It was marvellous, and the gal means marvellous, to be back at Toronto’s iconic luxury hotel, Fairmont Royal York. Last visit, the big dig was still under way. Front Street, between the massive 1,363-room hotel and Union Station, was one concave building site for four years, yes, four years. Now all is pristine. The surface has been put back, but it is mainly pedestrian, with merely a turning circle for taking people to and from the hotel. There are bright flower displays outside the hotel’s entrance, as you can see above – a welcome like this always makes guests, and therefore the team, a little happier.
This time, too, there was a chance to meet the hotel’s dynamic and passionate GM, Edwin Frizzell. He just loves Toronto, and this hotel, and he has so many plans for it. Having arrived really late last night, I had devoured my welcome snacks – look how healthy they are – and then ordered room service. This morning it was breakfast with the boss, who had been in his gym at 5.30 a.m. as always. He insisted on taking me up to the rooftop garden. I had visited the 15th floor space before, to see its beehives and fruitful planters. Now more space has been given to both growing things and entertaining (the rooftop now has full outdoor barbecue gear).
A couple of days ago, said Edwin Frizzell at his usual breakneck speed, a future bride had come for a tasting of the wedding meal, and she had picked some of the basil up here which will be made into pesto, and served to her guests. It would actually be possible to have a wedding party here on the roof, as long as the happy party could manage the fire stairs that at present are the only access. There are always things going on in this place. On September 1st, for instance, Edwin Frizzell is throwing a Champagne gala, black tie and all that. He expects 900 people, dressed to the nines, to drink Veuve Clicquot and dance and have a good time.
And then, one week later, the annual Toronto International Film Festival TIFF starts: it has moved downtown from its former Yorkville-area venue so this luxury hotel has more of the events (and if he has his way Edwin Frizzell will be creating other happenings too, in between planning such renovations as an Alexandra Champalimaud update on the 12th floor club lounge). But then I was pulled away, by my friend Alix Blum, to visit Toronto’s Distillery area, which takes us on to the next story….