An epic Canadian battle begins...and what's up with Air Canada wi-fi???
An incumbent with a rich history and tons of power. A couple relative newcomers making enormous, glitzy splashes of their own.
Yes, there's a war on in Canada. But I'm not talking about the coming federal election, I'm referring to the downtown Toronto hotel wars. It's a great time to be in the travel biz in this city, with all sorts of new attractions, including: the relatively new ROM, the AGO addition, the Bell Lightbox, Rob Ford's mayoralty. Even better is the astounding rise of new hotels: The Thompson, the new Le Germain at Maple Leaf Square in the burgeoning, new Bremner Blvd. neighborhood if you want to call it that, a new Holiday Inn with lots of perqs for guests rising out of an older hotel on Carlton St. Toss in the new Four Seasons that's set to come and you've got some great hotel watching on the way.
I'm getting a kick out of the suite wars, if you like; the war-within-a war. As Star Travel guy Adrian Brijbassi pointed out in our pages a few days ago, the new Ritz-Carlton downtown has a 2,500 square foot suite that goes for $6,000 a night.
"The suite features an elliptical machine, a second bathroom for visitors, a Bose sound system with MP3 dock, and an impeccably decorated study with an iPad and library collection that suitably carries a volume of 'The Best Poems in the English Language,'" our man wrote. "The suite’s evening turndown service includes the laying out of sea salt and a soothing bottle of specially made bath oil, displayed amid candle light. The walls and heated floor of the immense master bath resemble a museum hall. Its mirrors feature embedded HDTVs and the shelves are saturated with Bulgari bottles."
Pretty impressive. But The Donald is not about to be trumped. As biz reporter Tony Wong points out in today's Star, the new Trump Tower on Bay St. will have 261 rooms and suites, including a 4,000 square foot suite with 11-foot ceilings and in-room design by the Italian group Fendi. The cost? A mere $21,000 per night.
Yikes. I hope there's free Internet and a nice bathrobe. Hell, for that price, you ought to get a laptop and an entire wardrobe from Harry Rosen.
Heckuva lot of fun to watch, isn't it? And, hey, since Adrian got to test out the Ritz I think it's only right that I get to bed down at the Trump Tower suite when it opens. Might even bring my own bottle of Henckell Trocken.
AIR CANADA WI-FI WOES?
I saw on Wednesday that United/Continental has plans for wi-fi on 200 planes, adding to the fleet of airlines that offer wi-fi. Virgin America, which sadly no longer flies to Toronto despite our remarkable hotel building, has had it for a couple years now, I think. Many airlines do.
Air Canada has been studying Internet for its planes since about the time of the Beatles' White Album but a spokesman on Wednesday said they're still examining their options. Geez, guys, can you BE any slower? Did you hire the folks in charge of scheduling workers at Pearson's Canadian customs booths at March break or something? You know, the guys who were SHOCKED to find thousands of Canadians returning from Cuba and Florida in the middle of the well-advertised school break? Or maybe you have secret plans for wi-fi that are stashed in a suitcase and you're still waiting for the bag to arrive on the conveyor belt at Pearson.
NEW ZEALAND FUN
Great night at Hemingway's in Toronto last night, where they were donating 20 per cent of the take from dinner and drinks to the earthquake relief fund in Christchurch, New Zealand. I hadn't been to Hemingway's in a while and forgot how reasonably priced it is, especially for Yorkville. Very good pub-style food, as well.
Probably it's about time for someone to do something similar for the poor folks in Japan, if someone hasn't done so already....