Canadian travel market on the upswing?...Good deals at Peninsula Hotels
The folks at OpenJaw have a story today that suggests the travel business is rebounding in Canada. But it might not be so great for consumers.
The story says the head of the Hotel Association of Canada, Tony Pollard, told a meeting in Toronto last week (The Best Western Leisure Travel Summit) is projecting a 7 per cent growth in the leisure travel market this summer.
A top official with the Canadian Automobile Association said CAA offices have noticed a 7 to 12 per cent increase in leisure travel activity. It should be good news for the industry, but there are concerns about pricing and other issues. A senior v.p. with Best Western said bookings are up 7 per cent this year but that rates actually are lower than a year ago.
Pollard said the average daily rate for a hotel stay in Canada is $125 to $130, and he says that's too low. Open Jaw quoted him as saying that is "insufficient to be able to sustain operations" and that it's time to increase rates.
PINING FOR THE PENINSULA
Nice breakfast today with folks who represent Peninsula Hotels, where you can find some really solid deals this summer.
They've got a promotion on the go called Summer Splendour from now until the end of September, with special discounts at all nine of their properties in Asia and North America. At the Peninsula Bangkok, a marvellous property I stayed at a couple weeks ago, you can get a room for $285 U.S., with a one-way limousine transfer to the airport, upgrade to the next room category, a complimentary afternoon tea for two at the lovely Lobby restaurant, plus daily buffet breakfast (it's terrific) for two at the River Cafe (great views; see photo above from across the river) and unlimited, in-room wireless Internet.
The Peninsula Beverly Hills is going for $585 U.S., with one-way limo, room upgrade, a $100 spa credit, daily American breakfast for two and free in-room wi-fi. At the Peninsula Chicago you'll get a room for $475 with room upgrade, a $100 dining credit, a $100 spa credit, daily American breakfast for two at The Lobby or through room service and in-room, free wireless.
Peninsula Hotels is celebrating a big year, as it's the 35th anniversary of the property in Manila (awesome photos on their website), the 20th year for Beverly Hills and the 10th year for Chicago.
I was told you can book a room at the Chicago Peninsula and get a second night for $10, while you can book two nights in Beverly Hills and get the third night for $20.
They're working on the new Peninsula Paris, which will open near the Arc d' Triomphe in early 2013, and also looking at London and India. Alas, nothing in Canada for now....And nothing near the airport in San Francisco. Which is too bad, because the area south of San Francisco, between the Golden Gate and San Jose, is called the Peninsula by folks who live in the Bay Area. Which means...Oh, never mind.
BY THE WAY, if you go to the lovely TOCA restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton here in Toronto, you might want to skip the peameal bacon. I wanted to show off our national bacon dish to the folks from Peninsula Hotels but I didn't give them any to try as it was, frankly, pretty weird. Peameal bacon should be thickly sliced and smoky and a little salty, but this was sliced wafer thin and didn't have enough of that good old peameal bacon flavour to my mind. A better selection of jams at the table also would be nice. But the scrambled eggs were good and the muesli looked tasty. And tbey serve great coffee from Balzac's, the best coffee house in the city.
I'm told by a colleague who shall remain nameless that they hire very hot bartenders who can do amazing things with liquid nitrogen and ice-cold vodka martinis with a twist. The patio looks great, as Star Travel guy Adrian Brijbassi pointed out in his recent review of the hotel.
Also by the way, in case anyone from the taxi industry is listening, both folks I dined with this morning said they rolled into town on Sunday and had cab drivers who didn't know where the Ritz-Carlton was located. It's on Wellington, folks, right near the CBC building and Metro Hall.