The just-opened, stylish, modern and brand new Four Seasons Hotel Toronto—our flagship property—is located in the heart of Yorkville, the city’s vibrant shopping, dining and museum district. We spoke to Chef Concierge Liloo Alim about why you need to take the kids and head for “Trannah” now.
FS Family: Describe Toronto in five words?
LA: Friendly, clean, safe, multicultural, walkable.
FS Family: What’s something really fun for families to see or do?
LA: The Enoch Turner Schoolhouse, built in 1848, in Toronto’s historic Corktown neighborhood. This was Toronto’s first free school. Today, children can learn about what life was like here more than 150 years ago—even attend a class with “Mrs. Henderson,” an actress in historical costume. During the holiday season, there are wonderful events: the Corktown Christmas Forest with carol singing, Victorian crafting demonstrations and live entertainment.
FS Family: Toronto is to Canada as New York City is to the U.S. Why do you think Toronto is a great destination for vacationing families?
LA: Toronto is a global city and offers that type of experience—great museums, great restaurants, shopping, entertainment, live theater—while being very family-friendly, too. For example, the AGO’s (Art Gallery of Ontario) Weston Family Learning Centre is brilliant. It is a hub for community creativity and learning, with wonderful hands-on art programs for children, workshops and various activities. We can even stage a birthday party there.
FS Family: What’s the biggest surprise?
LA: Contrary to what many people assume, not everyone speaks French. Most visitors from out of town are surprised that Toronto is a predominently English-speaking city. Of course, many Torontonians are fluent in many languages. Toronto is such an international city; 130 languages are spoken here.
FS Family: What’s your favorite time of year to visit?
LA: Autumn. The fall season is incredible in Ontario. I love fall weather and the changing leaves—it is a great time for walking around the city. Families will especially enjoy apple picking at Chudleigh’s. You can take harvest tractor rides around the orchard, hopping off to pick your own apples. These are delicious, Ontario-grown, fresh apples.
Q: What’s the hotel’s attitude towards kids?
LA: We LOVE children! And children love staying at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. In fact, we have lots of kids telling their parents they can’t wait to return to see us again. Amoryn and Ella Witkin (pictured above) told their mom: “Liloo needs us!” I love that “our kids” feel that they’re part of our family here. It’s mutual.
At check-in, children are always happily surprised by the toy and candy machines next to the front desk. It is so fun. We always treat young guests with a special welcome goody in their room—milk and cookies, a child-sized bathrobe and a special gift. Of course, we also arrange workshops and activities—pizza-making classes with the chef, cupcake decorating, art classes or special tours of the world-famous dinosaur exhibit at the nearby Royal Ontario Museum.
FS Family: You have a grown-up daughter. What does she love to do in the city with you on a special day out? Your top five to-dos?
LA: I do have a kid—she’s actually 36—but she’s still my kid! Our top five “to-dos” would include:
1) Shopping for fresh produce and flowers at Toronto’s outdoor markets;
2) Brunch in Kensington Market;
3) Going out for pizza, a glass of wine (if she were still a kid, we’d get a smoothie instead) and a movie;
4) Shopping for shoes, clothes and makeup;
5) We love going out to dinner and to a show or play. The theater scene in Toronto is fantastic and there are many shows that are great for the whole family. “The Wizard of Oz” opens in December 2012.
FS Family: Any tips for visiting families?
LA: Make sure you pack clothes for the weather—and lots of layers. Sometimes, it feels like Toronto can go from chilly to warm in mere moments. Bring a bathing suit for swimming and good walking shoes. Don’t forget your camera! And, a trip to Toronto isn’t complete without a visit to Niagara Falls. Everyone will enjoy a boat ride and we can also arrange a private helicopter tour through the falls; kids LOVE this!
FS Family: Where should Mom and Dad be sure to eat if they book a hotel sitter and splurge on a date night? We’ve heard the buzz about the hotel’s Daniel Boulud restaurant…
LA: Absolutely, I’m in LOVE with the culinary genius of Chef Daniel Boulud! He is so wonderful and such a nice man. Often times, you can see him taking our guests’ orders at their tables. The menu is inspiring: the flavors of the food literally jump in your mouth.
Also within walking distance, I recommend Terroni, Quanto Basto, Café Nervosa, Ciao, Utsav, Sotto Sotto… there are so many top-notch restaurants near our hotel. There’s something for everyone in Yorkville: diners, cafés, gelato shops and incredible restaurants.
FS Family: What do you like about being a concierge?
LA: Meeting new people; and ensuring that our guests make the most out of their experience while they are visiting our city. I also enjoy being a “magician”—coming up with creative ideas and solutions. I absolutely LOVE hearing the sentence from happy guests: “Oh, I never would have thought of that!” That’s my favorite.
FS Family: What makes Toronto, Toronto?
LA: The CN Tower. And the Four Seasons fountain in our hotel courtyard, designed by Claude Cormier. We have zoos, museums, skyscrapers—like any other city—but no one else has the CN Tower! And no one else has my fountain!
Read more about Toronto in Four Seasons Magazine.
Read our Concierge Recommendations for Toronto in Four Seasons Magazine.
Liloo Alim is Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Toronto. She assists guests with anything from scoring coveted seats at the film festival to arranging a condo purchase. Today, Liloo may be the most well connected woman in Canada’s metropolis. Liloo started with Four Seasons in 1978 and began quickly moving up, including stints at Four Seasons Hotel Ottawa and Four Seasons Hotel Mumbai. In 1981, she became the first Canadian female admitted to the prestigious Clefs d’Or. The mother of a grown daughter, Sapna, Liloo lives in the St. Clair and Bathurst neighborhood with her daughter and son-in-law while they are renovating their beautiful Victorian house in Riverside. In her free time, she enjoys movies and theatre.
View all posts from Liloo
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