A Day Off at Manulife Centre

Now that the holidays are behind us and winter has a firm grip on the streets of Toronto, we can’t think of a better time to take a day just for you. So call it in and come into town for the perfect day off at Manulife Centre. Check out our sample itinerary below:


9:45 am: Let us do the parking.

This is a day for you, so let us find the perfect parking spot. When you enter our parkade off Charles Street, head to our new Valet Booth on P1 to take advantage of our Complimentary Valet Parking.


10 am: Indigo for a coffee and a morning read.

Beach-read weather is months away, so make up for it. Grab a cup from the Starbucks on the top floor, a magazine from the stacks next to it and a seat somewhere in the store. If you’re lucky you might find a fellow talented patron tinkling the ivories at Indigo’s piano, setting the tone for a relaxing day.


11:30 am: Work out at The Goodlife

What better way to blow away the cobwebs than a good workout? Luckily we have a Goodlife Fitness onsite to help you get in your daily workout. Not a member? No problem. Ask for a trial visit and check out the chain’s best Toronto club ¾ and the only one with a pool.


12:30 pm: Lunch at Scaccia

This Italian sandwich bar is known for ¾ you guessed it ¾ its scaccias. And while you really should get one if it’s your first time there (we’re big fans of the sausage), the Nicoise Salad is also one of the best in town, and will probably sit a lot better in your stomach afterwards at the movies.


1 pm: Catch a flick at the Varsity

Go for a showing in one of the VIP theatres. Midday screenings are awesome and they’re the perfect way to get your Oscar screenings in before the award ceremony on March 4th.


3:30 pm: Treat yourself.

Get your hair done at Haartek or treat yourself to a luxurious facial at GRATiAE. Don’t forget to pick up some of their amazing products to continue your pamper day at home.


4:30 pm: Grab something to bring home for dinner

Bloorstreet Market’s prepared food section is pretty great. And pair whatever you get with something from the LCBO. It’s just down the hall.


5:00 pm: Redeem your two hours of free parking

It’s nice to get something back. And we’re happy to give it. Saving some money is a great way to cap off your perfect day off.


What would you do with a day off at Manulife Centre? Let us know on social media by tagging us @ManulifeCentre or using #BloorandBetter.

All About Heather’s Picks

The first thing you see when you walk into our Indigo is a table of Heather’s Picks. Heather is, of course, Heather Reisman, Indigo’s CEO and THE authority in this country on what makes a good read. Since 1998, she’s anointed more than 260 books and, in the process, helped jumpstart the careers of young authors from around the world.


They keep writers writing

Of course authors do what they do because they love it. But they still need to eat. When Heather recommends a book, it “usually sells quite well” she said in a 2016 Toronto Star article. But more than that, it gives them confidence and validation, and that drives them to be better. Heather picked A Man Called Ove by then-unknown Swedish author Fredrik Backman. She introduced a whole country to him, and helped him get to 1M+ copies sold. Since then, he’s published six more books, and Ove was turned into a movie.


They keep book clubs going

Heather reads a book a week. But she starts reading far more. Her rule: if she’s not hooked after 20 pages, she’s done. And she’s been doing this long enough to know what voracious readers want. She’s almost always right. We know of a book club in Etobicoke that only reads Heather’s Picks.


They keep parents happy

If you’re going to read the same book every night for a month, it’d better be good. Heather’s eye for amazing kids’ books is unquestionable, with titles like Goodnight Goodnight Construction Site and its perfect poetic cadence (not one deviation from the established beat), and The Book With No Pictures, which might be the most innovative kids’ book of the past ten years.


And they keep books in peoples’ hands

Yes, eReaders are great. And yes, they’re the future. But you can’t beat the feeling of actually turning the pages of a page-turner. We see people reading Heather’s Picks’ books in the western lounge area on the Concourse level, at the tables in front of Scaccia and Timothy’s, on the treadmills at the Good Life and, of course, at the Starbucks in Indigo.


With our renovation in full swing, Indigo’s Bay Street entrance is the closest unimpeded way into Manulife Centre. You’ll see Heather’s Picks as soon as you walk in. Choose one and enjoy.

Love Music

Valentine’s Day at Manulife Centre. You’d probably think of flowers from Bloorstreet Market, a card from More Than Words…, maybe dinner at the The One Eighty? You’d probably never think of speakers from Bay Bloor Radio.

And that would be a mistake.


Music maketh mood.

Romantic evenings to hot nights, the tunes set the tone. Some restaurants know this and curate their playlists as carefully as their wine lists. And what a cool gift to give your love – a soundtrack for Valentine’s Day and a new Bluetooth or wifi speaker to hear it.


So what makes a song romantic?

We took another informal poll over the last week to find out what sweeps people here off their collective feet. But because romance means something different to everyone, we had no idea what we were going to get. It made asking the same question for seven hours kind of exciting.


There were a few definite trends:

  • A majority said it had to be slow. But the ones who were against that hard-and-fast rule were VERY against it.
  • An overwhelming majority said the song had to be about love, but only 55% said it had to be a happy song.
  • 70% wanted the song to be under 4 minutes.


But there are also a few super unexpected answers:

  • One woman said every song’s romantic when it’s played live because of the way performers and audiences connect.
  • An older gentleman thought a romantic song should have a piano and not an electric guitar.
  • A group of girls we spoke to said it’s not the song that’s romantic but the singer. It’s an interesting thought. Could Beyonce make you swoon with Yellow Submarine?


The best answer we got was from a 40-year-old guy who was with his wife: “There’s only one truly romantic song.”

Follow You, Follow Me by Genesis. That was their song. That was on their soundtrack when they met, and six months into their relationship, he was recruited overseas. He told her. And she followed him. Sixteen years later, they’re still together.

And they’ve never not celebrated Valentine’s Day. How cool.


The Best Cure for January Blahs

When all we want to do is forget about how dark and gloomy and awful it is outside, we go to the movies.

Think about it: comfortable chair, popcorn, maybe some chocolate and a few hours completely immersed in someone else’s world.

And January just fades away.



This Month at The Varsity

Music, Dancing and Ryan Gosling: La La Land’s getting all kinds of buzz for its performances and its bravery. Musicals are tough to pull off, and really tough to pull off uniquely. This one nails it. This is Damien Chazelle’s first film since Whiplash — and he was wise enough to recast J.K. Simmons. We love him.

Unsung Heroines: Hidden Figures is the story of the women behind NASA’s first mission to space. Science nerds love the attention to realism. Movie buffs love the actresses, especially Octavia Jackson. And look for The Big Bang Theory’s Jim Parsons.

Younger Brother Makes Good: Casey Affleck was the kid at the end of Good Will Hunting who gets into the front seat of the beater car after Matt Damon goes to see about a girl. In real life, Ben Affleck’s younger brother gets into the front seat with Manchester By the Sea, the story of an uncle forced to become his nephew’s guardian.

Scorsese: In Silence Adam Driver (a.k.a., Kylo Ren from Star Wars) and Andrew Garfield (a.k.a., Spiderman) play Jesuit priests looking for their teacher in 17th-century Japan. This 1966 novel by the Japanese author Shusaku Endo has been on the top of Scorsese’s list to make into a move for decades.


Don’t let our upcoming construction keep you from enjoying a flick at what’s been Toronto’s best movie theatre for over three decades — even better since it was renovated. And if you’re driving here, don’t forget to validate your parking on the way out of our warm, well-lit and perfectly pleasant underground parking lot.

Get your Rio on

If you’ve been following the Olympics over the last few days, you know Canada’s doing better than most of us thought we’d do. All the more reason to whip up a bit of extra national pride.

That’s why we’re showing the games in the Manulife Centre atrium. Instead of cheering at your desk, stop by Manulife Centre on your lunch and be part of a cheering section.

Even better are the conversations you’ll have with strangers about sports you don’t know but become an expert in every four years. Did she break her form during her third dive? Was the dressage as artistic as it could have been?

And our course, while you’re here in the Manulife Centre, you can pick up a few things to get you into the Olympic spirit.


Cachaça at the LCBO:

This is Brazilian rum, and the root ingredient of Brazil’s most famous cocktail, the Caipirinha. Here’s one of our favourite recipes, courtesy of Jamie Oliver:

  • 5 limes
  • 12 tablespoons golden caster sugar
  • 2 cm fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
  • 1 kg ice cubes, crushed
  • 70 cl Cachaça
  • 1 small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked

Cut the limes into wedges, squeeze the juice into a large jug, then toss in the wedges. Add the sugar and ginger then bash it up to get the flavours going. Half fill the jug with crushed ice and bash again. Then add the Cachaça, stir, taste and add more sugar you want. Top the jug up with mint leaves and enjoy!


Maple syrup at the Bloorstreet Market:

Here’s a new Canadian tradition: do a shot of syrup every time we medal.


A gym membership at GoodLife:

It’s easy to get inspired by the physical specimens on the screen. Should that inspiration translate into action, our GoodLife location is one of the best in town. Great instructors and trainers, flexible classes, a spin studio and even a pool if you want something more than what’s up on 51.

But first, the games. There’s still time to enjoy them with friends and neighbours in the atrium. So come on over, meet some people and show your pride.

Go Canada Go!