Tips for TIFF stars visiting Toronto


Fans from around the world are joining Hollywood starts this month in Toronto, which is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its famous film festival. (Photo courtesy of TIFF)

Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor

TORONTO, ONTARIO — You see them on the red carpet, but when Hollywood stars come to town, they don’t just appear before the cameras. They want to have dinner, go for a hike and even get their dogs pampered.

Toronto is the most star-studded spot on the planet during the run of the Toronto International Film Festival. Actors including Jessica Chastain, Ellen Page, Salma Hayek, John Goodman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Kate Winslet are all set to come to town to make appearances at TIFF sometime during the festival which runs until Sept 20th. We have some ideas on places these celebs should visit while they’re in Toronto.

Hollywood Star: Julianne Moore (Freeheld)

What she needs: A relaxing trip to the spa
Our Suggestion: The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto, 181 Wellington Street West
Features: At Ritz-Carlton Toronto you will find 263 smoke-free guestrooms, three restaurants and two bars/lounges, a full-service spa, indoor pool and a 24-hour health club.
Why Julianne will love the Ritz-Carlton: Where do we start? The Ritz-Carlton, Toronto has won numerous accolades for its spa, service and overall elegance. It’s among the finest places to stay in Canada.
Hotels.com Genuine Guest Reviews: 4.8 / 5
Read More: Vacay.ca’s Julia Pelish made a visit to “The World’s Best Spa” at the Ritz.

Hollywood Star: Michael Moore (Where to Invade Next)

What he needs: Beer
Our Suggestion: The Wheat Sheaf Tavern, 667 King Street West
Features: Casual dining, daily specials, historic venue.
Why Michael will love The Wheat Sheaf Tavern: Sure, Moore seems like the type of guy who would enjoy a cold brew, hot wings and the chance to watch one of his favourite Detroit teams in action at this venerable sports bar, but what we think will really make him keen on the Wheat Sheaf is its history as a base of rebel operations. The Upper Canada Rebellion caused so much ruckus back in 1834 that it helped lead to Canada’s Confederation 33 years later. No doubt Moore will have great affinity for rebel leader William Lyon Mackenzie.

Hollywood Star: Johnny Depp (Black Mass)

What he needs: A good place to get his dogs spa-ed up
Our Suggestion: Urban Dog Hotel, 37 Parliament Street
Features: Doggy playground, grooming services and live webcams so you can see your dog whenever you want.
Why Johnny will love Urban Dog Hotel: Depp drew the ire of Australian officials by bringing his dogs into the country without proper papers and he had to get them out of the country quick on his private jet. It’s stressful to be a dog owner with a private jet, so we suggest Urban Dog Hotel as a great place to chill and relax. Last we checked, Canadian customs officials will have no issues with him doing that. Offering everything from “Ultimate haircuts” to nail trims and blueberry facials, this dog spa has just about everything Fido will need.

Hollywood Star: Matt Damon (The Martian)

What he needs: Space
Our Suggestion: Ontario Science Centre, 770 Don Mills Road
Features: Featuring a state-of-the-art planetarium and the Science Arcade, exhibits of all sorts and my personal favourite — Ontario’s only IMAX Dome theatre.
Why Matt will love The Ontario Science Centre: Two reasons — science and kids. His new movie “The Martian” is a nerdalistic science thriller about life on the Red Planet — a perfect fit for the Science Centre where you can learn about space and have fun doing it. Second, the attraction is a popular draw for kids of all ages, which is awesome because Damon has done so much work with children. According to Look to the Stars, Damon supports the ONE Campaign, which is aimed at fighting AIDS and poverty in Third World countries.

He is also an ambassador for ONEXONE, a non-profit foundation committed to supporting, preserving and improving the lives of children at home in Canada, the United States, and around the world.

[box_info]VIDEO: See Bob McDonald of the CBC discussing space at the Ontario Science Centre.[/box_info]

Hollywood Star: Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games)

What he needs: Squirrels
Our Suggestion: Edwards Gardens, 777 Lawrence Avenue East
Features: The Toronto Botanical Garden offers an array of 17 award-winning themed gardens spanning nearly four acres. Programs, garden tours, nature day camps, field trips and an extensive horticultural library, garden shop and seasonal café are also available.
Why Liam will love Edwards Gardens: According to celebzen.com, the man is obsessed with squirrels because apparently, there are none, or very few, in Australia so I guess they aren’t that common. Look, I’m not a squirrel expert. To be honest, except for having watched “Crocodile Dundee,” I’m not even an Australia expert. The word is the first time Hemsworth saw a squirrel in North America, he was amazed. Our advice — if squirrels turn your crank you’re going to love this wonderful park.

Hollywood Star: Susan Sarandon (The Meddler)

What she needs: Ping Pong
Our Suggestion: SPiN, 461 King Street West
Features: With 12,000 square feet, two fully licensed bars, 12 ping pong tables, a cocktail and full food menu, a lounge and a party room this venue is a dream come true for any ping pong enthusiast.
Why Susan will love SPiN: It’s no secret Susan Sarrandon loves ping pong. There will be no shortage of industry parties for this legendary actress but when she’s ready to step away from it all and stir her creativity by hitting a tiny white ball on a green table with her closest friends, we can’t suggest a better place than SpiN.

Hollywood Star: Tom Hardy (Legend)

What he needs: Fitness
Our Suggestion: The Martin Goodman Trail
Location: Runs from Marilyn Bell Park to Coronation Park parallel to Lake Shore Boulevard through Ontario Place.
Features: This park has 2.4 hectares (six acres), including 8,000 square metres of parking lot converted into trail and greenspace. It’s named after Martin Goodman, a former newspaper editor-in-chief.
Why Tom will love The Martin Goodman Trail: This British actor is known for his riveting performances as the bad guy, but you may not know that he is a devoted fitness freak. He will likely enjoy a jog or bike ride on this trail that is built alongside Lake Ontario. The Goodman Trail is one of Toronto’s endearing public spaces.

– With files from Adrian Brijbassi

Rod has previously worked for Canoe.ca and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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