ONTARIO 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.
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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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We had the chance to stay at the new ALT Hotel Toronto Pearson, owned by Canadian boutique hoteliers, Groupe Germain and, we gotta tell ya, this hotel-in-a-box is stylin’!
Back in April we reported Groupe Germain planned to open several ALT Hotels across Canada, and Toronto is the first up. The ALT Hotel business model is to maximize style while keeping costs down by minimizing superfluous services and prefabricating the hotel rooms – sort of like how cruise ships are built (ergo, hotel-in-a-box!). What this means is that you can get a hotel room for a very reasonable price, that is always the same, no matter what day of the week or what time of the year.
Knowing all of this, we were still pleasantly surprised that the 153-room hotel is so well-designed. When you enter, you'll first notice the eye-catching video wall. Made up of photos and LCD screens, this ever-changing mural is comprised of photos submitted via Instagram.
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In its continuing quest for world domination – Okay, Canadian domination – family-run Canadian hotelier, Groupe Germain, has announced that they will build another ALT Hotel in Ottawa for 2014.
Expect to see a modern hotel with twelve floors and 148 rooms designed by Canadian architects Lemay Michaud and Richard Chmiel. The hotel will be located on well-traversed Slater Street in Ottawa's bustling business district and will share space with 164 luxury condos in the same complex.
As in all ALT Hotels, WiFi is always free and the hotels don’t just call themselves green, they mean it. They use: geothermal heating and cooling, heat recovery from indoor air that's vented outside, water from commercial washers, energy-efficient lighting and a direct digital control system for ventilation, heating and cooling.
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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.
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Shangri-La Toronto Lobby
Oooohhhh. The word is that the Shangri-La Toronto is still scheduled to open later this month. They're playing it coy, however, as we see that bookings can’t yet be made on their site.
We've managed to get a hold of some renderings of the hotel and it looks like it’s going to be a beauty: very light, spacious and open.
This is not so much a bar hop as a bar marathon that runs (get it?) the entire length of Canada. If you have the stamina, so do we.
We know what you’re thinking: What’s with the strange punctuation in ARC The.Hotel’s name? Well, we don’t know – but we do know that going to this hotel lounge is worth overlooking poor grammar.
On any given day, you can find a youngish professional crowd hanging out in the lounge, both locals and guests, enjoying the jazzy, dreamy soundtrack. What’s their cocktail of choice, you ask? It’s the ARCtini, the ARC Lounge’s version of a green apple martini.