Frequently Asked Questions and Things You Need to Know
Q. What do you mean by "self-catering" apartments?
A. A self-catering apartment means that it is fully equipped so that our guests can be completely independent. We do not provide maid or laundry services (except by special request for an additional charge) and our guests look after all of their own needs.
Q. Exactly where in Victoria are your apartments located?
.-Terrace Suite, Urban Suite, Southside Suite, Panorama Suite, City View Suite, Horizon Suite and the Valhalla Suite are all located in the beautiful Astoria Building located on Farfield between Douglas and Blanchard only two blocks from the inner harbour
- Market Loft Suite is located on the corner of Douglas and Fisgard in the historic Hudson Bay Building
- City Harbourside Suite is located on the Upper Harbour in a building called Mermaid Whart, at 409 Swift Street, 2 blocks west of Chinatown and 3 blocks west of Victoria's Old Town area.
- City Vibe, Victoria Harmony and Zen Garden Suites are located at 601 Herald Street, just one block north of Chinatown.
- Fusion Suite is located in the Union Building 528 Pandora Street and 516 Fisgard Street and bridge an entire block betwwen Old Town and Chinatown.
- Arta Suite is located on Yates St. between Douglas and Blanchard in the heart of downtown Victoria
Q. What is the easiest way to get to downtown Victoria?
A. That depends on where you’re coming from and how you’re traveling. If you’re travelling from Seattle as a foot passenger your best bet is to catch the Victoria clipper, which leaves from downtown Seattle and arrives in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. The main downtown area is just a 5 minute walk from the Clipper Terminal.
If you’re flying from either Vancouver or Seattle you can travel by float plane. From Vancouver check out Harbour Air http://www.harbour-air.com, from Seattle check out Kenmore Air http://www.kenmoreair.com Both airlines touch down in the Inner Harbour, it's about a 2 minute walk to the main downtown area.
If you’re driving from Seattle you can take the scenic drive to Port Angeles and then drive on to the M.V. Coho, which docks in Victoria’s Inner Harbour, just a few blocks from the downtown area, or you can travel via the Washington State Ferry from Anacortes to Sidney (40 minutes north of Victoria and WSF schedule is seasonal).
If you're travelling from YVR, Vancouver Airport, downtown Vancouver, the interior of BC or from Seattle and other points in the Pacific Northwest, you can travel on the BC Ferry from Tswwassen to Swartz Bay either by car, as a foot passenger, or on Pacific Coach Lines bus from downtown Vancouver or the Vancouver Airport. The PCL bus depot is located in downtown Victoria. If travelling as a foot passenger you can take a city transit bus, #70 which will drop you off right outside the Astoria.
Q. Where do the ferries dock?
A. The B.C. Ferries Terminal is located at Swartz Bay, which is about a 45 minute drive from downtown Victoria.
The Washington State Ferry from Anacortes docks in Sidney, which is about a 40-minute drive from downtown Victoria.
The MV Coho from Port Angeles, Washington docks in Victoria's Inner Harbour, 2 blocks from downtown Victoria.
The Victoria Clipper from Seattle, Washington docks in Victoria's Inner Harbour, 3 blocks from downtown Victoria.
Q. How big are your vacation rental suites?
A.Our suites vary from approximately 525 square feet for a studio, to approximately 700 square feet for a one bedroom, to approximately 900 square feet for a one bedroom and den to approximately 1,100 square feet for a two bedroom and den.
Q. Do your suites have laundry facilities?
A. Yes, all of our apartments have complete en-suite laundry facilities.
Q. Do you provide parking at your apartments?
A. Yes, you are provided with one, free, reserved parking spot
Q. Is there anywhere nearby where I can buy groceries?
A. Yes. There are a couple of 24 hour convenience stores located near to our properties and there are a couple of full supermarkets (Thrifty Foods and The Market on Yates) both are within a few minutes drive from the apartments.
Q. Do you allow pets in your suites?
A. We do have several "dog friendly: suites, but due to allergy concerns of other guests we do not permit pets in other of our apartments.
Q. What kinds of things are there to do that are close to your suitess?
A. There are so many activities it’s almost impossible to list them all…but here are a few that are just a few blocks away from our vacation rental apartments:
- Visit the Royal British Columbia Museum.
- Tour the B.C. Legislative Building.
- Take the kids to the Victoria Bug Zoo.
- Visit The Land of the Little People.
- Have afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel.
- Stroll along Government Street (Victoria’s main tourist strip).
- Picnic in Beacon Hill park, just a few minutes walk from the apartments.
- Take a walk along the Dallas Road waterfront, about a 10-20 minute walk (5-10 minute drive) from the apartments.
- Do some downtown shopping, or your banking on Douglas Street.
- Visit the main branch of the Victoria Public Library.
- Attend a live performance event at the Royal Theatre, McPherson Theatre, Alex Gooldin Concert Hall, Metro Theatre.
- Go to a movie at the Odeon or Empire Theatres.
- See the buskers and watch the water-based activities at the Inner Harbour.
- Visit ChinaTown
- Stroll along the streets of Old Town, including the LoJo Fashion District, Market Square and Bastion Square
- Cruise the Harbour waterways on a Victoria Harbour Ferry
Q. What About Refund Policies and Trip Cancellation?
A. Vacation properties are often booked many months in advance and the property will be held for your use during your trip. When the property is being held for you, it obviously cannot be rented to someone else. Therefore, like cruise, tour packages and airline tickets, when booking/reserving a vacation rental home, you will usually need to make a full or partial payment upfront in order to hold the property. Normally this is not a problem, BUT if you have to cancel your trip (especially at the last minute), you should know that you may forfeit a portion or all of your rental fees. There are ways to protect yourself however - FIRST: Make sure you know what the cancellation policies are for the property you are renting. SECOND: Consider purchasing Trip Cancellation Insurance for added protection.
If you have to cancel your vacation rental trip, are you eligible for a refund? It depends on the cancellation/refund policy of the property that you are renting and how much notice you are able to give. Usually the more notice that you are able to give, the better chance that the property can be re-rented and the more likely that you will be able to secure a partial or a complete refund. Some properties may allow you to transfer your vacation to another time period. We recommend that you find out about the cancellation/refund policy before you rent and ask for the policy in writing when you reserve the property. For additional protection, we recommend that you purchase Trip Cancellation Insurance. Most people are not aware that this insurance is available for your vacation rental trip but it is available thru companies such as InsureMyTrip.com
Q. What are some covered reasons for Trip Cancellation/Interruption?
A.There are many different types of trip insurance available, but Trip Cancellation and Interruption protection is the most important benefit you should look for. If your trip has to be cancelled for covered reasons such as illness, accident, death of a family member or traveling companion, jury duty, weather conditions which cause delay/ cancellation of travel or fire or flood in your home, this coverage protects your investment and will reimburse the normally non-refundable payments you make for your vacation rental, airline tickets and other covered travel related fees.
If you miss your planned departure for a covered reason, you may also be covered for additional travel expenses to reach your destination. If you have to interrupt a trip due to a covered illness, this insurance will cover your transportation home. Please check the options available to you through InsureMyTrip.com
Q. What more can you tell me about Travel Insurance?
Many travelers, especially those on the road for long periods of time or with limited funds, choose not to travel with medical insurance. Instead they decide to roll the dice and take the gamble that nothing will happen. And in many cases that is exactly what happens: nothing. Even if medical assistance is required, it often costs less in other countries, and in some cases a simple trip to the pharmacist will result in a free consultation and an inexpensive diagnosis and prescription on the spot. All the while, the travel insurance premiums sit in the traveler’s pocket and are enjoyed in other ways, or used to subsidize any necessary trips to the pharmacy.
But when disaster strikes – and it can indeed strike, as I have been witness to more than once – those travel insurance premiums may seem tiny in comparison to the medical bills you could be faced with.
Making the decision to apply for travel insurance should extend beyond the simple analysis of general health and predisposition towards illness. Anything can happen at any time, and what you should analyze is your ability – financially and otherwise - to cope with that event on the road. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
You know better than anybody if the answers to the above questions should lead you to apply for travel insurance or not. However as a full-time traveler and with claims experience, my solid recommendation to any traveler is to indeed incorporate travel insurance into the budget.
Different Types of Insurance Coverage
Not only are no two policies the same (so read the fine print), but within each policy you will discover many different kinds of coverage and options to choose from. The three main kinds of travel insurance include:
If you need to cancel your trip or cut it short due to a personal or family medical emergency, trip cancellation insurance will reimburse you (in full or in part) for the non-refundable portions of travel expenses spent. It is often only available prior to or at the time of booking your flights, and once they are booked you may be unable to apply. This type of insurance is rife with stipulations and conditions depending on when and how you purchase it, but if you are planning an expensive long-haul flight, it may be worth your while.
With this type of insurance, you will be reimbursed for all or part of the value of your travel belongings if they are lost, stolen, or damaged. The method of valuating your possessions varies, as does the level of reimbursement depending on how or where it was lost. You will be expected to provide proof of ownership, including original purchase receipts or photos as part of the claims process. You won’t immediately get a check for lost baggage, and will likely have to spend some money out of pocket to even function while enduring the claims process. Unless you are traveling with some really expensive items, this form of insurance is often more hassle than it is worth. You may also already have this coverage and not know it; we will address that shortly.
As the most common (and arguably most practical) form of travel insurance, this should be your choice if you are only to choose one kind. You are reimbursed or covered directly for medical (and related) expenses incurred during your trip. The circumstances surrounding your falling ill or becoming injured are important, as your policy may or may not cover your participation in certain sports, and almost certainly won’t touch you if your medical condition was an issue prior to your trip departure. Also in many cases, claims will be rejected if you are in a country in political turmoil or if your injury can be related to acts of war or terror.
Making Insurance Claims
In the descriptions above, you may already have detected a number of loopholes which allow the insurance company to get out of paying your claim; from visiting war-torn regions, to the impossible task of providing receipts for your belongings, to a potential loose connection between your illness and a pre-existing condition, it seems that insurance companies are dedicated to not helping you out. And admittedly, personal experience with filing claims twice now has been responsible for more than a few grey hairs. But difficulty in extracting money from an insurance company is not reason enough to throw your hands up and either not file a claim or not apply for insurance to begin with.
In the cases of both our claims, we were reimbursed for a large chunk of our expenses. The Hawaiian hospital bills were paid directly by the insurance company, but we first had to fill out reams of insurance paperwork and received a few nasty letters with overdue bills from the hospital. We were disappointed at how long it took the insurance company to cover the costs, but in the end, they did. Of the $900 in expenses, we were on the hook for $72–for the painkillers.
In Thailand, the claims process was even more involved. The hospital bill for the week-long stay was paid by the insurance company directly and relatively easily (thankfully, as it was the most expensive part of our claim). The out of pocket expenses were also eventually covered, but due to the sheer number and complexity of the receipts, it was like pulling teeth. One arm of the insurance company rarely seemed to communicate with the other, and repeated requests came through to file papers and forms that were already sent. Finally upon escalation of the problem to upper management, the claim was processed. Corrections still had to be made due to administrative oversights, but I do not necessarily fault the examiners: it would have been a tough claim to process.
You may wonder why on earth I would continue to recommend travel insurance if having the claims reimbursed was so painstaking. But the upshot is that indeed the claims were eventually processed, and hundreds upon hundreds of dollars were saved by having the insurance. Our claims were relatively innocuous in nature; a crushed toe and temporarily debilitating illness were tough to endure but ultimately not as serious as it could be. Having extensive surgery, remote airlifts, or any number of unimaginable tragedies happen are real possibilities, and expensive ones at that.
So how do you make claim-time easier on yourself? Here are some tips:
Do I have the financial resources to pay for an unexpected and extensive hospital visit?
Do I have family members or friends who can bail me out, fly me home, or visit me in a time of medical need while I am traveling?
Do I have family members at home who are ill or ailing, such that I may need to return home for an untimely death?
How will financial stress or worry affect my ability to recover if I am ill and uninsured while abroad?
Am I traveling to a country where health care is expensive, and a health crisis may force me into financial duress?
Am I traveling to a country where access to good health care is difficult? Or in remote areas where I may need to be airlifted out (at great expense) if there is a problem?
Am I getting on in age, such than an illness or injury may take a greater toll on me?
While traveling, will I be participating in any activities that may increase my chance of getting hurt?
You May Already Have Overseas Insurance Coverage
By booking your plane ticket with your credit card, you may already have baggage loss/theft coverage, as well as trip cancellation insurance without even knowing it. You may also have a health insurance plan at home that covers you overseas, even if you are on a sabbatical. Here are some forms of insurance you just may unwittingly have:
Carry the claims phone number for your travel insurance company, along with the policy number with you at all times.Leave the same information with a family member at home so they can advocate on your behalf if you are incapacitated.
As soon as the illness or injury befalls, call the insurance company–even before being admitted to the hospital if possible. Sometimes you won’t be covered if you do not, as impractical as it may seem.
Keep a written log of absolutely every communication with the insurance company for posterity, and possibly as ammunition if you experience trouble later on.
Keep copies of everything you mail in.They will require original documents, but sometimes things are lost in the mail and you may need to resend them. This way you can also reference the same documents in front of you if you need to talk to somebody at the insurance company about your claim.
In all cases, phone your existing insurers and inquire about the level and availability of coverage. You may be able to save yourself the expense of getting a separate policy.
As I alluded to earlier, no two policies are the same, even if they are from the same travel insurance company. As dull a task as it may seem, read the fine print thoroughly; it may be the difference between walking away from the hospital with money in your pocket, or not.
Credit Card:Auto rental insurance, baggage loss/theft, trip cancellation, some accidental medical.
Health Insurance: the level of potential coverage you may have runs the full gambit.
Life Insurance:If you die in another country, expenses to ship your body home may be covered. You may also receive money if you are simply injured too
Rental/Homeowner’s Insurance:Many aspects of baggage loss/theft insurance may be addressed with your homeowner’s policy
Q. How safe is downtown Victoria?
A. For the most part it is very safe, especially in the areas where our apartments are located. Having said that, like any North American city we have our share of petty criminals, drunken hooligans, beggars and the less fortunate homeless people. Most of these people populate areas of town that are away from where we are located, but they do tend to show up at different locations all over the downtown area. If you go out at night just be aware of what is going on around you and try to stay on the main thoroughfares and you will be fine.
Q. Is it possible to get from the BC Ferry Terminal to downtown Victoria by bus?
A. Yes! Victoria Regional Transit has buses that meet the BC Ferries upon arrival (#70 Express, and the #72 which travels to downtown via Sidney. Follow this link for more information. In addition, you can travel from downtown Victoria out to the BC Ferry terminal on the same bus routes.
Do you have a question about our apartments or about Victoria? If you do just Send us an E-mail
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