Meeting planners have a tough job. Annual conferences can easily become long slogs without much fun sandwiched between the seminars. That’s why planners are now thinking outside of the box, booking meetings at non-traditional sites.
LANDMARK MAKES SPECTACULAR RETURN
There is nothing better than a comeback story, an against all odds return to glory. But that’s just what the Carlu is all about. Originally opened in 1931 by Lady Eaton, the space was a state-of-the-art, 1200 seat auditorium and restaurant located on the 7 floor of the family’s flagship store at the corner of Yonge and College. Musicians who performed here ranged from Duke Ellington and Billie Holiday to Maurice Ravel and Glenn Gould. The auditorium and restaurant were designed by noted French architect Jacques Carlu.
Unfortunately, just like the Eaton’s empire, the auditorium and restaurant went out of business and by the 1980’s, the 7 floor was mostly forgotten. That’s when the story gets really interesting. In 2001, Mark Roberts and Jeff Roick began a two year, multi-million renovation project which returned The Carlu to its former glory and added significant meeting and exhibition space. In 2003, The Carlu made its much awaited debut and over the last ten years has been an unqualified success – last year it was named Canada’s Top Meetings Venue. Along the way, The Carlu has hosted more than half a million guests, more than 1650 events including close to 900 corporate meetings and social events. (The list includes the Genie Awards, ACTRA Awards, Bryan Adams Unplugged concert, the Blackberry 10 launch, and an Oscar de la Renta fashion show.) Guests have sipped and supped on more than 400,000 cocktails and 2.5 million hors d’oeuvres.
Earlier this month, The Carlu proudly announced the addition of two companies to their list of preferred caters, both headed by renowned chef Mark McEwan – North 44 Caters and McEwan Kosher. www.thecarlu.com
TAKING A BOW
In the winter of 1913, when Marcus Loew launched a double decker theatre on Yonge Street in downtown Toronto, it was front page news. The Elgin, which now seats 1500, was on street level, while the Winter Garden which has a capacity of about 1000 seats was situated directly above. The early acts ranged from George Burns and his wife Gracie Allen to singer Sophie Tucker. However, with the introduction of talkies, vaudeville quickly died and the Winter Garden with its ornate, hand painted ceilings and walls was boarded up and forgotten. The Elgin continued as a movie theatre. Fortunately, the two theatres were purchased in 1981 by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, which restored both facilities. Now a National Historic Site, both theatres can be used for a wide range of special corporate events and over the years have been used for cocktail receptions, product launches, press conferences, workshops, lectures and fund raising galas. www.heritagetrust.on.ca
CONFERENCE SPACE AND SO MUCH MORE
Bingemans Conference Centre is the Waterloo Regions largest event facility with over 40,000 square feet of conference and banquet space. It is the ideal setting for meetings from ten to conferences of 1200, with on-site catering from the largest catering company in south western Ontario. The Centre includes Marshall Hall, a 20,000 square foot facility with 13’ ceilings that is frequently used for trade shows, exhibitions, conventions and banquets. The Centre also features The Ballroom – a 15,000 square foot space with 14’ ceilings, the ultimate spot for seminars, banquets and break-out sessions. Guests at The Ballroom have included the Prime Minister of Canada.
With more than 60 years of experience, Bingemans has earned the reputation of ensuring complete client satisfaction. It provides its customers with all of the essential office tools. Its experienced audio-visual experts, including in-house resource Edcom Multimedia, help to both plan and provide seamless execution of presentations.
But Bingemans is about more than just conference space. Located on over 170 acres that curl around the scenic Grand River, Bingemans also features Big Splash Waterpark, FunworX Indoor Playland (35,000 square feet) a nine hole executive golf course, outdoor mini-golf and coming this summer, the 28 lane, Kingpin Bowlounge & Boston Pizza. www.bingemans.com
BRIGHT LIGHTS AND RAZZLE DAZZLE
Companies looking to add some Hollywood style razzle dazzle to their meetings are increasingly turning to the Cineplex Entertainment chain. With over 1300 screens in more than 130 theatres, it is Canada’s box office king. Meeting planners are also turning to Cineplex to recognize and reward top performers and key clients by booking the smaller, luxurious VIP theatres in locations across Canada. Cineplex continues to grow in the Greater Vancouver Area with the purchase of Fifth Avenue Cinemas and the Park Theatre on March 1 2013. “We are pleased to add these two iconic Vancouver locations to our theatre circuit,” says Ellis Jacob, President and CEO Cineplex Entertainment. “We look forward to offering Vancouver moviegoers the many benefits Cineplex has to offer, including access to the Scene loyalty program and our popular Front Row Centre Events, to name just a few examples.”
Additionally, opening later this year is Cineplex’s Abbotsford location which will feature a beautiful two story VIP lounge with skyward western views. Sunset cocktail parties before a screening will be very popular as will the extended food menu with local wine offerings.
These VIP auditoriums and lounges make Cineplex a unique venue for corporate events. The auditoriums are for groups of 20 to 120 and cost the same to rent as Cineplex’s regular auditoriums but offer a premium experience. The company currently has seven locations in major Canadian cities with more, including Abbotsford planned for 2013. VIP guests enjoy a premium licensed experience, in-seat menu service for beverages and concessions during screenings and a private lounge for cocktail functions or break out sessions. VIP auditoriums feature full stadium with larger, upgraded seats, interspersed with side tables. www.cineplex.com
HITTING THE HIGH NOTES
Toronto is dotted with well known venues – spaces that ring with the sound of music. But one place always hits the high notes. In 1982, Roy Thomson Hall (named after Canadian press baron Roy Thomson) opened to much acclaim at the corner of Simcoe and King Streets at the edge of the city’s financial and entertainment districts. Originally designed by Canadian superstar architect Arthur Erickson, the Hall became immediately famous for its wraparound, honeycombed glass canopy. (In 2002, the auditorium underwent a $20 million acoustic enhancement, giving it a world class site and sound. It is equipped with a state-of-the-art audio visual system with two 9’ X 16’ screens and a fully automated, high definition rear projector.)
Home to both the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Hall has also been used for a wide range of annual meetings, product launches, award galas and multi-media presentations. Theatre capacity is 2,630, with room for 200 cocktail style on stage and 120 for dinner on stage. Other spaces include the North and South lobbies, backstage rooms and lounges and the Pickering boardroom. www.roythomsonhall.com