Looking for a cost effective, family escape for March Break? Head to Toronto. You’ve probably been there dozens of times but with kids, it’s a whole other experience.
If you need a place to stay and with little ones, there is absolutely no better place to lay your head than the Eaton Chelsea Toronto Hotel, on Gerrard Street. It’s downtown and close to everything (shopping, theatre, tourist sites, sports venues, subway) but the crazy thing is, the hotel is like a little village onto itself. You never actually have to leave the building. It is Canada’s largest hotel after all with 1,590 rooms. There is a range of places to eat, from a cafeteria-type eatery, Market Garden, to bistro-style food, Bb33, to pub grub at the Monarch. Kids under five eat for free and kids between the ages of 6 and 12 eat at half price. Grab a grown-up drink at the T Bar that boasts the best Caesar.
But the pièce de resistance is the Kids’ Centre and Club 33 Teen Centre. These are a parent’s dream come true. There is a pool and 130-foot water slide (the “Corkscrew”) that is phenomenal for kids of all ages (including parents, it’s a huge amount of fun after all) plus a hot tub. The pool has great hours to boot, open until 11 p.m. (but the slide closes at 10 p.m.) Teens will love having their own space, Club 33. It’s a huge hang-out room with pool tables, video games all just feet from the pool.
The Kids’ Centre has movies a play area and there is even a bunny for animal lovers.
During March Break, there is a whole range of additional activities for kids, including Camp Chelsea (half day, full day or all week), family bingo and Family Fear Factor. There will be costumed characters (Scooby Doo and Dora the Explorer) wandering around the hotel to delight little people.
For parents looking for peace and quiet, there is a separate pool, hot tub and fitness centre (no kids allowed) and you can do it all for a reasonable price: the babysitting rates are phenomenal. For $10 per child, you can get up to 2.5 hours of free grown-up time.
In terms of cost, you can’t go wrong. The hotel has a great deal from $159 per room per night that includes parking ($29 value right there), a $25 restaurant credit plus a $20 shopping card for the Eaton Centre.
Speaking of which, if you do decide to venture out, the hotel has special “show your key and get a discount” at a variety of tourist sites such as Legoland Discovery Centre, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada. While the word ‘gimmick’ may pop into your head when you hear Ripley’s, the truth is the Aquarium is anything but. It is an education centre that will blow your mind with all its fascinating information on the various aquatic life you see. Your kids will love touching the manta rays and watching sharks, fish and enormous swimming mammals of all kinds move around them. Ripley’s is also just a few blocks from the Hockey Hall of Fame, another great place to hit. Sure there is the Ontario Science Centre and the Royal Ontario Museum, which are amazing places to say the least, but coming from Ottawa where we are lucky to have extraordinary museums, it’s really a treat to visit places in TO that truly are different from what you can get at home. Ripley’s and the Hockey Hall of Fame are two such locations.
And if you decide to have a staycation at the Eaton Chelsea, you won’t be disappointed. It is an incredible destination for families. Since it will be popular, you’ll have to book times for activities, including the Corkscrew, so be sure you take that into consideration when planning your day.
Book soon before all of those 1,590 rooms fill up. http://chelsea.eatonhotels.com/ or 416 595 1975.