Toronto Travel Guide
Nothing average about a regular room at Four Seasons Toronto
This month, Four Seasons Toronto, the flagship hotel that opened last October in the Canadian city where it all began for Four Seasons, celebrates its one year anniversary. We thought we'd do a birthday solid and call out what might be the hotel’s best asset: its 217 "premier" — aka standard — guest rooms.
Step into one of these rooms with its plush furnishings, abundant wood touches, huge bathroom and thoughtful design (who knew you could do so much with muted gold tones and white) and you’ll have to do a double take, wondering if you’ve accidentally stumbled into a suite (there are also 42 suites).
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Who can believe the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto is one year old? They grow up so fast...
The hotel is marking its big birthday by partnering with Sunny Fong of luxury women’s wear label, VAWK, to create spiffy new Lobby Lounge outfits. Celebrities have traipsed down the red carpet in VAWK designs worldwide, including the Cannes International Film Festival, the Grammy Awards and the People’s Choice Awards.
For the Shangri-La Toronto the designer drew inspiration for the sexy and sophisticated outfits from the “artwork in the lobby, the Ming vase tea library and the ornithological theme that is prevalent in the hotel, and the Zhang Huan ‘Rising’ sculpture.” The dress design borrows from traditional Asian design with shoulders reminiscent of the pagodas found in Chinese gardens and a sleeker silhouette of the traditional qipao with mandarin collar. The goal was to create something dramatic, almost theatrical, and holy-cremolely, he did achieve that.
And then there's the VAWKtail.
Omni will assume management of the hotel from Skyline Hotels and Resorts on August 1 and will also oversee the completion of the $40 million renovation to the hotel, which was built in 1903. The transformation will update the guestrooms, the fitness center, the meeting spaces and most importantly, the hotel's rooftop Crystal Ballroom which has been closed since the 1970s. This ballroom has 20-foot ceilings and views of the skyline in all four directions.
For the most part, the TripAdvisor reviews of the hotel have been kind. Although, one reviewer griped that the WiFi was not free. That will change as Omni Hotels offer free WiFi to members of their Omni Select Guest loyalty program which is free to join.
Right now, rates are going for $199 a night on August 1 but we say wait until the renovation is complete which should be sometime next year.
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In April we told you about Toronto’s Delta Chelsea becoming an Eaton-branded hotel on July 1 – the first Langham property in Canada and the first Eaton Hotel in North America. If you've been waiting with bated breath for more details, now's the time to exhale.
Langham Hotels has been pouring millions into transforming the soon-to-be Eaton Chelsea hotel. The renos to the lobby and Market Garden Restaurant (which, when we were there many, many years ago, seemed to be the biggest buffet restaurant on the planet) will be the first of a few changes to the hotel.
Aside from the restaurant and lobby renovations, the hotel is also replacing the former Elm Street Lounge with the more modern T|Bar (an Eaton brand signature feature). The hotel is expecting that one of the things that will make this one of TO’s go-to spots will be their take on that most famous of Canadian cocktails: the Caesar. (For you Americans, it's a clam-infused version of the Bloody Mary.)
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The brand has decided to take over the Delta Chelsea in Toronto, which, at 1,590 rooms, is Canada's largest hotel.
As of July 1, the hotel will officially be known as Eaton Chelsea, thus becoming the first Eaton hotel to open in North America. (For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Eaton is an offshoot brand under the Langham umbrella, with several properties throughout Asia, including Eaton Hong Kong and Eaton Smart New Delhi Airport.)
Langham's parent company has owned the
Delta Chelsea Eaton Chelsea for nearly two decades, but has finally decided to take over management duties as well. This is most likely due to Langham's steadily growing presence in the US, with The Langham Chicago one of the most anticipated openings of 2013 (and not just because of the free WiFi!).
Similar in many ways to Langham, Eaton is known for its "smart, modern and uncomplicated interiors and an enthusiastic 'can do' service culture," as explained by Eaton Chelsea Regional VP Josef Ebner. The hotel itself will undergo major renovations to the exterior, lobby, Market Garden restaurant, and meeting facilities.
One of its main attractions is the "Corkscrew," downtown Toronto's only indoor waterslide.
Rates from $131/night.
[Photo: Eaton Chelsea]
One of the corporate giants largely responsible for the growth of the gambling and gaming industry in the U.S. is now knocking on our northern neighbor's door.
MGM Resorts is making progress in its bid to build its first hotel and casino in Canada. MGM chairman and chief executive officer Jim Murren (in photo) stated on TV earlier this week that the project has a 50-50 chance of being approved by the city of Toronto. “If it doesn’t happen here there will be one somewhere in Ontario,” he said during a press conference. “Our preference and the OLG’s preference is to be in Toronto.”
It's said that the city of Toronto and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. are mulling it over, though The Star reports that the decision won't come for about a year. Apparently there's been some lobbying going on behind-the-scenes, but that shouldn't surprise anyone.
It is interesting to us that some large stakeholders in Vegas -- MGM and Wynn, for example -- are investing in other cities as opposed to re-investing in Vegas.
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Anthony Bourdain is back for another season of “The Layover”, and we like it because he names the hotels in the cities where he'll be spending his precious time. We figure, he won't be laying his salt-and-pepper head just anywhere, after all, he's big time now.
So, for entertainment and a dose of travel value, we’ll give you some details on the properties he picks, just in case you find yourself looking for a place to stay in a city that’s sanctioned by this travel personality/chef.
Layover Hotel Episode 5:The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto: This advice from Bourdain: "If you're traveling for work and want to stick your accounting department with unpaid bills for your swank accommodation, you should probably stay at the excellent Ritz-Carlton." He goes on to big up their comfortable beds and ability to get "a good steak" on the premises. Top praise for this hotel located in the middle of the city's financial district that also commands top rates beginning at 545 CAD ($543) in the dead of winter.
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Yep, it's just about time for some Fantasy Friday dreaming!
This is a package made-in-heaven for shopaholics, so warm up that American Express Black card and be prepared to give it a workout.
The Hazelton Hotel in Toronto’s tony Yorkville neighborhood is offering a Bespoke Holiday Season Shopping Package, starting at a mere $199,000. (Oh wait... that’s Canadian so the price is actually $200,725 US, but, really, at this level what’s an extra grand or two?)
For this sky-high figure, you get some time high in the sky aboard the private jet that will whisk you from your home to Toronto. There you’ll be picked up in a luxury sedan and taken to The Hazelton to get settled into your behemoth 1860 sq ft Bellair Suite (the dressing room alone, outfitted in zebrawood, is 80 sq ft, so there’s plenty of room to try on your new purchases). This one-bedroom suite also has an 800 sq ft windowed seating area, a media center with a wireless touch screen remote media controller, piped sound throughout the living area, two plasma TV's and a separate dining area capable of seating up to ten. There are two bathrooms – the ensuite is done entirely in galaxy green granite and has heated floors, a deep soaker tub and separate rainfall shower, as well as the requisite TV in the mirror.
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You know you’re not in Kansas anymore as soon as you walk into the newly-opened Shangri-La Toronto. In fact, it's easy to believe you've entered the East thanks to the hotel's subtle little touches. For instance, when we checked in and handed over our Visa card, it was handed back with both hands and a slight bow of the head -- very customary in Asia. Then there are, of course, the more obvious things: decor, artwork and staff outfits.
We will try our hardest not to get too gushy, but the simple fact is--we loved this hotel, and here are seven reasons (and loads of pictures) explaining why:
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The Four Seasons company was born in downtown Toronto in 1961 as a motor hotel, and its first Toronto hotel opened in 1978. Now it’s relocated from that old building to fresh new digs.
located in Toronto’s popular Yorkville center, The 259-room property, will come even more alive this evening with the Café Boulud opening. We hope that in addition to the various media promos Chef Daniel Boulud’s done for the hotel, he will actually be in the FS kitchen for opening night.
If you've kept up at all with the opening of the new Shangri-La Toronto, then you already know that one of the hotel's biggest attractions is a three-story dining concept containing four separate restaurants by Momofuku founder David Chang. This is awesome news for two reasons: first, those mind-blowingly delicious pork buns. Seriously, wow.
Second, despite the wild success of Momofuku's eight New York locations, the brand has so far only expanded into Sydney, Australia. No LA, no London, no Chicago, no Miami—at least not for now. Whether the Momofuku empire will eventually spread into those other major cities remains to be seen.
But for now, it's all about Toronto.
It's Toronto International Film Festival time, and all the celebs are shacking up in Toronto's finest hotels (like Trump Toronto, which opened in January). One place that's getting a bit of attention, though, is the Hazelton Hotel, for installing a $99,900 bed called the Vividus.
As you can see from the picture above, the Vividus is so comfortable you begin to defy gravity and hover ecstatically over the sheets, thereby negating the purpose of a bed at all. But for a company that's been supplying mattresses to the Swedish Royal Court for 50 years, utility is far less of a concern than frilliness. It's all about the luxury, baby.