Wherever you go in Toronto, you’ll see evidence of its mega building boom. In fact, the cityscape seems to morph daily. Yet despite the ubiquitous construction cranes, Canada’s largest metropolis goes about business as usual.
Hear the din of the streetcars and the rumble of the subway trains hustling commuters. Traveling by foot in the bustling downtown also proves a fabulous way to view the collection of architectural landmarks like the Santiago Calatrava-designed Galleria at Brookfield Place and the I.M. Pei-designed Commerce Court.
But you can discover other vibrant architectural projects on virtually every street corner. Some of these masterful developments were conceived by acclaimed architects who left their own indelible thumbprint on this changing urban canvas, like the futuristic façade of the Art Gallery of Ontario by Toronto’s own Frank Gehry and Daniel Libeskind’s fanciful facelift of the Royal Ontario Museum.
For power meetings, most corporate executives convene in the city’s Financial District, home to the country’s big five banks, the Toronto Stock Exchange, brokerage firms, major corporate headquarters and big-name law firms.
On Bay Street, Canada’s version of Wall Street, the towering skyscrapers of the TD Centre enthrall the senses and beckon all to enter these Mies van der Rohe-designed structures. Afterward, venture behind this cluster of towers to see a manicured meadow featuring sculptured cows by artist Joe Fafard. The lounging bovines are a whimsical throwback to yesteryear when pastures dominated this now-exclusive parcel of real estate.
Yet away from the corporate bustle, accessible by a quick cab ride, you’ll find two gleaming districts fitting to help close business deals and entertain clients: Yorkville and the Toronto Entertainment District.
Among the city’s earliest neighborhoods, Yorkville reflects its rich Victorian past in vestiges of period buildings that dot this district of glam among its coterie of upscale boutiques, galleries and fine-dining establishments. For executives interested in making dynamic presentations or entertaining their clients with intimate film screenings, look no further than The Hazelton Hotel. Considered Toronto’s first 5-star luxury property and a member of Leading Hotels of the World, this art-inspired hotel designed by the internationally acclaimed Toronto-based Yabu Pushelberg holds an exquisite private theater, a city rarity. The posh property also hosts arguably one of Canada’s top chefs, Mark McEwan, whose restaurant ONE possesses a private dining room named after the Canadian music legend Neil Young, who used to sing at the former Riverboat Coffee House, a hippie haven that once thrived on this site.
Another popular Yorkville destination big on pampering and corporate meet-ups is the new Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. Regarded as the luxury hotel chain’s urban flagship property, the gleaming high-rise, another haute creation designed by Yabu Pushelberg, leads guests on an epicurean fantasy fueled by Chef Daniel Boulud’s divine Café Boulud and the hotel’s sophisticated contemporary lounge dubbed the DBar, ideal for watching the busy Bay Street passersby.
In the Toronto Entertainment District along King Street West, pedestrians dart by the theaters, restaurants and pop-up shops. Come lunchtime, executives descend from their offices in the clouds to a street level laden with intimate bars and toney new boîtes. Creative chefs craft nouveau fusions from Italian classics at TOCA, featuring the city’s only cheese cave. Tucked away in a corner by the premium wine cellar, meet with clients in a private dining room styled in reclaimed Canadian wood and original art pieces.
For a dash of more culinary delights, local restaurant duo Peter Oliver and Michael Bonacini offer a trio of lunch spots around the Toronto Entertainment District. The stylish Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill with its wrap-around patio attracts Bay Street’s movers and shakers. Or consider the other hot “it” spots: the O&B Canteen and the sensational Luma, both located at the illustrious TIFF Bell Lightbox, the headquarters of the Toronto International Film Festival, including a collection of cinemas to nip in afterwards.
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Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.
InterContinental Hotels Group expands its footprint in Saudi Arabia with plans for the new InterContinental Durrat Al Riyadh. The property opens in 2020, a short drive from King Khalid International Airport. The property is also near King Abdullah Financial District and many luxury shopping options.
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Heathrow Airport is testing new technology that could help recycle all of its plastic waste into uniforms and furniture.