What's New

From Québec to British Columbia, convention centers across Canada are undergoing ambitious expansions.

The most recent announcement came from the Toronto Congress Centre, which is building an expansion that will double its size when it opens in the fall of 2007. Planned for the space just north of the existing facility, it will bump up the exhibition space by 500,000 square feet and include 40 new meeting rooms and a 25,000-square-foot ballroom. In total, the north and south facilities will include more than one million square feet of trade and convention space. The new addition's eco-friendly design will incorporate energy and water conservation features.

In Alberta, Edmonton's Shaw Conference Centre recently unveiled a $25 million expansion that boosts its size to 110,000 square feet. The new hall boasts floor-to-ceiling windows with a 270-degree view of the North Saskatchewan River Valley. It also includes 26,000 square feet of new space, banquet space for up to 1,200, plenary/keynote space for up to 2,000 attendees and 10,000 square feet of additional reception space.

Meanwhile, Vancouver hotels and convention facilities are getting ready for the 2010 Olympic Games. An expansion in progress at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre is scheduled to be finished in 2008.

In Tremblant, Québec, an expansion of the year-round resort will include a multifunctional convention center with 95,000 square feet. The new center, along with 1,500 new condo/hotel rooms, will open by 2009.

Even the intimate Victoria Conference Centre in British Columbia announced a recent addition: Groups can use an 8,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard that is protected using a temporary, removable enclosure. It expands the facility's usable area by 20 percent.

  • Facilities Update

    Alberta

    A Holiday Inn in Calgary was converted into the Hotel Arts. New management renovated the 188 rooms and expanded meeting space to 3,500 square feet.

  • Edmonton's Shaw Conference Centre debuted a 26,000-square-foot hall in 2006. The facility now has a total of 110,000 square feet.

  • More than three-quarters of the guest rooms and cabins at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge have new bathrooms and softgoods.

  • British Columbia

    The 357 guest rooms at Vancouver's Empire Landmark Hotel are being renovated in phases. Completion is scheduled for spring 2008.

  • A 120-room Four Points by Sheraton, 20 minutes north of Victoria, opens in March. It will include a restaurant, day spa, and 5,000 square feet of meeting space, including a ballroom that can accommodate 300 banquet-style, a boardroom, and two smaller rooms.

  • Opening this coming spring is the Sidney Pier Hotel & Spa in Sidney, 25 minutes north of Victoria and close to Victoria International Airport. The boutique hotel will have 55 guest rooms, a spa, and 1,300 square feet of meeting and banquet space.

  • The Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel remodeled its meeting rooms and public spaces and added a 525-square-foot meeting room. The hotel now has high-speed Internet access in all guest rooms.

  • The second phase of the Westin Bear Mountain Victoria Resort & Spa opened adjacent to Victoria's new Bear Mountain Golf and Country Club, which boasts the first Jack Nicklaus-designed course on Vancouver Island. It includes a 6,000-square-foot conference facility, spa and wellness center, and 91 additional guest rooms. A second Nicklaus-designed course is scheduled to open in 2007.

  • The Executive Hotel Vintage Park is Vancouver's first wine-themed hotel. It has partnered with 35 regional wineries, which sponsor suites at the property. Each night, a complimentary wine sampling features the partners' products. The hotel has 130 guest room and suites, and meeting space for 120 people.

  • An expansion at the Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre will add 359,000 square feet of meeting space, bringing the total to 492,000 square feet. It is scheduled for completion in 2008.

  • A renovation at Vancouver International Airport will add nine gates to the international terminal; expand customs, check-in, passenger screening, and baggage handling facilities; and equip the airport to handle new, larger passenger aircraft. The work will take a decade.

  • Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts plans to open a new five-star hotel in Vancouver in early 2007. It will occupy 15 floors of a new 60-story building downtown.

  • The Victoria Conference Centre added 8,000 square feet of space by developing a removable enclosure for its courtyard.

  • New Brunswick

    Two hotels were converted to Crowne Plazas: Crowne Plaza Fredericton-Lord Beaverbrook has 168 rooms and nearly 10,000 square feet of meeting space, including two ballrooms; Crowne Plaza Moncton-Downtown offers 191 guest rooms and 14,000 of meeting space, including a large ballroom.

  • Ontario

    The Hazelton Hotel is slated to open in mid-2007. It will have 77 guest rooms and suites, a small meeting space, a private 26-seat screening room, and a spa.

  • The National Trade Centre in Toronto is adding a 75,000-square-foot conference facility and a hotel; both are expected to open in 2007. The center now has 24 meeting rooms and more than one million square feet of space.

  • The 53-story Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Residences, Toronto will combine a 267-room hotel, conference and meeting facilities, restaurants, and a spa. Construction is slated for completion in 2009.

  • The Sheraton Centre Toronto outfitted 700 guest rooms with new furnishings and softgoods. During 2006 the hotel refurbished and expanded the exhibit hall to 27,000 square feet.

  • The Pantages Suites Hotel and Spa completed a 6,400-square-foot conference facility with six boardrooms and banquet space for up to 200 people.

Quebec

Hotel Dauphin Montréal was expected, at press time, to open in Montréal's Quartier International this month. Close to the convention center and Old Montréal, it includes 72 rooms and suites and four small meeting rooms.

  • The Hotel Chateau Laurier in Québec City is adding 92 rooms to its existing 168 guest rooms. The expansion will increase the number of meeting rooms from six to 16, including a new 275-guest ballroom. Work is slated for completion by April.

  • Québec City's Chateau Bonne Entente is spending $5.5 million on a new lobby and an addition of 28 suites.

  • Hotel Place d'Armes, one of Old Montréal's most popular boutique hotels, added 39 rooms and 48 luxury suites. The hotel also added a spa with four treatment rooms, a Vichy shower room, a relaxation room, and a Turkish bath. The Place d'Armes has four meeting rooms and banquet facilities for as many as 200 people.

  • All 126 guest rooms and seven meeting rooms at Québec City's Hôtel Germain-des-Prés were renovated in 2006.

  • The 40-room Hotel 71 opened in 2005 in the historic district of Québec City. Meeting space can host as many as 110 people and is being expanded.

  • The resort of Tremblant is undergoing an $850 million expansion that will add six condo-hotels with 1,500 units by 2009, more than doubling its capacity. The project includes a convention center.

Ask the CVB

Banff/Lake Louise Tourism Bureau
(403) 762-8421
www.banfflakelouise.com
Total Hotel Tax: 10%

Calgary CVB
(800) 661-1678, (403) 750-2370
www.tourismcalgary.com;
www.visitor.calgary.ab.ca
Total Hotel Tax: 10%

Greater Halifax Convention & Meetings Bureau
(877) 422-9334; www.meethalifax.com
Total Hotel Tax: 14%

Québec City and Area Tourism and Convention Bureau
(418) 522-3511
www.quebecregion.com/e/
Total Hotel Tax: 14% plus $2 per night

Tourism British Columbia
(800) 663-6000; www.hellobc.com
Total Hotel Tax: 16%

Tourism Vancouver
(604) 682-2222
www.tourismvancouver.com
Total Hotel Tax: 16%

Tourism Toronto
(416) 203-2600
www.torontotourism.com
Total Hotel Tax: 14%

Tourism Victoria
(250) 414-6987
www.tourismvictoria.com
Total Hotel Tax: 16%

Tourism Whistler
(888) 869-2777
www.whistlermeetings.com
Total Hotel Tax: 16%

Tourisme Montréal
(514) 844-5400
www.tourisme-montreal.org
Total Hotel Tax: 16.5%

Travel Alberta
(866) 511-1200
www.travelalberta.com
Total Hotel Tax: 10%

  • Phantom Planner

    Beginning January 23 2007, U.S. visitors to Canada will need a passport to re-enter the U.S. by air. Those returning by land or sea will need a passport starting June 1, 2009. The U.S. State Department has proposed developing an affordable passport card that U.S. citizens would be able to use traveling between the U.S. and Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. It would cost $20 for adults and $10 for children, and be valid for 10 years.

  • At one time, U.S. travelers to Canada could achieve the best exchange rates by pulling out the plastic. Now that the Canadian dollar's value has edged closer to its U.S. counterpart, conversion charges will erode much of the advantage of using a credit card. You may be better off obtaining enough Canadian dollars for small purchases and only charging the bigger bills.

  • Secrets of the City is a new self-guided audio walking tour of downtown Victoria, British Columbia. Stored on an MP3 audio player, the hourlong tour can be customized. Attendees rent the audio player from the front desk of their hotel. Contact digitaldiscoverytours@telus.net to learn more.

  • Special Venues

    The BC Experience (www.bcexperience.info), which opened in Victoria in mid-2006, is a $10 million interactive multimedia attraction centered around a huge map of British Columbia. It explores the geography, geology, climate, wildlife, habitats, and history of the region. The 60-seat Crystal Tea Garden and an adjoining retail space are available for private events for up to 100 attendees.

  • Ice Hotel Québec (www.hoteldeglace.qc.ca), made of ice and snow, has 34 rooms and suites (one with a fireplace), an Absolut ice bar, and a chapel, and it has spaces for groups. The hotel, which is 25 minutes west of Québec City, is open from early January to early April.

  • In Toronto, the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts (www.fourseasonscentre.ca), Canada's first purpose-built opera house, opened in 2006. It has a 2,000-seat auditorium, a City Room that seats 350 people; a rehearsal hall large enough for 150 seated or 250 standing; corporate lounges for 150 to 250 people; and hospitality suites.

  • Chalet du Mont Royal (www.chaletdumontroyal.qc.ca), set in a park overlooking Montréal, offers space for 730 guests.

  • Architect Frank Gehry is leading a $207 million transformation of the Art Galley of Ontario (www.ago.net) that will expand exhibition space by 47 percent and include new meeting spaces. Completion is planned for spring 2008.

  • The CN Tower in Toronto (www.cntower.ca) unveiled a 1,100-square-foot meeting facility adjacent to the 144-seat Maple Leaf Cinema.