Toronto is revving up for the Pan Am and ParaPan Am Games, which are taking place July 10-26 and Aug. 7-15, 2015. The games bring approximately 7,000 athletes from across Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America to compete in 36 Pan Am and 15 ParaPan Am sports events. In preparation for these games, hotels have been renovated, new hotels have been built, and access to the airport has been made more convenient. So even if your clients can’t make it to Toronto for the games, they’ll definitely benefit from the updates made around the city.
“These are renovations that hotels felt were needed or beneficial and they made certain the timing lined up with the games,” says Andrew Weir, executive v.p. and CMO for Tourism Toronto. “You’re seeing so many renovations in Toronto because we have a lot of new hotels like Trump, the Shangri-La, the Four Seasons and many more, so that’s created a more competitive scene for Toronto. You’re essentially walking into a new hotel room, even in hotels that have been around for a long time,” he adds.
New & Updated Hotels
The Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel is currently undergoing a $90 million renovation of all 1,371 guestrooms. The new rooms will have a fresh look featuring rich colors, graphic patterns, and clean lines inspired by Sheraton’s brand design. Room renovations include a 50-inch flat-screen TV in all guestrooms and suites, all-white Sheraton Sweet Sleeper beds, and renovated bathrooms with low-flow toilets, shower heads, and faucets. Room rates start at $297 per night. For more information, call (888) 627-7175 or visit sheratontoronto.com.
Another property that has recently undergone a transformation is the Radisson Admiral Hotel, which has changed its dark, oak-lined lobby to an open white-space filled with light and pops of color. This property, located on Queen’s Quay West, is steps away from Toronto’s Rogers Centre, the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, and the Steam Whistle Brewery. Room rates start at $254 per night. For more information, visit radisson.com/toronto-hotel.
Added to this lineup is the new four-star Delta Toronto Hotel, which officially opened last fall in the city’s newest neighborhood, Southcore (Soco). Guestrooms offer views of Lake Ontario, or an urban skyline and lively streets. Local attractions such as the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, Harbourfront Centre and two major-league sports venues—Air Canada Centre and the Rogers Centre—are just a couple of blocks away. For more information, call (800) 263‑8255 or visit deltahotels.com.
New Transit System
Also new to Toronto is the opening of the Union Pearson Express (UP Express), which connects Toronto Pearson International Airport to downtown Toronto’s Union Station in 25 minutes with departures every 15 minutes. The new trains have luggage space, comfortable seating with table trays and power outlets, as well as onboard screens providing guests with updated flight information, as well as information on local events and attractions. For more information, visit upexpress.com.
Best Time for Travel
When should you suggest your clients visit Toronto? Well, that depends on the type of vacation they’re looking for. “Toronto is one of those destinations that appeals to a wide range of travelers. We have many family attractions, that as a dad of three I’ve gotten to experience a lot of, but we also have a lot of culture,” points out Weir. “When people leave Toronto what they talk about most is spending their time walking around through the neighborhoods—ranging from Little Portugal to the Distillery District, and Kensington Market, which has a more bohemian feel with people playing guitar on the street to newer neighborhoods such as Soco, which was once known as ‘railway land,'” he notes.
Agents, you can get to experience this city and all of its new offerings for yourself. Weir suggests that if you haven’t been to Toronto in the past two to three years, you go back soon because a lot of it has been redone. “Large parts of the city are completely unrecognizable,” he points out. The new Queens Quay Promenade, with bike trails and a transit line running through it; the new Union Station, with a new pedestrian plaza that opened on July 6 with 28 independent food vendors; and the new Aha Khan Museum, housing Islamic Art from Aga Khan’s personal collection are just some of the new additions to the city.
For agents who are interested in familiarizing themselves with Toronto, Weir suggests they contact Tourism Toronto to set it up—individual and group agent trips can be arranged—or visit Destination Canada at canada.travel/#for-agents-and-operators.