Imagine you had the opportunity to really shake up your next meeting or convention by taking it on the road from one Atlantic province to another. Where would you start? What would you do?
Picture this: 200 delegates decked out with top hats strutting around Charlottetown on an 1864 historic pubcrawl; being piped into Pier 21 in Halifax facing a mountain of steamed lobsters; or dining at the Lord Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton, with a surprise jitterbug party after dessert.
Then again, what if you want to meet with a handful of associates in a place that’s secluded and confidential? Places like Rifflin’ Hitch Lodge in Labrador where you can fly in under the radar, cast for salmon to your heart’s content, and have a business meeting (if you must).
Atlantic Canada has the venues, the infrastructure and the expertise, as do other places across the country. But what gives us the edge here are our one-of-a-kind, down home, even (shh, gasp!) titillating experiences.
Michael Matthews, executive director of Meetings and Conventions P.E.I., says, “It’s all about making meetings memorable. In P.E.I. we’ve been doing experiential tourism before it was even called that.”
Matthews adds that in the past, if you wanted to go lobster fishing for a day you simply asked buddy down at the wharf and gave him a couple of beer. “Now it’s packaged so an entire convention can take part. The sophistication of conference-goers has increased; they want authentic experiences.”
Although we’ve just scratched the surface, here’s a whiff of the possibilities Atlantic Canada has to offer to groups of all sizes – all of them guaranteed to deliver 10 out of 10 on the memory scale.
LARGE (1,000 +)
Suggested destination: St. John’s
Bonus: rooted, fun loving, colourful city with “character.”
Experiences: Imagine going on a “Haunted Hike” in the oldest city in North America, floating around Witless Bay in the middle of a gigantic puffin sanctuary, going to the Ferryland Lighthouse for a gourmet picnic lunch, or taking in an outdoor concert with 10,000 new BFFs on George Street.
• Krista Cameron, Destination St. John’s, (709) 739-8895, http://destinationstjohns.com
• Mark McCarthy, McCarthy’s Party, (709) 579-4444, www.mccarthysparty.com
Suggested destination: Corner Brook
Bonus: diversity in every direction. Recreation galore.
Experiences: Caving? Ziplining? Rafting? Snowshoeing? Ice fishing? How about taking a hike on the Appalachian Trail or on the Tablelands in Gros Morne National Park? It’s all here. If you’d rather something a little less strenuous, charter boats offer everything from whale watching and crab boil-ups, to rollicking entertainment cruises.
• Laura Walbourne, Go Western N.L., (709) 639-4787, www.gowesternnewfoundland.com
SMALL (less than 50)
Suggested destination: L’Anse au Clair, Labrador
Bonus: Northern Light Inn knows the ropes
Experiences: Tour Labrador can set up any number of gigs from hiking the Labrador Pioneer Footpath to visiting a scallop farm. How about skimming along in a zodiac to see puffins, whales and icebergs? Or a personalized tour of Red Bay World Heritage Site?
• Carmen and Bradley Hancock, Tour Labrador, (709) 931-2840, www.tourlabrador.ca
• Chad Letto, Northern Light Inn, (709) 931-2332, www.northernlightinn.com