Park Hyatt Toronto has the best location in town.
While the capital of the province of Ontario has sights all around the city, it is the newly revitalised Bloor-Yorkville neighbourhood that is the centre of Toronto’s best shopping, culture, dining, and accommodation. Concentrating the excellence further, all these are available on the intersection of Bloor Street and Avenue Road.
It is here one finds the unique Gardiner Museum Of Ceramic Art, a collection of collections started by the Gardiner family in the 1970′s. Within ten years, they had accumulated enough top pieces to open the museum, which now displays priceless works. At the Gardiner, admiration of the works of others is fine, but the museum also offers the opportunity to take part in the world of ceramics by offering clay classes several times a week with experienced ceramicists. Using Canadian clay, participants can sculpt by hand or use a potter’s wheel. The tactile experience is great fun for employees who find it unexpectedly restorative to hold an organic substance in their hands rather than a manmade, technological device. A great bonding experience.
from the Royal Ontario Museum’s excellent Chinese collection
On the Gardiner Museum’s top floor, there is an airy café for a bite to eat created by Toronto star chef Jamie Kennedy, one of three chefs whose exquisite sense of the culinary have found their way to this exceptionally endowed intersection; the corner of Avenue Road and Bloor Street is a gastronomic crossroads for Toronto, with-unexpectedly-three gastronomic institutions adding some excitement to the city’s dining scene. In addition to Jamie Kennedy, Ted Corrado at the Royal Ontario Museum’s c5 restaurant and Joan Monfaredi of Park Hyatt Toronto’s Annona restaurant have garnered as much praise form the press as they have from their patrons.
A guided tour around Toronto with local expert Bruce Bell of Bruce Bell Tours will have the smallest detail of the city revealed, giving visitors a much greater appreciation for the sights seen. Mr Bell can take corporate groups into the heart of Toronto’s neighbourhoods to experience the cultures of Toronto from an insider’s perspective. Visits to the markets are among his most sought after; public markets are enormously popular in Canadian cities and have returned urban residents to the pleasures of buying locally grown produce from friendly merchants rather than picking plastic-wrapped packages off anonymous supermarket shelves. St Lawrence Market, right on the riverfront, is one of the best. Mr Bell also takes guests through Kensington Market, an artsy, funky, and colourful part of town.
The Royal Ontario Museum’s golden Rotunda is a popular venue for corporate events.
Located directly across the street from the Gardiner Museum is the Royal Ontario Museum, an institution with a double mission as a museum of world cultures and a museum of natural history. A microcosm of the history of Toronto, the first of the museum’s buildings was finished in 1914, with a Depression-era MakeWork project adding a magnificent addition and the new Michael Lee-Chin Crystal pavilion, opened in 2004, further enhancing the architectural patrimony of the institution. Most impressive among the galleries are the dinosaur exhibit, the mineralogy and gemstone displays of the Teck Galleries, and the Chinese collection, one of the best in the world. The museum’s beautiful Rotunda, lined in gold mosaic tiles, is a favourite location for corporate events; the Royal Ontario Museum is one of the city’s premier venues for events and has much experience with making arrangements for even the most demanding of occasions. Individual floors, or the entire museum, can be reserved after hours for private tours. The museum’s excellent restaurant, c5, is one of the best in Canada; it is located in the museum’s Crystal wing, a gift from Canadian billionaire Michael Lee-Chin.
harlequin figurine at the Gardiner Museum
As for hotels, the sublime Park Hyatt Toronto occupies the most desirable location in Toronto, right on the corner of Bloor Street and Avenue Road. The quality of the hotel befits its optimal location; Park Hyatt provides a full-service hotel experience with utmost professionalism; from the exquisite dishes served in its restaurant, Annona, to the spa, only the best will do. Unusual for a hotel spa, Stillwater has a prime street-level entrance to receive its guests before they proceed to the treatments rooms. The spa is widely regarded as the best in the city and attracts a busy clientele, especially on weekends. Ask for therapist Chantelle for a guaranteed ascent into a state of relaxation. While the public spaces are impressive, it is the hotel’s expansive suites that further emphasise its excellence.
North of Avenue Road are two historic residences well worth an excursion away from the golden intersection. The Spadina Museum was the bourgeois home of the Austin family, the last of whom moved out in 1982 and donated the house to the City of Toronto. Built in the mid-1800′s, Spadina House gives insight into the life of the wealthy of several eras spanning a century of styles and inventions. The Austins owned Consumers Gas Company, and there are gas chandeliers in the house to this day, along with several other period advances that were modern for their time but are quaint today, such as the icebox and the telephone.
dusk over Toronto as seen from the Park Hyatt
Across the street from Spadina House is the remarkable Casa Loma. The grandest private home ever built in Toronto, Casa Loma today is a museum open to the public for a glimpse of high-society living in the early part of the 20th century. The home of Sir Henry Mill Pellatt and his wife, Lady Mary Pellatt. At the height of his power, Sir Henry sat on the boards of directors of companies controlling a full one quarter of the entire Canadian economy. Casa Loma was his showplace; built in the years 1911-1914, the house is a marvel of architectural elements far ahead of its time. The walls of the marble conservatory are lined with flower boxes heated from below by steampipes, allowing for tropical plants to thrive even during the severest of Toronto winters. The plants were brought to the house from the potting shed, a greenhouse that is connected to the main house via a 244-metre tunnel 5.4 metres below ground level that also links the main house to a garage and the beautiful stables. Casa Loma’s opulent salons can be hired for corporate functions as a fitting location for enjoying the best of Canada’s largest city. Air Canada offers several nonstop flights to Toronto from Asian cities and is only one stop away via Vancouver for Australian travellers. Contact Tourism Toronto or the CTC office nearest you. Canada is now represented in Australia by Donna Campbell of DC & Associates at 02 9819 7632.