By Brooke Madden
The globally renowned Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has been setting unmatched industry standards since the brand’s flagship location in Toronto came to be in 1961. Establishing themselves early on as innovators in the hospitality industry, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and the teams behind them are committed to continuing to elevate their experiences internationally. But which one is at the forefront in terms of guest experience, and dining elevation?
As a GTA native, I might be a little biased, but to me, it’s Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. I recently had the pleasure to connect with the key players behind the Toronto flagship, and learned a little bit about how their guest experience continues to be so impressive.
“As the global flagship hotel, we exemplify what Four Seasons Hotel Toronto stands for: genuine, unscripted and personalized service that leaves a lasting impression. All of this is made possible by the deep connections our people make with our guests,” says the hotel’s general manager, Patrick Pollak. Four Seasons Hotel Toronto is an undisputed leader in hospitality, and Pollak believes it is entirely because of the hotel’s people.
“We are fortunate to have many very long-tenure employees with us. We have the three longest-serving Four Seasons Hotel and Resorts employees amongst us, one of which has more than 45 years of service. Our employees are what make Four Seasons Hotel Toronto so special.” These seasoned employees, he goes on to say, blend perfectly with vibrant new talent. “This dynamic makes for an exciting collision of personalities and experiences – all of whom are masters of their craft,” he explains.
If you’re someone who values eclectic, dynamic people, people who create culturally and creatively special environments for guests, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto is sure to satisfy. And you don’t even need to hop on a plane to get there.
Whether we’re speaking about world-renowned chefs, incomparable management, detail-oriented servers, creative bartenders, and even committed, reliable dishwashers, the hotel is passionate about ensuring it is staffed with “talented, hard-working individuals that cannot be replicated.” This is plainly evident when one has the privilege of experiencing the hotel’s dining options.
Home to Michelin-star and celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s French Brasserie, Café Boulud features seasonal menus rooted in the French tradition. Helmed by chef de cuisine Colin Henderson, it highlights both bistro classics and contemporary dishes inspired by Chef Daniel’s family meals in Lyon.
Becoming a culinary landmark in the city, Café Boulud “always strives to uphold the highest quality food,” says Chef Henderson. “Our wine program, run by Julie Garton, is one of the best in the city, and our attentive service staff ensures all guests have a truly special dining experience,” he adds. Garton also lends her creativity to cocktail development, and executes personalized wine tasting events for residents, locals,and hotel guests.
On a personal note, I believe that Chef Boulud genuinely cares, to a much higher degree than one may expect, about forming connections with his guests, creating an even more special dining experience. My father had the privilege of dining at Chef Boulud’s restaurant in New York City, Le Pavillon, and was honoured to be able to speak and spend time with the legendary French innovator in person. His team cannot speak highly enough of Chef Boulud.
“It was always a dream of mine to be a chef for a Daniel Boulud restaurant. Chef has taught me that even when things are extremely tough, you never lower your standards. To create the best possible dining experience, we have to continually work together as a team, which includes the front of the house and back of the house. Chef Daniel exemplifies how to truly turn a restaurant team into a family,” remarks Henderson.
Perhaps I have a soft spot, as he was kind to my family, but that is definitely the type of entrepreneur I want to support. And to be lucky enough to have one of Boulud’s establishments at my doorstep, is something I’ll take advantage of.
When you’ve finished your decadent dining affair, perhaps consider hitting the town to add a little adventure to your staycation. “Four Seasons Hotel Toronto is steps away from some of the city’s best restaurants, shops, galleries and museums. It’s the heartbeat of Yorkville, a dynamic destination and a beacon of entertainment,” says Pollak.
To this, I can completely attest. Having lived in Toronto for seven years now, I can guarantee there’s no area as luxurious as Yorkville. If you still have your appetite, might I recommend Kasa Moto for eclectic Japanese eats you won’t find outside of the city. Or, catch some live music at Hemingway’s – both are less than a five-minute walk from Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.
But don’t just take my word for it – talk to the pros. With deep roots in the community, chief concierge Harry Hollywood and the concierge team offer exclusive access to top attractions or the city’s hidden gems, providing guests with a vibrant insider’s view of the city.
Finally, Pollak recommends you make a weekend out of your stay. The Spa at Four Seasons Toronto is the largest, and only, Forbes Five-Star luxury spa in Toronto. Led by senior spa director Viviana Quesada, the spa offers a wide array of holistic wellness services while providing a truly personalized healing experience. Recharge during your stay with a signature treatment, or lounge by their serene pool to add to your weekend relaxation.
If you’re someone with an appreciation for the finer things in life, I urge you to explore Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. Yes, of course, for its divine, high quality, elevated accommodation, for Chef Boulud’s Bistro classics and contemporary dishes, and for everything the city has to offer; but I also encourage you to get to know the people: the hospitality workers who care so deeply for the work they do, and for forming connections with each other and their guests. After the last couple of years, I think that’s something we all need.