Sunwing is now famous for influence theft, but the owner has roots in the Toronto jazz scene


Sunwing made headlines last week for a loud flight of influencers making a trip from Montreal to Cancun, but the story behind the owner of the Canadian travel agency has its roots in the Toronto jazz scene.

Colin Hunter is the founder, owner and Chairman of the Board of Sunwing Travel Group, one of the largest leisure travel companies in North America.

Together with his wife Joan Hunter and founding CEO Sybil Walker, Colin Hunter gave Toronto a new place to listen to live music in 2013.

The Jazz Bistro near Yonge and Dundas has built a reputation over the past eight years as the place to experience Toronto jazz in a lavish dinner club environment. It’s an elegant experience unlike any other jazz venue in the city.

This is also where Colin Hunter can still be heard singing classics such as “Come Fly With Me”, “Call Me Irresponsible” and “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”.

“My first favorites were Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra, and the first song I remember loving was ‘Because of You’ and I was about 13,” Hunter told blogTO.

“When I was in college in India, I sang in the Entertainment District of [Mumbai] a few nights a month. “

Hunter says he’s always loved to sing, from karaoke for fun to a surprise serenade for his wife on a luxury cruise vacation.

When he met pianist Joe Sealy at a mutual friend’s wedding, it was the start of a long-standing musical partnership.

The two have worked together for more gigs than they can count, recording a dozen albums that can be heard as in-flight entertainment on Sunwing flights.

Hunter has also toured internationally and prides himself on working with the best musicians in the business, most often with Sealy and members of his quartet: Paul Novotny on bass, Daniel Barnes on drums and Alison Young on saxophone.

The inspiration behind Jazz Bistro is an opulent Montreal club called House of Jazz, where Hunter performed frequently until it closed in 2020.

When it came to designing the Jazz Bistro space, Hunter contented himself with “writing the checks” while his wife Joan oversaw the construction, renovation and branding of the massive 3 floors.

Inside, a black and red color scheme with gold accents gives the Jazz Bistro its dark and warm feel.

Recently, before the last lockdown, new CEO Ted Haberer introduced new programming choices, including late-night jam sessions where the next generation of musicians are invited to come together in style.

As for Hunter, he still performs regularly on stage, although his next performance will have to wait until live music is allowed again in the province.

And that now infamous Sunwing flight from Quebec? Maybe he’ll make a clever reference to it in an upcoming song.

Main photo by

Ori Dagan by Colin Hunter performing with the Joe Sealy Quartet


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