Yorkville is the chic part of Toronto. The gal walked west from Avenue Road along Prince Arthur Road, and was immediately struck by what a casserole this area is. As the photo on the left shows, a pot-pourri of trees blends perfectly with traditional decades-old houses and a modern block that should never have got planning permission (by contrast Toronto’s even-younger skyrises are up there with the best architectural shapes anywhere). People from all over the world seem to live in harmony here. Blue plastic litter bins do not exactly blend in but they are not out of place in front of a couture house offering all white gowns, for weddings and other events.
First Capital Realty, led by President and CEO Adam Paul, seems to be leading the rise of Yorkville – it owns, for instance, Yorkville Village, the mixed-use Bay Street development that include Whole Foods, and it is working on bringing Jimmy Choo and Versace to Yorkville Street, which is already akin to London’s Mount Street or Los Angeles’ Rodeo Drive (I love some of the existing Yorkville Street stores and such whimsical cafés as Sorrelle, a gluten-free chain that does not seem to be related to the always-packed Sorrel neighbourhood-Mediterranean restaurant further north, at 1158 Yonge Street, in Rosedale). Interestingly, First Capital Realty last month bought 60% of The Hazelton Hotel, on Yorkville. This is the phenomenally successful independent hotel run by GM Hani Roustom, a super-charming Lebanese-Canadian who admits he learned hard work and team leading, and I suspect, networking skills during five years aboard Louis Cruises.
For the last three years he has been running this 77-room hotel that consistently tops TripAdvisor in town, and over 35% of guests are regulars. Yes, they come for location, and the product (Yabu Pushelberg’s interiors are shortly to be tweaked) and they come for absolutely superb service. Every one of the team genuinely seems to anticipate what customers want. A rarity here is that all food, including room service, is freestanding quality. Everything, from menus through to cooking and service, is run by local culinary ‘name’ Mark McEwan. This means that ONE Restaurant’s outdoor patio, summer-only, does over 250 dinners nightly – I saluted Canada with a Prince Edward Island ribeye and its bone marrow, and addictive truffle fries, and Vineland Estates ONE Red Cabernet 2015 Niagara.
I am sure others, like me, appreciate not only facilities that include a 24/7 Technogym, and a proper lap pool, but also regular activities. The Hazelton is, with Yorkville Village, a founding partner of the twice-yearly Toronto Fashion Week, which next takes place September 4-6, 2018. At all times, people-watching, both on the patio – who is that at his regular corner table? – and in the bar, reminiscent of the Plaza-Athenée in Paris. And, by the way, do not ignore the serious art displayed variously around the hotel. Much of it, admittedly, belongs to Canada’s hard-to-identify abstract school. My own favourites include the shiny steel suitcases (photo of Hani Roustom), bright glass panels in the vehicle drive-through (on the right, here) and, shown at the top of the page, Everyday Life, 2017, by Mr Brainstorm, the Hollywood-based Parisian who, in real life, is Thierry Guetta. I left this unique luxury hotel with endless happy memories. NOW TOUR SUITE 305, LOOKING DOWN AT YORKVILLE