Vancouver is a premier meeting and convention destination – and it’s not hard to see why. Surrounded by snow-capped peaks, sun-drenched sands and the sparkling Pacific Ocean, the city exudes a cosmopolitan-yet-laidback flare that, combined with an award-winning convention centre, first-class hotels and exceptional cuisine, creates an exceptional experience for delegates.
Hotels in Vancouver are internationally recognized for providing visitors with top-tier features and amenities. Properties that are particularly popular among groups include the Fairmont Pacific Rim(located right across from the Vancouver Convention Centre, and recently named one of the world’s best hotels by Conde Nast Traveller) and the luxuriously appointed Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver. Of course, with 13,000 hotel rooms in the city’s downtown core and a number of properties catering to business travellers, delegates have plenty of choice.
Eating in Vancouver is a gourmand’s delight, and many of the area’s award-winning restaurants are happy to accommodate groups.Newer options areHawksworth(named the best new restaurant in Canada by Macleans’ magazine), Wildebeest (refurbished 19-century space featuring front house cocktail bar and lounge, open-concept kitchen and underground wine bar) and forage (casual yet stylish restaurant that incorporates seasonal ingredients sourced from local farmers and fishers). Timeless favourites include Raincity Grill(sweeping views of English Bay combine with a tantalizing 100-Mile Tasting Menu),C Restaurant(pioneer of the city’s sustainable seafood-preserving Ocean Wise program) and CinCinRistorante (contemporary Italian served in a group-centric wine room).
Of course, meeting venues are the name of the game and though the city offers plenty of unique spaces, there are several thatscream “Vancouver”: the cliff-facing Capilano Suspension Bridge Park reception deck;the majestic Timber Room atop Grouse Mountain; and the Vancouver Art Gallery, housed in a turn-of-the-century courthouse. But the Grand Dame of all meeting sites is the newly expanded Vancouver Convention Centre (VCC), the city’s flagship convention facility. A multiple award-winner and the world’s first LEED Platinum convention centre, the VCC now offers close to 466,500 square feet of meeting, exhibit and function space.
Group activities in Vancouver cater to all interests, ranging from delegate-focused spa treatments to food, cocktail and beer tours (check out Vancouver Food Tour to secure all three) to an all-skill-levelscity cycling tour. Lesser-known experiences for pre- and post-conference include a private tour of the Rennie Gallery, housed in Chinatown’s oldest building; culinary team-building competitions at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts on artsy Granville Island; and cocktail classes at The Diamond, located in hip and historic Gastown.Vancouver is also a festival city, and delegates would be hard-pressed not to bump into an event during their time in town. A particularly explosive group experience is the annual Honda Celebration of Light fireworks competition, though there’s also winter’s Hot Chocolate Festival, spring’s Cherry Blossom Festival and more.
Of course, Vancouver is particularly known for its natural beauty and the region’s sprawling green space and outdoor activity options don’t disappoint. Visitors can relax on one of many beaches, stroll through manicured gardens (one option is Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, named the world’s top city garden by National Geographic) or enjoy a heart-pumping run or cycle around the 22-kilometre Stanley Park seawall.
Vancouver is truly an all-season destination, appealing equally to budding gourmands, shopping enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers. But the best part of meeting in Vancouver? It’s a proven attendance-booster: according to a Tourism Vancouver poll, groups that meet in the city see up to 10 percent increased attendance than the previous year. And that means registration revenues go up, tradeshow exhibitors enjoy more traffic and delegates benefit from increased networking opportunities. With all that to offer and more, what’s not to love about Vancouver? www.tourismvancouver.com