Best neighbourhoods in Montréal to visit for business travel

Montréal is the heartbeat of French-Canada and the yin to Toronto’s yang. Greater Montréal is home to 4.2 million residents, and approximately 65% of the population has French as their first language. Montréal is famous for its jazz, it’s style, it’s food, and now has one the nation’s fastest growing tech sectors.

To visit Montréal is to put one foot in the unfamiliar. We put together a list of the best neighbourhoods in Montréal to visit for business travel. Places that blend access, convenience, amenities, and charm.

Old Montréal | Image by Carib via Flikr | CC

Old Montréal

Since 1605, this is the city’s oldest district. Originally founded as a fur trading post by Samuel de Champlain, Old Montréal is a blend of shops, bars, and cafés where locals and visitors interact seamlessly.

Cobblestone streets and fancy retailers have made this ‘the’ place to go for every first-timers visit to the city. Here’ll you find walkable areas free from cars, landmarks like the spectacular Notre-Dame Basilica, the Pointe à Callière museum, as well as the Old Port taking you back to a time when Montreal was a major shipping gateway to France.

Le Plateau-Mont Royale

This is hipster ground-zero, known as one of the ‘Hippest’ communities in North America. It’s a lifestyle that revolves around nightlife, counter-culture, and cafés. Here you’ll find beautiful parks, lakes, wide sidewalks, and wider bike lanes. The Plateau is youthful, artsy, and upscale without being garish. It anchors McGill University and is home to legions of students from one of Canada’s most distinguished universities. Landmarks include Schwartz’s deli and Saint Laurent Boulevard and rows of colourful Victorian style homes.

La Petite-Patrie

Just north of the Plateau sits La Petite-Patrie, and a unique melting pot of a community. Upscale and trendy meets Latino and lively. Here there are over 400 boutique shops, most independently owned and catering to unique tastes in style and interests. Here you will find a large Salvadorean community and some of the finest pupusas north of Central America.

The Village | By Nicolas via Flikr | CC

Gay Village

“The Village” as it is known by locals, is a small but dense neighborhood along Rue Sainte-Catherine, straddling the Plateau and the St. Lawrence River.

Once a rough area, it has evolved into a lively dining, drinking and entertainment hub. There are close to 100 bars and restaurants that serve a diverse mix of locals, tourists, and the city’s largest LGBT community. This is a friendly community that welcomes everyone into its arms.

Here you will find public art displays, pedestrian-only zones, and an area that has reinvented itself around inclusion and pride.

Best Neighbourhoods in Toronto for Business Travel

Home to 6.5 Million residents, Greater Toronto is a sprawling metropolis and Canada’s largest city. It brings tourists and business travellers alike from all over the world. When visitors first stay in Toronto they often find themselves downtown among the cities bright lights. However, to know the city is to know that it is a unique collection of villages and communities, not unlike New York City. We’ve put together a list of what we think are the best neighbourhoods in Toronto for business travel. These are places that are convenient to access, filled with amenities and services that will make your stay enjoyable.

Harbourfront

Harbourfront TorontoIf you are heading to Toronto for business downtown, Harbourfront is your playground by the lake. It is enjoyed by all Toronto residents, as well as being a popular destination point for tourists.

The Harbourfront neighbourhood stretches along the Toronto waterfront form Bathurst to Jarvis Street. Queens Quay is the main arterial east-west road that runs through this neighbourhood. Queens Quay has a dedicated streetcar line, along with dedicated car lanes and bicycle lanes which usher residents and tourists along its busy streetscape.

Some of the neighbourhood landmarks include: Queens Quay Terminal, Jack Layton Ferry terminal, Harbour Square, Redpath Sugar, Harbourfront Centre, HTO Park, Toronto Music Garden, Waterfront Community Centre and City School. Harbourfront sits steps away from the South Core, home to the city’s major sporting venues and glitzy nightlife.

Yorkville

Yorkville is one of Toronto’s most dynamic neighbourhoods. It is an eclectic mix of luxury condominium apartment buildings, commercial office towers, four star hotels, theatres, gourmet restaurants, a prestigious shopping district and picture postcard Victorian homes.

Yorkville anchors Bloor Street to the North, home to some of the cities finest shopping. The commercial heart of Yorkville is located on both Yorkville Avenue and on Cumberland Street. The transition to Yorkville’s quiet residential pocket is gradual, as Victorian houses shift from retail to residential uses in a seamless pattern that is uniquely Yorkville.

Roncesvalles

Those that travel to Toronto regularly often make their way to Roncesvalles. The ‘village’ is known for its European ambience and small-town feel.This neighbourhood is popular with hipsters and young families who appreciate the convenience of the location just west of downtown.The close proximity to High Park, Toronto waterfront bicycle and walking trails, easy access to public transit, and the Roncesvalles shops and restaurants have also become popular in recent years.

The Roncesvalles Polish Festival, which takes place annually in September, attracts thousands of visitors. Roncesvalles Avenue is closed off for this festival that includes Polish dancers, children’s games and rides, polka bands and lots of food and refreshments.
Roncesvalles Avenue is said to be a favourite among streetcar enthusiasts, who relish the fact that the stops are distanced far enough apart for the streetcar to build up some speed, and who appreciate the picturesque and lively atmosphere along the route.

The Beaches

The Beach looks and feels more like a lakeside resort town, than a big city neighbourhood. In the summertime, thousands of Torontonians and tourists flock to The Beach to walk on The Boardwalk, exercise along the Martin Goodman Trail, relax by the water, or shop and dine at the colourful stores and restaurants along Queen Street.

The social centre of The Beaches neighbourhood is Kew Gardens, which hosts many annual events including a Christmas Tree and Menorah lighting festival, a Jazz festival, and an Arts and Crafts show.

If you find yourself planning a trip to Toronto, contact us and we will be happy to make further recommendations.

Free Wi-Fi bucking the trend of airline service cuts

Air New Zealand has joined Delta, Qatar Airways, Philippine Airlines, Turkish and Scandivanian Airlines as the next major international carrier to offer free unlimited Wi-Fi onboard its aircraft. As an industry, airlines are collectively discovering that Wi-Fi is now deemed as an essential service by passengers. This move comes at a time where they are actively unbundling, and in turn charging for many other services, such as free baggage and certain meals.

This comes after a 3-month test of free Wi-Fi, whereby Air New Zealand decided to expand the experiment. However, those flying with the airline may not have immediate free Wi-Fi access. It will be available on the airline’s new Airbus A320neo and A321neo aircraft. But Air New Zealand said to expect the services to take through the rest of the year for installation on older aircraft.

Travel and Leisure noted that “There are several different approaches to bringing Wi-Fi to passengers. Already, JetBlue offers free Wi-Fi for passengers. Delta’s CEO made an announcement this month that the airline plans to offer free unlimited Wi-Fi to passengers within the next year or two. Southwest, Alaska, and Delta already offer free messaging (on apps like iMessage, Whatsapp and Viber) via Wi-Fi, but passengers must pay for browsing capabilities.”

Below is a list of the airlines that offer free wi-fi:

  • Virgin America (all flights)
  • Airtran Airways (all flights)
  • Qatar Airways (all flights)
  • Turkish Airlines (all flights – for frequent flyers)
  • Philippine Airlines (all flights)
  • Scandivanian Airlines (all flights – for frequent flyers)
  • Qantas (all domestic flights)
  • Aer Lingus (Free for business class)
  • Alaska Airlines (Free messaging)
  • American Airlines
  • United Airlines (depends on aircraft)
  • Southwest (Free messaging)
  • Delta Airlines (Free messaging; all flights free as of 2022)
  • Air Canada (all domestic flights)
  • JetBlue (all flights)

Another low-cost carrier crashes into financial ruin

On Thursday, March 28th, Wow Air, the Icelandic budget airline canceled all flights, stranding over 1000 passengers.

Wow Air joins a growing list of low-cost airlines that have ceased operations citing financial hardship among rising fuels costs and over-supply. In recent years, Europe has aso lost Air Berlin, Primera, and Monarch to similar claims.

Founded in 2011, Wow Air became known for offering low-cost transatlantic fares to Europe via stopovers in Iceland. As Wow Air heavily undercut other airlines with it’s $99 fares, airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic reacted competitively with cheaper tickets for those willing to go without amenities like checked bags and preselected seats.

After months of financial losses, Wow Air has ceased all operations, subsequently stranding more than 1,000 passengers on both sides of the Atlantic. The Icelandic budget carrier—known for its low-cost, basic services, $99 transatlantic flights—began canceling flights earlier this week and officially issued a statement Thursday morning informing its passengers to check if other airlines would issue “rescue fares” to fly them to their destinations. As recently as this January, Wow Air advertised its “lowest airfare ever,” with $49 flights from the United States to Europe.

While only a few ago, “Wow Air launched $199 one-way fares between the United States and India. But these low fares weren’t enough to save the airline, which suffered from poor customer reviews, rising fuel costs, and a recent dip in tourism to Iceland”, according to CNBC.

How can I get a refund for my flight purchase?

Passengers currently stranded since Wow Air ceased operations will be responsible for paying for their own return fares. However, Icelandair, Wizz Air, EasyJet, Norwegian, and XL Airways are all offering reduced “rescue fares” to help stranded passengers return home, according to the Icelandic Transport Authority.

Wow Air recommends contacting your travel agent to see if the ticket costs are covered by a travel insurance policy. However, keep in mind that most travel insurance policies bought in Canada don’t cover airline insolvency.

For future travel, Wow Air flights paid for via credit card, AirHelp, an air passenger rights company, recommends contacting your credit card company directly to see if it will issue a refund of the ticket cost for services left unrendered. But if you used a debit card to book your flight, it’s unlikely that you’ll get your money back.

What does this mean for the future cheap travel to Europe?

Now that Wow Air has shown that it’s business model isn’t sustainable, expect airfares to go back up. While those $99 fares to Iceland are likely a thing of the past, it doesn’t mean airfares to Europe will skyrocket now that Wow Air is done. In fact, according to a recent report from Hopper, flights to Europe are the cheapest they’ve been in three years due to such factors as Brexit and newer, more fuel-efficient aircraft.