Canada gets its first Radisson Blu

TORONTO — “It’s got the best location in Toronto, right at the foot of the CN tower, with views of downtown and the lake. It’s downtown with kind of a resort feel. It’s quiet, but there are all those amenities close by. We have a nice pool, access to TTC and the bike path. You can visit Toronto and you don’t need a car.” Those are some of the comments made by Nathalie Lalonde, general manager, when asked what’s so special about the Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown, formerly the Radisson Hotel Admiral Toronto-Harbourfront, which became the first Radisson Blu in Canada on October 8.

Nathalie Lalonde, GM of Canada’s first Radisson Blu.

The opening day was virtual taking place largely on social media because of COVID, but there was blue mood lighting in the lobby and the new signage helped guests know about the name change. The ownership, the hotel team, and Radisson Hotel Group participated in a virtual Blu ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the highly anticipated event. In the spring, or as soon as it’s safe, they will hold a larger opening event.

Radisson Blu is the top tier of Radisson Hotels — an upper upscale hotel brand that delivers a positive and personalized service in stylish spaces. By paying close attention to small details that make a big difference, Radisson Blu inspires unforgettable experiences with every stay. These hotels and resorts provide a full range of innovative products and services, delivering genuine and relevant guest experiences with a distinctive Yes I Can! attitude. Radisson Blu hotels can be found in major cities, key airport gateways and leisure destinations.

Radisson is an upscale hotel brand that offers Scandinavian inspired hospitality, which enables guests to focus on a work/life balance and find more harmony in their travel experience. And Radisson RED is an upscale, select service hotel brand that presents a playful twist on the conventional.

As of Q2 2020, there are 324 Radisson Blu hotels in operation globally, but just six Radisson Blu hotels in the Americas. The Radisson Blu hotels currently open in North America include: Radisson Blu Mall of America (Minneapolis), Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown, and Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago. 

Lalonde has been at the property for more than three years, overseeing the transition to Blu.

“For us, being Blu provides the best opportunity to express our local flair,” Lalonde noted. “We were never truly a Radisson — Blu is really who we are. We provide guests with a local feel of Toronto — Toronto is like a new New York, dynamic and local, with food, wine and a gym. That’s what Blu is all about.”

Lalonde says the hotel is not just for leisure travellers. She noted that business travellers are also looking to immerse themselves in the destinations they stay in for conferences and meetings. Radisson Blu makes that happen organically, with local beer and wine samples and locally-sourced and inspired foods available throughout the hotel’s dining and bar options. Onsite restaurants include Watermark Restaurant & Lounge and Lakeview Pool Lounge.

Changes to the 157-room hotel include a distinctly boutique feel, and new amenities including sleek new corridors, mattresses, bedding and wall art.

The renovations, which began in January, started with a hotel that already had large rooms, wooden floors and a view of the lake. The corridors have been redone with darker wood, making them more contemporary, said Lalonde. “We made updates to our rooms and throughout the hotel to provide a home away from home feel for our guests.”

Sarah Law, regional director of Franchise Operations for the Americas, Radisson Hotel Group.

Sarah Law, regional director of franchise operations for the Americas, Radisson Hotel Group, agrees. “Blu really is the perfect match [for the hotel]. The experience [the hotel employees] are providing is enhanced by Blu. Guests have the ability to discover Toronto in this great location and beautiful property.”

“The views are unmatched in the city,” said Law. On one side, there is the lake. There’s a beautiful rooftop pool with views of the lake and the city, and the most fabulous view of the CN Tower.”

“The rooftop pool is a little oasis,” Lalonde said. This summer everybody wanted to be there — we had Torontonians exploring their own city.”

Asked about the hotel’s most outstanding feature, Lalonde said, “It’s not just the design; it’s how we perceive service and how we welcome people. Our commitment to providing exceptional experiences for all of our guests remains our top priority.”

“This hotel and its team deliver a very personalized service. At arrival and departure time, you won’t find Nathalie in her office. She is in the lobby and makes sure the team take time to know each guest, to deliver memorable moments.”

Banquet setup overlooking Lake Ontario.

“All of our team members can be a concierge and are empowered to share their personal experiences and recommendations and help guests however they can. Providing exceptional experiences is at the core of our being,” said Lalonde.

Safety is important to the Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown as well. This was the first hotel in Canada, and the second in all of Radisson, to be certified by SGS to Radisson Hotels’ Safety Protocol. They went above and beyond to be certified by Safe Hotels as well. Such certification is very important, especially for international visitors.

Guest suite overlooking Lake Ontario.

Radisson Blu is on a bit of a tear, with five openings, including Toronto, scheduled for the coming months.

  • Radisson Blu Toronto Downtown – 10/8/2020
  • Radisson Blu Anaheim — 10/26/2020
  • Radisson Blu Resort & Residences, Punta Cana – 11/5/2020
  • Radisson Blu Fargo – 12/3/2020
  • Radisson Blu Aruba – 3/15/2021
Guest room at Radisson Blu Admiral Hotel Toronto-Harbourfront.