Looking at the meeting and event spaces of Atlantic Canada
With its geographic diversity – think red sand shores of P.E.I. and rugged beauty of Newfoundland – and plethora of world-class venues throughout the region, Atlantic Canada is wending its way into the hearts, and plans, of organizers and delegates from across the country.
St. John’s Nfld.
As the most easterly point in North America, the sun rises first over St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador on an island with its own time zone. These are interesting facts, to be sure, but are they a consideration in deciding to bring a group to St. John’s?
The legendary sunny disposition of the people of St. John’s seems to be one reason that is driving the popularity of the city for meetings and conventions. Carolyn Poole, global account executive, ConferenceDirect, recently visited St. John’s and agrees. “Most of all, the people are so warm and genuine…and a lot of fun!” It’s a place where strangers quickly become friends, and the local vernacular has you smiling and scratching your head all at once.
But there has got to be more to it.
“All these quirky things make people smile. Being slightly off kilter is part of the charm of the destination and is reason enough to choose St. John’s. As for our sunny disposition – you’ll have to come and experience it for yourself to understand why it is an important consideration for planners,” says Krista Cameron, director of sales at Destination St. John’s.
In addition to the people, the destination is truly special for meetings and conventions because in a short walk from the convention centre delegates can explore the dramatic coastline on foot, or enjoy a day on the ocean experiencing close encounters with humpback whales, puffins or icebergs or possibly all three at once!
A city rich in culture, St. John’s honours tradition while embracing eclectic sophistication. The city is large enough to boast modern facilities but intimate enough to make a group feel like they have taken over the town. The burgeoning restaurant scene embraces the island’s local ingredients and traditional foods while the music scene is colourful, vibrant and varied so the entertainment options are fresh.
“It’s like Ireland and the Caribbean ‘squished together’…. I can’t wait to come ‘home’ again soon,” says Bettyanne Sherrer, president, ProPlan Conference Planners.
Destination St. John’s boasts attendance increases when a business organization chooses St. John’s as its host city, as many travellers have it on their bucket list. April Taylor, president, Taylor and Associates, has firsthand experience.
“Having worked with several groups that have held their annual conferences in St. John’s, I am delighted to attest to the overall success experienced by each. From the interest that the destination generated in advance of the conference – all three organizations experienced an increase in registration – I would highly recommend St. John’s as a conference destination,” says Taylor.
The destination has added one more reason to choose St. John’s: The St. John’s Convention Centre is expanding. The $60-million expansion, which will double the centre’s capacity, will be completed December, 2015. Located in the downtown hub and connected by pedway to the Delta St. John’s Hotel and Mile One Centre, the destination will offer 100,000 sq. ft. of meeting space without having to step outside.
With 2,000 hotel guestrooms in downtown, a number of repurposed historical buildings for unique event venues and a number of new hotels slated to open in the coming years, the destination is well positioned to host your group. For more information, visit www.destinationstjohns.com.
Halifax – where boardroom meets boardwalk – is one of Atlantic Canada’s premier meetings and convention destinations. It’s been said that Halifax is where Nova Scotia comes together. While this is true, Halifax is quite simply a place where people come together. A legacy of service excellence, harbor-side city and close proximity to nature create a memorable backdrop for meetings and conventions.
“Halifax is a great Canadian city,” says Theresa Darmody , manager of Corporate Events and Hospitality, Labatt Breweries of Canada. “Most of our visitors comment on two things – the history of the city and the friendliness of the people. Every time we take a group there we get great reviews.”
Not only is Halifax affordable and easy to reach by land, sea and air, the city is also close to the things that make the region unique: A spectacular sea coast, lush countryside and venerable historic setting.
Take a break from the boardroom at one of the many unique venues that delegates won’t soon forget. Imagine them mingling aboard a tall ship; at signature waterfront settings such as the Waterfront Warehouse, Casino Nova Scotia and the Cunard Centre; surrounded by beautiful artwork at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia; or immersed in the rich history of the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site or the Alexander Keith’s Brewery.
There are also many exciting developments taking shape over the coming months to provide meeting planners with even more reasons to choose Halifax as their ideal event destination:
- Plans for the Nova Centre development, which includes a new convention centre as well as a hotel, are moving forward, with completion of the project slated for December 2015.
- ALT Hotels is building a 169-room hotel property connected to the Halifax International Airport that is slated to open in the spring of 2013. The hotel has more than 10,000 sq. ft. of space allocated for meetings.
- Citadel Halifax Hotel is being replaced by both a Hampton and Homewood Suites with a total of 316 rooms total and a shared conference centre in early 2014.
- Halifax Marriott Harbourfront will undergo renovations beginning this November and slated for completion in May 2013 that include the addition of 4,600 sq. ft. of new meeting space.
Delegates looking for ways to fill the hours in between meetings will be spoiled for choice in Halifax. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy kayaking and surfing along the coastline, hiking scenic trails, golfing on numerous courses, and skating on a long-track speed skating oval or skiing in the winter months. From touring picturesque vineyards to feasting on fresh local seafood and produce, talented winemakers and chefs deliver menus that will have your delegates delighting in culinary treasures.
“Halifax is a fun city, with great people that are hospitable, friendly and inviting which is why I love holding meetings there,” says Michelle Posner, manager of National Travel and Meeting Management, Grant Thornton LLP. “All in all, Halifax is a one-stop shop for fun, adventure and opportunities for great experiences which will strengthen the camaraderie of any group that decides to meet there.”
For more information, visit www.destinationhalifax.com.
Southwest Nova Scotia
It’s a place like no other where a jewel box of coastal and inland landscapes, all manner of wildlife and cultural treasures combine to make the UNESCO Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve.
Sheltered in the scenic southwest corner of Nova Scotia and bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Bay of Fundy, this internationally recognized reserve protects a spectacular expanse of over 1.5 million hectares. It’s a remarkable setting to stage an unforgettable event.
A fascinating collection of unique, hands-on activities are available to fire the imagination and provide engaging learning opportunities. Led by dedicated and skilled locals, each adventure offers an authentic biosphere experience.
Perhaps it’s kayaking on the Sissiboo, a tidal river where the only onlookers are bald eagles soaring overhead and sea birds diving into the waves. Maybe it’s dulsing at low tide along the shores of the Bay of Fundy. Or, perhaps it’s a “food” walk through an ancient Acadian Forest ecosystem where the group forages for edible bounty like wild chanterelle and black trumpet mushrooms, berries, Indian cucumber root and elderberry blossoms and then uses them to create innovative dishes. For a rare cultural find, travel to the Biosphere’s heart in Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site to discover the lakeside site where petroglyphs, Mi’kmaw engravings on polished slate, have left important clues about Nova Scotia’s first people and their sustainable relationship between human habitation and the natural environment.
To discover more Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve experiences and how you can plan a successful event at any one of the eight well-appointed meeting and event facilities located within easy reach of the Biosphere, visit www.destinationsouthwestnova.com
As the capital city of Canada’s only officially bilingual province, Fredericton provides the classic Maritime experience that Canadian and international delegates know and love, enhanced by a thriving music and cultural scene, an unparalleled cluster of authentic and affordable off-site experiences, and a city-wide, world-leading commitment to advanced technology. Add in a close-knit, walkable downtown featuring kilometres of green-space alongside the majestic St. John River, and you will discover a perfect combination of beauty, bands and bandwidth.
For the sixth consecutive year, MoneySense magazine named Fredericton as one of the “10 Best Places to Live in Canada” in March 2012. All of the things that make it a great place to live also make it a great place to meet.
Fredericton was the first city in Canada to offer a free, community-wide wireless internet network, the GoFred e-zone. Whether you are at the airport, in a taxi or on a riverside park bench, you will always be connected in Fredericton. Major meeting venues (including the Fredericton Convention Centre), convention hotels, and the universities share the city’s commitment to advanced connectivity, and by tapping into the city’s fiber optic backbone they offer access to exceptional bandwidth.
Cultural and inventive off-site experiences are what set one conference apart from another for delegates. Fredericton’s stellar collection of unforgettable attractions, events and festivals allow meeting planners to offer immersive experiences often too expensive or too complicated in other destinations.
Experience rustic down-home fun with a lobster-cracking Maritime Kitchen Party at the Fredericton Boyce Farmers Market or Drinks with Dali at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery; Regal elegance at one of Canada’s most publicly accessible Lieutenant Governor’s residences or a quiet tipple of fine Scotch at the Lunar Rogue Pub (named one of the best whisky bars in the world by Whisky Digest) – it’s your choice.
Fredericton also has carefully preserved heritage throughout the downtown core and at award-winning attractions, such as nearby Kings Landing Historical Settlement, which offer delegates a range of experiences to enhance their knowledge of Canada’s beginnings and create special Maritime memories.
Live music ranging from blues to Celtic to folk is on tap throughout downtown many nights of the week. Fredericton has been the incubator for several Maple Blues award winners in recent years and as home to the world-renowned Harvest Jazz & Blues Festival Fredericton is becoming recognized as an important part of the burgeoning east coast blues sound.
Top our amenities off with great service. Rendez-Vous Fredericton is the collaborative partnership between Fredericton Tourism and the city’s meeting industry. Members work together to ensure a seamless, sensational experience.
“You have a beautiful city with top-notch experiences to offer and sites to see, I sincerely enjoyed my time in Fredericton,” says Debbie Ross, meetings and special events manager, Canadian Nurses Association. “I was so impressed with many of the convention hotels, accommodations, offsite venues, convention centre and, of course, the service – we were treated like royalty!”
Fredericton has all the advantages of a small town: little traffic, easy walking, lots of green spaces and welcoming people. Combined with the big-city amenities, smart facilities and knowledgeable people, it’s the best of both worlds and a premier east-coast meeting destination.
For more information, visit www.frederictontourism.ca.
Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island is Canada’s smallest – and greenest – province, known for its vivid colors, gentle rolling landscape, miles of sandy beaches and red sandstone cliffs.
People attending a meeting or conference in Charlottetown, P.E.I.’s capital, are urged to make a vacation of it. And no wonder: Charlottetown is the gateway to the Island’s golden beaches, delicious cuisine, and breathtaking scenery, not to mention theatre, music, and cultural experiences.
As a meetings destination, Charlottetown offers a vast array of excellent conference venues, including: Confederation Centre of the Arts, The Great George Hotel, The Holman Grand Hotel, The Rodd Charlottetown, University of P.E.I. the Charlottetown Civic Centre, and The Delta Prince Edward.
The Prince Edward Island Convention Centre (opening summer 2013) adjoins The Delta Prince Edward; the two combined offer over 50,000 sq. ft. of meeting space with two sections of the ballroom offering floor-to-ceiling windows, six break-out rooms and an outdoor patio that is able to accommodate up to 600 delegates, all with stunning views of the Charlottetown waterfront.
Only 20 minutes drive from Charlottetown are some of the most beautiful conference rooms and meeting places in the Maritimes, such as Stanhope Beach Resort and Rodd Crowbush Golf and Beach Resort.
Charlottetown itself is a fascinating combination of history, culture and cuisine. The city contains dozens of restaurants, cafes, and eateries, perfect for a relaxing after-meeting getaway. Named a Top Eight culinary destination in the world by Zagat, P.E.I.’s world-class culinary reputation is due to easy access to the best ingredients. Island restaurants are well stocked with Malpeque oysters, Island blue mussels, lobster, fresh potatoes, handpicked vegetables, cheese, wine, and berry desserts, all made on the Prince Edward Island “million acre farm.”
If you like going for a walk during a break in your meeting’s proceedings, saunter along the extensive boardwalk along the city’s waterfront or visit the Charlottetown Farmer’s Market for an immersion in the Island’s social life and to savor fresh Island fruit, vegetables, flowers and food.
For delegates wanting to escape the intensity of meetings for a few hours, P.E.I. offers several breathtaking scenic routes to visit by car. Along the way, take part in a vast array of authentic Island experiences (Culinary Boot Camps, Giant Bar Clam Dig, Lobster Fisherman-for-a-Day, Tong and Shuck Oysters), or just take it easy and enjoy the simple pleasures of walking the countless beaches, boardwalks and trails.
And don’t forget the golfing opportunities. The Island is renowned for its golf courses; many of them are within easy driving distance of Charlottetown. Prince Edward Island has 10 of the top 100 golf courses in Canada, all within 45 minutes of each other.
With its reputation as the Cradle of Confederation, the charm of Anne of Green Gables, or the diversity of the Million Acre Farm, P.E.I. has many identities and many ways to welcome visitors, warm their hearts, and gladly share with them the rich bounty of her land and sea.
For more information, visit www.tourismpei.com.