The 90th Four Seasons hotel opens where it all began . . . in TORONTO

The newest in a world-wide chain of five-star hotels is now open in TORONTO’s trendy Yorkville.  55 storeys above Bay Street at Scollard, the complex features 259 hotel rooms and 210 high-end condos in the principal tower – plus 110 more of them in an adjacent 26-storey structure.  The hotel has commissioned 1,700 paintings, sculptures and designs from a variety of Canadian artists.  There’s a 30,000 square foot spa, and a restaurant – the Cafe Boulud – which doubtless will become a place to see and be seen.  The Four Seasons Toronto is the latest in a series of five-star establishments which have opened in our city.  The others: the Ritz-Carlton, Trump International, the Shangri-La, the Thompson and the Hazelton in Yorkville.

Andrew Weir, vice-president of communications for Tourism Toronto: “The Five-star boom has helped change the way people think about Toronto.  “It’s bringing more business and convention travel, but it’s also attracting a higher end sophisticated leisure traveller who is not driving across the border because shopping is 60 cents on the dollar.”“They are flying here and staying longer and spending more money because they are seeing Toronto as one of the great urban experiences in North America.”  The penthouse of this hotel sold for a record-breaking $28 million to an international buyer some time ago, and its pre-construction condominiums set a record at $1200 per square foot.  Hotel suites: $400 and up per night.<View from the Four Seasons penthouse, Craig White/>

A yellow brick beauty is revealed . . . the Dineen Building, 140 Yonge Street.

After removing layers of grime and dirt, an obscure yellow brick building on lower Yonge Street has emerged as a Financial District mini-masterpiece.  The Dineen Building, 140 Yonge at Temperance, was built in 1897 for a prominent hat and fur manufacturer.  The architect: F. H. Herbert (1865-1914), designed many of TORONTO’s finest homes in the Annex, Rosedale and Parkdale.

Pocket parks are popping up all over town

TORONTO has discovered ‘pocket parks’.  Traffic islands and unused vacant wedges are being planted and – best of all – maintained.  PHOTOS – maple trees on a traffic island, Richmond Street East & Jarvis; Glenn Gould Place, a park-within-a-park, King Street West at John; an autumn garden, University Avenue & Front; and Dundee Place, Richmond at Yonge Street.  There are countless others.

$175-million George Brown health campus livens up the eastern waterfront

Sandwiched between Sugar Beach, Redpath Sugar, Corus Film/Television Entertainment and Sherbourne Common, a new George Brown College campus specializing in health-care education, has arrived on our city’s shoreline.  The building contains classrooms, clinics for applied learning, five dental labs, an operating room theatre and simulation centres.  The first floor is open to the public.  Eventually, there’ll be 3,500 students on campus.

George Brown students can spend their lunch hours on a white sand beach under pink umbrellas watching nearby Redpath Sugar go about its business.