Six amazing experiences in Toronto
In a market as unpredictable as Toronto’s, people are increasingly passing on the old-fashioned dream of a white picket fence (and the massive mortgage that comes with it) and opening their wallets for something else: unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experiences. Globetrotting vacations. Luxurious multi-course meals at Alo. Exclusive bottle-service booths at TIFF parties. But what are Toronto’s more unique experiences?
Lexus knows. In its quest to target “experiential masters”—those who don’t shy away from luxurious goods but still value one-of-a-kind experiences—the brand recently invited some of the city’s top taste-makers (like socialite Ainsley Kerr, style queen Justine Iaboni and fashionista twins Cailli and Sam Beckerman) to take part in a day-long #LexusMasterClass, touring and taking tutorials at six of the city’s coolest brands and businesses, from luxury hotels to photographic legends. The VIPs drove themselves between most stops, each of which aligned with one of the brand’s core pillars, in the 2017 Lexus IS, a sleek sports sedan with aggressive driving performance, a redesigned cockpit, mind-blowing premium Mark Levinson surround sound and cutting-edge safety technology. Here, we take a look at the day’s six pit stops.
Hotel Le Germain
The Master Class began with a gourmet breakfast at Hotel Le Germain. The sleek boutique hotel, which overlooks Maple Leaf Square, is a go-to destination for visiting athletes and summer staycations, with spacious rooms, tasteful décor and some seriously luxe frills: private fireplaces, rainfall showerheads, bamboo towels and more. Lexus chose the hotel for its mastery of its pillar Omotenashi, the Japanese term for exceptional hospitality—and, more particularly, anticipating guests’ needs before they even arise, a value that goes into all aspects of Lexus design, production and guest service. 75 Bremner Blvd., 416-649-7575, legermainhotels.com.
For their next pillar, Brave Design, Lexus found its match with Triarchy Denim, the socially conscious clothing company behind some of this season’s boldest gold-fringed booty shorts. Triarchy was chosen not just for its covetable style, but for its commitment to sustainability, a value that’s also top of mind for Lexus (the brand’s southern Ontario plant produces zero waste in its vehicle manufacturing process.) Co-founder and designer Ania Taubenfligel spoke to the influencers about the company’s decision to go on hiatus (and sacrifice profits) for 10 months to research and implement a more sustainable business model. The result: their jeans are now made with tencel, a processed wood fibre that uses 85 per cent less water than cotton. atelierdenim.com.
One of the city’s best-kept secrets is the Cheese Boutique’s cheese vault, a dairy paradise near High Park. The 300-square-foot cave is climate controlled and stuffed with more than $1 million worth of fermented goods, including 260-kilogram wheels and six-foot-long hunks of provolone. The vault is open to the public daily, but the Lexus crew received a special tour from owner Afrim Pristine, the world’s youngest maître fromager (cheese master), which included access to some closed-to-the-public areas. He matched Lexus’s pillar of Takumi Craftsmanship, an ancient Japanese concept referencing absolute mastery of a particular craft while treating the group to spectacular cheeses, pates, house-made gelatos and more. 45 Ripley Ave., 416-762-6292, cheeseboutique.com.
George Pimentel Photography
Next, the group zipped into the studio of George Pimentel, the city’s foremost celebrity photographer (he’s shot A-listers like Angeline Jolie and George Clooney) and a staple of Toronto’s exclusive party circuit. Lexus chose him to highlight their focus on Imaginative Technology and Exhilarating Performance. His family-owned studio has evolved steadily over the decades, from the clunky film cameras of his grandfather and father’s eras to the digital wizardry of today’s DSLRs and photo-editing suites. Pimentel then treated the bloggers to a private portrait session—his team of photographers is available for personal shoots as well as glam house parties and fundraising galas. oneshotgeorge.com.
Spirit of York
Spirit of York may be housed inside a historic brick building in the Distillery District, but, inside, the distillery is a stunning, futuristic facility. Taps spout some of the purest water in the world from Springwater, Ontario. Sparkling vats produce vodka and gin behind a floor-to-ceiling glass wall. A microgreen garden hangs above an elegant bar and a wall teaming with every imaginable bitter waits to compliment any cocktail. The airy, beautifully designed space was made even more welcoming by Spirit of York’s director of sales (and legendary mixologist) Simon Ho, who embodies the principles of Takumi craftsmanship. He leads comprehensive vodka and gin tastings, as well as tours of the state-of-the-art complex, which can be rented out for private bashes. 12 Trinity St., 416-777-0001, spiritofyork.com.
Hungry yet? The day concluded with a divine four-course meal at Café CanCan, the flamingo-themed restaurant in the old Harbord Room space. Victor Barry’s pastel-pink house of superior hospitality aligned with the qualities of Omotenashi. The group enjoyed a specially created four-course menu, which included Nova Scotia lobster and pike quenelle and roast Muscovy duck, at the Instagram-ready eatery, before Lexus’s drivers chauffeured them home. 89 Harbord St., 647-341-3100, cafecancan.com.
Whether it’s a world-class meal, a new pair of jeans or a portrait that makes you feel like a celebrity, Toronto offers countless unforgettable experiences. And while the destinations themselves may be the ultimate highlight, behind the wheel of a Lexus IS, the journey to get there may be just as memorable.