Toronto hotel boom ignored by U.S. study...Virgin Air/Royal Wedding...Iraq flight
Quite the mixed bag here today. First, I'm pissed off (again) at another U.S. study that ignores Canada. This time, I get riled up reading a good USA Today report about a study by the STR/McGraw Hill Construction Dodge Pipeline Report. It talks about how New York is building 6,763 hotel rooms at the moment (wow) and then goes on to list the top-ten markets for hotel construction, but only in the U.S.
The report said the number two city was Orlando, at 2,636, followed by Washington D.C. at 2,619 rooms under construction, Dallas at 1,475, Miami-Hialeah at 1,026 and then Philadelphia (799), Chicaco (778), Atlanta (691), Houston (680) and Nashville (446).
Yeah, I guess Canadian companies often do studies that focus only on Canadian hotels. But it still aggravates me to read big stories in major U.S. publications that ignore the friendly neighbour to the north, just as a colleague of mine gets his knickers in a twist watching CNN and seeing the weather reports stop at Buffalo and not listing our atmospheric conditions.
It’s no wonder Toronto has such a hard time making itself heard in the Fox News/CNN dominated American market, where the 50 states are the only thing that matters in the entire world unless Uncle Sam is dropping bombs on Libya or Afghanistan or there's a Royal Wedding going on (see item below).
If nothing else, the hotel study got me thinking again about Toronto's impressive hotel construction market. I mean, in the last year or so we’ve had the Thompson (see photo), the Ritz-Carlton, the new Le Germain at Maple Leaf Square. Under construction? The Trump, the Shangri-la, the new Delta near the convention centre, Bisha (also near the convention centre), the new Four Seasons, and more.
I checked the Star’s library and came up, roughly, 1,860 rooms that were under construction as of January. That could be off by 10 per cent but it still would be good for number four on a list of North America hotel construction (assuming there are no Canadian cities doing more than Toronto, and after checking around I believe that is the case).
Terry Mundell of the Greater Toronto Hotel Association said he shares my frustration with the American study.
“I agree,” he told me. “I don’t think Americans know what we have up here. I don’t think people understand how big we are. We get measured against Montreal and Ottawa and all but we don’t compare. We’re the anomaly. We’re the beast. The GTA probably has almost one-third of all the hotel rooms in Canada.”
Mundell said his group measures hotels in terms of overall business and that Toronto is something like seventh in North America.
We may be a beast up north but obviously we’re small potatoes compared to New York. The USA Today report said the next hotel that will move out of the construction phase is a 316-room Dream Downtown hotel operated by Wyndham, set to open in May. The following month, the folks who operate London-based Yotel will open their first American hotel, a 669-room affair with small (how small I don’t know) rooms, presumably aiming at bargain hunters.
ROYAL WEDDING GOES VIRGIN
An item on Travelmole.com today said passengers on board Virgin Atlantic flights to the US and Caribbean next Friday will be invited to onboard street parties to celebrate the marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
"On flights departing April 29, passengers in economy and premium economy will receive an afternoon tea of wedding cake and traditional English breakfast tea served in a souvenir union jack lunch box.
Cabins will be decorated in bunting and union jack headrests and passengers will receive special Kate and William themed love hearts and ice cream during the flight."
A nice touch. Not to mention clever marketing by Sir Richard Branson. Too bad Virgin doesn't have its Toronto-California flights any more...
FLY TO IRAQ
Seeking something a little different? After 21 years, Austrian Airlines is returning to Baghdad. Beginning June 8th, the air carrier will reinstate its route into its scheduled flight program. Austrian will operate a total of three flights per week to the Iraqi capital. The service will be provided with aircraft from the Airbus A320 fleet.
Not quite what you had in mind? Finnair will reintroduce a direct summer route between Toronto and Helsinki with connections to over 50 destinations in Europe. Finnair will offer a scheduled flight between Toronto Pearson International Airport and Helsinki Airport five days a week from May 26 to September 11, 2011.
Finnair’s summer rates will start at $825.