ON Travel Guide
We love hotel renovations nearly just as much as we love new hotels. But what we really love about hotel renovations is seeing the transformation that happens when an old, tired and lackluster room gets a modern makeover and transforms into new, spiffed-up, stylish guest room. Or put more simply, we love comparing the Before and After.
We told you last year that Omni Hotels was taking over the King Edward Hotel in Toronto and would be spending $40 million on renovating the hotel, from guestrooms to the 17th floor Crystal Ballroom that has been closed since the 1970s. While its 20-foot ceilings and four-way skyline views will make for a dramatic addition to the hotel, we’ll start today with a look at the before and after of the guestrooms.
The move to Omni last year marked 110 years since the hotel first opened in 1903, so it’s probably no surprise the rooms had a rather classic feel, but how have they changed?
We're all about cool hotel technology here at HotelChatter but sometimes, we just want things to be simple which is why this button found on a Country Inn & Suites phone is right up our alley.
We reached out to the hotel to see if this pizza button was still in service and where the pizza came from but so far, they've not answered us. Don't they understand this is important stuff we're talking about?
Anyways, while the pizza delivery is going to cost extra, the breakfast is free as part of the Country Inns and Suites standard amenities. Rates start at $199 CAD next weekend.
UPDATE, 11:46pm: The hotel has written us back! Here's who the pizza button, still in service, calls:
The pizza button is set to a local dependable business that provides an excellent product. The Country Inn and Suites in Niagara Falls is a very busy hotel. This button is very convenient for the guests in the room and also frees up our guest services team to have more one on one time with guests in the lobby.
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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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:
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.
Welcome to another hotel dispatch from our newest special contributor, The Smooth Operator. We can't divulge his identity but we can tell you he's spends about 70 percent of his time on the road, staying in all the hot hotels and checking out their restaurants and bars to see if the social scene is up to snuff. If you're deciding whether or not to take a chance on that hip boutique hotel in the city, read The Smooth Operator for his opinion first. (Or send us an email and we'll have him answer it for you!)
During my last stay at the Hazelton Hotel in Toronto, I was put in room 323. An expanded suite with extensive square footage, the room was impressive but the layout didn’t work and the room felt like a long hallway – not comfortable at all.
The closet units, however, are exceptional – definitely more than enough hangers (which has proven challenging in premium hotels lately) and great space / design overall. The closet was larger than some rooms I’ve stayed in this year, but shockingly, no iron or ironing board available for the premium clients who stay there.
After three requests over two days I finally had someone from housekeeping provide an iron. (Ed. Note: We guess the iron is not a totally useless amenity for our S.O.)
Though there are certainly other fun ways to exercise and enjoy Thompston Toronto's beautiful spaces, yoga is becoming practically an institution here. Guests can take their pick from over 30 classes per week offered at the hotel's sunlit, third-floor yoga studio, 889 Yoga.
Having launched in another neighborhood in Toronto in 2007, 889 Yoga opened inside the hotel last September as a way to "bring yoga, wellness and connection to people, inspiring happier and healthier living from the inside out."
Not only has membership increased ($18.50 for a single class; $80 for five classes), but the need for even more of a wellness community is tangible: this year, 889 Yoga is scheduled to open a new spa in the hotel featuring massages, facials, and special treatments for soon-to-be moms.
If Toronto's Sutton Place Hotel ever held a special place in your heart, prepare yourself for some sad news. A new developer who's taken over the iconic movie set hotel is planning to turn the 33-story building into a 42-story luxury condo high-rise, and construction is set to begin by the end of the year.
PostedToronto reported that Lanterra Developments wants to preserve the "vibe" of the hotel (which, due to its proximity to the Toronto International Film Festival, has traditionally been a favorite of celebrities and film industry peeps), but is planning some major structural changes—like adding 20,000 square feet of retail space to the ground floor.
All of which kind of puts an official end to a bygone era of Dudley Moore Impromptu piano concerts in the lobby and Ted Danson dinner parties upstairs. Things just won't be the same...
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Another day, another new hotel that's opening! We're loving 2012 already for its exciting hotel opening news and we've still got an entire year to go!
One of the biggest openings on our hotel stalker radar is The Trump Toronto which opens January 31st. The hotel, which also has residences attached and is now the tallest residential building in Canada (this is Trump after all), was inspired by champagne and caviar which is evidenced in the grey and silver color palette in the guestrooms. But there's much more beneath the bubbly surface here.
Here are some interesting design facts from the hotel:
· A wall mosaic in the hotel's porte cochere consists of 500,000 handmade, hand-cut tiles which reportedly took 20 artists and three months to make. The mosaic also gives off two images. Up close, the work entitled, "A Small Part of Something Larger" by Canadian artist Stephen Andrew shows off a pattern of porcelain, glass, stone and gold. But from afar, the mosaic shows an image of a stadium filled with cheering people (perhaps Maple Leaf fans?)
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In the ever-expanding universe of Twitter, there is one particular trend @HotelChatter happens to quite enjoy: candid hotel photos. These Twitpics range from stunning views to anti-views to celebrity tomfoolery and everything in between. And we can't get enough of 'em! Every Monday, we will feature one "Twitpic of the Week" to commemorate our favorite hotel-themed snapshot. Got a favorite of your own? Want to show off your sweet suite? Send it in!
How adorable is this photo, tweeted by @SheratonYHM, located in Ontario, on Thursday. Shown gathered around the hotel's gold-and-pink themed Christmas tree is the local St. Joseph's elementary choir, who sang carols in the lobby, accompanied by a violin.
Unlike some other bands we've seen recently, these guys didn't take up an entire suite just to perform a song.
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Even though Lenny Kravitz's Florida Room at the Delano Hotel is going bye-bye, the rocker turned hotel designer has another bigger project in the works. Kravitz's design firm, Kravitz Design Inc., will be designing an entire floor at the upcoming BISHA Hotel and Residences in Toronto.
The floor will be inspired by the music, art and travels of Lenny Kravitz. And judging from what he recently told the Toronto Star, we kinda wish all hotels could be as sexy as Lenny's hotels:
“It’s going to be plush and lush and comfortable and inspiring,” says the musician in a phone interview from Croatia, where he is on a European tour. “It’s going to be warm, it’s going to be soulful. It has to be elegant and sexy the moment you get off that elevator.”
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If you're planning on visiting Toronto in the new year, you've got a new luxury hotel to consider--The Trump Toronto.
The latest biggest and bestest Trump hotel has just announced that they will open on January 31, 2012. It will be the only luxury hotel in the city's Financial District. And the rooms sure do look pretty! Perhaps because they were inspired by some luxe items--champagne and caviar. No, for real. The press release actually said that.
Since we love the bubbly (caviar not so much), we're curious as to whether or not the rooms will have champagne prices. We tried to use the hotel's convenient Facebook booking app, to suss out the room rates on opening night but an error message kept appearing. But no worries, the hotel's website was working just fine and we found Superior King rooms available for $495 CAD (or about $488 in USD) on January 31st. Sigh. We've got champagne tastes and a mid-service budget.