I've always been leery of Trip Advisor ratings. Now I know why.
No, nothing wrong with those as far as I know. It's just that, if you look down the list, it's incredibly skewed. Again, no offence, but eight of the top ten are in British Columbia; four of the top seven being in Vancouver. The only two in the top ten that aren't in B.C. are Quebec hotels. Number 11 is a Quebec hotel, then come two in Whistler, another in Vancouver and another in Whistler.
Not to be a homer, but it's not until you get to the 16th spot that you find the Harbour House Hotel in Niagara on the Lake - the first entry for the largest province in the country.
Toronto finally makes an appearance at #18, with Le Germain Maple Leaf Square. The other T.O. entries are the Cambridge Suites Hotel downtown at #21 and the new Ritz-Carlton on Wellington St. West at #22.
What's pretty obvious is that a lot of this is based either on folks from out west voting for their own, or folks from Ontario who tend not to stay in hotels in their own province and thus vote for properties out west.
It's also obvious that this is a popularity contest; much like the People's Choice awards. nothing wrong with that, I guess. But I'd rather hear from a panel of experts, personally.
If you ask the Canadian Automobile Association, which does a great job analyzing hotels across the country, there are only TWO five-diamond properties in Canada. One is the Ritz-Carlton, which came 22nd in the Trip Advisor list. The other is the Four Seasons in Whistler, which was #15 in Canada.
Another weird thing I noticed is the list of top 25 luxury hotels in the country. Shangri-La in Vancouver (a lovely spot) was first, followed a personal fave, Hotel Le St. James in Montreal (most attractive dining room in the country, hands down). The Fairmont Pacific Rim in Vancouver was third, followed by The Hazelton Hotel in Toronto. The Four Seasons, long considered tops in Canada, was number six. The Ritz-Carlton in Toronto didn't even make the top 25, however. And that's nuts.
It's somewhat understandable. The Ritz is pretty new. And most folks in Canada - or the U.S. for that matter - probably can't afford to spend hundreds of dollars a night at a five-diamond property. therefore, they aren't exposed to those hotels and, therefore, those hotels don't get many votes.
That explains how something like Le Germain Maple Leaf Square (see photo at right), which is fun and undoubtedly popular with hockey and basketball or concert fans owing to its direct access to the Air Canada Centre, comes out tops in Toronto. It's a fine hotel, with lots of gizmos in the rooms and a great bar and a terrific ambience. But it's not as nice as the original Le Germain on Mercer Street. Nor is it in the class of the Ritz-Carlton, which has earned raves around the world.
An even stronger example is the Cambridge Suites down on Richmond St.. I've been in one of the rooms as my dad stayed there a couple years ago. It was a good-sized room with a sitting area and a small cafe on the main floor. Lots of space, which is important to me when I travel. I don't care that much about luxury if I'm in town on business; I'd rather have room. The Cambridge Suites provides that, and it's affordable, so it makes sense that it's on the list. (Incidentally, they were listing a room for next Friday night the 27th for $169; very nice for a king-bed and an added sofa bed in the extra room. And it includes free wi-fi).
I suppose the lesson is that this is a narrow group of voters and that they're probably talking about value as much as stand-alone greatness. Which is fair enough. It doesn't matter how great the steak is at a Daniel Boulud restaurant, I'm not paying that kind of money for something I can make pretty well at home myself. And I don't care how nice the spa might be at the Ritz if I'm a $50,000 wage earner from Walkerton, I guess.
Anyway, I'm sure the folks out in B.C. can use the boost of having 15 of the top 25 hotels in Canada.