with the practice of meditation using a special audio device, integrating beauty, health and wellness.
Heading Home: A Reflective Conclusion
After the elegant lunch at the main house and a relaxing manicure at the spa, it was time for me to head back to the city. My Tesla was already fully-charged. The GPS told me my return trip was exactly 100 km and would take one and a half hours and less than half of my battery capacity.
And I was not joking about the relax and recharge. Even though I encountered a bit of rush hour traffic, the drive was quite enjoyable, especially since the fall colours were just about to begin. Yes, a journey is not just about reaching a destination; for me, today’s mini getaway was about embracing a lifestyle where luxury and sustainability elegantly coexist.
Concord’s commitment to eco-conscious living, innovations in electric car designs and the and the availability of EV charging infrastructures meant that we can all explore the world guilt-free, knowing that luxury and environmental responsibility can go hand in hand.