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Ally Matos, Local Entrepreneur, Shares Her Favourite Things About Surrey City Centre

Growing up a few blocks from the hustle and bustle of Surrey City Centre, local entrepreneur Ally Matos spent her childhood summers riding her bike to the local 7-ll on King George Boulevard, grabbing Slurpees, and hanging out at the mall. Fast forward 20 years, Ally still lives in Surrey and is the creative lead at Allyfotografy Media Co., a local content marketing and photography agency. We caught up with Ally to get the inside scoop on what’s happening locally.

What are some of your favourite memories growing up Surrey?

I grew up only a few blocks from where Civic Hotel stands now, and much of my childhood was spent riding my bike, exploring the city, and rolling around at Stardust (local ’80s and ’90s babies will know what I mean). It has always been my favourite area and I am proud to say that I am now a local business owner who works and networks in the same place that I once rode my bike as a child. It’s pretty special that I have seen Surrey City Centre evolve over the years.

You still live here, and your career started here too. What’s it like running a business in Surrey?  

My first job was in retail at the London Drugs at London Station. After 13 years of working in the electronics and photography department, I turned my hobby into a career. As an entrepreneur, it’s exciting to grow my business in one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. With transit being so accessible, and lots of great local spots to have meetings and photo shoots, gone are the days of having to be in a formal office.  I can hop on the train to downtown Vancouver, and my clients from all over the Metro Vancouver area can easily meet me within 30 minutes.

One of my favourite local spots to meet with clients is Prado Cafe in Civic Hotel. Great coffee and pastries, and right on the SkyTrain line –– it doesn’t get much more convenient than that! Surrey City Centre keeps expanding and evolving with modern high rises, and so many new businesses popping up. It’s quickly becoming what many say is “the future.”

Inside the Surrey Central SkyTrain station, entrance near Civic Hotel

We get a lot of international travellers staying at the hotel. For anyone new to the area or staying in Civic Hotel, what are your must-see spots?

I love visiting Civic Hotel in the heart of the new city centre. The hotel is gorgeous and is changing the vibe of the area. You can often find me working in Prado Cafe, or having after-work cocktails in Dominion Bar + Kitchen. As a photographer, Civic Hotel’s architecture is an absolute dream to shoot, and every time I am in the lobby I am blown away by the grand staircase and wood-shaped diamond designs covering the back wall. My husband and I love staycations as well –– I highly suggest people try being a tourist in their own city. I also hear the pool just opened at Civic Hotel, which is so appealing, given all this amazing weather we have been having!

Another favourite spot is the new Surrey City Centre Library. In 2018, this library made it to the top 18 most striking libraries on the planet. The Library is so bright and beautiful I love taking headshots around the building along with the new Surrey City Hall which has so many events throughout the year.

For shopping, my go-to is Central City Shopping Centre, formally known as Surrey Place Mall. It’s one of the more spacious malls with intricate wood beams across the ceiling. Winners, Walmart, amazing dim sum, Central City Brew Pub, a passport office… It truly is a one-stop shop.

Holland Park, which is known as the “Central Park” of Surrey City Centre. Its large green space and design make it a great place to take a nice stroll, have a picnic and during the warmer months attend concerts and outdoor movies. Fusion Festival, Movies Under the Stars, and FVDED in The Park are just some of the amazing events happening this summer.

Views of City Centre Library from Civic Hotel’s outdoor pool deck

You must travel a lot for your photography business, what are your favourite hotel features when you are working on the road?

With all the craziness of working on the road, relaxation breaks are definitely needed. I love when you can catch a little R&R at the hotel hot tub or pool. Civic Hotel’s outdoor pool deck overlooks Civic Plaza and downtown Surrey City Centre. On a sunny day, it would be the perfect spot to read and soak up some rays.

Business travel is very different than leisure travel. I find a healthy body helps to fuel a healthy mind. I like having the option to work out while on the road so I can keep a consistent routine.

One of my other favourite hotel features is workspaces. Whether I am at a desk in my hotel room or sitting in the hotel lobby, a supported chair and table for my laptop help with productivity. I love working from the business lounge in Civic Hotel’s lobby or from Prado Cafe. I can connect to their wi-fi, focus on work, and people watch. The lobby feels so alive and makes me feel connected.

The grand staircase in Civic Hotel’s lobby

Thanks for your time Ally, we are so excited to see where your business goes, and to see you poolside at Civic Hotel soon!