I’ve been a big fan of the Fairmont for many, many years. During the very infamous (also insane, also irresponsible, also incredible) time that I travelled Canada thinking I was Mariah Carey, Fairmont’s 5-star luxury offerings were the only consideration. I stayed at the Banff Springs in the Canadian Rockies and had a choice between their mineral or salt water pools with the Sulfur Mountain in the background. From the rockies, I did a quick weekend stop at the Palliser in Calgary, Alberta along 9th Ave. In Vancouver, I stayed at the Waterfront where I took seaplanes (seaplanes!) right outside the hotel to take me straight to the front door of the Empress in Victoria. And of course there’s the Chateau Frontenac in Quebec, towering over all of Quebec City said to be the most photographed hotel in the world.
Of course I have long realized that I am actually not Mariah Carey—shocker! I have also dialled down the luxury hotel check-ins significantly and have become a more responsible and budget savvy traveller. I still splurge every now and then, but unlike before, staying in a 5-star hotel is no longer a travel mandatory.
I regret splurging on a number of pricey hotels during my “Mariah Carey days”—an Omni hotel and a couple of Le Meridien locations come to mind. However, I can confidently say that every single stay at a Fairmont hotel was money well-spent. This was once again confirmed during a recent stay at Fairmont’s Royal York Hotel in my hometown Toronto.
ROYAL TREATMENT AT TORONTO’S FAIRMONT ROYAL YORK
We decided to have our civil wedding reception at the Fairmont Royal York back in September, a couple of months before the actual event. Coordinating the event from Amsterdam involved a number of emails and phone calls with the hotel’s Events & Catering team and even with my unnatural anxiety levels, Ashley Pigott, Fairmot Royal York’s Wedding & Catering Manager, together with her team, were able to keep me reassured the entire time.
A wedding reception package at the Fairmont Royal York comes with a complimentary room and my then-fiancé and I decided that I will take it the night before our wedding. That way, I will be but 800 metres away from the Toronto City Hall where our civil ceremony will be conducted the following morning. When I arrived at the Royal York, it was fully decked out in holiday décor. The Christmas lights and wreaths made the already opulent lobby seem grander than it already is.
At the front desk, I mentioned that I’m checking-in for the wedding reception at the Library Room the next day. Like what was promised to me by Ashley, everything has been arranged and my name was in the reservation list. The check-in process went like usual—quick yet warm, thorough yet pain free. The only thing different was that the gentleman across the desk, before giving me the keycards to the room, pointed out that I’ll be staying at the Governor General Suite and asked if I have stayed there before. I shook my head and said I have not, recalling that the only time I stayed at the Royal York was with my sister when I gave her a night’s stay in a standard room as a back-to-school gift.
I took the keys and went on my way.
I remember hoping for a room that has enough space to make getting ready a little bit easier the next morning. My sister is doing my hair and make-up, and putting on nine yards of saree will be both an experiment and a group effort between myself, my sister and my mother. “A bit of desk space,” I remember thinking, was all I wanted.
THE GOVERNOR GENERAL SUITE
I got to the 16th floor and followed the room numbers. My key said 16-135 which led me to a set of double-doors at the end of the hallway:
BEHIND THE DOUBLE DOORS
The door label read 134-135-137 and I thought that there are possibly three rooms behind the double doors. It reminded me of the Queen’s rooms at the Fairmont Banff Springs in Alberta—the hotel prepared a seven-room suite for Queen Victoria’s stay at the hotel and afterwards split them up into seven smaller rooms accessible only behind a set of double doors. I figured the setup must be something very similar.
And so I entered.
SURPRISE, YOUR HIGHNESS
I was confused. Seeing the queen’s lodging in Banff, I had an idea of how the hallway behind the double doors is supposed to look like and what I saw was very different. Instead of a corridor leading to smaller hotel rooms, there was a massive foyer. Instead of seeing the doors to units 134, 135 and 137, there were two luxurious bedrooms and a 600 sq. ft. living area oh-so-elegantly furnished. I walked around still thinking I will find the door to 16-135 when I started to think that there must have been a mistake. I went back outside, re-traced my steps thinking I followed the wrong directions, and ended up at the exact same suite.
I was still trying to make sense of what’s going on when the phone rang. It was Laura Senior from the Events & Catering department covering for Ashley whilst she’s out of the office. She asked me if I liked the room and I told her, perhaps in between giddy giggles, that it was such a pleasant surprise. To which she said:
“We want you to feel like a princess.”
I was expecting a standard complimentary room and the Fairmont Royal York gave me 1,830 sq. ft. of luxury. I felt like royalty—a very spoilt princess to describe it exactly.
The next day, the Fairmont machine delivered as planned and scheduled: Wake up call at 6AM, complimentary breakfast cart at 7AM (another surprise), cab to the City Hall at 9:30AM and a lavish, sumptuous lunch at noon with amazing waitservice.
My wedding day was absolutely perfect. I am grateful to the Fairmont Royal York team for the exquisite service from the point of engagement all the way to the last moment. Old world luxury, unparalleled service and pleasant surprises—the Fairmont Royal York has attained a trifecta that should be experienced by all travellers who are willing to splurge a little bit—perhaps to celebrate a birthday, an anniversary or a special occasion. You don’t need to be the Queen of England or a pop diva; just like me, you can feel like royalty.