Hotels & Resorts Spas — 05 March 2015
Toronto, Canada in the winter: Not so bad, indoors…

By Sherri Telenko

Sometimes a romantic weekend sounds like a great idea. But sometimes it’s punctuated by moments that leave a couple wondering why they ever left home. It happens to everyone (or so I learned watching The Amazing Race). But all that disappeared when the man and I spent two days, prepaid, at the Intercontinental Toronto Centre last winter for the sole purpose of enjoying the hotel’s amenities, without stepping out the lobby door.

And that might have been the best decision we made.

First, there are a number of things that made the Intercontinental our choice: Toronto isn’t far from us, so we didn’t have time to get tense in the car or lost. (A ‘staycation’ advantage, I guess). Also, the room, a couple’s massage in the spa, and dinner was pre-booked, so everything was organized, and covered, before we left. The package also included some in-room extras, such as ‘fresh baked cookies’ that turned out to be store-bought and disappointing, resulting in a bonding giggle moment—plus the shared realization that it’s perhaps best to bring your own snacks plus a bottle of wine (or two).

Second, parking is directly beside the hotel, and easy to get to, so we checked in quickly, poured a glass of vino and chilled before decompressing further at the Spa Intercontinental on the third floor of the hotel. Our couple’s massage appointment was booked before dinner, which made for a leisurely, spa-headed, dining experience. A spa, any spa, is a familiar retreat for me (I’m spoiled), but walking down the hall with my robe-clad companion felt a bit like being led down the halls of an institution not sure what ‘treatment’ awaited us. (We later learned the regular route was under construction due to heavy snow and ice that fell on the pool’s atrium ceiling—ah, Canada).

I might be no virgin to the lure of spa relaxation and scented oils, but this was my first couple’s massage, and admittedly losing myself in the moment was a bit challenging because half my focus was on the other table. “Don’t giggle,” I warned him before the treatment started. “You have to take this seriously,” even when asked to sniff the peppermint-scented essential oil and relax.

But it would be me in a fit of giggles, seconds after I watched my boyfriend, unfamiliar with spa protocol, drop his robe, hang it on the back of the door then scamper in his tightie-whities to the table and belly flop on flailing for a moment like, well, a fish out of water. “You’re supposed to wait for the masseuse to leave the room,” I told him, barely able to contain myself. At least, he had underwear on.

Once I collected myself, and he had successfully wriggled under the sheet, all went well and the relaxing mutual experience was the topic of conversation for the rest of the evening.

Toronto - Feb 2015Finally, dinner at Azure, a swank lobby/restaurant with a view of Toronto’s Front Street followed. Azure is an appropriate reflection of this recently updated boutique hotel’s style, most rooms (like ours) with a clear view of the CN Tower.

I recommend selecting from the chef’s menu, limiting deliberation to only the kitchen’s specialties (in this case seasonal ‘Canadian’ fare with an emphasis on beef and salmon). This includes choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert each, thus eliminating final course tasting complaints. The set price (plus alcohol, of course) left no surprise when the bill arrived.

Full stomachs, full heads and no muscle tension, we headed back to the room, later acknowledging that this was one of the best weekends away. After a leisurely breakfast downstairs the next morning, we whiled away a few hours at Toronto’s St. Lawrence Market (within walking distance) before heading back to reality.

AzureAzure

Essentials….
  • Odds of Encountering Children: Possible, depending on what time of year it is and what is going on at the adjacent convention centre. Usually, though, convention clientele are not a family-in-tow crowd
  • 42-inch flat screen television, robes and Keurig coffee station in every guestroom
  • Free Wi-Fi access, fitness center, saltwater swimming pool and hot tub
  • AVEDA Concept Spa offers spa services including couple’s massage
  • The Intercontinental is attached to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre
  • The Azure street-front restaurant features contemporary Canadian cuisine
  • Located in the heart of Toronto and within walking distance of the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium Canada, Roger Centre (home to the Toronto Blue Jays), Air Canada Centre (home to the Toronto Maple Leafs), Roy Thompson Hall classical concert venue, and a longer walk to the Eaton Centre, a 230-retailer indoor shopping mall
  • Valet parking is $45 overnight and recommended to avoid headaches
More Information…

Intercontinental Toronto Centre
225 Front Street West
Toronto, Canada
1-416-597-1400
Azure on Urbanspoon

– Top photo courtesy Intercontinental Toronto Centre; remainder courtesy Sherri Telenko

Sherri TelenkoSherri Telenko became a writer and editor after graduating from the University of Guelph with a Masters degree in English Literature in the ‘90s. Currently, she teaches at Mohawk College in Ontario, Canada, while writing travel articles, lifestyle pieces and personality interviews. Her travel articles focus primarily on urban adventure—arts, culture, cuisine and nightlife—and upscale resorts, spas, inns and boutique hotels. A passion for horses led her to create www.horsetrotting.net, a magazine blog dedicated to travel and trail riding. Otherwise, she lives quietly in a small town with her cat, Katilynn, dog, Victor, and no kids.

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