To help introduce the spectacular new resort he created in the midst of Ottawa's Silicon Valley, Sir Terry Matthews turned to a group of high school students. Matthews, a billionaire who founded Mitel Networks Corp., noted that there are a lot of spacious walls in Brookstreet, the 18-storey hotel/spa resort he erected amidst some of the world's leading high-tech firms in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.
He turned those walls over to Canterbury High School, an Ottawa school for the performing arts and commissioned some of its senior students to turn them into works of art. Today, more than 1,100 paintings, in sizes two inches by five inches up to 32 inches by 40 inches, hang in Brookstreet's 276 bedrooms. Larger canvases are found in conference halls and public areas of the hotel - all created by Canterbury students.
That's just one of the innovative approaches Matthews and his design crew used to create what has become one of Ontario's leading resort spas. Matthews first proposed the hotel on Legget Drive because there were very few hotel rooms available in Kanata to support its booming high tech businesses, including his own Mitel Corp.
But to those hotel rooms he added Au Naturel, a large and elaborate wellness and medical spa. And outside, Brookstreet Matthews hired renowned golf course architect, Robert Trent Jones II, to design The Marshes, a championship golf course adjacent to the hotel. It was the last course designed by the father-and-son Jones team before the death of Robert Trent Jones Sr. Brookstreet has since added a nine-hole European short course called Marchwood. NHL teams visiting Ottawa to play the Senators just down the street at Scotiabank Place stay at Brookstreet, and the players are often found on the links during the early days of the hockey season.
As winter arrives and ponds on the golf course freeze to ice, the NHL players often play pick-up scrimmage games on the surface just outside the hotel's lobby bar, as do other guests at the hotel, says Anathea Theoret, Brookstreet's vice-president of marketing.
Or, you may find the players trying to soothe their bruised knuckles and aching joints in one of the 13 different wellness treatment rooms at Au Naturel. There are a dozen or more different treatments to make you feel good when you leave, whether you're pregnant, tired, ill or have just spent too much time in the corners with ex-Senator Zdeno Charo.
There's no record of this actually happening, but it seems likely that Maple Leaf tough guy Tie Domi (now retired) would have gone for the "chocolate manicure" when the team was in residence at Brookstreet. His gnarled hands would have received a "luxurious manicure with a chocolate raspberry soak, a chocolate whip cream massage and then be sealed with heated chocolate paraffin." A polish application comes next and of course "a trio of chocolate truffles is included." Or maybe he just went for a swim in the fitness centre.
Au Naturel has a cosmetic surgeon on staff offering on-site consultation on face lifts, breast enhancements and a variety of other procedures - and will do Botox injections at the spa to smooth out those hard-earned wrinkles.
Matthews named his resort Brookstreet after the street on which his grandmother lived in Wales and where he spent much of his youth at play. The facilities are geared to business clients during the week, but on weekends room rates drop and that's when families, couples and vacationers dominate the wide hallways. Room rates range from $139 for double deluxe room to $499 a night for a master suite. Brookstreet has won some prestigious awards in the hospitality sector. Canadian Automobile Association (CAA/AAA) has awarded both the hotel and its principal restaurant, Perspectives, the coveted "Four Diamond Award," held by only four per cent of hotels in North America.
Chef Michael Blackie runs the kitchen at Perspectives, and he has created a variety of dishes based on his culinary adventures as the executive sous chef at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hong Kong and executive chef at the Oberoi in Bali, Indonesia. He was also executive chef at the Pierre Marques in Acapulco, Mexico and at the Founders Club in Toronto's SkyDome, plus Toronto's Westin Harbour Castle Hotel.
Patrick Brennan is a veteran travel, business writer/photographer based in Guelph. His credits include writing for a chain of 60 newspapers with 1.6 million readers. He was a staff writer/photographer at the Toronto Star for 32 years.
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