By Susan O'Neill Posted June 8, 2010, 1:28 PM EDT
TORONTO For the CTV upfront party on Thursday at the new Thompson Toronto hotel, planner Mafalda Caruso, the network's executive director of special events, played up the newness of the venue by dressing models in glittering black construction boots and tool belts. “The whole theme of the party was a play on the fact that two days before the event, I was still in a hard hat and construction boots,” she said.
In fact, construction on the property, which is set to host its official launch party on June 17, wasn't entirely complete in time for the event—not that any of the guests could tell. “The hotel didn't get its occupancy permit until the day before, so it was a big chance on both of our parts,” said Caruso, who had a backup venue lined up in the event the permit hadn't come through.
“It was nail biting right until the very end, but a gut feeling told me we could pull it off,” she said. “All we needed was the occupancy permit.” Because the hotel kitchens weren't yet ready, Caruso brought in Daniel et Daniel Event Creation & Catering to handle the catering. The company used generators and ovens brought in for the event to prepare food behind the scenes.
The party, spread over three levels, drew about 2,000 guests, including 600 attendees who were bussed over following the upfront presentation at the Masonic Temple.
For the decor, Caruso worked with Rob Dittmer of Three Event Planning & Design to play up the existing feel in each space. The rooftop patio, on the venue's 16th floor, had a South Beach vibe. As a nod to CTV's coverage of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the Olympic rings were visible on the bottom of the rooftop pool, where synchronized swimmers performed a routine for guests.
In the lower-level ballroom, Caruso and Dittmer created a Studio 54 feel with DJ JoJo Flores spinning tunes for guests. “They had these huge chandeliers that were very rustic, so we did wraparounds and had go-go dancers with a lit-up dance floor,” Caruso said. “Our shirtless bartenders were quite a hit too.”
On the main floor, which has a hand-painted, three dimensional mural of Toronto's skyline by Spanish artist Javier Mariscal, Caruso adopted a black-and-white theme. “I didn't fight the existing decor,” she said. Servers wearing T-shirts with the phrases “work hard” on the front and “play harder” on the back greeted guests and passed wine and hors d'oeuvres in the hotel lobby. Attendees could also pose at a CTV-branded step-and-repeat with talent from shows like Flashpoint and The Listener.