As one of Canada's largest
cities, Montreal stands out from the pack for its combination of big
city ambiance and small-town neighbourhoods, European flair and North
American attitude. The confluence of culture and economy has also
transformed the city – the second largest French-speaking city in the
world – into a business hub for numerous industries, including aviation,
banking and insurance.
Operating a strong North American and transatlantic hub from Montreal-Trudeau International Airport, Air Canada
has been a key driver behind the 1.4 million business travellers that
arrived in Montreal in 2012. The airport (a 20km taxi ride from downtown
clocks in at a flat 40 Canadian dollars) recently completed the first
phase of its C$261 million expansion project named Gate 62, and the
second stage will begin construction in 2014, adding six new wide body
gates, including two equipped for the Airbus A-380 jumbo jet.
Related interactive: Plan the perfect business trip
though the city's frigid winter temperatures can dip to -7C in January,
there are 32km of underground pedestrian walkways that are lined with
more than 1,700 shops and restaurants – meaning you may never have to
Elegant Known as the cheese grater due to its iconic, half moon-shaped windows that resemble the kitchen appliance, downtown’s Marriott Chateau Champlain
is one of the city's most recognisable high-rise hotels. Inside the 592
rooms and 19 suites, guests are treated to unending views of downtown,
the Mary Queen of the World Cathedral,
the Saint Lawrence river and Mount Royal, the mountain that gave the
city its name. A 2011 renovation added in-room marble-slab desks with
convenient power ports that connect devices to the flat-screen TVs. The
hotel sits directly above the Bonaventure metro station and underground
city, making it popular with conference groups.
Originally opened for the 1976 Olympics, the Omni Mont Royal,
located along historic Sherbrooke Street downtown, is fresh from a C$20
million interior renovation, which included a total overhaul of its 299
guest rooms, decorated with velvet fabrics and containing Nespresso
machines. Its lobby saw the addition of a new fireplace, giving an added
sense of warmth in the winter months.
The 605-room Hyatt Regency Montreal,
located near Chinatown, also recently overhauled its chic lobby and
SIX Resto Lounge, where visitors can sip bubble tea infused with
essences of lemongrass mint and lavender citrus. A new Enomatic wine system
in the bar allows guests to sample vintages with the swipe of a credit
card, enjoying a sip, half glass or full swig of various regional drops.
Fresh from its grand opening this autumn, the 221-room Courtyard by Marriott,
located by the convention centre, features a unique interior garden,
while its rooftop pool terrace provides some of the best panoramic views
in the city.
At the airport, the completion of the 272-room Montreal Airport Marriott
in 2009 atop the US departure terminal means the transfer time from bed
to check-in desk can be less than two minutes. The property's lobby
opens directly into the airport check-in area, making it easy to gauge
the wait time.
Edgy Despite opening a decade ago, Hotel Gault
is Montreal's hippest hotel, with only 30 rooms and a style all its
own. It is the city's only member of the Preferred Hotels Group, which
caters to luxury and business-minded travellers, and is located in the
popular Old Montreal neighbourhood. The hotel's restaurant has unveiled a
speedy new breakfast and lunch menu, sporting favourites like French
crepes prepared with Nutella, fresh fruit and homemade compote
(fruit cooked in a sauce or syrup). The express lunch menu includes
salmon tartare with salad or braised oxtail with pappardelle pasta.
Coming in early 2014 is the 154-room Alt Griffin hotel,
which will be part of the largest multi-use real estate project in town
(expected to combine residential, shopping and dining outlets in the
blossoming Griffin district). Priced more affordably than other
full-service hotels, which include a restaurant and meeting spaces, the
fusion of IKEA and Pottery Barn designs will appeal to business guests,
artsy types and trendy baby boomers alike.
Expense account Foodlab at the Society for Arts and Technology,
near the St Laurent metro station in the Latin Quarter, is a casual
restaurant with creative, budding chefs and a menu that varies depending
upon the week's theme of experimental recipes. Themes range from Middle
Eastern classics such as mezze, featuring spreads of hummus, olives and
falafel, to Balkan dishes such as Macedonian vegetable and mayonnaise
salads or a tasty cevapcici sandwich (composed of minced meat
with garlic yogurt and grilled vegetables). The outdoor terrace is
popular for a glass of wine on warmer days, and the clientele ranges
from hip urbanite to rich socialite.
Downtown, wander over to the Place des Festivals, a large public space dedicated to the city's continuous schedule of urban entertainment, including the annual jazz festival that takes place each summer at the end of June or beginning of July. At Balmoral bistro bar,
which overlooks the main plaza, enjoy live jazz Thursdays through
Saturdays while noshing on dishes such as signature beef tataki topped
with roasted sesame seeds and Quebecois maple syrup, or a traditionally
French beef bourguignon.
A few blocks away sits the lovely Apollo restaurant, housed in a historic presbytery in the shadow of Christ Church Cathedral
next door. Diners praise the six-course tasting menu, which covers
culinary ground with everything from a local foie gras to chef Giovanni
Apollo's masterful chocolate dessert creations.
Perhaps one of the most famous eateries in town, Restaurant Da Emma
is located in what was formerly Montreal's first women’s prison. Da
Emma serves traditional Italian cuisine and has hosted celebrities and
diplomats including Brad Pitt and Bill Clinton. It is a sin to not
sample chef Emma Risa’s (affectionately known as Mamma) famous
fettuccine with porcini mushrooms, but the suckling pig roasted with
garlic and rosemary is a close second favourite.
No one should
leave Montreal, however, without tucking into the decadent local
favourite: poutine (fries smothered in gravy and cheese curds). Its
caloric weight means it is best shared with a brave companion, and it is
delicious whether eaten from one of the city's many food trucks or in a
cafe. The aptly named Poutineville,
at the edge of the Latin Quarter, is a prime spot to capture locals
indulging in favourite poutine variations like The Godfather, which is
topped with Italian sausage, roasted red peppers and marinated
Off the clock If you have a few hours between meetings, the Montreal Botanical Gardens
near the Olympic Park are a haven of peace and tranquillity. Its
extensive collection of 22,000 plant species, 10 greenhouses and
colourful gardens make it worth the trip even for visitors that do not
possess a green thumb. Next door is the entertaining Insectarium, which houses several species of creepy crawlies in North America's largest insect museum.
Like a local Get
lost in romantic Old Montréal, where the cobblestone streets have
witnessed the passage of time for more than three and a half centuries.
Visitors watch history come alive as they pass horse-drawn carriages,
artisan boutiques and cafes housed in 18th- and 19th-century buildings.
business travellers may prefer the Latin Quarter for its proximity to
live entertainment, Bohemian-style living and numerous student pubs. McGill and Concordia
universities are two of 11 in the city, placing it second to Boston in
terms of university students per capita in North America.
Don't do this
Montrealers are proud of their French heritage and almost always
initiate a greeting with the two-cheek kiss. The kiss begins with the
right cheek and is used among friends, neighbours and business
colleagues that have known each other for some time. Do not immediately
assume that a first-time greeting necessitates a kiss, although locals
will happily oblige!
Also, while many Montreal businesses will
take US currency, it is polite to inquire before engaging in a
transaction to avoid a rebuff later.