Canada's unforgiving winter months are quickly approaching so there is no better time to submit to hankerings for North American adventures than now.
Toronto is the place to be this season, having just wrapped up the Toronto International Film Festival, leaving many celebrities still lurking in the country's business hub. The festival, held every September since 1976, welcomes the world's rich and famous who can often be spotted frequenting their favourite hotspots around the city. Susan Sarandon, Andy Garcia and Lindsay Lohan hang out at Italian restaurant Bellissima. Natalie Portman, Dustin Hoffman and Jason Bateman dine at Trattoria Sotto Sotto. When it comes to shopping Mick Jagger and Hillary Duff go to Over the Rainbow for designer clothes.
Pop in for a Montecristo or a Cohiba and you might find yourself chatting with Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn or Charlie Sheen.
Holt Renfrew, the Canadian equivalent of Bloomingdales dresses Diane Kruger and Joshua Jackson. After days of press junkets and premieres, stars like Kate Hudson, Robert Downey Junior and Hillary Swank recharge at Vikaspa.
And for those travellers who seek the finest in smoking, Thomas Hinds Tobacconist has one of the largest collections of fine cigars, tobacco products and smokers' accessories in the city. Pop in for a Montecristo or a Cohiba and you might find yourself chatting with Alec Baldwin, Sean Penn or Charlie Sheen.
With 2.6 million residents, Toronto is the fifth largest city in North America. One-quarter of Canada's population is located within 160 kilometers of the city and more than 60% of the population of the United States is within a 90-minute flight. Many carriers offer flights to Toronto from the UAE via Europe, but until Emirates launched their direct flight on October 29, 2007, the only direct flight was Etihad's. The carrier offers its non-stop service to Toronto every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with a total flight time of 14 hours and 35 minutes.
The first class Diamond Zone fuses old-world hospitality with prime facilities in the air to create incredible luxury. Exclusive chauffeur-driven service at both ends of the journey, quick and easy check-in, and personal attention throughout the flight are to be expected. First class travellers have more than six feet of space, state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment and signature cuisines.
The new Diamond suites feature revolutionary seats that rotate 180 degrees, creating the perfect setting for a business meeting or a quiet dinner, and recline into luxurious six foot-eight inch flat beds. Each Diamond suite has a privacy shell that includes a range of facilities, including a coat room and a mini-bar. More style and space comes in the form of the exclusive Diamond Zone Lounge, a great place for a formal meeting or a casual chat in the air.
The most sophisticated travellers to Toronto often take advantage of concierge service. It provides event planning and errand services including personal shopping, airport meet and greet, theatre, sporting events and concert tickets, transportation, catering, sightseeing and tours, car rentals and repairs.
Whether using a concierge service to book tables or making arrangements independently, travellers to Toronto must be sure to sample the cuisine at the city's many award-winning fine dining venues. At North 44, artful interior design meets inspired cuisine. Chef and owner Mark McEwan's reputation as a culinary genius is well-justified. The menu includes oven-roasted squab with organic honey and shallots, seared foie gras and parsnips with a black currant sauce.
Four Seasons is in the heart of Yorkville, a lively and dynamic neighbourhood, brimming with famous designer boutiques, sophisticated restaurants and cutting edge art galleries and museums.
The Burj Dubai's height surpassed Toronto's CN Tower recently, but that does not undermine its famous 360 Restaurant, the highest revolving restaurant to date in the world. The seasonal menu includes lavender honey glazed boneless half chicken, slow roasted aged Canadian prime rib and the 360 ultimate seafood platter, a three-tiered plate of fresh Canadian seafood.
Auberge du Pommier is a must, where diners will feast on butter poached lobster, crispy seared rare tuna and slow-roasted loin of lamb in a space that exemplifies classic French style. Centro Restaurant and Lounge was recently renovated and is another venue that is extremely popular with celebrities, offering contemporary European cuisine highlighting Canadian ingredients. At Susur, in a sleek white room, patrons will certainly enjoy food cooked by famed chef Susur Lee.
Toronto is known throughout Canada for its award-winning wineries. This year marks the 25th anniversary of winemaking at Reif Estate Winery, and to mark the occasion, the winery has opened a new 3,000 sq ft wine boutique. At Cave Spring Cellars, sample the 2006 Canadian Wine Awards gold medal-winning 2004 Riesling Ice Wine. At Hillebrand Estate Winery, dine alfresco at the two-storey wine pavilion or sample wines like Hillebrand's 2006 ice wine, a silver medal winner at the Canadian Wine Awards.
The chemistry between food and wine is celebrated with decadence at Peller Estates Winery Restaurant, where guests indulge in a six-course meal served in the barrel cellar, complemented by award-winning wines like the 2006 bronze medal-winning Chardonnay, as chosen by the prestigious Canadian Wine Awards.
After spending an afternoon sampling grape, visitors may be inspired to indulge in the opera. The Canadian Opera Company is the largest producer of opera in Canada and one of the most significant in North America.
Performances take place at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts, a 2,000 seat, four-tiered European horseshoe-shaped auditorium.
Afterwards, retiring to a decadent suite is the perfect end to the evening. A room at the Four Seasons Hotel offers elegance without pretension, with some of Toronto's most luxurious guest rooms. Four Seasons is in the heart of Yorkville, a lively and dynamic neighborhood, brimming with famous designer boutiques, sophisticated restaurants, and cutting edge art galleries and museums.
The Intercontinental Toronto Centre offers the best in theatre, sports, dining attractions and trendy nightspots.
The hotel has won dozens of awards for every aspect of its service, notably its around-the-clock facilities for guests in a world that never sleeps.
A-listers like Bruce Willis and Gwyneth Paltrow stay at this sanctuary, with equally star-studded room service going on downtown at the Fairmont Royal York, truly a Toronto landmark of luxury. The Windsor Arms Boutique Hotel on the other hand, embodies the sophistication of a bygone era.
It is a grand hotel, a Toronto landmark since 1927, recently re-opened as a dazzling, contemporary boutique hotel, also favoured by celebrities visiting the city. Located in Yorkville, the Windsor Arms is very much part of this scene but tucked away in a haven of calm. The hotel is privately secluded 30 yards from the hustle and bustle of the main streets of Yorkville, shrouded in a serene environment. It boasts a staff to guest ratio of one to six - the highest in Canada.
Park Hyatt Hotel Toronto is centrally located at the landmark intersection of Avenue Road and Bloor Street, also in Yorkville. On its doorstep is the Royal Ontario Museum, fabulous shopping centres, the internationally acclaimed Stillwater Spa and renowned landmarks such as the CN Tower, the Skydome, the Hockey Hall of Fame building and the world-class theatre district.
The Intercontinental Toronto Centre, in the heart of downtown offers the best in theatre, sports, dining attractions and trendy nightspots, and sits in the financial district. The hotel is located on Front Street, and is connected to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The spacious guestrooms offer stunning views of Lake Ontario and Toronto's bustling downtown. Club InterContinental provides guests with exclusive executive services and is an ideal location for any meeting or conference. The hotel offers the best in state-of-the-art facilities in a comfortable, user-friendly environment.
Two spectacular, next generation boardrooms anchor the hotel's 19 meeting and function rooms and feature every technological option. Two elegantly furnished private dining rooms are also available for confidential get-togethers or cocktail receptions which are perfect for the business traveller.
Business people will be very tempted to consider some of the commercial opportunities Toronto offers. The city's business environment is competitive, and is known throughout Canada for providing value and large profit potential. Its business costs are much lower than most American centres and other key international competitors. The biggest savings are on skilled labour and industries conducting research and development. Canada was ranked the most economical G7 nation by the Competitive Alternatives G7 2006 Edition, a comprehensive international survey conducted by KPMG. In analysing business costs across 17 major business operations, the study found Toronto finished ahead of all 19 American cities in seven of the 17 business sectors.
Toronto’s economy comprises 11% of Canada’s GDP, with the city’s GDP topping US$125bn in 2005.
Canada's business costs are the lowest among major industrialised countries namely the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Japan.
Toronto ranks first in cost competitiveness against American cities like Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, New York, and San Jose, and global cities such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London and Yokohama.
Toronto's economy comprises 11% of Canada's GDP, with the city's GDP topping US$125bn in 2005. Toronto-based businesses export over US$69bn in goods and services to every corner of the globe with retail sales of US$46bn annually. Five of Canada's six largest banks have their headquarters near Toronto's busiest stock exchange.
Centered in North America's third largest financial services centre are 75% of Canada's foreign banks, and 65% of the country's pension fund companies. On an international scale, Toronto is the wise choice for business with a reputation as North America's leading economy and overall business cost savings of 6.5% over large American cities and up to 12.2% when compared to Asian and European centres.
Business people who are interested in taking advantage of what Toronto has to offer would be wise to contact the City of Toronto Economic Development Office, a body set up to help businesses succeed. Toronto's Economic Development Office services, supports and assists potential investors and business associations, and can help investors make wise decisions.
The office publicises business successes, events and issues. It works to bring investors and new businesses to Toronto and also analyses and reformulates alliances with international sister cities.
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