Spring is synonymous with turning up the health and wellness in your daily routine. Some of us incorporate it gradually, others may need a jump start to shake up their sedentary habits. Whichever camp you belong to, the new “Running is Shangri-La” package at the Shangri-La Hotel Toronto is a great way to spend a healthy 24 hours in the city, and will leave you feeling breathless – in the good way.
3:00pm: Check-in at the Shangri-La Hotel lobby. The lobby is abuzz with guests enjoying high tea and the distinct “Essence of Shangri-La” scent infuses the air with relaxation. I’m escorted to the elevators where I’m transported up to the Fazioli Suite – a spacious suite with decor inspired by the legendary Italian pianoforte.
4:00pm: After settling into my room and having a quick Nespresso coffee from my in-room coffee machine (coffee is healthy, ok?) I hop onto the elevator to the fifth floor where I’m booked to have the Hammam and Gommage treatment at the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie. This treatment (for two) is included in the Running is Shangri-La package, and is essential to remove dead skin and toxins that have accumulated in our bodies over the winter. For a play-by-play of the treatment check out our review here.
5:00pm: My skin is glowing and I’m sipping tea in the spa lounge, wearing a bathrobe and slippers. I’ve got a few minutes to indulge before I head back up to my room to get ready for dinner where I’ll be experiencing the “Rooted in Nature” tasting menu at Bosk.
5:30pm: Back in the room. I notice a yoga mat in the front closet and an invitation to salute the sun on my television. The Shangri-La has created an original yoga video in partnership with lululemon and lululemon yoga ambassador Amber Joliat that is available on all Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto’s 202 guestroom TV’s and iPads. (Hint – the video is also available on the Shangri-La YouTube channel for those who want to try it at home). I have 25 minutes to get my chakra aligned – plus the background music is soothing and addictive.
6:00pm: I take the best shower I’ve had in a while in the state of the art Kohler shower in one of my two in-suite bathrooms, and stay longer than I usually do. Besides, my reservation is at 7pm, I have time to soak.
7:00pm: I’m downstairs at Bosk being seated for my lavish dinner – I take a look at the tasting menu and am happy I didn’t eat much during the day. The dinner begins with a few amuse bouche like oysters with yuzu and truffle-filled eggs. A champagne cart wheels towards my table offering rare champagnes and sparkling wines by the glass – it’s hard to resist.
7:30pm: The “Rooted in Nature” menu begins with Bosk’s famous Caviar Donut with egg, chive, shallot and crème fraiche, it’s served with Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catharine Rosé from the Niagara Peninsula. In fact, all the wines on this particular tasting menu are from Canada.
7:45pm: I’m presented with the Kolapore Spring’s Farm Trout which is almost like a smoked salmon, with cucumber, dill and buttermilk drizzled on top. It’s salty with a hint of sweet and served with Tollgate’s 2012 Chardonnay.
8:00pm: A chilled glass of AJ Lepp Sauvignon Blanc from the Niagara Peninsula is a smooth accompaniment to the next dish, a succulent Sablefish prepared with mussel cream. A buttery course that leaves me quite happy.
8:20pm: I’m invited to go behind-the-scenes to watch as Chef prepares my next course – Roasted Squab. Now, I have to admit, I’ve never had squab before (at least to my knowledge) and I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to try this delicious bird. The presentation at Bosk is truly impressive as the squab comes out on top of a bed of embers – I watch as it is plated with ramp purée, wild garlic and spring onion. A little drizzle of roasted jus and my mouth is watering. The pairing with Blue Mountain’s Pinot Noir from the Okanagan Valley is light and delicious. I’ve had four glasses of wine so far and I feel in great shape for tomorrow’s run.
8:50pm: There’s a Cumbrae Farms Dry Aged Beef Rib Eye on the menu next, in case you were still hungry. It is as good as it gets as Bosk is truly grand when it comes to their meat (last year I had the most memorable lamb at Bosk, still thinking of it today). I sip on the Mission Hill Reserve Merlot and delight in the hen of the woods mushrooms. My favourite!
9:20pm: It’s time for dessert. A delicious Caramelized Honey Chiboust is served with goat yoghurt ice cream and merengue. Topped off with Henry of Pelham Riesling Icewine.
10:00pm: I’m back in my room and decide to take a nice bubblebath before bed (how can I resist when my bathtub overlooks University Avenue?). I set an alarm for 8am as I’m hitting the pavement to try the new Running is Shangri-La run routes. It’s not difficult to fall asleep on the feather pillows.
8:00am: Yawning, I’ve got my Adidas Ultra Boost runners on and my new gear from lululemon. I’m greeted downstairs by Ben Kaplan, editor-in-chief of iRun magazine, author of Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now, and running columnist for the National Post. He personally created the 3 km route we’re taking today through the historic St. Lawrence Market. You can access the maps on your phone by scanning the QR codes for the specific map of your choice located in all suites. What a treat! For those who are more serious runners (or didn’t drink 5 glasses of wine the night before), there are 4 km, 5 km and 20 km routes, too.
· The historic St. Lawrence market, the financial district with impressive views of the CN Tower totalling 3 kilometers;
· University Avenue highlighting Queen’s Park, Ontario’s Provincial Legislature and the University of Toronto campus totalling 4 kilometers;
· Trinity Bellwoods Park and Queen Street West area which was named by VOGUE magazine in September 2014 as one of the world’s coolest neighbourhoods totalling 5 kilometers;
· The city’s dynamic waterfront with an uninterrupted run for as far as 20 kilometers along Lake Ontario.
8:30am: We’re off to the races; the route leads us through the bustling streets of downtown Toronto’s financial district and then tapers off to the scenic Esplanade area. Ben challenges me to sprint the last few metres to the hotel – talk about peer pressure! Luckily a big bowl of congee awaits me at the finish line aka Bosk’s breakfast menu. And for your enjoyment, a Wellness Breakfast for two is included in the Running is Shangri-La package – the perfect post-run meal.
10:00am: Back in the fitness centre I slip into my bathing suit and decide it’s a wonderful idea to have a little swim and hot tub “me” time before heading back up to my room. The indoor swimming pool, hot tub and sauna at the Shangri-La Hotel are not to be missed, ever. It truly is an oasis in the city. You might want to look up the #OasisAtShangriLa hashtag for examples of what you’re missing.
12:00pm: I’ve packed up my things and take a few moments to say goodbye to my amazing suite, play the yoga video music one last time and step back into my daily routine feeling healthier, well-rested and as fit as ever.
The “Running is Shangri-La” package for two is available starting 1 May, 2015 for CAD$ 560 per night for an executive king room (535 square feet) and includes the following:
· Hammam and Gommage for two at the Miraj Hammam Spa by Caudalie;
· Wellness breakfast for two.
For more information or to make reservations, please call 647-788-8888 or book online by clicking ‘Room Reservations’ at www.shangri-la.com/toronto