Name Your Favourite Places in Canada ... Hotels with supermarkets...Haiti hotel
Last week we read about the New Seven Wonders of the World campaign, which to me sounded a little, ahem, strange, what with Cape Town's Table Mountain defeating such grand places as the Galapagos Islands and the Great Barrier Reef. Anywho, starting today (Tuesday, Nov. 29), folks get something closer to home with the launch of the second annual GREAT PLACES IN CANADA polling.
The event, sponsored by the Canadian Institute of Planners, allows Canadians to nominate public spaces, neighbourhoods and streets between now and Jan. 31, 2012 at www.greatplacesincanada.com. Voting will take place until Feb. 29, and judges will decide on semi-finalists in early April. The winners will be announced at the end of April, 2012.
Last year's winners, I gotta admit, didn't exactly blow me away, which is a problem with Internet-based voting. Commercial Street in Nanaimo was named Canada's great street, while The Forks in Winnipeg was Canada's great public space. Top neighbourhood was Le Petit Champlain in Quebec City (see photo at right).
I've been to Nanaimo and liked it plenty, but I wouldn't say Commercial Street can compete with Roncesvalles here in Toronto or Main Street in Vancouver.
I haven't been to Winnipeg but certainly know of the Forks and the status it has so I can't argue with it. And it would be pretty hard to take issue with Quebec City and the Petit Champlain area, which is photographed even more often than Lady Gaga. Or her underwear.
Me? Off the top of my fuzzy head I think I'd take Vancouver's Main Street as my top street (or maybe 4th Ave. in Kitsilano), then Mile End in Montreal as a neighbourhood and the Distillery District here in T.O. as a public space, although it might also be considered a neighbourhood.
Check it out, anyway. You can't win if you don't vote.
GREAT IDEA IN THE UK
Out of Britain comes news that Travelodge is teaming up with supermarkets to build hotels with markets on the ground floor.
It apparently helps the hotels get financing and it doesn't interfere with hotel operations. It's useful for about any hotel guest to have access to fresh fruit or coffee or milk or deodorant, but I can see how it would be particularly attractive in North America, where we have so many all-suite places with full kitchens.
When I was at the Vancouver Olympics for the Star almost two years ago (wow, hard to believe it's been two years), I was at the Carmana Plaza Hotel downtown. It had a full kitchen, and there was an Urban Fare restaurant right across the street. It was great to go late at night on the way home from the media centre and pick up a snack or a chicken or something else that I could heat up in the oven or the microwave, and I saved a fortune by making my own breakfast each day. Having a supermarket practically inside the hotel is a lot better than having to rely on a coffee machine and a small shop selling magazines and Advil.
The Carmana, by the way, makes a great place to stay in Vancouver, particularly if you want some space to spread out. It's quite convenient, right on Alberni St. a mere block and a bit west of Burrard.
NEW HOTEL IN HAITI
Word this morning that Marriott is building a new hotel in Haiti; the first such announcement since the earthquake and the first-ever international hotel.
The note I received said that Harbor Beach Marriott hotel folks from Fort Lauderdale, Florida sent a team to join the relief efforts after the quake. It was quite grim and there wasn't any place for them to stay or eat. They apparently worked with the Clinton Foundation and then Marriott International sent a team to do some exploring. They hooked up with Digicel, the large telecommunications firm, which recently had entered the market in Haiti and needed hotel rooms.
Voila, a partnership was born. The hotel will be in Port-au-Prince and will have 173 rooms and operate with the Marriott name. Officials said it will generate hundreds of (obviously) badly-needed jobs in the country.
It's clearly a business opportunity, but kudos to Marriott for investing in a place that badly needs the help.