Funny how some dining spots get all the hype, and other, just as worthy places get squat. I'm no dining expert, but such appears to be the case with Victor, the lovely restaurant at the sleek Le Germain Hotel on Mercer Street.
It's a great hotel with all the amenities but a nice sense of style and a great lobby that's modern without being cold and calculating like some too-cool-for-words places you'll find. But you don't hear much about the restaurant.
I had a chance to check it out Tuesday and thought it was outstanding. A new friend and I shared a monstrous plate of moist and flavourful pot roast that was falling off a carefully arranged bone about the size of something you'd see on the Flintstones. Rare rib eye steak slices were arranged on top, and it came with two large servings of rosti (yum) and sauteed mushrooms.
And they have a nicely robust California zinfandel by the glass, too.
While we're still on the hotel front, a colleague in the travel biz insists the rumours I was spreading the other day about the Hotel Gansevoort looking to open a boutique spot in Toronto are true. Which is pretty interesting when you think about all the high-end properties casting covetous eyes on the Big Smoke, including Shangri-La and the Ritz-Carlton.
GERMANY LEADS THE WAY
Reports out of the giant travel show going on in Berlin (The Star's Travel Show, he said in a shameless plug for the home side, goes March 27-29 at the Metro Toronto Convention centre) are that Germans led the way in terms of per capita travel spending in 2008.
Their most popular destinations? Spain, followed by Italy and Austria. And, no, I'm not making any political comments about those three choices. No, sir.
So, the travel rumour mill has it that the head of Ryanair was just seeking some free publicity for his company when he talked about making customers pay to pee. Pretty cheap p.r., when you think about it.
And us folks in the media, who love nothing more than a good toilet story, fell for it hook, line and plunger.
There's a great report by Paul Smith at bitterwallet on the issue. I particularly like his closing line where he suggests O'Leary next week will "casually let slip that he’s considering a limb tax on able-bodied individuals taking up too much space on flights, and that children will be considered as hand luggage."
JAMAICA, SOUTH AMERICA GOING STRONG
Jamaica’s tourism industry posted a 2 percent increase in visitor arrivals in February, on top of a 3.9 percent rise in overall visitors in 2008, according to breakingtravelnews.com.
The site quotes Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett as saying the Canadian market is particularly strong with double-digit growth, and that the U.S. is showing a strong recovery.
Travelweekly, meanwhile, says South America also is proving popular. According to a January report from the United Nations World Tourism Organization, international leisure arrivals to South America in 2008 increased by 5.9%, to 21.1 million, compared with 2007. That growth is only slightly lower than the 6.4% increase in 2007 over 2006.
Folks who've made the trip say one great advantage to South America is you're in pretty much the same time zone as North America, which saves a lot of wear and tear on the old body.