When the W Toronto opened its doors on Toronto’s Bloor Street in mid-July, it marked the completion of a project that has been highly anticipated. For Craig Reaume, GM of the 254-room luxury hotel (including 30 suites), the opening brings to fruition the dreams he’s had for the past three years, as he navigated the myriad delays brought on by the pandemic.
“It was a construction project that started in July 2019 with an expected opening of six or eight months maximum,” stresses Reaume. “It’s a complete re-invention of the asset — a re-positioning of the hotel from a brand perspective — and it’s now created three unique B&F spaces.”
According to the 54-year old graduate of the University of Guelph, the local community will drive a lot of business and social events into this space. “W is a very much a beverage and food-forward concepted brand in the lifestyle space [with] a variety of different cuisine and beverage options under one roof. Unlike other brands that may have just one all-day restaurant, we built three distinct [restaurants] — breakfast, lunch and dinner on the ground floor, then afternoons and evening in the middle and then our Skylight rooftop bar at night. The energy level of the hotel during the evening really moves up to the 9th floor and it’s connected by a brand-new exterior lift that will change the look and feel of Bloor St. It’s a complete LED panel that gives us a very New York vibe.”
Opening the hotel during COVID certainly created a host of challenges, but luckily the hotel was successful in recruiting its team of 250. “They’ve waited for us, and committed to us two years ago. They preferred to wait for us because of what we are as a brand. It’s more than just a pin on the lapel — it’s about our culture, it’s about inclusivity, it’s about welcoming everybody under our roof.” As someone who manages from his heart, Reaume says, “the rest comes naturally.” With a philosophy focused on making other people successful, he’s looking forward to “developing a team who will become a family.”
While Reaume has worked in hotels for years, “Opening W in a market that is strong in luxury hotels, but light in lifestyle hotels,” has been an experience unlike any other. The native of Chatham, Ont. is stoked to be helming the new property as it marks a cultural transformation for the city. The W Toronto is only the second W in Canada (the other location is in Montreal). “This is one hotel within the North American brand that will stand out as more leaning into the luxury space — from a service perspective and from a B&F perspective.”