People still looking for a special place to bring mom this Sunday can stop by Groundswell Coffeehouse. Groundswell is launching its new weekend brunch menu in time for Mother’s Day. Brunch will be served Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The spring menu includes eggs Florentine, eggs Benedict, potato rostis, bistro salads and daily features. Groundswell is located at 96 Victoria St. W., Alliston.
Living up to its image as the epitome in unique luxury, a Hilton hotel has arrived in Barrie with an anticipation that had potential guests clamouring for reservations weeks before the facility actually opened. Located on Bryne Drive opposite the new Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse, the Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton dominates a prominent hilltop offering its guests a view of lush forests in the back or a bird’s eye-view of the city out front with Kempenfelt Bay beyond. From the moment guests approach the drive-through portico, they are in Hilton-land. Welcoming travel-themed music entertains while suitcases are unloaded and makes the transition to the interior environment virtually seamless. While checking in, guests are introduced to the unusual vow given by their hosts. “We not only provide you with a great stay at a great value, we take it a step further with our unconditional 100 per cent satisfaction guarantee,” states the company policy, offered in writing. “It’s simple. We offer friendly service, clean rooms, comfortable surroundings every time. If you’re not satisfied, we don’t expect you to pay. That’s our commitment and your guarantee.” For local resident and hospitality veteran Charlene Grenier, who was hired last fall as the new hotel’s sales and marketing director, the promise is a daunting but exciting challenge. “Things go wrong all the time (in this business),” she laughs. “But we can’t let them. It’s our commitment to good service.” From the outset, the décor suggests the different approach that is taken here. Oversize black and white photographs grace the walls of the lounge. A large-screen television set, perpetually available coffee and tea, and comfortable sofas invite guests to linger in the common area long after the complimentary hot breakfast buffet, with four rotating menus, has been cleared away. The hotel, which opened at the end of February, takes pains to distinguish itself from a generic experience. Hallway carpeting shatters expectations with a recurring design of large blue blossoms running along one wall, while a complimentary diamond gradient lines the other. Patterns and tone used in guest-room furniture and wallpaper are equally unique, providing a homier-than-average atmosphere. “The colour-scheme throughout is non-traditional,” says Grenier. “It’s vibrant and playful.” The little touches all add up to an overall difference. Distinctive room signs, for example, spark memories even while suggesting a world of possibilities. From hay bales and horseshoes, to a paddle wheel and picnic, the tiny monochromatic images offer a gallery of delights before guests ever pass over the marble thresholds into their rooms. Exclusively designed pillow-top mattresses and luxurious linens await in all 104 guest rooms, from the king suites to the more traditional. Additionally, all have access to high-speed wireless internet and a host of in-room amenities like hair dryers, coffee makers and easy-to-use clock radios. The suites feature microwaves and fridges as well. The hotel also offers a recreational indoor salt-water pool, whirlpool and large fitness centre. Business travellers can use the computers, printer and photocopier in the first-floor business centre, and take advantage of the Printer-On print-valet service 24-hours a day. “Say it’s 2 o’clock in the morning, you’re working on your laptop and you want to print something,” Grenier says. “You can just send the document to print and pick it up in the morning.” For corporate conferences and other special events, the Hampton Inn has five meeting rooms to choose from. Together, the Opal and Topaz rooms can accommodate up to 75 people, while the nearby Ruby and Emerald rooms can be used in combination as break-out or reception rooms, or as stand-alone function spaces. The good-things-come-in-small-packages Diamond boardroom features a fixed table that seats 12. State-of-the-art audio-visual equipment can also be arranged. “I love that they are all named after jewels,” Grenier smiles. “They all have floor-ceiling windows with lots of natural lighting.” Working in partnership with the local food-services firm Executive Catering, Grenier and her team can assist with all aspects of event planning including full-service catering. Having worked the first four months for the hotel off-site, she’s thrilled to see the construction phase come to an end. She and the rest of the experienced 25-employee team moved into the new facility only a few weeks prior to opening. “It’s hard to not work out of a hotel when you’re in the hotel business,” says the ever-cheerful Grenier. “We’re all just really excited – finally a Hilton property in Barrie! We’ve got a lot of group business already on the books.” For more information, call Grenier directly at 705-719-9666, extension 6002, or visit www.HamptonInnBarrie.com.
John Crispo’s resignation as the Clearview Township councillor for Ward 3 has left council with some decisions to make. Council declared the Ward 3 seat empty on Monday night, exactly a week after accepting Crispo’s letter of resignation. The same night as his letter was accepted, Crispo died of cancer at Princess Margaret Hospital in Toronto. Township clerk Bob Campbell says that under the Municipal Act, officials now have 60 days to decide whether they will appoint someone to fill the vacancy or hold a by-election. The municipality has been in this position once before since amalgamation in 1994. In 2005, when then Ward 3 councillor Ian Lang died suddenly from a pulmonary embolism, council decided to appoint Marc Royal. Council made the decision after learning a by-election would cost $10,000-$20,000. Appointing someone again might be the best decision, since the next municipal election is just over a year away, in November 2010. In his resignation letter, read at council last week by Ward 4 councillor Thom Paterson, Crispo suggested council appoint Judy Fuke, his campaign manager, saying she is willing to serve if asked. Meanwhile, a celebration of life service for Crispo has been announced. The family says it will take place on Fri., May 8 at 3 p.m., at Station on the Green in Creemore. The station is located on Caroline Street. The family notes that donations in memory of Crispo can be made to the Princess Margaret Foundation For Cancer Research. Crispo died Mon., April 27 after losing an 18-year battle with cancer. Along with being a municipal councillor, Crispo was a respected and well-known economist, lecturer and author. Mayor Ken Ferguson issued a statement about Crispo on Friday. “He was very passionate about his ward and he will be greatly missed by his colleagues and friends in Clearview,” he said.