Toronto’s Entertainment District has evolved from an area dominated by dance clubs and bars in heritage commercial/industrial buildings, to an area dominated by high-rise condos, now with a broader range of after-work offerings, albeit fewer dance clubs. Theatres, comedy clubs, and more bars and restaurants are popping up everywhere, while new hotels are incorporated into some of the condo towers. Bisha Hotel and Residences is the latest of these combination developments. Now finishing off, 70% of the condo suites in the Wallman Architects-designed tower are already occupied as construction approaches completion.
Created by the partnership of Lifetime Developments and Ink Entertainment, the hotel is about a month from its soft opening, with lots of work still to do to finish offer spaces and get them up and running. Yesterday, however, the doors to the hotel lobby—located across from the end of Mercer Street on Blue Jays Way—were swung open to host a few dozen reporters, who got a look at what’s to come before the first guests arrive.
The lobby itself is essentially complete, with only a few pieces of furniture—making the plush and opulent Studio Munge-designed space more comfortable—yet to be delivered.
Alessandro Munge is designing all of the interiors at Bisha, save for one floor of suites in the hotel which Kravitz Design is tackling (that’s Kravitz as in Lenny Kravitz!). While Lenny’s floor will be the last level of the 96-room hotel to open, interior fit-outs are now being made to the Lobby Bar (as per below), along with a street-level café, a flagship restaurant from Aspen-snowboarder-turned-celebrity-chef Akira Back, and more atop the tower.
Between the ground and second floor restaurants are several floors of hotel rooms, including 77 “King” guestrooms, 8 “Two Queen” rooms, 10 “Luxury” suites, and 1 Two-Floor “Exclusive” suite. One of the richly appointed King Guestrooms was open for viewing, boasting custom furniture and finishes, including a swivelling mirror with an embedded HDTV in it, seen below.
The photos here don’t give a full view of the hotel room—there’s also a specially crafted Art Deco-inspired armoire in a nook in the hall—but we can’t ignore the bathroom, where one of the art pieces curated by Grace Zeppilli of GZ International graces the wall behind a free-standing soaker tub.
Across from the bath, a vanity already shows off a selection of Bal d’Afrique toiletries from Stockholm-based perfumer Byredo. Byredo’s founder Ben Gorham grew up in Toronto, and is reportedly thrilled that the first hotel to furnish guests with the high-end products is in his old stomping grounds.
Above the hotel rooms, condos in Bisha climb as high as the 42nd floor. On the 43rd floor, work is under way to complete an event space which will be bookable for all sorts of functions, from weddings to birthdays to corporate events.
Another floor higher, Bisha’s uppermost level will feature a bar-lounge-restaurant space with a beach house theme—appropriate owing to the pool and deck just outside.
The infinity pool running along the south side of the building’s roof is looking a little duckweed green for the moment, still waiting for its tiles to be applied to the surface.
With one gutter for the overflowing pool now tiled, the rest of the tiles await their installation in sheets, while the deck awaits its flooring and the walls of the restaurant also await their final cladding. So far, only the views here are “complete”… as complete as an ever-changing Toronto skyline view can be!
Inside, Charles Khabouth of INK Entertainment, Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge, and Brian Brown and Mel Pearl of Lifetime Developments thanked reporters for touring, and spoke of their work to create what Khabouth hopes will be the first of many Bisha Hotels, in association with the Loews Hotels chain of New York.
‘Bisha’ was Khabouth’s childhood nickname in his native Lebanon, and as Toronto’s “King of Clubs”, (Khabouth’s INK Entertainment also runs clubs and restaurants in Montreal, Niagara Falls, and Miami), he’s now looking to bring his attention to detail to accommodations around the world, starting here.
Written by Craig White for URBRANTORONTO.COM