Here in Saskatchewan we’ve just reached the millionth mark with our population, so Toronto has nearly three times as many people without counting the GTA, or Greater Toronto Area, that has a few million more. So, for the faint of heart, heading off to the big city may be both exciting and nerve-wracking. But it doesn’t have to be.
I booked into the Ontario Library Association Superconference held annually in January, planning to fit in the conference, some city life and you guessed it–some great shopping. Of course, I needed the perfect hotel to make it all happen.
There were a number of reasons I selected the Eaton Chelsea, with location being one of the main ones. Convenience is the greatest luxury a traveler can treat herself too, and there’s nothing better in that department than selecting a hotel with a direct airport shuttle–the Toronto Airport Express–stopping right at the front door.
With free wi-fi on the bus, taking the shuttle was not only easier than driving myself, it was a great way to check in with the world after the three-hour flight from Regina.
The Eaton Chelsea, Toronto, lobby is spacious–but that’s to be expected in Canada’s largest hotel. Even though there are nearly 1600 rooms in total, I never got the impression that staff were rushing me and they always had time to answer my questions. In fact, while I was sipping a drink in the bar before I left, watching the heavy snow falling outside, an Eaton Chelsea staff member even went to check whether my flight was going to be delayed!
Eaton Chelsea offers the usual range of hotel rooms to suit guest needs. While I was on my own, Tracy Ford, Director of Public Relations, said the hotel is a popular choice for families too, as it offers a Family Fun Zone that includes the Club 33 Teen Lounge, the Kid Centre, the family pool, and Toronto’s only indoor waterslide, ‘Corkscrew.’
As inviting as it was, my room couldn’t keep me in the hotel, and I set off to do some evening sight-seeing and shopping. The Eaton Chelsea is on Gerrard Street, and right off of Yonge Street (formerly listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s longest street until it lost its title to the Pan American Highway), where you’ll find pretty much anything you can imagine.
Within a 10-minute walk I’d discovered shops of every description, a food market with mouth-watering fresh fruit (how come winter blueberries in Toronto are so much sweeter than they are by the time they make it to Regina?), an LCBO store, and dozens of places from fast food to fine dining to eat.
Like other business guests at the hotel, my schedule was packed! My first day was a pre-conference workshop on creating videos, which took place at Ryerson University, only a five minute walk from the Eaton Chelsea. After the workshop, I took a ten minute walk to meet at friend at the downtown’s signature mall, the Toronto Eaton Centre.
It can’t get any easier than that!
The next day, though, I had to make a choice–put out the cash for a cab to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre or learn to navigate the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) underground system. Hmm. Money? North America’s third largest transit system?
In the end my economic sense of values won out and I braved the underground. The walk from the Chelsea Eaton didn’t take long and a friendly Torontonian pointed me in the right direction to get the train. I’d already looked up the route on Google maps, so I knew what stop I needed to get on at and where I wanted off. Good so far!
Unfortunately for me, it was rush hour and the station was busy. I had a moment of panic as it was the morning I especially wanted to hear the plenary session at the conference.
However, the one thing the underground wasn’t was confusing. Unlike other cities I’ve navigated using underground trains, Toronto offers passengers the simple option to fork over $3 and ride until you want to leave. Now, that’s easy.
Armed with Google maps cheerfully telling me where to turn the corners, it was just another five minute walk from the station to the conference centre after my twenty-minute ride. I was glad I’d kept my money in my pocket, all but for that looney and twonie anyway! While Saskatchewan cities are much too small for there to be economic advantages with public transit like the trains, I can’t help thinking how it would eliminate the clouds of white exhaust that fill the air on frosty winter mornings if we had some other way to get around than our cars.
Of course, some of the best parts of my trip were inside the Eaton Chelsea. I especially enjoyed sampling the wine and fine dining at the Bb33 Bistro & Brasserie. After a long day of thinking it’s nice to relax and enjoy some pampering!
Time passed much too quickly and long before I was ready for my stay at the Eaton Chelsea–or the conference–to end, Saturday and checkout arrived. I had lots of time to think about the experience on the airport runway though, while the airplane waited in a three-hour line-up for de-icing so I could fly back to Regina in a snowstorm. That’s winter in Canada!
But you won’t need a snowstorm for excitement leaving Toronto — you can take the Eaton Chelsea, Toronto, Corkscrew waterslide:
Stay at the Eaton Chelsea, Toronto
My thanks to the Eaton Chelsea, Toronto, for giving me a media rate on my deluxe room, and to Tracy Ford, Director of Public Relations, for dinner and a lovely evening visit at Bb33 Bistro & Brasserie.
Whether you’re just looking for a weekend in Canada’s largest city, or heading off to a conference like I was, put the Eaton Chelsea, Toronto, at the top of your accommodation list!
Online, see the website for reservations: http://chelsea.eatonhotels.com/
All photos in this article are courtesy of the Eaton Chelsea, Toronto.