life isn't average. neither are we.
A (Not So) Grand Opening
Kristina Chau - Friday, March 02, 2012

Hey party peeps!

I hope all of you are keeping well in the new year.  I love that we have been having sunshine and mild days more often than not, and now spring is just around the corner so there's plenty to be happy about :)

Today's blog post is a review on a grand opening event I recently attended.  As an event professional, I'm invited to various events that promote venues and vendors in the industry.  This past Wednesday, I attended the grand opening of FOUNTAINBLU which is located in the Exhibition grounds.  Here's my review on the good, the bad and well...I hate to say it but the ugly:

  • Upon arriving at the Ex grounds we were pleasantly surprised to see directional signage.  Bonus points for this.
  • There was valet services available upon arrival; however we were not told it was complimentary until we couldn't find the self-parking lot and asked how much it cost.  *Remember, a nice-to-have service such as valet parking can go along way but you need to ensure that the service provider you use has front-line staff who can execute this with excellent service.
  • In the lobby there was a standard step and repeat banner for photo ops and there was complimentary coat check.  They also had Salon Daniel set up to give free hairstyling to women - it was raining that day so I really saw no point in getting my hair done.
  • The main space is on the second floor.  In the entrance way they handed out promotional bags with the venue's information package.  The venue is 5,500 square feet of indoor meeting space and can host events up to 600 people.  It would have been helpful if the capacity of the venue was broken down to showcase various event scenarios.  i.e. stand up cocktail reception vs. sit down dinner.
  • My first impression walking in to the main room was that it felt like a cheezy banquet hall.  I know that sounds harsh but it's the truth.  The beaded crystals hanging from the ceiling and the lighting created this effect for me.
  • I think it also had to do with the music selection as well.  First there was a sax player doing elevator-music like renditions, which was followed up by DJ'd music with live bongos playing over top.  It was really loud and obnoxious and it proved to be difficult to chat to anyone.  *Remember creating the right ambiance is definitely key to the success of your event.

  • Like most of these events, they had an open bar and caterers were set up on the peripheral of the room for them to showcase their tasty treats.  Here are some pics of my highlights:

Sashimi Tuna on a Crispy Pear & Avocado Salad with Toasted

Black Sesame in a Spicy Ponzu Dressing - Daniel et Daniel

Short Rib Barley Risotto Piattolini

Burgundy wine, winter greens, pearl barley, coffee-cocoa braised

short rib and gremolata - Seventh Heaven Event Catering


Curried Infusion Cone Stuffed with Roasted Chicken

and Corn Spicy Salsa - Artscape Event Services

Lila's Cocos

French Macaroon display by Cater Trendz

  • There was an ancillary room to the main space that housed a few other vendors and had an adjacent but very small patio. 
  • The one vendor that caught my eye was Richard Emanuel for his photo & video booth.  These days, photo booths are quite popular and often used at various events and weddings so the reason this one caught my eye is it has a small footprint and it was easy to use with a touch-screen. The self-sufficient booth prompts you take take 4 photos or a video.  Once this is complete you can either email them to yourself or post them directly to Facebook or Twitter.  Brilliant!  Also, if you're a company, you can get the booth branded with your logo.  Here's a photo of it:

  • I was also surprised to notice the lack of social media presence by the venue itself and a lot of the vendors.  In this day in age, social media plays a huge key into successfully promoting and interacting with your guests.  There's a great article on this by Mashable
  • My last impression of the event was dealing with the valet service Northern Valet again.  I have to say this time around the front line staff we dealt with were speedy and efficient.  They also had large golf umbrellas to escort guests to their car in the rain, which definitely redeemed them in my eyes.
I will be honest and say that I don't know that I will use FOUNTAINBLU as a venue for my clients.  It feels like a banquet hall in downtown Toronto and as you know, I'm all about using "not your average" spaces and hosting unique ideas.  However, if you're interested in checking out this space for yourself, please contact Jorge Dias the Events Coordinator there at or 416.263.3290.

For the life of the party,

not your average party