All About Toronto:
The Old Mill (21 Old Mill Road)
It's not just for weddings anymore. The Old Mill, a picturesque inn in the west end of Toronto, offers luxury rooms, a spa, tennis courts, nature trails, gardens, a restaurant, and bar, all enclosed by a private ravine and the nicest rolling green lawns you've ever seen. For a weekend getaway on the lam, it doesn't get better than this. You can opt to stay in one of their lavish suites, or choose a Weekend Getaway package that gives you the best of all worlds - spa, dinner, or golf.
Their suites are named luxury, deluxe and premium for a reason: relax in your own private Jacuzzi tub, take a nap on a mound of the fluffiest pillows you didn't have to fluff yourself, lounge around their all-season (but gas-heated) fireplace in complementary bath robes, and (if you can justify $65 for the tiniest champagne bottle you've ever seen), take advantage of their fully stocked mini-bar.
Dinner and dancing in their breath-taking dining room may be the only thing better than the suite itself. The best part of all, and to really impress the lover in your life who loves to eat: the Romantic Package gives you V.I.P. reservations and a choice of anything off the menu (appetizer, main course, and dessert - drinks and gratuity not included), and that includes their $45.00 lobster or their 12-ounce $40.00 prime rib steak. With all this value, the only problem you'll have is trying to fit dessert in (for once, I was silenced at the dinner table and had to wave my white flag by dinner's end). The live band isn't as annoying as some live bands can be (mostly because their amps aren't turned up all the way), and in addition to jazz-infused numbers and 50's Motown favourites, you'll also get Celine Dion and Whitney Houston (by request, of course…I'm sure the band dreads requests).
In the morning, enjoy a complementary continental breakfast on their idyllic terrace, and take advantage of their noon checkout time for some more blissful shut-eye. Staying at The Old Mill isn't exactly frugal, but for a nice getaway without really getting away, it's the best choice you'll make.
Time For Toronto Package (locations vary)
Ed Mirvish, of Honest Ed's fame, didn't just get his name out of thin air. The entrepreneur has been a staple of Toronto ever since he opened up his discount department store, and to combat the waning tourism due to the SARS outbreak in 2003, he put this nifty little package together. The aptly titled Time For Toronto package was a success, and has returned this year with new theatre offerings.
For just $159.00 per person (plus taxes), you can dine, catch a show, watch the Blue Jays lose (sorry, had to throw that in), and sleep in a fancy shmancy hotel. The best part of the package is the options - there are enough participating restaurants, Toronto recreation packages (in addition to the Blue Jays, you can also choose from a Toronto harbour boat ride or tickets to the Art Gallery of Ontario), and hotels to satisfy anyone's taste. The package can be redeemed over a period of time, so there's no rushing around trying to fit everything in on a weekend. For just $99.00 per person, forgo the hotel but get everything else.
With our particular package, Mamma Mia! was our musical of choice. Not being an ABBA fan bigger than someone belting out "Dancing Queen" at karaoke whilst chugging a gallon of alcohol, I didn't know what to expect besides what the commercials led me to believe - that a whole bunch of people would get up and dance and sing along to the cast who was forced to wear 70's go-go jumpers. Luckily, only two or three people actually did that and, upon seeing the confused looks on the rest of the theatre-goers' faces, it didn't last long. Basically, Mamma Mia! is set in the present, using songs inspired by ABBA to tell its story. A young woman is about to walk down the aisle and, in a last-ditch attempt to find out who her real father is, invites three possible candidates only days before the wedding in the hopes that she will be able to get to know each suspect well enough to pick out her real dad. (This doesn't bode well for her mother's reputation, I'll tell you that.) Of course, this has hilarious results.
The rest of the package was rounded out by a Blue Jays game (where they were pummeled by the Cleveland Indians, like a 100 to -5), and dinner at Tundra, the Hilton Hotel's in-house restaurant. Tundra's menu was a little scant and disappointing (as the menu for this package is always set by the restaurant, and most restaurants offer only two or three entrée choices), but the atmosphere in this small and cozy eatery more than made up for it. To get a little taste of all that Toronto has to offer, try out the Time for Toronto package. ¤ C.Ho.