Canada Travel Guide
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We mentioned last year that ALT Hotels, baby sister brand of the chic Le Germain Hotels, was planning a Canada-wide expansion. They started in Québec City, then Montréal's Quartier Dix30, at Toronto's Pearson International Airport and now? Halifax.
The 169-room ALT Hotel opened at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Monday and is the fourth ALT in Canada. The hotels combine good design and stylish interiors with a “no-frills found here” concept that works.
Hotel News / Hotel Rebrandings / Hotel Renovations / Langham Hotels / Eaton Hotels / Toronto Hotels / Canada Hotels / → All Tags
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.)
Hotel Design / Hotel Architecture / Art Hotels / Hotel Packages / Museum Hotels / Jaunted / Fairmont Hotels / Canada Hotels / Vancouver Hotels / → All Tags
If you consider yourself a true hotel nerd, pack your bags: You’re going to Vancouver! The Vancouver Art Gallery has an installation so perfect it ain’t even funny. It’s called Grand Hotel: Redesigning Modern Life (on until September 15) and it’s broken out into four themes: Travel, Social, Cultural and Design (see our full-blown review of the exhibit on sister site, Jaunted).
Not to get too arty on you, but here’s our take on how these themes play out in real life using the fine Fairmont Pacific Rim as our specimen.
Travel: Yes, travel can be getting from Point A to Point B but the underlying driver for most is adventure and escape.
Everything about the Fairmont Pacific Rim says “escape,” particularly the amazing Willow Stream Spa with its outdoor sun deck, where you can hang out with your pampered peeps around heating lamps and fireplaces, or in the whirlpools with flat-screen TVs above you to catch your favorite show.
Social: Hotels are social hubs full of interpersonal machinations.
We told you about the Fairmont Pacific Rim’s hot-spot Lobby Lounge earlier this week, but then there’s their Oru Restaurant or their hopping giovane café: coffee bar by day (reputed to have the best in the city) and wine bar by night. To say these spots are popular with locals and guests would be the understatement of the day. Social hubs? Absolutely!
Stay with us -- two more themes to go!
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Should You or Shouldn't You? A HotelChatter Review
We decided it was high time to check out one of the newest hotels that make up Vancouver’s skyline, the Fairmont Pacific Rim. Opened in 2010 for the Olympics, this beautiful “ode to glass” building is not only chic, but is a happening destination unto itself.
Check-In: We took advantage of the hotel’s car service and had a great chat with our driver about the hotel and living in Vancouver. When we arrived at the hotel we were greeted by dapper doormen whose uniforms can best be described as a cross between Armani and 1940s movie gangster in a very fashionable grey. It was a very good start.
As we were ushered into the long, cool and white marble lobby we noticed immediately the hotel's bespoke Indian Jasmine fragrance. Our driver, who was part of the concierge team, never left our side. Once given our keys we were escorted to our room, passing the serene-but-not-for-long Lobby Lounge that spans the entry space.
Room Reaction: We entered our room on the Fairmont Gold floor and were immediately dazzled by the floor-to-ceiling windows looking out over the Vancouver harbor and port. We were introduced to the iPad2 waiting for us and the hi-tech lighting system (which also controls the drapes) with its pre-set mood makers – Day, Evening, Relax – and in the bathroom, there’s a setting for Groom or Spa.
It’s midnight when we return to the Fairmont Pacific Rim after a night out on the town in Vancouver. When we walk into the Lobby Lounge, the place is overflowing with well-dressed lookers--locals, guests and residents of the hotel. And we know why.
Yes, it’s partly because of the atmosphere – West Coast cool with loads of glass, some woody features and a clean white background overall – but mostly, ladies and gentlemen, it's because the cocktails are to die for.
We took it upon ourselves to try a few of the bevvies on order but we kept coming back to the seriously tasty Absolut Beta Martini. This cocktail was created by the oh-so-charming head bartender Grant Sceney. With it, he won the Absolut Vodka Martini Competition and is carrying the flag to compete in Sweden. If it’s not the winner, we think the competition’s fixed.
The cocktail is both tart and sweet but with complex flavors that make it impossible to discern any one element over another. If you think you have the wherewithal to re-create it yourself, here’s what you’ll need:
Hotel News / Langham Hotels / Eaton Hotels / Toronto Hotels / Canada Hotels / Hotel Rebrandings / Hotel Renovations / → All Tags
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]
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While in Quebec City last week, we had the chance to stay at the infamous Fairmont Le Château Frontenac and discovered it'll undergo a multi-million dollar renovation project to celebrate its 120th year. Don't worry, though, retaining the historic charm that's been the hotel's backbone since day one is part of the construction plan.
The renovations will include the guestrooms, main lobby, banquet areas, health club and restaurants. The various projects will be carried out in different phases between May 2013 and early 2014. The hotel will remain open during it all and says "special care and extra efforts will be devoted in order to minimize the inconvenience, visual impact and noise-related nuisance for clients during the renovations." We believe them, considering we toured a room right next to one that was being overhauled and we didn't hear a peep.
Fairmont has dedicated a website to the renovations where you can follow along with the progress being made. The photos in this post show the layout, design, and decor of two prototype rooms, though the hotel said the final product could differ slightly. We found the changes to be most welcome, especially in the bathroom. What say you? Are you liking the new look?
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While they're slinging essential oil cocktails and providing live TV screens of the lobby installed at the whizzers in the bathrooms, Opus Vancouver is at it again! Now they're working with emerging artist Alana Rothstein on taking your souvenir to the next level, and we're talking serious art stuff.
If you don't know Alana, you soon will. She was one of the artists featured at LA's Carousel of Hope, hosted by George Clooney, and her EMERGE art piece sold for $10,000. Obviously she knows how to werk as a contemporary image maker. So what will she do for you?
With the new exclusive partnership with Opus, Alana is taking your vacation and putting it into her art. What you need to do is provide her with images of your Vancouver trip (or just any images you want, really) and she basically lasers it onto plexiglass for this uber unique souvenir. This comes after an initial consultation to determine what kind of mood, feeling and overall presentation you're looking to capture. We think this memorable art piece beats a postcard or chocolate from the duty-free but hey, that's just us.
There's a whole package around it so get booking before Alana becomes Damian Hirst famous.
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Word on the street is the Shangri-La Hotel in Vancouver's tallest tower might finally be getting some company at the top--from none other than Mr. Trump himself. Rumors have swirled and Twitter has buzzed at the possibility of a Trump Tower rising up on Georgia Avenue, but despite the rumblings, there has yet to be any confirmation of the agreement.
The original plans for this location called for a five-star Ritz Carlton directly across the street from the Shangri-La, but the brand bailed when the 2008 recession hit, and the project was dormant up until a year ago when developers jumped back in and started hacking out a deal with Trump, apparently because they like the international appeal of his image to potential buyers across the globe.
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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Yes, it’s winter and yes, Canada can be cold. But that also means fluffy snow and chestnuts still roasting by an open fire. Starwood Hotels & Resorts wants to entice you to visit the country with some “winterful” packages (yeah, yeah, we know!).
1) “Two Nights are Never Enough in Canada: Two for the Price of One” package –- This sweet deal lets you book a long weekend of your choosing at over 50 Starwood Hotels across the country so that you can cuddle up during those cold, dark nights of winter. You pay for two nights and they’ve got the third one covered. Rates in a Deluxe King at the Westin Calgary, for instance, will only set you back $179, but you need to arrive between Thursday and Saturday.
2) It’s Hockey Night in Canada –- With the “Hockey Night Special” package at the newly-reno’ed Le Centre Sheraton Montreal, you get a special rate of $139 for a Traditional King on home game nights. Montreal’s Bell Centre is across from the hotel, so if you have that beer swagger going on after the game, you’re nice and close.
We've seen some pretty inventive cocktail concoctions in our time, but this one has us pretty intrigued. The Opus Vancouver has partnered with doTERRA Vancouver to create essential oil-infused cocktails. Yep, we can hear you now. "Huh"? We had the same reaction. Last time we checked essential oils were used in spa treatments or hokey feel-good remedies. But a drink? Nah, man.
Guess we needed to be schooled, and that happened when we asked for more info. Apparently these cocktails are made with dōTERRA's certified therapeutic grade essential oils that can be ingested (not all oils have that quality) by adding them to water or in this case, booze.
So, the hotel's Opus Bar created cocktails like the Opusition, a mix of passionfruit liqueur, fresh grapefruit juice, Brut sparkling wine, poached pineapple and grapefruit essential oil. And in addition to sipping this yummy blend, you're actually boosting your digestive and immune system and uplifting your mood. You can't be mad at a multi-purpose cocktail!
Then there's the Hugo, the bar's version of a gin & tonic made with Bombay gin, mint, soda and lavender and lime essential oils. Now, with this drink apparently relaxation is meant to occur along with natural aphrodisiac, mind calming and restorative feelings. We read this to mean you can drink a few, let your hair down, and maybe not regret it in the morning? We say cheers to that!
[Photo: Opus Vancouver]