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Old February 25th, 2010, 06:29 AM   #241
hkskyline
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Puttin' on the Ritz
Model suite is sophisticated, yet still retains comfy feel

20 February 2010
The Toronto Star

Who would want to live in the showroom of a high-end furniture store? It is too intimidating. That first blob of ketchup on the settee would be a deal breaker - even if it were Heinz.

But I could happily move into the Ritz-Carlton Residences' model suite at Front and Simcoe Sts.

Hey, I could live in the walk-in closet.

How suite it is: The elevator opens up into your apartment, just like it does in those swanky New York digs featured in films like Bonfire of the Vanities.

Alessandro Munge, managing partner in Munge Leung & Associates, the man behind the set decoration and appointment of the model suite and sales centre, admits they were going for a "New York feel."

The residences at the Ritz-Carlton will be in a 53-storey building housing 159 condo suites and penthouses. Over 70 per cent of the suites are sold; the remaining ones go from $1.595 million to more than nine million big ones and range in size from 1,512 to 6,020 square feet.

The model suite is the Monte Carlo, measuring 2,000 square feet, less the second bedroom, bathroom and powder room. The actual two-bedroom suite starts at $2.985 million and runs 2,557 square feet.

They are, after all, masters in putting on the Ritz so they didn't skimp on anything. Built-in dresser drawers in the hall closets have easy/soft glide drawers with customized hardware - no more getting your drawers stuck between the drawers.

The finest finishes and materials have been incorporated: flooring ranges from woven marble tiles to walnut hardwood laid in a herringbone pattern in the dining room floor. The ceilings are 10 feet high; the doors, eight feet.

There is a TV in the bathroom so you can keep tabs on the financial markets or the housewives from New Jersey, and how cool is the two-sided gas-burning fireplace between the living room and den?

"It opens up the space and gives it a 3D effect, like a picture frame," explains Munge.

The kitchen is state-of-the-art: Sub-Zero and Miele built-in appliances, Wolf five-burner gas cooktop, and Bellini custom-designed cabinets - which is all fine wine and dandy but probably redundant, given the residents will undoubtedly be frequenting the hotel's restaurants or ordering room service.

The model suite is understated without being boring. They have incorporated simple lines with layers of textures and a palette of earthy colours: Calvin Klein meets Armani.

The master bedroom, a study of taupe and beige, risks being a tad predictable if not for the dramatic double headboard. A standard padded headboard rests in front of a custom-designed one triple its size.

"We wanted to make a big statement in the room," Munge explains, smoothing out the bedspread.

If God is in the details, He would be in heaven here. Instead of installing a traditional bed skirt, Munge had the box spring upholstered, thereby creating a sleeker line.

There is texture in the curtains - a silk-blend, beige, pinstriped sheer - and the walls are a basket-weave grain with a silver sheen. The den has leather on the walls and its centrepiece is a lamp with chicken feet, which look more like gnarled tree roots.

"It is very organic," Munge explains. "It is hammered metal that looks like wood."

The seams in the silver grey and burgundy seagrass wall covering in the living room deliberately don't match. It makes the artwork - everything from Harold Town to Parisian street scenes - pop, giving a new meaning to "pop art."

A black leather ottoman serves as a coffee table in the living room and there is a screen behind the sofa just for the performance art of it.

"The screen anchors the couch," Munge explains. "There is only one floor lamp, which casts a great light on the screen - I like asymmetrical.

"Our mantra is 'don't be predictable in your spaces,'" he adds, settling onto a bench covered in faux lizard. Munge scours the globe for unique pieces; he and his staff even bring in stuff from their own homes.

"We will hit 30 to 50 stores," he says. "I called on seven or eight shops for the living room carpet."

In the lobby is a glass-ceiling fixture by Jeff Goodman, which looks like a giant goldfish. Kids visiting the suite relate to it.

"This suite is not just the 60-year-olds and up," Munge insists. "The demographic is sophisticated with a sense of taste. I didn't want it to feel old. It is not so stodgy, but polished, fresh and worldly - a little exotic yet comfy. People have said 'I feel I can move in.'"

Occupancy is summer 2010. Don't know when they are going to strike the model suite but until then, I am available for sleepovers.
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Old February 25th, 2010, 05:39 PM   #242
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question:

I saw the weather forecast today and it was like there is going to be a lot of snowfall in NYC area and perhaps in Ontario too.

IF so, then will these builders and contructors still keep on working on these towers??? with heavy snowfall and cold? could be really dangerious I suppose.
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Old February 25th, 2010, 05:56 PM   #243
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I always thought they still construct during the cold winter months, but you can't pour concrete below a certain temperature, right?
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Old February 26th, 2010, 01:13 AM   #244
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlotteJ View Post
question:

I saw the weather forecast today and it was like there is going to be a lot of snowfall in NYC area and perhaps in Ontario too.

IF so, then will these builders and contructors still keep on working on these towers??? with heavy snowfall and cold? could be really dangerious I suppose.
They work regardless what the weather is. If it's extremely bad outside they work on interior work.
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Old March 9th, 2010, 03:34 PM   #245
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By OldManKensey from urbantoronto.ca
March 7:

image hosted on flickr


image hosted on flickr
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Old March 13th, 2010, 06:43 PM   #246
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By drum118 from urbantoronto.ca :

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Old March 13th, 2010, 09:21 PM   #247
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It looks so elegant!
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Old March 13th, 2010, 09:57 PM   #248
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Quote:
Originally Posted by So_SerIous View Post
It looks so elegant!
welcome to SSC So_SerIous! and try to laugh and be less SerIous! LOL
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Old March 14th, 2010, 01:20 AM   #249
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Nice! Toronto is building some big towers
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Old March 14th, 2010, 06:25 PM   #250
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlotteJ View Post
welcome to SSC So_SerIous! and try to laugh and be less SerIous! LOL
Thanks CharlotteJAnd i'll try to be less serious as i can for you
But aren't we talking about serious things here?
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Old March 15th, 2010, 06:00 PM   #251
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By caltrane74 from urbantoronto.ca :

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Old March 16th, 2010, 07:22 AM   #252
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Looking good!
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Old March 18th, 2010, 03:34 PM   #253
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By digitalis from urbantoronto.ca
March 17:




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Old March 28th, 2010, 09:03 PM   #254
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By Hypnotoad from urbantoronto.ca :

March 27
image hosted on flickr
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Old March 29th, 2010, 03:44 AM   #255
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It's looking great! An elegant building in such an elegant skyline
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Old March 30th, 2010, 09:25 AM   #256
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New Chef in town; New York's Scott Conant brings Scarpetta to Toronto
Toronto Star
16 March 2010

Scott Conant sure keeps his cards close to his black chef's jacket.

Famous for his tender roast baby goat and truffled polenta, New York-based Conant is poised to bring his Italian restaurant

Scarpetta to the new Thompson Toronto hotel on Wellington St. W. late in May. But he won't say what's on the menu.

"We need to sit inside the space, throw some opening parties and see what people want," he says.

Certain dishes will be on offer, like the simple spaghetti al pomodoro called "pure Mediterranean bliss" by New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni. There will also be crudi, Italian-style raw seafood.

Conant promises everything will be "modest, humble and approachable."

"I never want to be that person who says, 'I'm here, I've arrived,'" he says.

The original Scarpetta is in New York's Meatpacking District, while a second sits in Miami Beach's Fontainebleau Hotel. The name colloquially means "little shoe," the piece of bread you use to sop up every last bit of sauce.

Conant, 39, is Toronto's newest celebrity chef, albeit one without local name recognition. He's got the cookbooks (two); the cookware line (non-stick); the kudos (everyone from Food & Wine to the James Beard Foundation); even his ancestry is stellar: his mother's side is Italian and his father's goes back to the Mayflower.

So what draws a chef so busy that he hasn't yet dined here - last month, he opened Faustina in Manhattan two days before his wife bore their first child - to Toronto?

"It's uncharted territory," he says. "Plus it's a short commute."

Thompson Toronto co-developer Peter Freed says he and partner Tony Cohen were "flying all over the place, to Los Angeles, to France," looking for a signature restaurant.

"We wanted something that wasn't just trendy, someplace to go to seven days a week. When the Pomeranc brothers (co-owners of the Thompson Hotels) took us to Scarpetta, we were blown away by the food, the service and the atmosphere," Freed says.

Thompson Toronto, the first of the city's five new luxury hotels, sought the cachet of a famous New York chef. Not all the new projects will follow suit, although the Shangri-La (opening 2012) might turn again to Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whose Market restaurant anchors its Vancouver property.

The Ritz-Carlton, opening this summer on Wellington St. W., has hired Tom Brodi (ex-Canoe) as chef de cuisine of its as-yet unnamed, 120-seat feature restaurant to be open breakfast, lunch and dinner.

"We could've worked with someone like Eric Ripert or Daniel Boulud or Laurent Tourondel, but we felt that Toronto has such wonderful talent that we want to showcase," says Ritz-Carlton Toronto general manager Tim Terceira.

The Four Seasons, opening in 2012, promises a "locally relevant restaurant" in its new Yorkville property. No word on restaurant plans for Trump International Hotel & Tower, opening in 2011.

"I'm pleased Conant is coming. The more good restaurants here, the better," says Carl Korte, co-owner of Scaramouche, who's eaten at Scarpetta in New York.

Conant has a multi-year management contract with the Toronto Scarpetta, a 150-seat dining room designed by Studio Gaia of New York. It'll be open for lunch and dinner, with unclothed tables and brass accents. The hotel will also have a 24-hour diner designed by Brenda Bent to look like a classic rail car.

Conant might install Toronto-born Ryan Morrison, his chef de cuisine at Faustina, in Scarpetta's kitchen.

The hotel is close to Buca on King St. W., another rustic-but-refined Italian restaurant. The potential competition doesn't faze Conant. "Chefs always look out for each other," says the one-time Top Chef judge.

apataki @ thestar.ca
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Old April 7th, 2010, 01:19 PM   #257
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Old April 8th, 2010, 06:16 PM   #258
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Taking a five-star leap with few reservations
More than 1,000 luxury hotel rooms are slated to open in Toronto and Vancouver over the next 12 months. But these hoteliers aren't worried about oversupply. They insist the market is underserved
6 April 2010
The Globe and Mail

During the darkest days of the recession, one thought kept going through Tony Cohen's mind: Better to be building a luxury hotel through the downturn than to be opening one.

Mr. Cohen, who with partner Peter Freed is putting the finishing touches on the 102-room Thompson hotel in the western part of downtown Toronto, isn't worried any more about filling rooms when the doors open in May. The economy is recovering, business travellers are slowing returning, and the market is far from saturated. Toronto and Vancouver, Mr. Cohen believes, have long suffered from a lack of luxury in the hotel sector.

That's about to change. Within the next 12 months, more than 1,000 luxury hotel rooms are slated to open in each of those cities – a huge expansion that was planned before the recession hit, and one with uncertain consequences for an industry hammered during the downturn.

“This all may be happening at a crazy time, given what's been happening in the economy over the last couple of years, but I maintain this market has been underserved,” said Mr. Cohen, who also operates a boutique hotel in Toronto called Le Germaine. “This is a long time coming, and we really feel it's all coming together at the right time.”

The past couple of years have been anything but the right time for Canada's hotel industry. Revenue per available room, a key measure of the sector's financial health, plunged 12 per cent, according Colliers International.

Insiders suggest that even that number flatters the truth, because many chains have kept room rates stable but offered free nights and other upgrades to attract guests. PKF Canada, a market research firm, estimated that profitability at the nation's hotels declined by 33 per cent in 2009.

But there are hopeful signs emerging. Figures from STR Global, which tracks occupancy and rates week-by-week, show that life is slowly returning to the market. The average daily rate was up 0.3 per cent at the end of March, to $118.77. Occupancy rates climbed 1.7 per cent to 58.2 per cent.

Hotels such as the Thompson, Trump, Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton in Toronto and the Shangri-La, Fairmont Pacific Rim and Hotel Rosewood Georgia in Vancouver could help drive a renaissance for the embattled industry, said analyst Lyle Hall, managing director of HLT Advisory Inc. in Toronto.

“There is still some ugliness out there as the convention and meetings markets see softness,” Mr. Hall said. “But these brands have certain standards and price thresholds. Having them come in and push rates up should help. It's the thing about rising tides lifting all boats.”

There are 12,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of Toronto's Union Station, while the Olympic-fuelled boom in Vancouver has pushed the number of rooms in its downtown to 13,000. But both markets have been short on truly high-end offerings, industry analysts say.

There is no formal definition of what constitutes a five-star hotel. It generally refers to properties with a high staff-to-patron ratio and luxury amenities. Colliers International executive managing director Bill Stone said the lack of such inventory has cost the cities financially, as large trade shows and upscale events opt for markets with higher-end facilities.

“You are going to see new business coming to these cities because they haven't had this calibre of offerings before,” Mr. Stone said. “This is going to be better than people anticipate – people like to be at these places in a way that is different than more traditional hotels, and that attracts the corporate clientele.”

For the Ritz, the results are already evident. Though it won't open until midsummer, bookings are already in place for weddings and bar mitzvahs. Site tours have been available for a year, and most of its 400 employees have been hired.

“Having these hotels will attract groups that would otherwise go to Chicago or San Francisco that already have them in the market. That is a certainty,” general manager Tim Terceira said.

While paying guests are the cornerstone of survival for any hotel, several developments have another advantage built into their business plans – they aren't only hotels, they are also condominiums. With property owners sharing the same space as vacationers, amenities such as restaurants and cleaning services have a built-in source of alternative revenue.

At the Ritz, for example, 135 condos will share the downtown Toronto location with 267 hotel rooms. The suites range from $700,000 for a standard condo up to an estimated $11-million for the penthouse.

“They've offered condo buyers a high level of services that don't normally come with an independent building,” Mr. Stone said. “This helps with financing out of the gate, and the hotels also like it because it creates a feel that goes beyond the scope of a traditional offering.”
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Old April 9th, 2010, 11:36 PM   #259
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Old April 10th, 2010, 12:06 AM   #260
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what a beautiful blue sky...wow
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