Ritz wants to be hot spot for Film Festival

The Toronto Ritz-Carlton’s ambition is nothing short of becoming the HQ of the Toronto Intl. Film Festival. Opened in February 2011, the 267-room hotel is steps from the TIFF Lightbox and across from Roy Thomson Hall — home to the fest’s Torgalas and this year’s opening night pic, “From the Sky Down.”

“As a Canadian, I’d say we’re center ice,” says the hotel’s general manager, Tim Terceira, of its location in a 53-story tower on the south side of Wellington Street, close to many fest venues.

Configured to take advantage of its unobstructed views, the hotel’s corner suites (four to a floor) wrap around for additional skyline vistas. In-room technology includes Bose docking stations for iPhone/iPod, 42-inch HD LCD flat-screen TVs, DVD players and wi-fi throughout the building. Suites have enhanced entertainment systems with Surround Sound. Club-level rooms have access to the private club lounge — a quiet alternative for informal meetings.

Because of its proximity to the Toronto sprocket opera, Terceira expects festgoers and industryites to fill up the hotel’s public spaces and upscale eatery, TOCA, which features a menu of predominantly Canadian ingredients and cuisine by chef Tom Brodi. The soundproofed private dining room seats 12; the cheese cave — manned by a cheese specialist — is proving popular with guests. The spiffy TOCA bar offers mixologist-made cocktails, and DEQ, an expansive outdoor terrace restaurant and bar, is replete with an outdoor pizza oven and fire pits.

The decor is more contemporary than that of other Ritz-Carlton properties, but the service aims to live up to the brand’s rep. VIPs can come and go discreetly via a lower-level parking garage. If there’s time to work out or chill out, there’s a large gym and an even larger 13,000-square-foot spa that occupy the hotel’s entire fifth floor. The co-ed relaxation room opens to a balcony and is infused with natural light, a rare thing in a city spa.

While the Ritz-Carlton may gain a foothold with industryites at this year’s fest, look for future luxury-grade competition from the Four Seasons and Shangri-La hotels, both slated to open in 2012. The Trump Intl. Hotel & Tower, scheduled to open in late 2011, also will soon woo showbizzers.

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