Atlantic Canada: Not Your Typical Meetings And Conventions Destination
Development and Innovation Atlantic Canada is not only a fantastic tourism destination, it is a hub for innovation and business as well.
Picture this; after a long, arduous day spent in meetings, training sessions, and workshops, conference attendees ditch their business attire and head to the beach to unwind. Seated with one another at picnic tables covered in red and white checkered plastic tablecloths, delegates kick back, breathe in the salty air of the Atlantic Ocean and relax before the next day’s corporate meetings itinerary – all the while feasting on fresh lobster, oysters, and mussels.
That’s just the type of authentic coastal experience that meeting planners can expect to provide their delegates by organizing their next conference in any of the provinces in Atlantic Canada.
“Exploring the region is integral to why meeting planners decide to host a meeting in the Maritimes in the first place,” says Michael Matthews, the Executive Director of Meetings & Conventions Prince Edward Island (MCPEI).
In particular, Matthews says that the PEI way of life is built on the warmth of sincere and genuine human interactions. From an economic perspective, the island now has the infrastructure to showcase their hospitality to business delegates by planning corporate events and meetings that can accommodate groups of 50 to 800 people.
The convention centre
A major part of that infrastructure includes the new Prince Edward Island Convention Centre, which opened for business in August 2013.
“The convention centre has transformed the marketplace because we can do meetings of a size, scale and scope that we never could before,” says Matthews.
Located in Charlottetown, the state-of-the-art facility is comprised of the main Confederation Ballroom, which boasts 24,000 sq. ft. of open space and 17 breakout rooms, all of which have stunning views of the Charlottetown waterfront. With the adjoining Delta Prince Edward, the PEI Convention Centre offers over 50,000 sq. ft. of combined meeting space in total.
“There is a warm welcome from the locals that you won’t get anywhere else.”
Rounding out the facility’s features are two permanent boardrooms, two conference offices, and, the centre’s pièce de résistance, an outdoor waterfront patio that can accommodate up to 600 delegates for a reception.
When Chuck Schouwerwou, CMP, CMM, attended the convention centre’s grand opening in August 2013, he witnessed the incredible level of innovation that was put into the design of the facility.
“The ballroom’s design is absolutely brilliant,” says Schouwerwou, who is President and Principal meeting planner of Ottawa-based ConferSense Planners Inc. “You can see the water, you can see the birds, you get that natural light – it’s an ideal setting for a combined indoor-outdoor reception.”
A memorable experience
Atlantic Canada has long since been well-known for leisure tourism, and from a business perspective, Matthews says PEI and the other Maritime provinces provide meeting planners with the opportunity to incorporate an essential component of gathering delegates together in the first place – to try new things and have those memorable, team-building experiences.
The island offers an abundance of leisure experience options to program into your conference, says Matthews, including world-class golf, spa treatments, scenic-based excursions such as visiting the Red Sands Shore, and culinary activities like clam digging or cooking with renowned Chef Michael Smith.
Wherever in Atlantic Canada you go, one aspect seems to ring true. “There is a warm welcome from the locals that you won’t get anywhere else,” says Fred Stillman, owner of Kattuk Expeditions, a Halifax-based team-building and outdoor adventure tour operation he started in 2005. Stillman, whose families’ roots in Halifax go back four generations, says it is this characteristic friendliness and openness of East Coast residents that touches visitors the most.
Schouwerwou agrees there is always “that amazing Maritime hospitality” present whenever he’s planned a meeting or convention in PEI. “As a meeting planner, you can be assured you’ll receive a solid level of professionalism with a friendliness that is just above and beyond expectation.”