By Elaine Glusac
From new high-rise luxury hotels to hot arts and entertainment tickets and a growing slate of top chefs, Canada’s chic, big city takes it up another notch this fall.
Toronto, literally, is at your feet. In the face of gusting winds off Lake Ontario, visitors inch around iconic CN Tower on an outdoor sidewalk-width platform almost 1,200 feet above the ground. The city’s newest vantage point, known as EdgeWalk, straps daredevils into harnesses secured to an overhead cable, so the fear is all in your mind, even as your stomach leaps into your throat. Acrophobiacs need not apply.
Toronto has a thing for height these days. Its growing skyline includes three new luxury hotels, part of a development boom that has attracted global chefs to town, including newcomers David Chang and Daniel Boulud. Its strong cultural scene gets a fall boost with a new art blockbuster-in-the-making. And boutique Porter Airlines, which flies directly into downtown Toronto, serving complimentary beer and wine en route, recently launched new service to Washington Dulles, making a quick trip to Canada’s largest city this season’s hot ticket.
The Trump International Hotel & Spa Toronto kicked off Toronto’s hotel spree when it opened last winter. The new 65-story Trump International Hotel & Tower is the mirror opposite of the Atlantic City-era Trump, with sleek décor in 261 rooms softened by nature prints, downy duvets and floor-to-ceiling sheers over panoramic windows. Glass exteriors ensure that no matter where you are in the hotel, from the lofty cocktail lounge on the 31st floor to the sprawling spa with a saltwater lap pool and serious gym, you never forget you are in Toronto. Rooms from $395 CAD; trumphotelcollection.com.
The just-opened Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto occupies the first 17 of 66 floors in a newly constructed high-rise, including a two-story atrium-style lobby with a central bar and outdoor café. Upstairs, 202 guestrooms include several with furnished balconies. A fifth-floor gym arrays fitness equipment before floor-to-ceiling windows for city panoramas, and a quartet of chandeliers dangles above a 64-foot pool encased in glass and stone. Room rates not available at press time; shangri-la.com.
Headquartered in Toronto, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts intends its new Four Seasons Hotel Toronto in the stylish Yorkville neighborhood to be a corporate flagship when it opens Oct. 5. The newly constructed 55-story skyscraper features two towers connected by a skybridge, housing 259 residentially-appointed guestrooms and a 30,000-square-foot spa encompassing two floors and 17 treatment rooms. Rooms from $545 CAD; fourseasons.com/Toronto.
BIG DEAL MEALS
The Four Seasons has attracted acclaimed chef Daniel Boulud to town. His two new restaurants, also opening in October, include Café Boulud, focusing on French classics prepared with seasonal ingredients, and dbar, purveyor of more casual fare including the famous db burger made with foie gras and black truffles. Danielnyc.com.
New York chef David Chang will export his Korean fare north of the border in a new complex beside the Shangri-La. Though details were still sketchy at press time, the three-story building is expected to house essentially three separate restaurants modeled on his Momofuku empire where diners line up for steamed buns, ramen and communal dishes like Chang’s famous slow-cooked pork shoulder. Momofuku.com.
Toronto’s own home-grown celebrity chef Susur Lee aims to protect his turf. In addition to his flagship Lee, the chef and his sons opened, in late August, a new restaurant called Bent, focusing on seafood and sake. Susur.com.
The Art Gallery of Ontario will unveil a fall blockbuster in Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting. The show, running Oct. 20 to Jan. 20, focuses on the politics and passions of painters Frida Khalo and Diego Rivera in 75 artworks. While you’re there, poke around the Group of Seven collection featuring Canadian Impressionists including Tom Thomson, as well as into the recent building addition designed by Toronto native Frank Gehry, namesake of the museum restaurant Frank. Ago.net.
The National Ballet of Canada, based in Toronto, opens its 2012-2013 season with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, choreographed by Britain’s Christopher Wheeldon, Nov. 10 through 25. On Nov. 28, young dancers from across the globe will compete for the Tenth International Competition for the Erik Bruhn Prize. Performances are at the Centre for the Performing Arts. Nationalballet.ca.
The new EdgeWalk at CN Tower welcomes sightseers outdoors at 115 stories in what’s billed as the world’s highest hands-free external building walk, earning a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. Cntower.ca.
HOW TO GO
Porter Airlines currently has fares starting at about $230 CAD round trip for Dulles to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport flights in September; flyporter.com. For more information visit Tourism Toronto at seetorontonow.com.