TORONTO — Amidst a great deal of anticipation and buzz, the Trump International Hotel & Tower officially opened its doors yesterday in the epicenter of Canada’s financial centre.

Donald Trump, the real-estate baron, whose name graces the 261-room hotel and condo residence, was on hand to officially cut the red ribbon, as were the owners of the hotel, Talon Development, a partnership that includes Val and Inna Levitan and Toronto financier Alex Shnaider. Both Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, and Ontario’s Minister of Tourism, Michael Chan were also in attendance.

In introducing the project’s dream team, Jim Petrus, COO of Trump, complimented owners Val and Inna Levitan for putting “their heart and soul into every detail” to create a Toronto landmark. “The trademark of the Trump Hotel is very personalized service,” said Petrus. “What we know in the hotel industry is about combining great physical assets with people, and we’ve done that.”

But it was mogul Donald Trump who stole the show. “About eight years ago I began this voyage, and it turned out to be a beautiful voyage, because the end result is something the likes of which — not only throughout Canada, but worldwide — hasn’t been done. It’s a spectacular building and Inna, Alex and Val, what you’ve done is incredible,” he said, complimenting the building’s co-owners.

For Alex Shnaider, co-owner of the hotel, the project has been memorable. “It seems like only yesterday we were breaking ground in a windy parking lot. When we launched our property is 2004, there was considerable skepticism regarding the demand for luxury properties such as ours in Toronto. Yet, we are not the types to back down in the face of critics. Over the years Talon has weathered rumours, harsh climate and global economic uncertainty; through it all we never lost sight of our goal. Today, we honour our efforts and celebrate our achievements. I’m truly proud of what this building stands for. We have changed the skyline of Toronto, and I’m filled with pride every time I catch of glimpse of this building.”

Mayor Ford spoke about Toronto’s prowess as a business and tourist destination. “Toronto is a great place to build the best and visit. We’re a major tourist centre. This past year has seen record hotel visits,” he said. “In 2011, the number of hotel rooms sold surpassed 9 million for the first time. Visitor spending, including day trips, totalled $4.6 billion. Toronto is Canada’s corporate capital, home to Canada’s five largest banks, 55 more banks and securities and branches and two of the 10 largest global life insurers — the third largest stock exchange in North America and the seventh largest in the world.” He added: “Toronto currently has the highest number of high-rise buildings under construction in North America. This city is booming.”

Donald Trump built his first hotel in New York 15 years ago and now has a luxury collection of seven properties, including the Trump, Chicago, which recently garnered Conde Nast’s Top hotel distinction. Mickael Damelincourt, GM of the Toronto property, was formerly GM of Trump, Chicago. This marks Trump’s first foray into Canada and second international hotel.

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