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Clever money strategies make winter vacations affordable

(NC) If your ideal vacation style is more après ski than sunset by the sea, you're in the right place. Canada knows winter better than most, so why not celebrate the season by taking advantage of all that it has to offer?

“To make the most of our winter wonderland, consider collecting travel rewards as a way to make the money that you're already spending work for you,” says Dave Robson of the popular men's blog, Daily XY. “For example, I find that by using my Starwood Preferred Guest credit card for all my purchases, I can quickly rack up points and then cash them in for a flight or a hotel stay. The card (from American Express) gives me the ultimate in choice and flexibility, including where and how I enjoy my winter getaway.”

Here are Dave's top three winter destinations that you might want to add to your Canadian winter getaway bucket list:

The Westin Resort & Spa – Whistler, British Columbia

For a truly luxurious experience, explore this mountain haven. Fine-tune your ski or snowboard skills at Whistler Blackcomb before heading down to the ski valet tent. After a soak in a hot tub, embark on a culinary expedition with Whistler Tasting Tours, which will weave a gastronomic path through four of the best restaurants Whistler has to offer. Then surrender to a soothing Swedish massage at the Scandinave Spa, a traditional Finnish spa tucked away in a spruce and cedar forest.

Sheraton Ottawa Hotel - Ottawa, Ontario

Book a few days away in Ottawa between January 31 – February 17, 2014 and experience our capital's whimsical winter wonderland: the Winterlude festival. After checking into the beautiful hotel, bundle up and walk down to the Rideau Canal for an afternoon skate on the world's longest skating rink. Warm up with a sweet indulgence like a truly Canadian pastry, the Beaver Tail, or a hot chocolate. Then head over to watch the ice sculpture competitions or bring the whole family to experience the largest snow playground at Jacques-Cartier Park.

W Hotel – Montreal, Quebec

Escape to Montreal to take in one of Canada's most unique cultures. Wander through old Montreal's cobblestone streets and enjoy the spectacular night-time views of the city skyline from the luxurious W Hotel. If you're a hockey fan, it doesn't get much better than watching rival teams, Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadians face off. If hockey isn't your thing, check out one of the largest festivals in the world, Montréal en Lumière. This annual celebration, which runs from February 20 to March 2, includes hundreds of exceptional food- and wine-tasting activities, shows, exhibits, concerts and a free outdoor illuminated site at the Quartier des spectacles.

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