Tapping into the Hyper Personalisation trend, the Fairmont Royal York hotel in Toronto has a VIP “hotel within a hotel” complete with private check-in, residential lounge and butler services. Jenny Southan reports
Operating for more than 90 years, it can be hard for heritage hotels such as the distinguished Fairmont Royal York in Toronto, to transform themselves in an innovative and newsworthy way. However, this landmark property, which faces the CN Tower, did just that when it unveiled its revamped Fairmont Gold offering three years ago as a way of creating an even-more exclusive, private and personalised hotel stay experience.Functioning in a similar way to a private members’ club, Fairmont Gold guests get to stay in what is essentially a “hotel within a hotel” with rooms in this category grouped together on the same floors. I was booked into a Fairmont Gold suite, which meant I didn’t have to linger in the busy (but rather magnificent) ground-floor lobby to check-in.
Rather, I was whisked up in an express lift to the 18th floor Fairmont Gold lounge, which has its own reception desk. Once here, I was issued with my room key, shown around the lounge – which has various free meal, snack and beverage services throughout the day – and then directed to my room. The Fairmont Gold concept can be found at more than 40 Fairmont hotels around the world. Other amenities and benefits include: a free continental breakfast in the lounge; free afternoon canapés, evening hors d’oeuvres and desserts; daily “happy hours”; free wifi, newspapers and wake-up calls; access to DVDs, CDs, books and games; free use of a boardroom (in select locations); and a dedicated Fairmont Gold manager who can organise restaurant and entertainment bookings, for example. In the case of the Fairmont Royal York, the Fairmont Gold retreat is located on the 13th to 18th floors of the hotel, making it an ideal option for celebrities, heads of state, business executives and elite leisure travellers. In my case, I was in Toronto for a friend’s wedding and to work, so didn’t need the distraction of going to lots of different restaurants and bars.
I spent most of my time at the property either in my room, which had an excellent view of the CN Tower, or in the lounge where I had breakfast, drank coffee and did my writing. I enjoyed the peace – and the free food and drink. It is also a stylish space. There are glass-sided fireplaces, comfy velvet chairs, self-service fridges, open work areas and a curated book collection to “evoke the feeling and comfort of home”. Fairmont Gold rooms and suites (of which there are 106 out of 1,343 in total) at the Royal York were given a whole new look in 2019 by Champalimaud Design. The resulting aesthetic is in keeping with the grandiosity of the historical hotel but also the 21st-century. Jon Kastl, partner at Champalimaud Design, said: “Our vision was to stay true to Fairmont Royal York’s timelessness while creating a sophisticated, metropolitan feel in a luxury residence. Every element of the design was carefully selected, with European influences woven throughout, to lend a subtle hint to Canada’s English and French heritage.”I liked the fact that my suite had a separate lounge with a sofa and dining table, as well as a supremely comfy bed in the bedroom. Although Fairmont Gold rooms and suites vary in size (21 sqm to 50 sqm) and configuration, standard amenities include: a personal bar (fully stocked upon request); 55-inch LCD HD TVs with StayCast for streaming online content; and marble bathrooms with walk-in showers, aromatherapy SkinJay showerheads and Le Labo Rose bathing products. I needed a couple of items of clothes steamed during my stay and staff were quick to oblige. In effort to further personalise stays for Fairmont Gold guests, the hotel says it “lives for birthdays, anniversaries, honeymoons and special moments” – and will do everything in its power to make it a “lifetime memory”. The Royal York can also source premium personal trainers and security personnel, as well as create tailored culinary programmes to suit vegan or paleo diets, for example.
Fairmont Gold Experience stays start from CA$689 (£411) in January 2023 – brilliant value for money.
With ever-more consumers aspiring (and affording) to stay in top hotels such as the Fairmont Royal York, which is part of Accor, it makes sense to create more distinct zones within them for elite guests, thus ensuring they don’t have to mingle with the mainstream punter if they don’t want to. Of course, part of the fun of staying at an iconic hotel such as this is stopping at the famous library bar for a drink, which I will ensure to do next time I stay. In the future, Globetrender expects more hotels to devise Fairmont Gold-style “club” areas either for members or top-paying guests. I felt very well cared for during my stay.