Air Canada, WestJet, Porter prepare for big storm...Drake Hotel romance in T.O.
"There is quite a bit of preparation when we know a storm is coming," Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick told me in an email.
"Basically we just do what we can, make sure all the equipment is ready, if it looks really bad we will put some staff in nearby hotels so they can be sure to get to work, we will ensure the call centre is properly staffed, in expectation of reduced airport operations we also thin out the schedule (e.g., if two half-full planes are leaving 30 minutes apart, we will combine them into one) and we also change the rebooking policy so people who choose not to fly can change their plans at no cost (this frees up seats in case we have to protect people from cancelled flights). Most importantly we urge customers to check the flight status before they go to the airport as this can save a lot of heartache.
"At the end of the day, most people understand that we can only operate when it is safe to do so and they do not mind waiting for that reason. We do our best to keep people informed about schedule changes, but we are at the mercy of the weather and the airport, so we do not always know what flights will be going or when."
The folks at Porter Airlines have a travel advisory posted today.
Porter Airlines is advising passengers to confirm their flight status prior to arriving at the airport due to forecasted weather conditions. Delays and cancellations may occur.
Passengers can check flight status details below and make inquiries about changing their flight times, space permitting, by phoning the Porter call centre at (888) 619-8622, weekdays from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET, and weekends from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET. Please be patient as high call volumes may cause longer than average wait times
Robert Palmer over at WestJet sounded a similar note.
"We'll be putting in place our usualy flexible change/cancel guidelines," he said in a short email.
He told me to keep an eye out for advisories on their website, www.westjet.com. A check there this morning found the following note:
A winter storm warning has been announced for Southern Ontario between Tuesday, February 1st and Wednesday, February 2nd. This may cause the delay or cancellation of WestJet flights to and from this area. We advise all guests travelling to or from this area between February 1st and Feburary 2nd to check the status of their flight prior to leaving for the airport.
Additional updates will be posted as they are available.
Guests who wish to make alternate travel arrangements may do so without penalty, based on availability, by calling 1-800-538-5696.
Palmer, and I like this, couldn't resist a small shot at the weather doomsayers here in the Big Smoke.
"P.S.," he wrote at the bottom of his email. "Environment Canada is only calling for 20-30 cms. We got that over the weekend."
DRAKE HOTEL TORONTO HAPPENINGS
Star man Adrian Brijbassi was over at the Drake Hotel the other day, checking things out in advance of Valentine's Day. Here's his report.
With all that snow expected, the Drake Hotel's Apres Ski Lodge actually seems apropros and not just clever marketing. The Drake is in the habit of keeping things cool and the Ski Lodge is another example. On Fridays and Saturdays in winter, the Sky Yard covered patio — which in the summer is packed with diners — is turned into a cozy space with a bonfire, blankets and roasting marshmallows. Things get cooking on the second floor from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. both nights. There’s a vintage Ski-Doo and a functioning firepit to add to the ambience.
Highlights are the specialty cocktails: Drake Nog with White Chocolate S’mores, boozy hot chocolate and others. It’s the third winter for the Ski Lodge and the property just keeps going with this blend of modern and retro, trendy and traditional, cool and stunningly unpretentious.
“We’re always on the hunt for fun new ideas at Drake and our climate-defiant Après Ski Lodge is no exception,” says Rachelle Stark, a publicist for the lodge campaign.
Along with the Ski Lodge, the hotel has a culinary tour on Mondays and a Trivia Night on Wednesdays that draws a crowd. For Valentine’s Day, they’ve got a Pillow Fight promotion that lets guests invite their “lover to sleep over at Drake with a custom invitation in the form of a goose down pillow that will be delivered to their door in advance of your stay”. Maybe not the thing for a first date, but it is fun and cheeky.
And the Drake also has its mainstays: the sexy lounge restaurant whose menu reminds visitors they can get a room; the Underground that’s home to concerts and readings midweek and late-night clubbing on the weekends; the Corner Café and Bistro reminiscent of an old school American diner; and, of course, the rooms that have made it one of the most acclaimed hotels in our city. With it all, it manages to appeal to a lot of people without losing its cred. You can be sure there are local hipsters who wouldn’t hang out with 905ers and tourists anywhere else in the city but the Drake.
We’ll have more about the Drake in coming weeks in the print edition of Star Travel. If you’ve got something to say about the Drake, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more on the Après Ski Lodge, visit: http://www.thedrakehotel.ca/dining/sky-yard.