TEAM UP WITH TORONTO

Make your meetings and events fun, energetic and creative. There’s no shortage of unique team building activities around the city. Here are five of our favourites!

EDGEWALK

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TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE: The EdgeWalk dares you to step outside the tallest structure in the Western Hemisphere.

Nothing brings people together faster than a little fear. Experience the thrill of a lifetime at 1,168 feet above the ground at EdgeWalk. We dare you to walk around the outside perimeter of the Western Hemisphere’s tallest attraction and Toronto icon, The CN Tower.

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CHECK OUT TIME

Spring is a time for fresh new starts. And nowhere is that more evident than in the amazing new renovations ready to go at some of Toronto’s best hotels. Let’s check them out!

THE OMNI KING EDWARD

Budget: $40 million

Completed: September 2015

New & Improved: Built in 1903, The King Edward was Toronto’s first luxury hotel. Today, it’s been reimagined for the 21st century while being restored to its former grandeur.  The lobby, ballrooms, meeting facilities, restaurant, bar, and 301 guest rooms have all undergone extensive renovations. Given the building’s historical significance, every detail was closely monitored by the architect, designer and the City of Toronto’s heritage board.

FUN FACT: Famous guests have included everyone from Mark Twain to Britney Spears. Beatle mania swept the hotel when the Fab Four’s 1964 visit drew 3,000 fans to the lobby.

 

CHELSEA HOTEL

Budget: $12 million

Completed: Summer 2015

New & Improved: The Chelsea Hotel celebrated its 40th birthday last year with an upgrade. Canada’s largest hotel completed a $12 million refurbishment on about half of its guestrooms and suites. Bronze-certified with EarthCheck, an environmental management program for the travel and tourism industry, all guestrooms now include low flow showerheads and toilets, as well as energy efficient light bulbs.

Fun Fact: Has Toronto’s only downtown indoor waterslide.

 

COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT TORONTO DOWNTOWN

Budget: $14.5 million

Completed: May 2016

New & Improved: The world’s largest full-service Marriott Courtyard  has redesigned all  575 of its guestrooms, making them more spacious with a residential feel, tone-on-tone décor with stylish bathrooms, new corridors and Marriott beds. There is also 13,000 sq. ft. of newly redesigned contemporary meeting space for up to 450 people and the new Lobby Bistro.

Fun Fact: In the lobby, their signature Go-Board® is a state-of-the-art interactive touch screen system that puts news, weather, restaurants, local area information and directions.

 

TORONTO MARRIOTT DOWNTOWN EATON CENTRE

Budget: $18 million

Completed: Fitness Centre this past March, Concierge Lounge in May, and Guestrooms this summer

New & Improved: With over $100K spent on state-of-the-art exercise equipment in the Fitness Centre, there’s no reason not to work out even while you’re away from home. All 461 guestrooms have been modernized with new carpeting, wallpaper, artwork, lighting, window treatment, 49” Smart TV and chaise. Also, bathrooms have been completely re-done, with stand-up showers in most guestrooms.

Fun Fact: Connected to the Eaton Centre, Toronto’s most popular tourist destination.

 

FAIRMONT ROYAL YORK

Budget: $14.5 million

Completed: May 2016

New & Improved: The historic Royal York gets some modern touches in 910 of its Fairmont Luxury and Signature guestrooms, including 42” HDTVs, new mattresses, SONIFI (a hi-def television software that lets you view menus and check-out). Other updates include a newly-refreshed lobby, re-designed health club and pool, new Technogym fitness equipment, and new tables and upholstery in the iconic Library Bar. You can even check-in on your iPad!

FUN FACT: Since 2008, three roof-top beehives on the 14th-floor terrace have housed 350,000 honey bees producing hundreds of pounds of honey every year.

 

THOMPSON TORONTO

Budget: $1.5 million

Completed: Spring 2016

New & Improved:  The re-imagined Lobby Bar opened in February, hosting its first parties during the NBA All-Star Weekend. A new high-tech, private event space, The Front Room, features a 60 sq. ft. multi-functional HD media wall. With space for 100 guests, it can be private or open to the main bar. The Portland Meeting Room is updated with new décor, furnishing and technology. And there are three newly constructed guest rooms—two Deluxe Kings and one Executive Suite.

FUN FACT: Has Toronto’s only hotel rooftop lounge

 

SHERATON CENTRE TORONTO HOTEL

Budget: $120 million+

Completed: May 2016

New & Improved: All 1,372 guestrooms got significant technology-enhancements and increased Wi-Fi bandwidth. Also, $13 million was spent on retrofitting all guest room windows to increase energy efficiency. All ballrooms and meeting spaces received major renovations, while expanding the total meeting and event space to more than 130,000 sq. ft. They’ve also stepped up their culinary experience by bringing the kitchen to the front of the house and offering guests an improved food and beverage experience.

FUN FACT: The tallest all-hotel structure in Toronto

EAT UP!

Toronto is elevating the airport dining experience. Here are a few places to check out before you take off.

The city has been enjoying the spotlight lately, especially for its diverse and eclectic food scene. In case you missed it, Vogue Magazine dubbed Toronto as the next ultimate foodie destination. But you don’t have to venture deep into the city to find amazing eats.

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SWEET ‘16

SWEET ‘16

Trends for 2016 are making business events in Toronto better (and tastier) than ever. From tech to food, it’s anything but business as usual!  

FRESH IMMERSION

Planners are always looking to create a fuller, more immersive experience for attendees, at everything from speaking engagements to pop-up shops.

Gordon Browning from FMAV, a Toronto-based events planning firm, says screen-blending technology is doing just that. It can merge multiple projectors into one seamless image, wrapping an entire room in the visuals of a planner’s choosing, for a completely immersive experience.

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NB-EH!: Adidas brought its A-game with its VIP Gifting Suite for NBA All-Star weekend in Toronto in February.

At the NBA All-Star Game in Toronto this past February, Adidas upped the ante with a pop-up shop cum art installation. The Adidas VIP Gifting Suite launched new products with an exclusive mix of players, media and NBA elite at its private gifting lounge, housed inside their product vault. Working alongside Toronto photographer Horace Ng, Adidas transformed a space on Queen Street West into brand activation that doubled as a photo and art installation.

 APP APPEAL

From cooking to catching the bus, apps make our lives a little easier. And the same is true when it comes to business events. So, it’s no surprise that custom apps will become more popular than ever this year.

Courtney Stanley, from Toronto’s Event Mobi, says cost, analytics, engagement and networking are just a few of the advantages of custom apps.

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HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPS?: Event Mobi puts big events in the palm of your hand.

Apps can help save money (and the environment!), with no printing costs, especially if changes are needed at the last minute. “What if a speaker cancels at the last minute? No problem. You can make edits to the agenda and send out an alert to attendees to inform them of the change,” says Stanley.

Apps also allow you to track attendees’ behaviour, including clicks, preferences and habits, without having to rely on attendees answering surveys. And apps with built-in chat allow for easier networking at events, especially for those too shy to just walk up to someone.

BACK TO REALITY

After a few false starts in the 90’s, Virtual Reality technology and costs are finally making it a realistic prospect for event planners. Browning says they’ve been using it to help in the planning stages of an event. “Virtual reality has been used to help event planners visualize and experience space ahead of an event,” he explains.

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REALITY SHOW: Toronto’s FMAV is bringing virtual reality to life for event planners.

Using goggles similar to the popular Oculus Rift, meeting planners can get a virtual walk-through of how a space will look and function, from front to back. It’s been such a hit, FMAV has had to triple their initial order of the goggles.

And this is only the beginning! “Down the road, we could stream live from the event to people in other cities. It will feel like they’re sitting right there in the audience,” adds Browning, promising FMAV will be the first in Canada to use it live at an event.

 LOCAL MOTIVE

And everyone’s favourite part of any event ─ food and drinks!  According to Julia Gilmoure, from the Ontario Culinary Tourism Alliance, “the days of sad conference food are hopefully drawing to a close!” Restaurants have been touting local ingredients for years now, and business events are catching up!

“It doesn’t matter where you travel in the province. Each region has so many unique stories and tastes on offer, Toronto in particular,” adds Gilmoure.

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WINE ABOUT IT: Niagara wineries bring local flavour to global events.

Some local treats include Maple-tree filtered water, paneer cheese, world crops such as Chinese long beans and okra, hops, haskap berries and sea buckthorn.

The Ontario’s beverage industry has also really taken off. According to the Ontario Beverage Network, there are over 300 brewers in Ontario (26 in Toronto alone.) The Ontario Craft Cider Alliance has 27 cider producers and The Ontario Distillers’ Association has 16 producers. And VQA Wines use 100% Ontario-grown grapes. Cheers to that!

Check out the Feast On program, a designation for food service operators committed to using Ontario food and drink on their menus.