Go Media/Canadian Tourism Commission conference off to musical start
Cool tunes Monday night at the Royal Conservatory of Music, thanks to Tourism Toronto.
This week marks the annual Go Media session sponsored by the Canadian Tourism Commission, a wild couple days of networking by travel folks and "speed dating" between travel/tourism reps in Canada and journalists from all over North America and beyond. Basically, journalists sign up for a 10-minute chat with a tourism rep and then dash from table to table in a big room, learning all about what's new in Saskatoon/Sault Ste. Marie/Squamish and then do it all over again. It's kinda fun, but exhausting.
Anyhoo, because this year's event is in Toronto at the Royal York Hotel, the folks from Tourism Toronto had the job of hosting the opening night soiree on Monday. They had hoped to do the steel band outside on Philosopher's Walk next to the University of Toronto, but rain forced them to have the music inside the new glass conservatory building. Not their fault, but it was a touch loud so I sauntered upstairs for something a little quieter. They had dynamite East Indian food and a great atmosphere upstairs.
The Toronto people took advantage of the city's diversity and had various food stations representing different neighbourhoods. There was a lovely risotto with mushrooms (at first I thought it looked like oatmeal; guess I need new glasses) from Little Italy and a great souvlaki from Greektown.
There was the steel band, as I mentioned, but also a lovely sax player belting out tunes like "The Girl from Ipanema." Oh, and Caribana girls. Several Caribana girls. I seem to recall someone taking my photo with a few of them, but I haven't seen the evidence.
It was a fun evening, followed this morning by a breakfast put on by Tourism Saskatoon. They put on a Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival in Saskatoon every summer, and the actors are pretty good. They had a fellow playing Shylock from Merchant of Venice this morning, and he was particularly talented. But somebody missed the memo about keeping these things brief, and instead of a 10-minute preview they put on a half-hour show on a day when many tourism/travel people had a hugely busy day of appointments to get ready for. I don't want to criticize the folks in charge. And, like I say, the acting was mostly very good. But someone didn't understand the time constraints of the audience.
Onwards and upwards, however. Tonight there's a Tourism Ontario event at the Distillery District, one of my favourite parts of town for sure. It should be a good night.A NIGHT AT THE STRATH
Rather than sleeping at home and getting up early for the breakfast today, I opted to spend Monday night downtown. The Royal York was fresh out of rooms, so I wandered off to the Strathcona Hotel for the night.
I remember the days when you wouldn't send your brother-in-law to the Strath, but I'd heard they'd fixed things up and I was curious. It was a small room, for sure, but quite nice. Hardwood floors, nice linens, a hugely comfortable bed, a flat-screen LG television, an iPod docking station/radio, a small desk and a shower with decent water pressure. You don't need much more than that.
They had white, wooden shutters on the windows, which was kinda neat, and some very cool mood lighting built into the wall next to the headboard. I'm told rooms down low can be loud but I was on the 11th floor and didn't hear a sound.
I didn't check out the restaurant or the facilities, but at $209 for the night (taxes included), it's a decent room in a great location. A touch pricey considering the size of the room, but quite satisfactory in style/comfort.