TORONTO — After five years of anticipation, the new Four Seasons Toronto opened last week. The property, standing majestically at Bay and Scollard and only a stone’s throw from its former location on Avenue Rd., and Yorkville, marks the beginning of a new era for the company that was founded in the city more than 50 years ago.
“We’re making history today,” said Katie Taylor, president and CEO of Four Seasons in welcoming special guests and media to the ribbon-cutting Friday. “Making history has never been so beautiful,” she said, pointing to the mixed-use hotel/residences, which she referred to as the very best in the chain of luxury properties. “We’re going to be making each visit distinct and memorable. This is going to be our very best, because everything we’ve learned in the past 50 years will be applied here. This hotel exemplifies where this company is going,” boasted Taylor. “We’re thrilled to have a true flagship right here in Toronto.”
The cast of Four Seasons executives on hand for the opening included Isadore Sharp, founder and chairman, and the man responsible for setting the chain in motion. “Today we celebrate this momentous occasion,” said Sharp attired in suit and fedora. “This is our 89th property — really we have 120 in our portfolio with other units signed and in development, but this property is very special. It’s in a category by itself. It’s our flagship hotel, and it’s a landmark developed for the city of Toronto.” Also on hand were Dimitrios Zarikos, GM and regional vice-president as well as the owner of the property, Prince Al Waleed of the Kingdom Holding Company. The ownership group was represented by Chris Broderick. Builder Alan Menkes, president of Menkes Holdings, was also in attendance as was the Minister of Tourism in Ontario, Michael Chang.
The hotel boasts 259 state-of-the-art guestrooms, featuring room amenities such as iPads, which allow guests to order room service, book a spa treatment or shop online. The guest bathrooms provide a sanctuary of indulgence, with amenities by Etro of Milan and custom-made fast-filling bathtubs, silent-close toilet seats and TV screens hidden in mirrors.
Hotel guests arrive via a sweeping driveway, heated for Canadian winters, with a courtyard featuring a grand fountain designed exclusively for the hotel. A 12-colour mosaic with a floral overlay graces the etched glass canopy above.
Inside, Toronto designers Yabu Pushelberg created a dandelion motif, which carries visitors through a series of grand spaces and dimensional screens, with the most striking installation at the reception desk and centrepiece table by artist Alissa Coe. More than 1,700 works commissioned from Canadian artists are displayed throughout the hotel, featuring such contemporary Canadian artists as Attila Richard Lukacs, Daniel Hutchinson and others.
Foodies will be treated to some of the finest food in North America at Café Boulud, renowned Michelin-star chef Daniel Boulud’s latest restaurant creation. On the new menu is Boulud’s signature cuisine, inspired by his four culinary muses: la tradition, classic French cuisine; la saison, seasonal delicacies; le potager, the vegetable garden; and le voyage, exploring the flavours of international cuisines, with a particular emphasis on the rich and varied foods of the Mediterranean and locally sourced ingredients. Tyler Shedden is the restaurant’s chef de cuisine. The Western Canada native was hand-picked from New York’s Daniel restaurant to lead the Toronto brigade. In the wine cellar, wine director Drew Walker has assembled a diverse collection of labels from the Old and New Worlds, melding them with great choices from the Niagara Region to match Shedden’s menu.
For many of the Four Seasons team, the hotel’s crowning glory will be the bi-level spa, which spans the ninth floor and part of the eighth. Execs boast it will be the largest of any Four Seasons hotel worldwide. More than 30,000-sq.-ft. of space includes 17 treatment rooms with several suites for two, a nail and hair bar, men’s and women’s change rooms with separate steam rooms, an indoor relaxation pool, fitness centre, yoga studio and a spa boutique.