Earlier today a small mob scene coalesced on the sidewalk at Blue Jays Way across from Mercer Street for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to soft-open Toronto’s newest hotel, Bisha, just before the film world’s annual invasion of the city for TIFF. The Wallman Architects-designed building rises from behind a heritage frontage to climb 44 storeys (147 metres) into the air, capped off by a rooftop restaurant and pool deck.
On hand for the event were Jacques LaPierre, GM of the hotel; John Tory, Mayor of Toronto; Charles Khabouth, CEO of INK Entertainment; Jonathan Tisch, Chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels; and Brian Brown and Michael Pearl, principals at Lifetime Developments. LaPierre hosted while Tory welcomed the new hotel to the Toronto scene and congratulated the team, Khabouth spoke of his dream for a hotel that would fit with his dining and clubbing empire, and Tisch spoke of his enthusiasm for Khabouth’s vision and the hotel’s fit with Loews’ upscale collection of properties.
Following speeches, Brown and Pearl drew the drapes from two ‘dango’ heads—ceramics by noted Japanese artist Jun Kaneko who typically works with monumentally sized ’rounded-form’ sculptures—one on either side of the front doors. The heads elevate the person in amongst the towering brick, glass, and steel structures of the city. Kaneko has said of his works “I hope… that [they] will give off enough visual energy to shake the air around [them].”
Inside the front doors, the Studio Munge designed lobby and lobby lounge are now ready for guests. Both spaces are dominated by rich colours and textures. The lounge will be happy to feed you a meal, but is primed to ply you with drinks from a long selection of cocktails.
Ten different types of guest rooms can be explored on the hotel’s website. Each includes a high-end marble-tiled washroom with shower or bath, and a custom designed armoire to hold your clothing. flat screen televisions hide behind the adjustable mirrors. A bar cart and comfortable sofa are there to help you unwind and relax.
Way up top, a reception followed the ribbon-cutting in Kost, pronounced ‘coast’, a Baja beach house-themed Mexican restaurant which will feature five different menus throughout the week. Here, Studio Munge has gone all light wood and seaside colours to suit a room surrounded by sky, and with a swimming pool and sun deck just outside the windows.
Opening in time for breakfast, Kost’s menu changes for lunch, for afternoon snacks, and then again for dinner. On weekends, the space will become one of the few places in this city of skyscrapers where you can enjoy brunch with gorgeous horizon-to-horizon views.
Sheltered from winds by a glass wall, the sun deck and infinity pool are opening just in time for guests to enjoy the end of Summer. The deck is furnished with plenty of both lounge chairs and seats, as well as circular outdoor beds and enough pillows for a number of small parties to get very comfortable.
Today’s visit would have ended terrifically with a dip in the pool, but it’s probably better that the media were not asked to bring their swimsuits: stories wouldn’t have been filed for another day, and besides, the hotel’s guests have no doubt been waiting to swim amongst the skyscrapers.
With the hotel soft opened and happy to accommodate you overnight, for a meal, or for a TIFF-related bash, there are still some areas still being worked on, and a grand opening—possibly in October—will announce their completion too. The stragglers include the hotel’s Lenny Kravitz Design floor (the design is apparently top secret; no-one is getting a sneak peek until it’s ready for its debutante ball), event spaces on the 43rd floor, and its signature Akira Back restaurant on the second level.
Written by Craig White for UrabToronto.com