The Society has cooked up yet another brilliant sponsorship experience that is smart and, more importantly, had me driving a luxury BMW to Montreal for a fancy ass weekend.

As of this past summer, members of The Society have been able to borrow a BMW XI 2012 for a test drive and, in return, they help to promote the hot new model with a couple of tweets, Facebook updates and a little story about their journey. Since I kind of think of myself as Jason Bourne behind the wheel, I was all too keen to get in the driver seat and show off my assertive, BUT SAFE, maneuvering down the 401. Ask Olga, my driving skills rock.

Beyond our hot wheels, our fall weekend gallivant had other sweet perks. And it all came together because I won a colouring contest. TRUTH! Let’s back up to May, when I was eating a croissant in the gorgeous L Hotel breakfast room. My husband was reading the paper and pulled it down to ask, with raised eyebrow, “What the hell are you doing?” I had noticed the hotel was running a contest where guests could enter to win a complimentary two-night stay by submitting their “key art”. So, while he was combing the headlines I organized a rainbow selection of Sharpies and began my masterpiece. Like a six year old. Hey, people do win contests you know!

A couple of months later, I had already forgotten about my art session when a note from L Hotel appeared in my inbox. It directed me to this Facebook page where friends could vote on the hotel key art they liked best. OMG….I can win this. I’m a social media MAVEN, don’t you know? I began posting my crap drawing all over the place with persuasive notes, “PLEASE VOTE FOR MY PRETTY KEY AND HELP ME WIN A TRIP TO MONTREAL!” It was really Kevin Naulls or the sassy bearded fashion man on Twitter, who was responsible for my win. He went wild on both Twitter and Facebook, demanding people vote for my key. And so I won. Yesssss! (Thanks Kevin! I still owe you a lap dance!)

L Hotel is located in old Montreal, adjacent to the St. James, and is actually owned by one of the founding brothers of Guess Jeans, Georges Marciano. (Sidenote: It was four Jewish brothers from Morocco who started the mega sexy clothing label, Georges being one of them.) I tell you this because, not only is it an interesting fact, but it also explains why the lobby is like a modern art museum: He has a lot of money and likes cool art. Guess what? SO DO I! You will see Warhols while you check in. Cool, eh?

Anyhow, I couldn’t just take a sleazy Greyhound to such a place. I needed a LUXURY car to pull up in and hand my keys over to the super cute bellboy. And ta-da! It all worked out.

Highlights in Montreal included:

– Finding the ultimate knit shrug at Boutique Unicorn in Mile End

– Going to a late night drag show at Cabaret Mado

– Sleeping in hotel sheets and resting my head on a hotel pillow

– Finding a 1970s Playboy puzzle at Kitsch & Swell on St. Laurent. I’m going to make some cool naked wall art. Playboy bunnies were way hotter back then.

– Watching horses trot around cobblestone streets in Old Montreal. So romantic!

– Running into the incredibly handsome Ari Lantos at a gas station on Sherbrooke while on a late night candy run. Did you know he produced Barney’s Version? He was in town for a boys trip to the hockey game. “Cool. I’m here because I won a colouring contest.” I told him while stuffing my mouth with TWIX. Is that guy still single? He’s quite possibly Toronto’s most desirable bachelor. FYI.

– Not getting a reso at Au Pied de Cochon, but at least poking my head in to get a whiff of absolute deliciousness, AKA pig foot. (Book ahead.)

– Getting lost in a FREAKY basement on St. Laurent full of costumes while an aging hippie persuaded me to eat his samosa

Bota Bota spa-sur-l’Eau. Have you been yet? Worth the trip to Montreal alone! Designed by Sid Lee, this is an old boat that has been transformed into a Scandinavian-like water spa. Sit in the steam room and take in the waterfront view of Vieux Montreal.

– A wander through the Musee d’art Contemporain de Montreal. Everything sounds more sophisticated in French, n’est-ce pas? 

– Did I say hotel sheets? I love hotel sheets.

– Snapping pics of bloody mangled locals who had just finished the Montreal Zombie Walk.

– Buying eye makeup at the local Jean Coutu and having Olga help me achieve perfect smokey eyes before we hit the town to wink at French men. (We never really did, but enjoyed winking at each other.)

– Sharing poutine with my BFF. Awww. Squeaky cheese curds 4ever!

– Blasting Led Zeppelin in our Bimmer and feeling like millionaires on the 401. “Yeah…this is my car.”

What wasn’t a highlight?
The Big Apple. It is not the same as it was in the 80s. There are fruit flies on the pie and they are stingy with their chicken nuggets. I will never return. Or, if I do, I’m only saying hi to the llama but not entering The Apple. 

What did I love about the BMW XI 2012?

-Truth be told, I’m not a car reviewer but holy shit, this machine has pick up. No effing around when you enter off the highway, just zoom right in to the express lane. But signal please. I can’t handle jerks that don’t signal.

– The visibility. I don’t care how good looking a car is, if you have to crank your neck every time you want to pass, it just doesn’t work. 

– Compass symbol on the rear view mirror. This is a small feature but something I have yearned for for years. It makes navigating a city so much easier. I have no idea why this is the first time I have ever seen a car with this easy tool. 

– The way it handles. Like the slogan, it is built for drivers. It kind of operates like a stick, so you get that “I’m in control” feel you want.

– The fancy screen that you can switch from radio to a GPS map is very spy-like. 

– It’s a classy car without being pretentious and a safe ride that is super sexy. I practically had to dress for the driver’s seat. 

Did I want to give my car back? 
HELL NO. Hey Society, if you are looking for someone to test drive the BMW XI down Route 66, I’m your girl. I really do think I was born to drive and pride myself on parallel parking….even though with this slick car it kind of does it for you.

~ Jen McNeely