Riding down the elevator to the ninth floor from the hotel's rooftop swimming pool, an Australian family of four coming back from a swim is oblivious to the fact that they're staying at ground zero in a health-care crisis that would rock Asia.
This is where the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak began.
The couple's children are giggling about the fun they had swimming and ask their dad where they're going for dinner. The hotel lobby of the former Metropole Hotel is bustling with guests checking in by the busloads.
Arriving on the ninth floor, the dim hallways are lined with dark wood-panelled walls. Halfway down the corridor is Room 911. From here, it would only take one infected person to carry the virus back to Canada, creating an unprecedented crisis in Toronto.
It has only been five years since the virus disrupted the Canadian health-care system. Since then, Hong Kong hotels are full again and the economy has been remarkably robust.
In Toronto, tourism hasn't come back to pre-SARS levels, but the economy is on a roll.
Health authorities on both continents warn it's only a matter of time when another such virus becomes airborne. The lessons of SARS are more prevalent than ever. In an era of global travel, public health can be a fragile beast.
At the Metropole Hotel, now known as the Metropark Hotel after the negative publicity that ensued, the room number 911 no longer exists and has been changed to Room 913.
When a house cleaner is asked what happened to Room 911, he shakes his head and mumbles it was because of SARS.
The SARS epidemic originated in China when a farmer with it fell ill and died in November 2002. China failed to report the illness to the World Health Organization until February 2003.
Dr. Malik Peiris, chair of the department of microbiology at the University of Hong Kong, said he first heard of SARS in December 2002 and had started investigating all pneumonia patients in intensive care by February.
"The problem was there is no way of knowing if it was a new pneumonia. It takes a lot of time and effort -- it was like looking for a needle in a haystack," Peiris said. "It was a huge pressure, not just to the world health-care workers and colleagues were getting sick."
But when a medical professor from China checked into Room 911 the Metropole Hotel in February 2003 to attend a wedding, he had no inkling he was creating a global health crisis.
The potency of the virus is such that it took the simplest of incubators to spread the disease: The professor is thought to have shared an elevator with six other guests, who visited the ninth floor.
"We looked for something unusual," said Peiris. "One patient was from China and one from Hong Kong, but he was from the Metropole Hotel.
"At that time, Metropole wasn't known as the source. We were working in the dark."
On the other side of the world, Canadians were also working in the dark.
In a chilling series of coincidences worthy of a Hollywood thriller, the professor would infect Siu Chu Kwan, a 78-year-old grandmother from Canada.
Kwan flew home to Toronto carrying the airborne infectious disease and became patient zero in Toronto upon her return on Feb. 23, 2003. Before dying, she infected her son and husband. Her son, in turn, infected two other men in nearby hospital beds. A chain of infections involved relatives and church members who visited the emergency ward. It spread like wildfire, infecting a total of 387 people in the Greater Toronto Area and killing 44 from Feb. 23 to June 7, 2003.