Executive Director of Pride Toronto, Mathieu Chantelois, has been an advocate for the LGBT community of the city for over 15 years. But before his foray into philanthropy, Mr. Chantelois started off on the small screen –first by joining the cast of Life Network’s, The Lofters and later by creating, hosting, and co-producing SoGay TV, the first original series aired on PrideVision TV. We caught up with the busy Chantelois to find out exactly what the ex-Montrealer and well-seasoned traveler truly considers home.
Where have you just come back from?
I’m just back from a trip to Mykonos, Greece and Turkey. Visiting the Greek Islands has become a yearly tradition with my buddies and hubby. On my way home, I visited Istanbul to do some work with great local queer organizations. Hosting Pride celebrations and demonstrations are still very challenging there – they need all the help they can get.
Name a place that most lived up to the hype? New York City – I don’t care if it’s the biggest cliché: the city has never disappointed me.
And the one that least lived up to the hype? A Disney cruise. I spent months building the hype up to my 3 year-old niece, but I was ready to get off only being on the boat for 5 minutes. Never again!
What do you pack first? Tons of magazines. I’m really old school; I don’t read on my tablet, I’m all about flipping and feeling the glossy pages of a magazine.
What is your favourite city, and why? Rio de Janeiro! Mostly for the beach, but also for the Brazilian culture and nonchalance of its people. I’ve been 8 times already and will never get bored of visiting.
Perfect travel companion?
Marcelo, my husband and partner in crime. I can’t even imagine travelling without him –not only is he the best packer and good at directions, he keeps me smiling.
Confess to one thing you’ve taken from a hotel room? I’m a sucker for anything in a mini-bar. Somehow, a small bag of chips looks much better when it’s priced at 5 dollars.
Which foreign phrase or word do you use most often? Parlez-vous français?
I lost my heart in … Every city that I visit. It’s hard for me to not always travel back to the same place repeatedly. I easily feel attached to the places I visit, and I need to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone.
Which is the smartest hotel you’ve ever stayed at? I have 3! I fell in love with Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland. The woman behind this magnificent place is extraordinary. She came back to her hometown to create one of the coolest places in Canada.
I’m beyond words for the EDITION hotels. My favourite location is in London. The place is designed by hotelier Ian Schrager (known for the infamous Studio 54) with décor by the Canadian firm Yabu Pushelberg – it’s stunning. And finally, I can’t get enough of the work of Axel Vervoordt, who designed the penthouse hotel suite of the Greenwich Hotel in New York City. The design is based on wabi-sabi, a philosophy that embraces quietude and modesty – ironically, in Manhattan, a place known for neither.
What would be your eighth wonder of the world?
Petra, in Jordan. It’s a historical and archaeological city in the southern Jordanian governorate of Ma’an, famous for its rock-cut architecture and water conduit system. It’s the most breathtaking place I’ve ever seen.
Destination that you always go back no matter the season and why? Sainte-Adèle, in the Quebec Laurentides. My parents still live there – there is nothing like going back home.
Favourite food when you travel? Local drinks and fresh fruits.