GRAND GATEWAY: Much ado about makeover for Toronto airport hotel

Just in time for the return of travel (and the holidays), the Sheraton Gateway, Toronto-Pearson airport’s only directly-connected hotel, has unveiled a $30-million makeover – it’s first since 2003.

Constructed in 1991 as a Swissotel, the Sheraton Gateway consistently ranks among the most visited hotels in Canada due to its coveted location adjacent to Terminal 3 at YYZ , but after 30 years, and hosting hundreds of thousands of guests, it was time for a major refresh, acknowledge hotel officials.

The makeover of the 484-room property, which will be fully complete in February (two floors are still in the final stages of overhaul) follows the purchase of the property in November 2019 by Toronto-based Knightstone Capital Management, which immediately embraced Sheraton’s sophisticated new brand vision and ensured that the Gateway is one of the first properties in the world to bring the vibe to life “top to bottom.”

“Except for the bricks, this truly is a new hotel,” director of operations Greg Macneil said during a recent press preview attended by Travel Industry Today.

“The transformation is nothing short of a metamorphosis,” added director of sales an marketing Jennifer Kazlauskis. “Our loyal guests who’ve recently returned are blown away. You can see it on their faces as they walk in. They can’t believe they’ve stepped across the terminal and into the same hotel. The difference is night and day.”

PUBLIC SQUARE

At the heart of the new experience is the lobby. It has been re-imagined as the “European-style public square” of the hotel – a holistic, wide-open space that invites people to join together, or be alone amongst others, creating a sense of energy and belonging. With a flow that is natural, intuitive, and uncomplicated, guests have what they need within arm’s reach, all set against an inviting backdrop that feels completely refined.

The well-lit lobby is graced with soaring ceilings and ample room for effortless social distancing. The sprawling space also features a restaurant, coffee bar, co-working spaces, and glass-walled soundproof booths for personal calls. Toronto’s Moncur Design Associates were tasked to implement Sheraton’s new brand updates and inject a distinctly Canadian sensibility into this “global hub” by creating a welcoming space that effectively invites guests to linger.

Moreover, “there’s connectivity everywhere,” noted hotel marketing manager Andrea Jaikaran during a site inspection as she pointed to charging outlets embedded into the lobby’s sofas.

ROOMS

King suite

Stepping into the generously sized, light-filled guest rooms that span nearly 37 sq. m., guests are greeted by a warm, residential appeal, composed of soft finishes and natural wood tones. Platform beds (in 1 King and 2 Queen configurations) are topped with luxurious Sheraton Sleep Experience mattresses and wrapped in crisp white linens. A 55-inch television is mounted to noise cancelling, woven fabric panels that make for an equally functional and stylish statement wall. A height adjustable table enables a quick transition to a standing desk. And a bench running beneath the TV provides additional seating and quick storage.

Bathrooms feature a modern walk-in shower or bath with amenities by Gilchrist & Soames. The space is surrounded with neutral porcelain walls, while a light wood vanity, backlit mirror, polished chrome fixtures, and black accents complement the guest room design.

The only thing that hasn’t changed here are the views. All rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows offering dramatic city or runway views, a thrill for any aviation fan.

CLUB LOUNGE

The Sheraton Club Lounge – moved to the lobby level – is open 24/7. The exclusive space for Marriott Bonvoy Elite members and Sheraton Club level guests and offers updated food and beverage option, access to complimentary amenities, and enhanced connectivity in an upgraded private environment.

FOOD & BEVERAGE

Gateway Gin & Tonics

Executive Chef Pravin Kumar Bagali has conceived a diverse menu designed to appeal to a wide range of tastes. Part cocktail bar, part coffee bar serving favourite Starbucks drinks, part grab-and-go market, the &More concept is more than a restaurant – it’s a central pillar of the new Sheraton vision with food and beverage options available day and night that are locally-sourced, easy to consume while working, and accommodating of varied tastes and time schedules.

A highlight is the hotel’s signature Gateway Gin & Tonic, or GG&T, which enables guests to design their own cocktails, with six gin choices and various flavours and garnishes. The drink even turns colours as it is concocted by the mixologist.

AMENITIES

The hotel also boasts nearly 1,700 sq. m. of flexible, updated meeting spaces, a fully equipped fitness centre, indoor heated swimming pool, and whirlpool. Additionally, a dedicated Peloton studio in the works that will house a pair of bikes available to guests 24/7.

NEW REALITIES

Sheraton Hotels are following Marriott International’s Commitment to Clean protocols, created in partnership with leading experts in food and water safety, hygiene and infection prevention, and hotel operations. Protocols include mandated mask wearing for all associates within the hotel, and the use of disinfectants to sanitize all surfaces.

IN OTHER NEWS

Having completed phase one of its own renovations, the Sheraton Centre Toronto is welcoming guests again following the first closure in its nearly 50-year history. A signature hotel in the city, located directly across from Toronto City (and beside the Eaton Centre), the property’s full re-fit will be completed in the first half of 2022.

First published at Travel Industry Today