Toronto Life | November 11, 2022
When developer Sam Mizrahi envisioned a boutique hotel with The One, he conducted an extensive search to find inspiration. An avid traveler, he has always paid close attention to the design, architecture and the emotion of a place, documenting details he finds unique. “My smart phone is full of images. I’m fascinated by what makes a place memorable and how a room, a restaurant or any interior can make you feel happy,” Mizrahi reveals.
There were many options of boutique hotels that had yet to open in Toronto. “Whichever one I chose had to be the first of its brand in Toronto,” he says, underscoring his intent to make everything about The One—the tallest building in Canada—exclusive. After two years of research and having sampled nine boutique hotel brands around the world, he decided on Andaz, a Hyatt brand, meaning “personal style” in Hindi. “It’s the perfect match. The One is all about customization to the individual. You are the one,” Mizrahi states.
Andaz Toronto–Yorkville, which opens its doors in early 2024, will occupy floors 4 through 16 in The One, offering 136 guest rooms with more than 15 luxury suites. The hotel will feature event and conference spaces, a spa and a special “contemporary, beverage-forward culinary concept managed by one of Toronto’s leading restaurant groups,” says Scott Richer, vice president of development and owner relations at Hyatt Corporation.
Boutique hotels have been a major source of disruption in the hotel industry in the last couple of decades, becoming the fastest growing sector in hospitality for several years in a row.
Even before the pandemic, this undercurrent of change was underway. Now that the Covid crisis has abated, the boutique hotel sector is “most likely to rebound and even continue to grow” according to industry market research from IBISWorld.
Writing for Skift—a foremost voice for the travel industry—global brand marketer Colin Nagy notes how: “Instead of a lobby, a bed and a shower, it is a vibe,” emphasizing the unique appeal of boutique hotels. Driven in part by social media and digital content, the trend reflects the desire for authentic travel experiences as opposed to the cookie-cutter, often corporatized feel of traditional hotels.
From a hospitality standpoint, the goal of a boutique hotel is simple: to create an experience the traveler cannot find anywhere else. It’s not just about making a guest feel comfortable in the hotel, but helping them become immersed in the local culture with thoughtful programming.
The Andaz brand, with 30 hotels around the world, has no formula for how one of their properties should look or what each will offer. Design is a priority but is never the same, ranging from sophisticated and streamlined to avant-garde and provocative.
The team begins by becoming familiar with the neighbourhood, researching its history to see how it has evolved and where it’s headed. They investigate the restaurant and bar culture, seek out museums, galleries and local music interests to create a range of possible programming for guests both on and off property.
At the Andaz Ottawa ByWard Market, the first in Canada—which opened in 2016—each floor reflects the history and character of a Canadian province or territory. Artwork curated by the Canadian Council Art Bank adorns the walls, while local artists, musicians and designers put on events, from informative talks to live performances.
As another example, The Andaz Prague, which opened in early 2022, is housed in the historic Sugar Palace. Many of the beds in the hotel are guarded by the legendary prince Bruncvík’s lion atop blue velvet bedposts, a reference to one of the Czech legends that inspired the concept of the property.
The DesignAgency, an award-winning Toronto company, is responsible for creating interiors for some of the city’s most popular hospitality destinations, including the Drake Hotel, Soho House and the Ritz-Carlton. They have been chosen to lead this new hotel, with a goal of capturing the spirit of midtown in the Andaz Toronto-Yorkville, combining a mixture of vibrant colours, eclectic accents, as well as natural materials and finishes. “Toronto’s iconic Yonge and Bloor streets are at the crossroads to some of the city’s most vivid and distinct neighborhoods,” says Richer. “This location is ideal as the first Andaz hotel in Toronto.”
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