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Vegans give Island thumbs up

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Friendly residents, beautiful beaches and great vegan food got Bermuda a thumbs-up from Canadian bloggers.

Justin Ceksters and Lauren Yakiwchuk have travelled all over North America and the Caribbean, detailing their experiences on their food blog, justinpluslauren.com.

Their trip to Bermuda came courtesy of My Destination Story, a competition by Fairmont Hotels.

The couple's travel video about Ontario earned them a stay at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess and a spot in the semi-finals.

Their review of the Island — and the top-ten things they learned on their visit — can be read on their blog.

“To become one of the 42 semi-finalists we created a travel video about our home in Dundas, Ontario,” said Miss Yakiwchuk. “We didn't know much about Bermuda, but when we got there we fell in love. We were only there for four days, but we made the most of it.”

The television editors were outfitted with Go Pro cameras and urged to film their Bermuda trip to win the final competition.

They were beaten by a video of a stay at the Fairmont Mayakoba Hotel on the Riviera Maya in Mexico.

“Justin and I brought the camera everywhere with us, capturing many amazing moments,” Miss Yakiwchuk said.

They explored the beaches, took surfing lessons, sampled vegan food options available and took an eco-adventure tour with Hidden Gems of Bermuda.

“Sometimes tours can be hit or miss,” said Miss Yakiwchuk. “You get crammed into a tour bus with dozens of other tourists, carted around from place to place without enough time to explore the sights completely.

“Thankfully, this was not the case at all with Hidden Gems of Bermuda. In fact, I can confidently state that it was the best tour that we've ever taken.

“The concept of the Hidden Gems tour completely piqued our interests: an all-inclusive, fully interactive, island eco-tour where we would explore many off-the-beaten-path destinations. It sure sounded good to us.”

They were impressed by how friendly Bermudians were to them.

“Everyone was so nice,” said Miss Yakiwchuk. “And everyone says good morning and good afternoon. You don't get that where we live.”

Roydell Neverson, the Fairmont Hamilton Princess's director of rooms, said she was delighted that the couple had a good time.

“They stayed in our newly renovated Poinciana Wing and raved about the beautiful sunset they enjoyed from their balcony,” she said. “We wish them both the best.”

The couple initially started their blog to help other vegans find great meals when they travelled.

They've had 200,000 page views since they started it in 2013; their blog was recently nominated for Best Canadian Blog in the 2015 Weblog Awards.

The grand prize for the winning video was a round trip airfare for two and a seven-night stay in the winner's choice of 12 Fairmont hotels in Bermuda, Canada, the United States, Barbados and Mexico.

The prize was worth $5,850. The contest was only open to legal residents of Canada and the United States.

Island fans: Vegan bloggers Justin Ceksters and Lauren Yakiwchuk outside Cafe Eden on Front Street
Vegan blogger Lauren Yakiwchuk at 1609 Bar and Restaurant at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.
Justin Ceksters sampling the food at 1609 Bar and Restaurant at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess.
<p>Steakhouse a surprise hit</p>

Most people don’t go to a steakhouse looking for a vegan meal.

Canadians Justin Ceksters and Lauren Yakiwchuk ended up at Red Steakhouse and Bar one night and it turned out to be their best dining experience in Bermuda. “The concierge at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess was good at finding places for us to go,” said Miss Yakiwchuk. “He hooked us up to Red Steakhouse. That was funny because we didn’t expect to find vegan food there.”

It turned out that Red Steakhouse had vegetarian but not vegan meals. However, the couple was impressed by how easily the restaurant altered the menu.

“The meal was beautifully prepared and I was surprised because the chef hadn’t cooked a lot of vegan before,” said Miss Yakiwchuk.

Red Steakhouse bar manager Somers Carr, said: “We try very hard to make sure we can please everyone. I wouldn’t say we get many vegans, but we try to accommodate. Red Steakhouse doesn’t exactly sound like a vegan-friendly restaurant, but we pride ourselves on pleasing our customers.”

The couple also praised vegetarian eatery Cafe Eden on King Street. “We loved their smoothies,” said Miss Yakiwchuk.

Other restaurants mentioned include the Black Horse Tavern and 1609 Bar and Restaurant.

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Published March 20, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated March 20, 2015 at 4:11 pm)

Vegans give Island thumbs up

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