Keith Baker, a native of Jamaica, has made Toronto his home since age 10. And as he has become a successful entrepreneur as the founder and CEO of UCR2, a marketing and promotions firm, he has seen his hometown flourish as well. Toronto is a city of great culture and diversity, and it boasts the most culturally diverse population in North America, according to the city’s tourism bureau. “We’re a very open-minded society because of all the cultures here,” Baker, 38, says. Such an eclectic mix has proved fertile for cultural exchange, business, and employment growth.
Toronto is the financial center of Canada and the fourth largest city in North America. Known as “Silicon Valley North,” it is the third-largest technology employer in North America. “Real estate development is absolutely booming, particularly with all the harbor front potential,” Baker adds. There are also growing opportunities in fashion and entertainment, he notes. “We have become Hollywood North.”
In this ever-expanding city, there is an abundance of choices for the business traveler. Baker shines a spotlight on a few of his favorites.
AROUND TOWN : TORONTO
SoHo Metropolitan Hotel (318 Wellington St. West; 416-599-8800) is a new and trendy boutique hotel that offers a luxuriously modern stay — right down to the sheets, which are 300-count Italian Frette linen. Rooms are electronically outfitted to control draperies and lighting. And the 3,000-square-foot penthouse is three stories with views overlooking the city.
“Expect star treatment at the Four Seasons (21 Avenue Rd.; 416-964-0411).” There are also 24-hour business services, and guests can reserve complimentary morning limousine service to the downtown financial district Monday to Friday.
The sommelier at Harbour Sixty Steakhouse (60 Harbour St.; 416-777-2111) is available online (www.harboursixty.com) to comment on the more than 700 wines. Baker’s favorite dish is dessert: Banana with Valhrona Chocolate. “Order when you order dinner. It’s a 45-minute wait time.”
“The dining is world-class and the view is extraordinary,” says Baker of Canoe (66 Wellington St. West; 416-364-0054), located at the top of the TD Bank Tower. The restaurant’s seasonal menu highlights a raw bar and a seven-course tasting menu, both of which change daily. There’s also a large breakfast selection.
Baker visits Stillwater (4 Avenue Rd.; 416-925-1234), located inside the Park Hyatt, once a week for a one-hour Swedish massage. There are a variety of body and specialty treatments including Stillwater Aqua Therapy, where a therapist performs shiatsu and other massage techniques in water.
“The subways system is well positioned to take business travelers around the city,” Baker says. Bus and train fare is $2.50 Canadian. Transit passes are available to visitors attending meetings, conferences, and conventions. Taxis are also readily available.
Proof of U.S. citizenship is required of business travelers. No visa is required for up to 3 months. Work permits are necessary for performers/entertainers, those performing technical work or training, or providing professional services.
$1 U.S. is equivalent to $1.21 Canadian.