It was not so much any individual thing that attracted him as the gradual revelation of elegance of modest and impeccable taste of harmony…. -From the book Lost Horizon
The Toronto International Film Festival attracts A list Hollywood stars every year. This bacchanal of parties and movies, which rivals Sundance and Cannes, opened on September 10th. There was a pre party on September 9th that drew Jake Gyllenhaal, Naomi Watts, Chris Evans, Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Among the hottest stars and movies scheduled for this year’s festival are Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton in “Black Mass,” Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig in “The Martian”, Josh Brolin, Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro in “Sicario” and Elle Fanning, Bryan Cranston and John Goodman in “Trumbo.” Who you won’t be seeing in is Robert Pattinson whose movie “Life” co-starring Ben Kingsley and Dane DeHaan will premiere without him because insiders say he doesn’t want to run into his ex Kristen Stewart who’s due in Toronto. The former Twilight siren will be at the festival promoting “Equal” with her costar Nicholas Hoult.
If you have decided to go and haven’t made your reservations yet, it’s time to decide where to stay and where to go after the daily screenings. When Jessica Chastain wanted vegan food in Toronto she found it at the Shangri-La Hotel. This oasis of luxury with Asian accents is where you will find movie stars and movie moguls during the city’s annual fall film festival. Sophisticated travelers looking for superior service and luxurious amenities, including private jet bookings, can find them at this five star hotel on the room’s iPad. European and American guests spotted Reese Witherspoon celebrating with the cast of “Wild” last year on the Hotel’s Garden Terrace. Applause filled the room when Terrence Howard, did an impromptu performance of “My Girl” in 2013 while promoting “Winnie” in the Shangri-La’s festive Lobby Lounge that features live jazz every night. The Fazioli piano is wittily inscribed with lyrics form Canadian singer Joni Mitchell. The expansive and romantically illuminated lobby with its cozy seating would make a perfect setting for James Bond to find his next conquest as the cameras rolled. Small plates of delicious Steamed Dim Sum, Crunchy Chicken and Beef sliders are served around two chic, minimalist, fireplaces. Don’t miss Afternoon Tea here, which offers 68 choices from around the world. The hotel also boasts a 42 seat screening room and a 9,000 sq. ft. health and fitness area that offers everything form spin sessions to meditation classes. The sleek ambiance and polished service makes the Shangri-La a favorite of the international jet set, Hollywood producers and cooperate executives who want a refined and curated experience.
The Moon Gate
The Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts first outpost opened in Singapore in 1971, it is now Asia’s leading luxury hotel group. Today, there are more than 90 “Shang“ hotels stretching from the Asia Pacific to North America and the Middle East to Europe. The Shangri-La Toronto is the newest addition to this collection and exemplifies the brand’s hospitality, tranquility and unique standards of service. Once inside the Lobby Lounge you are greeted by four enormous Chinese calligraphy paintings depicting women from the Peking Opera by Wang Xu Yuan. The hallways leading to the 202 spacious and perfectly appointed guestrooms are dotted with Japanese prints and object de art. My corner suite had dramatic views from all of the windows and the shades, lights and temperature were are all linked to state of the art control panels. The living room had a cozy seating area, TV, desk, bar and a full bathroom. The massive master bath was a marvel of pale green marble counters and white marble floors and tiles. While shaving I discovered a TV hidden in the mirror and the tub, which was big enough for two, had floor to ceiling windows on two sides. As we were on the highest floor I didn’t worry about the neighbors and soaking at night with all of Toronto twinkling beneath me was one of the highlights of my stay. The top accommodations here is the 10k a night Shangri-La Suite, at 2,000 sq. ft. it is open and airy with a Moon Gate entrance to the master bedroom. The subtle oriental themed décor not only sets the scene but sets this hotel apart from others in Canada. This suite has already been booked for the festival but if you move quickly you still might be able to score one of Shangri-La’s luxurious suites or rooms.
The Champagne Wall
Bosk is the hotel’s critically acclaimed signature restaurant. For a serious culinary treat try Executive chef Damon Campbell’s tasting menu and do have the wine pairings chosen by sommelier Mark Moffatt. Start with the Chefs Snacks, which includes truffle custard and a caviar donut. Going a la carte I suggest the Pacific Sablefish or the Lamb loin Duo with tomato fondue. Although the wine list has more than 700 international labels it’s the lobby’s Champagne Wall that got my attention; it contains the finest selection of champagnes in the country. The vast selection includes the hotel’s house champagne Perrier Jouet and a rare Dom Perignon Jacquesson Cuvee 736. What makes this wall fun is you can indulge in flights of different champagnes and buy them by the glass. Do order the caviar, pate and a selection of artisanal cheeses to go with the Dom and Cristal. This hotel experience truly is Shangri-La.