Contents

The more time I spend discovering Toronto the more I realize it is a fascinating city with interesting people and places, historic and current, famous and not so famous. Sometimes our most interesting discoveries are local ones - broadening our minds and expanding our horizons doesnt always require a plane ticket and thousands of kilometers travelled.So in the spirit of local explorations I singled out Torontos historic Royal York Hotel as the next destination for my in...

Presenting: A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Historic Royal York Hotel - One Of Toronto's Crown Jewels (part I)

Presenting: A Behind-The-Scenes Look At The Historic Royal York Hotel - One Of TorontoThe more time I spend discovering Toronto the more I realize it is a fascinating city with interesting people and places, historic and current, famous and not so famous. Sometimes our most interesting discoveries are local ones - broadening our minds and expanding our horizons doesnt always require a plane ticket and thousands of kilometers travelled.So in the spirit of local explorations I singled out Torontos historic Royal York Hotel as the next destination for my inquiries about Toronto. The Royal York (now officially called the "Fairmont Royal York") has been a distinguished feature on Torontos skyline since 1929 and as one of the most prestigious hotels in the city, it has held allure for international travelers and locals alike for almost 80 years. More than 40 million guests have stayed here since the opening, including three generations of Britains Royal Family.The name-dropping does not stop there: famous, even legendary guests have graced this Toronto landmark: Sir Winston Churchill, Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Gina Lollobrigida, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennet, Jerry Lewis, Jane Fonda and Tony Curtis. Other visitors include Annie Lennox, Wayne Gretzky, George Lucas, Queen Latifah, NSync and many more. Just last week when I attended a special function at the Fairmont Royal York to celebrate the 196th Anniversary of Mexicos Independence I spotted Sandra Bullock, who was in town for Torontos renowned International Film Festival. Sandra very graciously responded to all the requests for autorgraphs before she retreated to her table in the Library Bar. The Royal York no doubt has been a favourite hangout of the rich and famous for a long time.Built by famous Montreal architects Ross and Macdonald, assisted by the Toronto office of Sproatt and Rolph, the hotel opened its doors in 1929. In the Age of the Metropolis, it was entirely appropriate to have a stepped back skyscraper-style hotel anchor the downtown skyline. Every room was equipped with a private phone, a tub bath and a radio, a sensational achievement at the time.28 storeys rise up to almost 400 feet above street level. Originally the building had five storeys rising from a rectangular basement, then featuring sixteen stepped-back bedroom storeys, a two-storey roof garden restaurant, and finally a four-storey steeply pitched, copper-covered roof. The architectural style can be labeled as modern classicism and its geometric forms, stylized ornamentation and stepped-back layout qualify it as one of Torontos jewels from the Art Deco era.For a personal discovery of this celebrated institution I met Melanie Coates and Alka Patel who both work in media relations for the Fairmont "Royal York Hotel" . These two experts were going to give me a first-hand behind-the-scenes look at some of the interesting features of this Toronto landmark.While I was waiting for Melanie in the ground floor reception area I just sat down in one of the big armchairs to take in the atmosphere. International travelers, here on business and holidays, were streaming in and out of the two-level Beaux-Arts inspired lobby, many of them were waiting for someone beside the railway clock located centrally in the lobby, a popular meeting place for hotel guests.After we connected, Melanie pointed out that the lobby was completely renovated in 2001. Prior to then it had had a very dark carpet while now a new gorgeous light-coloured mosaic tiled floor is gracing this expansive space. The Imperial Foyer adjacent to the Lobby was also recently renovated and a stunning vaulted ceiling was uncovered. The Library Bar on the south side opened in 1971 and provides an intimate and cozy atmosphere with its dark paneling.The Imperial Ballroom on the west side of the building is a grand space that used to be the venue for legendary entertainers such as Marlene Dietrich, Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Hope and Tony Bennett. In addition to big band concerts, this grand space was later turned into a dinner theatre and with the increasing demand for corporate meetings and special events, it became a site for conventions in the 1980s. Today it has partly returned to its roots as a ballroom and is a sought after venue for galas and receptions.Walking eastwards on the main floor we passed by Epic, the hotels signature restaurant whose cuisine combines fresh local ingredients with classic French touches in a contemporary environment. We took an escalator upstairs and Melanie pointed out Torontos smallest bar: York Station only holds 16 guests, has been referred to by its patrons as the best bar in Canada and is the perfect spot for waiting on a commuter train.The Mezzanine level also holds a range of other meeting rooms of the hotel. We walked eastwards into the addition to the hotel, constructed between October 1956 and February 1959. This addition expanded the hotels capacity by 400 hotel rooms to reach todays total of about 1400 hotel rooms and suites. The meeting rooms in this new section are named after different Canadian provinces and territories and are decorated with immense murals depicting scenes from Canadian history. The public areas hold photos and captions explaining the history of the hotel, and shed some light on the interesting personalities behind this fascinating structure.Prior to the Royal York Hotel there had already been two earlier hotels on this very site: the Ontario Terrace Hotel opened in 1843 and was renamed the Swords Hotel in 1853. In 1860 it was renamed again as the Revere House and finally as the Queens Hotel in 1862. The Queens had been one of Torontos most prestigious hotels prior to its demolition in 1927 to make way for the Royal York Hotel. At the time many people were outraged that this venerable institution was going to be torn down to make way for a new hotel.Starting in the mid 1880s, the Canadian Pacific Railway had built imposing luxury hotels at significant locations throughout Canada. Among others, these included the Banff Springs Hotel, the Chateau Lake Louise, the Chateau Laurier in Ottawa and the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City. During the 1920s it was decided that Toronto also needed a grand railway hotel, so the idea for the Royal York Hotel was born. Construction took about a year and a half and on June 11, 1929, the Royal York Hotel opened to grand fanfare. Incidentally at the time it was the tallest building in Toronto and even throughout the entire British Empire until the construction of the Canadian Bank of Commerces tower one year later.During the ensuing depression the Royal York Hotel managed to stay open and it is said that management scoured the street for guests and staff had to live off tips. A radio station opened at the hotel in 1930 which remained open until 1936. Its call letters were CPRY (for Canadian Pacific Royal York). Even more surprisingly, the hotel had a fully operational hospital complete with an operating theatre, two wards, a nurses room, a dispensary, a consulting room and waiting rooms.A key event happened in 1934 when John Labatt, famous entrepreneur and beer industry magnate, was kidnapped and dropped off three days later, tired yet unharmed, at the Royal York Hotel. King George VI and Queen Elizabeth I (the Queen Mother) came to stay in the hotel in 1939. Naturally, royalty has been part of the Royal York Hotel ever since its inception.Tragedy unfolded in 1949: fire broke out on the cruise ship Noronic which was moored at Harbourfront, just steps away from the hotel. 118 people were killed in this disaster. The Royal York became a field hospital for the survivors. In 1959 the new 400-room addition opened on the east side of the hotel, including extensive conference and meeting facilities. This 17-story addition made the [*_*] the biggest hotel in the British Commonwealth.But you would be off the mark if you assume that the hotel only hosts human guests: the 1975 Shriners convention not only brought 65,000 human guests to the hotel, but the hotel was also required to take care of all the parade horses as well as a life-sized papier mach camel.Extensive renovations were carried out in the late 1980s and early 1990s. More than $100 million was invested in order to restore the hotels 1920s glory. In 1976 a celebration was held to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Canadian Pacific Railway Corporation. Meals were sold at 1886 prices, at 89 Cents for a four-course meal this was even cheaper than when the hotel opened in 1929!

Royal Visit Boost For Holiday Island

Royal Visit Boost For Holiday Island

Leaders of over 50 countries from the Commonwealth will be meeting on the Mediterranean island of Malta from November 25 to 27, and for three days the island will be enjoying the attention of hundreds of millions of TV and online news viewers and newspaper readers worldwide.Malta has often been overlooked by holidaymakers and second home owners in favour of other Mediterranean islands such as Mallorca, Cyprus and Menorca, and hotels and estate agents alike on the island are hoping that the three days of publicity will boost tourist and property buyer numbers for 2006.With good all year round weather and an English speaking population visitor numbers from the UK, which make up about half of the islands tourist numbers, have been surprisingly flat in recent years, and with cheaper holidays available in the new destinations from Eastern Europe such as Bulgaria set to capture more of the UK holiday and property market Malta could see tourist numbers remain level or even fall in future years.Malta HolidaysMalta missed its own target of a modest increase in tourists this summer, and there are worries on the island that the opportunity to increase awareness among potential visitors will be missed.Michael Johnson of Tribune Properties who specialise in property for sale in Malta comments:Malta is ideally situated in the Mediterranean to attract tourists from all over Europe and further afield but for a lot of people I speak to in other countries it isnt an obvious destination of choice.The island has a strong domestic property market and doesnt rely too heavily on overseas property buyers like some of the Mediterranean islands do, but at the same time those that do buy here play a good role in the economy overall.The timing of the Commonwealth meeting is good as its just before the New Year when a lot of people decide where they will be going for their summer holidays, and next summers tourist could be next winters property buyer. But theyre only going to do that if they visit the island first, and Im hoping that Malta will see an increase in tourists in 2006 it really depends on whether the island takes this chance to market itself in the months ahead on the back of the free publicity the Commonwealth will bring..The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting takes place very two years, and has its roots in the British Empire, with 53 members who were former British colonies belonging to the organisation.Queen Elizabeth II is the head of the Commonwealth, and will be visiting with Prince Philip for a two day trip to Malta to open the meeting on November 25 in Valletta, the islands capital. It will be the royal couples first visit to Malta since 1992, and welcoming crowds are expected in similar numbers to their previous four visits.In addition to the Queen and Prince Philip, among the attendees will be the United Kingdoms Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the Prime Ministers of Canada, New Zealand, India, South Africa, Singapore and Australia.Around half of Maltas tourists are from the UK adds Michael Johnson, and its a similar figure for non islanders buying property here. As well as increasing holidaymaker numbers from the traditional UK market we should be trying to appeal to people in Canada, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand and other countries who take a holiday in Europe to consider visiting Malta for a few days to sample the fine hotels, hospitality, history and culture that the island is so rich in. But it remains to be seen whether the tourist board is capable of translating good free publicity into visitors for the island.

The African Safari Company Will Turn Your Dream Adventure Into A Reality

The African Safari Company Will Turn Your Dream Adventure Into A Reality

The African Safari Company is a company which truly takes pride in being able to offer hunters absolute professional and personalized attention. They are a company which was established in 2001, and it is an owner run operation.The leading directors are Ian and Mary-Linda Gloss, and they have been the directors since the origination of the company. Collectively the two have 23 years experience in the hunting and tourism industry and they both have their roots firmly set on the African soil and as well are both Zimbabwean born and raised.More About The African Safari CompanyThe African Safari Company offers various different safari tours, with the two most popular being the Botswana safaris and the Zimbabwe safaris.The African Safari Company states on their website about how Botswana is one of the most politically and economically stable countries in Africa and that it has no history of war, and that thus it is an absolutely wonderful spot in Africa to go on a safari tour.They also speak about how it is a landlocked country in Southern Africa which is situated between Namibia to the west, South Africa to the southeast and Zimbabwe to the northeast. They tell of how the countrys self-sufficiency is largely in thanks to its large diamond reserves and as well about how the wealth of the economy largely contradicts its undeveloped and haphazard infrastructure.In regards to Zimbabwe, they speak of how it is also an absolutely wonderful destination, particularly for a safari tour. They tell of how it is a beautiful country with a sub-tropical climate and how it is a country which is blessed with vast riches of mining, agricultural and tourism potential.As well it boasts a greatly diverse topography with trout filled lakes and misty mountains to grassy plains and large rugged magnificent rivers and of course the renowned Zimbabwe valley, home to the Big Five.The African Safari Company is, without a doubt, one of the best safari tour companies out there today, and so if you are interested on going on a safari tour in Africa then you are definitely going to want to strongly consider going with this company over any other.Just make sure that you call to book far ahead of time, as they often have a waiting list and you want to make sure that you are able to get in for the time period that you want to.

The Top 10 Binge Drinking Getaways

The Top 10 Binge Drinking Getaways

Many vacationers love to make the most of their time off work or college. This is completely understandable when you consider how much leisure time we actually get away from the stresses and strains of modern society. Some like to cut loose, especially those in the under-thirty age bracket. The there is always the hen and stag nights associated with weddings. Increasing numbers of stags and hens choose to spend a weekend away too. As a result, binge drinking getaways have become increasingly popular in the last few years. Here is a quick guide to the cream of the binge drinking getaway crop.1. Prague This destination is perfect for binge drinking, with a pitcher of beer costing roughly $1! It is an extremely cheap city to drink in, and accommodation is of a high standard for an exceptionally reasonable price. The Ibis Old Town Hotel is one of them, offering the necessary amenities to make your stay comfortable and located within walking distance of the bars.2. Amsterdam Amsterdam has a variety of bars and cafes that are all primarily drinking establishments. Although the prices are extortionate in some places, there are some smaller sidewalk bars that offer alcohol at very low prices. Many of the hotels are located in the centre of the city and within stumbling distance of the bars. Try the Albus Grand Hotel for a luxurious but affordable stay and immediate access to the watering holes of Amsterdam.3. Blackpool The Royal York hotel in Blackpool is perhaps one of the cheapest but best hotels around if you are looking for the ideal location for a binge drinking weekend. The hotel is next to the fantastic nightlife district. Blackpool is full of bars and nightclubs that provide great drinks prices and offers and, as a result, is a popular destination for hen and stag weekends.4. Ibiza This destination needs very little introduction. It is renowned for its all-night club parties in the summer, which attract binge drinkers from all over the globe. Whether you are looking for an unforgettable weekend of partying or a longer break, Ibiza offers the complete package. El Puerto Hotel is in a prime location for a binge drinking getaway. It is right in the heart of Ibiza town and welcomes travellers who party at night and sleep in the day.5. Dublin The Irish are renowned for their ability to drink, so it comes as no surprise that Dublin is one of the top 10 destinations for binge drinking. Many hotels are located in the city centre, but none as reasonably priced at the Mespil Hotel. It is right in the city centre and offers good rooms and facilities for guests without restricting your ability to drink and have a good time!6. Cancun The heart of Mexico and a spring break haven, Cancun offers an excellent rage of bars and clubs, as well as providing a range of places to stay. The Solymar hotel is one of them. It is situated next to the nightlife and offers high quality facilities at an extremely cheap price, considering its location. If you want to drink and be merry, as well as meet new people who are looking for the same things as you from their vacation, Cancun is the place to be.7. Negril Jamaica is renowned for its easy going lifestyle, but is should be more well known for its measures of alcohol. If you are looking to get drunk, then the amount of rum in any drink here should be enough to entice you to the resort. Rondel Village Negril hotel is a short distance from the nightlife but offers a quiet retreat for the morning after hangover.8. Corfu Corfu is perfect for a quieter binge drinking weekend than the other destinations listed. The town is more easygoing but just as cheap as Cancun and Negril. The Bretagne Hotel is located in the heart of the town but is considered budget accommodation. This does not reflect the facilities available. It is a short walk to the bars and clubs, if a little bit further when you are stumbling to your bed at the end of the night.9. Sydney Located in Australia, Sydney offers the perfect combination of sun, sea and alcohol for any binge drinking weekend. You can combine all three if you wish. Hotels like the The Westin Sydney are perfect for binge drinking weekends because they appreciate the fun that most individuals are looking for in a binge drinking getaway.10. Tenerife A long-established fun vacation destination that is perfect for binge drinking, Tenerife offers a wide variety of clubs and bars to suit all tastes. It is also nice and cheap for those on a budget. Accommodation, such as the H10 Costa Adeje Palace Hotel, markets itself towards the younger binge drinkers out there and offers great value for money.Wherever you choose to go for a binge drinking weekend, the top 10 will surely create memorable experiences for all tourists. They cater for alcoholic ventures and offer great prices to boot!

Enjoy A Relaxing Break In Torrevieja Spain

For those that want to enjoy an exciting and fun-filled vacation that offers the ideal opportunity to kick back and relax, as well as offering a range of exciting things to see and do, Torrevieja Spain is the ideal choice of destination. Located on the beautiful and vibrant Costa Blanca, this is a destination that has something to suit everyone, and is also conveniently located to visit other places such as Alicante, Benidorm, Javea, and Santa Pola. You can reach this destination with ease from Alicante airport, and once you arrive you will be able to soak up the vibrant atmosphere, surrounding beauty, and excitement of this popular part of Spain. This is a destination that has become very popular with tourists, especially with European visitors, so you will be able to enjoy a good mix of cultures when you come here. Whether you want to kick back and relax, enjoy a range of recreational opportunities, sample the nightlife, explore the rich history and culture of the area, or just soak up some of that fabulous weather, you will not be disappointed with this beautiful Spanish destination.There is plenty to keep you busy in TorreviejaWhen you visit this destination you will find plenty to keep you busy, which means that you can look forward to a full and exciting itinerary throughout your time here. In addition to exploring the surrounding areas and towns, where you will also find a great choice of entertainment and many sights, you can look forward to everything from cultural events and historical places of interest to natural beauty and exciting entertainment for the whole family. The beach is a big attraction in Torrevieja, and is the perfect place to relax and top up that tan. You can also enjoy a range of recreational activities when you come here, from water activities and climbing to nature walks, golf, and more. If shopping is your thing, you can look forward to an array of unique and exciting shopping opportunities, and you will have no problem picking up that unique gift or souvenir. For those that don't want to stop when the sun goes down, there is an abundance of exciting nightlife to be enjoyed in this area, and you can dance into the early hours and enjoy drinks and cocktails with a choice of clubs and bars.Other places to visit on TorreviejaThere really is something for everyone to enjoy in "Torrevieja Spain" . You can look forward to a range of attractions to add to your itinerary. Enjoy a visit to the Museum of Sea and Salt, enjoy a boat tour or simply relax in the Torrevieja Harbour, stroll around the charming Torrevieja Town Square, or visit historical attractions such as the Church of the Immaculate Conception. This is a destination that also enjoys a colorful and diverse culture, and those visiting the area will be able to enjoy a range of cultural events and festivities that take place over the course of the year, providing the perfect opportunity to soak up some local culture, learn about the local way of life, and enjoy some unique fun and entertainment along the way. The convenient location of this destination makes it ideal for those that want to travel around a little and explore other places in the area, as there are some wonderful and exciting tourist destination within close proximity, so you can really make the most of your time in Spain.

Mystic Aquarium: An Oasis Of Wonderful Sea Creatures

If you are one of the people who love visiting the place called Mystic Aquarium, you will surely enjoy the new Mystic Aquarium that had opened in the early spring last year 1998. There are plenty of renovations made and was made perfect for all those who loves aquamarine life. Aside from all the renovations made, the visitors will now enjoy more than 3.500 new specimens of marine life coming from around the world. There are 200 species of different kinds and more than 34 exhibits that you can truly enjoy.The famous island of life which is Ocean Planet Pavilion has also improved. With new graphic and layout, you will not only enjoy the majestic scene but you will be amazed on how these spectacular facilities are made. You will see four exhibits that feature all forms of marine life.The river in this particular area carry a 400 million tons of organic materials used as a habitat that supports different forms of marine life. You will also like this particular site as it appears to be real especially if birds are around. Children and adult are able to get close to marine creatures such as sea horses, crabs, mudskippers, octopus and many more famous aquatic living things.You will also love the coral reefs found underwater. This is one of the favorite attractions. Almost 28 foot and 30,000 gallon of tank is the habitat for different types of fishes swimming around the brightly colored coral reefs. The reefs may appear to be real. Many are fascinated upon knowing that these coral reefs are only artificial.You will also find coral polyps under the water scene. These are small and soft bodied animals living in a colonies. They are made up of calcium carbonate and in longer period of time, it grows bigger and bigger forming shapes. They are called coral reefs.It also serves as an educational venue for students. Mostly, it is visited by many students for educational tours and research. With plenty of species, the student will be in touched with all the marine creatures from around the world. They do not need to go to different places in the planet to appreciate them.If you are curious about the place, visit it now and experience a once in a life time opportunity to get close with all the marine creatures from around the world. You will miss half of your life if you do not move now.

Summary

The more time I spend discovering Toronto the more I realize it is a fascinating city with interesting people and places, historic and current, famous and not so famous. Sometimes our most interesting discoveries are local ones - broadening our minds and expanding our horizons doesnt always require a plane ticket and thousands of kilometers travelled.So in the spirit of local explorations I singled out Torontos historic Royal York Hotel as the next destination for my in...