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Meet a Montrealer: Simon Bajouk of the Ritz-Carlton Montréal

In an age of automation and travel apps, working as a hotel concierge is a somewhat of a noble and nostalgic endeavour. The job melds devotion to personalized service with encyclopaedic knowledge of a city. The best concierges are able to advise guests on restaurants, nightlife, sightseeing tours, shopping and more. They answer a plethora of questions — and if they don’t know the answer, you can be certain that they’re going to get it. Meet Simon Bajouk, a Clef d’Or concierge at Ritz-Carlton Montréal hotel — and check out some of his favourite local places. First off, what does it mean to be a Clef d’Or concierge? A Clef d’Or concierge has been working in a hotel for at least five years. To become part of the elite network, you apply and go through a process of qualifications: you write a test, you respond to a variety of mystery shoppers and then you also give a speech. Finally, the local chapter of your Clef d’Or association will vote. This process can take many years! What’s the biggest challenge for a 21st century concierge? The challenge is to be more prepared and more informed. The guest is already on TripAdvisor —… / Read More →

Montréal Revs Up: Your Grand Prix Weekend Good Times Guide

Summer in Montréal really kicks into high gear with the rubber-burnin’ arrival of the Canadian Grand Prix. From street parties, concerts, gastronomic events, art happenings and more to the actual Formula 1 race itself, the number of events and activities – as well as summertime excitement – rev up in tandem with the action on the track. The F1 fun is family-friendly at the annual three-day Crescent Street Grand Prix Festival, which runs all day from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., June 4-6. Crescent Street – a centrally located restaurant and nightclub hub very popular with visitors to the city – will be closed off for live bands and DJs, F1 driver autograph sessions and the Pit Stop Challenge (see how fast you can change a tire, pit-crew style) at this free, outdoor celebration of all things fast. Just a few short blocks east is what has come to be called the Peel Paddock, which closes off a block of downtown Peel Street, June 4-7. Peel, renowned for its chic restaurants, clubs and high-end shops, provides a picture-perfect setting for the displays of luxury cars, fashion shows, food kiosks, live performances and evening DJs that capture the Grand Prix atmosphere…. / Read More →

Where to get great tea in Montréal

[Updated on December 9, 2015] Coffee lovers need never worry – whenever the need for an espresso strikes, they’re never further than a block away from their heart’s desire in Montréal. For years, tea drinkers didn’t enjoy the same luxury. But times are changing! Tea is taking the city by storm (in a teacup?) as expert tea providers pop up left, right and centre. And not only that: our fair city offers some Kate Middleton-worthy high tea spreads…