Toronto unfriendly to tourists...Sauble Beach fights back...Thompson Hotel T.0.
My cousin came driving into Toronto from Milwaukee a few weeks ago and, after being treated horribly by the folks at Canadian customs, got mixed up on the route to downtown from HIghway 401.
He says he didn't see any signs on the 401 pointing to downtown Toronto as he was dring east through the Mississauga area. I gotta admit part of me thought maybe he just missed it. Surely there are signs on the 401 for tourists heading to the CN Tower or the ballpark or the ROM?
Maybe not. I drove from my home in the north end to pick up my Dad at Pearson late Monday night. No problem on the 401 or the 409. But he was going downtown, not to my place. So instead of going back to the 409/401 route I wanted to go south on the 427. I pulled out of Pearson and drove south towards the 427 southbound and found it closed.
I'm 99 per cent sure there was no sign at the airport telling me the major route to downtown was closed. So I had to go west on the 401 to Derry Rd. and then get off and clamber back onto the 401 eastbound to make my way to downtown Toronto. And I don't know that the 427 sign said "downtown Toronto this way." It didn't matter, as it was closed. And there was certainly no sign suggesting an alternate route.
I made a mistake while on the 401 and ended up on the Renforth/427 ramp, which forced me to go NORTH on 427 back towards the airport. There was no sign on the 427 northbound for the 409 that I could see, so I ended up getting off on Airport Rd. and looking for the 409 connection. The only way I could find that was to go all the way back to the terminal, and then look for the 409/401 eastbound lanes. Sigh.
Some of this was my fault, but a hapless visitor from another city would've had NO IDEA where anything was. Hey, these jokers in government can spend $1 billion to protect President Obama's butt but they can't spend $2,000 on a road sign pointing thousands of tourists to that same downtown Toronto area where Obama will sleep? Disgraceful.
SON OF A BEACH
I got a bit of grief for writing out a list of top beaches in southern Ontario last weekend and not including Sauble. I like Sauble a lot, but I already had put Wasaga on the list and so skipped a little further south and singled out Port Elgin, instead.
I got an email from a Sauble Beach person and a call from the chamber of commerce. I actually kinda liked having someone get mad at me; it shows they were reading and it shows they're committed.
"Unfortunately the timing of your article was a day ahead of Sauble Beach being awarded another Blue Flag designation (for clean beaches), a great announcement honouring Sauble for the 5th time," I was told in the email.
We need more of that kind of caring and commitment in our tourism industry, so go ahead and rant folks. Maybe sometime I'll come up and write a travel story on the joys of Sauble Beach. Lord knows a few days lying on the sand wouldn't kill my mood these days.
THOMPSON TORONTO OPEN FOR BUSINESS
The Thompson Hotel in Toronto, the first Canadian hotel for the Thompson group (www.thompsonhotel.com), has already opened for guests.
I got a note the other day saying I was invited to a reception at the hotel next week. I asked if there was a chance to spend the night and check out the rooms, and they said they'd probably arrange something later in June. But they also said the hotel already was open for paying guests, and I had no idea. They certainly didn't make it very well known, which I find pretty strange in a competitive hotel market.
You can book a king superior room for $199 for this coming Saturday and Sunday nights, according to the website. The Thompson Toronto is at 550 Wellington St. W.
The restaurant and bar apparently won't open for another couple weeks, so maybe they wanted to keep the rooms-only bit kinda low key. Still, I find it weird that they wouldn't alert the Travel department of a major, new hotel opening up ,especially when I got a call just a few minutes ago from a guy who works for a new hotel called the Zanzibar Beach Hotel in Tanzania!! He had sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org a week before and wanted to know if I'd received it. Yes I did. It's a nine-room boutique hotel. Sounds fine but not quite on my radar screen.
WANT TO UNDERSTAND SOCIAL MEDIA? TAKE A HOLIDAY TO MEXICO
I spotted this on travelmole this morning and it's pretty cool: the Casa Velas Hotel Boutique in Puerto Vallarta is giving folks a social media workshop as part of their all-inclusive rate.
“We’re delighted to be probably the first resort in Mexico to offer this, and at no charge to our guests,” announced Pierre Bonin, Managing Director of Casa Velas.
The hotel found more than two-thirds of respondents in a poll wanted to learn more about sharing vacation photos, videos and trip experiences with friends and family. The workshop includes Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media.
(I should suggest it for my uncle. He's 94, living out in Sacramento, California, and just got his first laptop and is learning to send emails to friends and family and to surf the web)
The Casa Velas offers rates starting at $240 U.S. per person per night, based on double occupancy, from now through December 23 of this year.
If anyone cares, travelmole's headline says the resort is in Puerto Rico. But it's actually in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
GREAT JOB SKEWERING PRESS RELEASES
A website called ragan.com has a story posted on it about how public relations types can do a better job dealing with the media. It's written by a chap named Jim Ylisela and has a great passage in which he talks about retooling press releases.
"The world has changed," he said, "and yet so many companies still insist on issuing press releases that look like they were lost in the mail—in the ’70s. They start with long, ponderous leads:
Corporation X, the world’s leading provider of incomprehensible and extremely hard-to-fathom solutions, is pleased to announce a rollout of an implementation that will facilitate something we’d love to tell you about it if we understood it ourselves.
I LOVE THAT.