Author Archives: tlgstaff

Furnished apartments can take some of the stress out of long-term hospital stays

Today Living Group healthcare

Recently, a friend told me how worried she was about her mother. “It looks like my father’s going to be in hospital for another two months,” she said. “But it’s taking my mother 90 minutes to drive in to the city every morning. She’s 72 – she can’t keep that up for two more months.”

As the population ages, these situations are becoming increasingly common: One spouse is stuck in a specialized hospital for an extended period, and the other spouse is forced to commute back and forth every day, making an already stressful situation even worse.

Furnished apartments make sense in all kinds of situations

Many people think of furnished accommodation – often known as ‘executive suites’ – as something only used by business travellers or divorcing spouses, but our suites are a great option in many healthcare-related situations, too. Many of our suites have easy access to hospitals (some within walking distance), which means less time and stress lost to travel. Corporate housing suites have kitchens, so the non-hospitalized family members aren’t reliant on expensive (and sometimes nutritionally lacking) hospital or takeout food. Most important for many of our guests is that suites are larger than hotel rooms, which means that additional family members can come on weekends for a few days without extra cost, or even advance planning.

Here are just a few of the healthcare-related reasons guests have stayed with us recently:

  • The mother of a woman pregnant with triplets who was hospitalized with pre-eclampsia for 6 weeks before the birth of her children. The mother was able to stay around the corner and spend whole days with her daughter – which made a real difference to the daughter’s state of mind
  • A 50-something couple from Sudbury. The wife was being treated for brain cancer at St Margaret’s Hospital, and while she didn’t need to stay in the hospital, she did have to go there several times a week. She had the support she needed; they both experienced a lot less stress by not having to make multiple trips back and forth
  • A young woman and her mother stayed in one of our suites for a month while they recovered from cosmetic surgery procedures. They had come to Toronto to be treated by a well-regarded plastic surgeon, and staying in town made it easy for them to go to their follow-up visits. And it meant they didn’t have to do much housekeeping or driving – they were able to focus on their recovery
  • The adult children of an elderly couple who were in the process of transitioning from a large family home (which they had to sell) into a retirement home. Having access to an apartment in town for a month meant that the adult children could give their parents the support they needed without facing long drives home late at night – and the siblings told us they really enjoyed having time together the way they did as kids

When someone in your family is seriously ill or hospitalized, sometimes the biggest stress isn’t worrying about their health – it’s about how to manage the driving, the stress, the finances and the emotional health of both the sick person and everyone around them. Furnished accommodation can’t solve every problem, but it can certainly reduce some of the stress.

 

Why corporate housing suite management is a good choice

Why corporate housing is a good choice

It can make good economic sense to buy a downtown condo or two as an investment: Toronto real estate prices continue to rise, so you’re building equity – and in the meantime it shouldn’t be too hard to rent the property to a nice professional couple who won’t trash the place and won’t default on the rent, right?

The truth is that managing tenants can be a whole lot more work – and cost a whole lot more money – than most property owners realize. Even the best tenants occasionally leave holes in the walls or flood the bathroom; nice professional couples tend to move on in a year or two, meaning you have to go through the process of finding new tenants all over again; and while today’s monthly rental prices may seem high, they probably won’t cover the mortgage and condo fees on a new downtown condo.

That’s where suite management can make a real difference, especially when your condo becomes part of a corporate housing pool. Here’s how:

  • Revenue. Rentals are priced on a hotel model, so the monthly rate is higher than you might expect for a regular monthly tenancy. While everyday occupancy isn’t guaranteed, on an annualized basis you can expect to earn more revenue than you would if you had permanent tenants on a year-long lease.
  • Cleanliness. Because all our suites are cleaned regularly (before and after each tenant, plus weekly or biweekly housekeeping while a suite is occupied), the property is maintained in first-class condition at all times and any issues are promptly identified and addressed.
  • Repairs. The provisions of Ontario’s Landlord and Tenant Act say that landlords can’t enter a property without the tenant’s permission, so it’s possible for tenants to do a lot of damage before a landlord is ever aware of the problem. Because our suites are inspected before and after each (short-term) guest, repairs are done quickly – before they have time to turn into something serious.
  • Risk management and administration. Suite management companies like TLG manage the property, handle bookings and payments, and provide you with monthly and annual reports.

Want more information on how your condo can become a TLG suite managed property? Click here.

Short-term relocation made easier

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Our tips for making your short-term relocation more successful (and as headache-free as possible)

Technology and the internet may have reduced the amount of short-term business travel for the average person, but the increased use of project teams – people who are brought in to an organization for several weeks or a few months – means that some of us find ourselves away from home for extended periods. We can provide you with a great place to stay for a few weeks or months, of course, but life at home still goes on.

1. Ensure your files are in order before you leave

Losing your wallet any time is annoying and time-consuming, but losing it when you’re away from home can be a big problem, especially if you don’t have access to things like credit card numbers, bank statements, or other documentation you need. If you’re going to be away for an extended period, prepare a file which includes things like passport numbers, bank account details, and credit card statements, and either bring it with you or give it to a close friend or family member who will be able to get the information to you quickly. That way, if your valuables are lost or stolen, you’ll have easy access to the documents you need to cancel credit cards or get replacement cards. (Storing the information in your smartphone can be risky – it may be hacked or stolen along with your wallet.)

2. Make sure someone has access to your home

If you’re going to be away for a couple of weeks or more, you should make sure that a friend, neighbour or local family member has a key to your home. You may need access to your files in case of an emergency, or you may need someone to check on the electricity or plumbing if a freak weather event has caused problems in your neighbourhood. And of course it’s always a good idea to have someone bringing in your mail, watering your plants, and turning lights on and off to give the impression that someone is in residence.

3. Know what you’ll need in case of a medical emergency

Before you leave, take some time to familiarize yourself with your organization’s benefit plan or any other medical-related information you’ll need in case of an emergency when you’re away from home. Do you need travel insurance? Do you have any existing medical conditions that may be relevant? Ensure the people you’re working with – a supervisor or someone in the HR department – knows what to do if something happens to you and you need to see a doctor or go to a hospital.

4. Leave the house in good order – and some food in the cupboards – for your return

You’re finally returning home after a few weeks away. It’s almost midnight, you’re tired and hungry – and you open the door only to find piles of laundry stacked up and nothing but outdated sour cream in the fridge. Making the effort to tidy the house, discard perishables from the fridge, and leave yourself some tinned or frozen food before you leave can make the difference between “my trip wasn’t so bad” and “ugh, I hate being away so long for work”. (Best solution? Ask the person from #2, above, to stock your fridge with some milk and bread before you get back.)

Corporate Housing and Executive Suites: FAQs answered, part II

Do you know what ‘executive suites’ really means?

Today Living group corporate housing

While most people have heard of the term ‘executive suites’, we know that not everyone is familiar with just what corporate housing and executive suites really are.  In this second part of our FAQs series, we address the questions we’re asked most often.  (You can see Part I here.)

Can other people stay with me?

Yes.  Many suites have sofabeds to accommodate visitors, and our two- and three-bedroom suites are designed to accommodate family groups.  However, for security reasons, we do ask that you provide us with the names of these additional guests and the dates they will be staying with you.

What about housekeeping?

Twice-weekly housekeeping services are generally provided as part of your fees, and their services include cleaning the kitchen, bathroom(s), living areas, and providing fresh linens.  You can arrange for more frequent housekeeping services upon request – just let us know when you book your stay.  Our housekeepers are thoroughly vetted for security and attention to detail.

Are the residences secure?

Yes.  Every unit has its own security system, and many also have secure main entrances.  We also provide you with access to a Manager on Duty who is available 24 hours a day.

Is parking available?

Yes, for most suites.  In some cases, an additional charge will apply – just let us know when you make your reservation.

Can you accommodate pets?

Yes, some of our residences will be happy to host your cat or dog.  This may entail an additional charge, depending on the unit. (Of course, service animals are always accepted at all residences.)

I prefer to use my own furniture – especially my own bed.  What should I do?

We have a number of unfurnished suites that are available for medium-term accommodation and don’t require long-term leases.  Click here to see what’s available.

How far in advance do I have to book?

As with most accommodations, the longer the lead time, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to secure a specific suite.  However, because we have quite a number of properties in downtown and midtown Toronto, and in Yorkville (and in some cases, more than one suite in the same building), we can usually provide you with your first or second choice, even on short notice.

 

Training employees? Getting everyone together might be more cost-effective than you think.

corporate housing is good for corporate training

The other day, I was talking to a colleague about employee training programs. She’s got her PhD in Human and Organizational Systems, and works as a change management consultant for Fortune 500 companies all over the world. Part of her job is to run training and education sessions for senior executives.

“Sure, Skype is great if I need to talk to my mother,” she said. “But video conferencing just isn’t cutting it when I need to train 20 senior managers from across the country all at once. Everyone’s always having technical difficulties, questions don’t get asked – or answered – effectively, and I’m pretty sure that half the participants are doing something else while they’re supposed to be focused on what we’re working on. “

The result? Training takes much longer than it should, because she ends up having to run multiple ‘make-up’ or ‘follow-up’ sessions, or set up one-on-one sessions with individuals to fill in the gaps. More importantly, it costs her clients (those Fortune 500 companies) money: They end up paying her for the extra training sessions, and they end up paying for the lost productivity because their senior managers aren’t up to speed on whatever topic they should have learned about.

My colleague’s recommendation: “Getting all the senior execs in a room together, even for a single day, would improve results dramatically. Everyone would stay focused, there’d be no ‘technical difficulties’, and there would be more opportunity for questions and feedback,” she says. “And bringing senior leaders from different parts of the organization together is a great team-building and networking opportunity. So it can be valuable for the company in a whole lot of ways.”

These days, many companies avoid getting everyone together: Sure, Skype or GoToMeeting seems  more economical, and so much more cutting-edge and innovative. But when you need to train senior leaders, whose time is valuable and who need to understand the material well enough to take it back to their own employees, putting everyone in the same room at the same time may in fact be the most economical option. Especially when you consider the long-term productivity benefits of better relationships among your senior team.

On your next trip to Toronto consider staying in one of many of Today Living Group’s luxurious furnished apartments, and experience some of the advantages that hotels won’t be able to offer.

Corporate Housing & Executive Suites: FAQs answered, Part I

CorpHousingFAQsPic2

If you’ve been used to staying in hotels when you travel for work or recreation, you may not be familiar with corporate housing/executive suites. You’re not alone. Here are answers to some of the questions we’re asked most often.

What is ‘corporate housing’, anyway?
Corporate housing is the term used to describe fully furnished residences (condominiums, apartments, houses) which are available to rent on a temporary basis. Residences come fully equipped with full kitchens (including dishes, flatware and other housewares), linens for bedrooms and bathrooms, televisions and utilities like internet and cable television.

What’s the difference between ‘corporate housing’ and ‘executive suites’?
In most cases, the terms are used interchangeably. Both terms are used to mean fully-furnished residences that are available to rent on a medium-term basis.

So is corporate housing like a hotel?
In some ways, yes: Residences are fully furnished, linens are supplied for you, and usually there is regular housekeeping service included in the cost of your stay. However, corporate housing has several key differences, including:

  • Most suites are much larger than standard hotel rooms, with a full kitchen, living/dining area, and separate bedrooms
  • Most suites are located within residential buildings, so guests feel more like part of the neighbourhood/community
  • The minimum rental period for a corporate suite is 30 days
  • Cost is usually about half the cost of a hotel of similar quality

What is the minimum rental period?
Because executive suites are not considered ‘hotels’, the minimum stay is 30 consecutive days.

It’s called ‘corporate housing’. Is it only for business executives?
Definitely not! While executive suites/corporate housing is often chosen by business travellers who are tired of cramped hotel rooms, it’s also a great choice for recreational travellers. The large size and fully equipped kitchens make executive suites a great, cost-effective alternative for families who need more space and don’t want to have to eat every meal at restaurants.

You bought – or are building – the house of your dreams. What happens when there’s a 3-month delay?

What do you do when you have construction delays

 

It happens more often than you think: You buy a new-build house or condo, and do your research. The builder is reputable with a track record of delivering projects on-time and on-budget. But then something happens – a colder-than-usual winter that prevents work, a transportation strike in the US that causes a shortage of materials, a subcontractor disaster – and suddenly the move-in date for your new home is 3 months later than you anticipated.

Which is a bit of a problem, since you’ve given notice to your landlord or have sold your existing home and have a hard-and-fast closing date. You have no family nearby and none of your friends really want you and your toddler crashing on their couch for 12 weeks.

What do you do?

This is the kind of situation that furnished apartments are designed to solve.

A furnished corporate apartment or suite can be rented on a month-to-month basis without a big commitment (in case the builder can’t be specific about a move-in date), and in most cases, extending your stay is as easy as making a phone call.

Another advantage is that when your new home is finally ready, you don’t have to rush in – you can spend another week or two at the suite while you move in, paint, decorate and unpack in your new place. Instead of sleeping amidst the chaos, you can return to a like-home environment until your new place is perfect.

Not buying a new home, just doing a big renovation of your current one? A furnished apartment can be a perfect solution to the month or two that your kitchen and electrical systems are out of order.

Don’t forget, it’s a lot easier to be productive at work if you get a decent meal in the evening and a good night’s sleep – a furnished apartment could be the best thing you’ve ever done for your sanity during times of big moves and renovations.

When Disaster Strikes

‘Executive suites’ aren’t just for ‘executives’

It’s every homeowner’s worse nightmare. A flood. A fire. Storm damage. A break in. After the initial shock has work off, the first phone call you need to make is to your insurance company. You are full of questions and concerns and the biggest question on your mind is where you and your family are going to live.

When a disaster or home invasion requires you and your family to vacate your home for a significant period of time, most insurance companies will want to ensure that you and your family have an adequate place to live that is comparable to your current home. Flood and fire damage could take weeks to clean up and repair and serious storm damage could take months to rebuild.

That is why many insurance companies turn to Corporate Housing companies, like Today Living Group, when they need to re-home one of their clients. Offering the comforts of home, without the high cost of staying in a hotel, the main difference between corporate housing and a standard hotel is the ability to be completely self-sufficient, especially at mealtime. Staying in a hotel and having to rely on take-out, restaurants or room service for meals might be okay for a single per but when you have a family, it can get expensive and time consuming. With fully equipped kitchens, separate living quarters and all the linens you need, staying in fully furnished suite can help ease the stress that you are already having to deal with.

Companies like Today Living Group work with many of Canada’s top Insurance companies to help provide emergency housing for families who have been struck by disaster. With added perks like the Welcome Bag and detailed instructions on how to access the amenities in your suite and building will help to make the transition from your current home a little easier. The last thing you want to worry about when you are in the middle of a disaster is how to work the TV or where to find the linens. When disaster strikes, take comfort in knowing that while your home is being put back together, that home away from home feeling is not that far away.

The Toronto Pan Am Games: The largest sporting event ever hosted in Canada

You’ve probably been hearing more and more about the upcoming Pan Am/Parapan Am Games to be held in Toronto in July and August this year. But if you’re like a lot of people, you may not know nearly as much about the Games as you do about other big sporting events like the Olympics.

So here are some quick facts – you may be surprised at just how big the Pan Am Games really are.

The Pan American Games were first held in 1951, to bring together athletes from countries in the Americas and the Caribbean. The idea was to provide a world-class competitive opportunity for high-performance athletes in between the Olympics (the Pan Am Games are held every 4 years, and never at the same time as the Olympics).

With 10,000 athletes, coaches and officials from 41 countries participating, the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto is the biggest sporting event Canada has ever hosted – even bigger than the Vancouver Olympics in 2007.

PanAmInfographic1

We're celebrating our 10th anniversary!

(And looking forward to the next 10 great years!)

2015 is a very exciting year for us here at Today Living Group, because it marks our 10th year as one of Canada’s leading corporate housing and executive suites companies.

We’ve accomplished a great deal in our first 10 years – and had a lot of fun – and we wanted to take a moment to share some of our memories with you.

2005

After 15 years with Del Condominium Rentals and creating Delsuites, Michelle White founded TLG in 2005, and is still our president.  Her mandate:  To elevate the standard of service and quality in corporate housing and relocation by rebuilding and renovating suites specifically designed for corporate furnished residences, while giving back to the community.

Don, our manager of guest services and maintenance, was one of our first employees in 2005 – and is still with us today.

2006

Original logo for Today Living Group
Our very first logo!

We were commissioned to renovate an entire floor of a downtown office building to create high-end, elegant corporate suites.  We completed the project in 3 months – and the end result was stunning!

2007

Michelle becomes one of the founding members and the President of the CCHPA (Canadian Corporate Housing Providers Association), to raise standards and recognize excellence in the Canadian corporate housing industry.

We moved to our current offices in downtown Toronto to be closer to our corporate clients.

2008

Michelle is on the CCHPA board, and as President, participates in her first CHPA conference in Las Vegas.

2009

Yan, our fantastic accounting manager, joins us in the King Street office. Michelle led the Canadians in a national meeting at the CHPA conference in Myrtle Beach (again as chapter President), where we met many of North Second logo for Today Living GroupAmerica’s top relocation and corporate housing thought leaders.

2010

We were proud to launch our largest property to date, Maple Leaf Square.  Michelle remained on the CCHPA board as President and was also elected to the board at Maple Leaf Square.

2011

We install our unique ‘Healthy Bed Systems’ in all our suites, with mattress encasements and 300+ threadcount linens so all our guests can sleep soundly and safely. And we get a little glamorous with a brand-new suite at the TIFF Festival Tower Condominiums.  Michelle serves her last year as Canadian CCHPA President.

2012

Michelle and our office manager, Laura Lamanna, become two of the first corporate housing professionals in Canada to receive the CCHP certification at the Miami CHPA event.

2013

Tania and Madison joined the TLG team, and our reservations specialist Diana Goncalves receives her CCHP certification.

In January, we closed the office for a day, as our staff worked with Habitat for Humanity to build a home for a family in East York.  (It was -21° but we didn’t let that stop us!)  In November, we were thrilled to support the Candy Land Gala fundraiser for SickKids Hospital Foundation, raising more than $18,000 and contributing items for the silent auction and 30 (delicious!) centrepieces for the evening.  SOS Kids, which provides anti-bullying resources for kids and teens, became one of the charities we support.

2014

While we continued to grow and participate in CHPA and CERC conferences in New Orleans and Whistler, in 2014 we were most excited to receive the CHPA’s Tower of Excellence Award for best philanthropic community program.  To us, it was a great validation that we were still delivering on our mandate of raising standards and giving back.

Michelle White wins CHPA's Tower of Excellence Award
President Michelle White wins the CHPA’s Tower of Excellence Award

In October, we were proud to be part of the Courtney’s Quest Gala, which raised more than $60,000 for SickKids Hospital and Camp Trillium.

What’s ahead in 2015?

We’ll continue to be active in the industry, we’ve got some exciting philanthropic efforts in the works, and of course, we’ll continue to provide our clients and guests with the best service in the Canadian corporate housing and relocation marketplace.  We hope you’ll join us!