With the shorter flights and lower airfares required to reach Canada's familiar-yet-exotic destinations, it's a logical solution for companies that want to reward their top producers without breaking the bank.

Canada's top destinations already offer an array of luxury accommodations as well as arts, entertainment, and recreational options to meet the needs of any incentive program. Vancouver is upping the ante with the addition of even more top-shelf hotel product in preparation for hosting the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Over the next few years, the city will see a new Ritz-Carlton, a new Fairmont (in addition to the two already open), and a new Shangri-La, To keep up with the competition, established hotels like the Four Seasons, Pan Pacific, and Hyatt have been investing in renovations. In nearby Whistler, which will host the sliding sports portions of the Games, the quietly elegant Nita Lake Lodge debuted early this year, joining the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and a two-year-old Four Seasons as luxury lodging options. Opening in June 2008, the new Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, will provide a unique backdrop for private events.

Incentive Canada/Facilities Update

British Columbia

  • The Vancouver Convention & Exhibition Centre is adding 341,000 square feet of waterfront meeting space by 2009, bringing the total to more than 473,000 square feet.

  • The Four Seasons Hotel in Vancouver is completing a $5.3 million renovation.

  • Vancouver will welcome a new Ritz-Carlton in 2011. The 127-room hotel will take up the first 20 floors of a new 58-story, mixed-use tower.

  • The Hyatt Regency Vancouver recently completed a six-year, $40 million renovation of all 644 guest rooms and public spaces.

  • A renovation project at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) will add nine gates to the international terminal.

  • Fairmont Hotels and Resorts is developing a hotel/condo project adjacent to the Vancouver Convention and Exhibition Centre. It is expected to open in mid-2009 and have 415 guest rooms.

  • The Victoria Conference Centre has annexed the former Crystal Garden building, which adds 25,000 square feet of meeting space to the facility.

  • In Whistler, Nita Lake Lodge opened in January 2008, with 4,000 square feet of meeting space.

  • Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts plans to open a new 119-room hotel in Vancouver in fall 2008.

Ontario

  • The Metro Toronto Convention Centre recently completed a $4.2 million renovation project.

  • The 220-room Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto will open in 2011.

  • A new 265-room Four Seasons will open in Toronto in 2011.

  • In January 2008, the Toronto Congress Centre debuted its expanded exhibition space.

  • International Centre in Toronto is adding an $11.5 million, 50,000-square-foot conference center this summer.

  • The Delta Chelsea Hotel in Toronto is upgrading 250 guest rooms in a $2.5 million program.

  • The Toronto Marriott Downtown Eaton Centre recently spent $15 million on renovations to its front lobby and upgrades to all 459 guest rooms.

  • The 500-room Hyatt Regency Toronto Airport Hotel is planned for 2010.

  • Direct Energy Centre, formerly Toronto's National Trade Centre, is adding a 75,000-square-foot conference facility in spring 2009.

  • The 53-story, 267-room Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Residences, Toronto, will open in 2009.

  • The Hilton Toronto Airport has completed the first phase of a major renovation, including refurbishment of 268 guest rooms in the South Tower.

Québec

  • Hotel Westin Montréal is scheduled to open in fall 2008. It will include 424 rooms and 30 suites, 20,000 square feet of exhibition space, two restaurants, and an indoor pool.

  • L'Hotel Nelligan, a boutique hotel in Montréal's historic area, expanded to include 44 rooms, 59 suites, and two penthouses and added a 3,500-square-foot banquet hall and a brasserie that groups can reserve for exclusive use.

  • The Hotel Chateau Laurier in Québec City added 92 rooms to its existing 168 guest rooms. The expansion increased the meeting rooms from 6 to 16, including a new 275-person ballroom.

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

  • The year-round resort of Tremblant is in the midst of an $850 million expansion that will add six new condo hotels with 1,500 units by 2009, more than doubling the village's capacity. The project also includes a multifunctional convention center.

Trip Tips

  • In business settings, dress is a shade more formal than in the U.S. — from dressy business casual to pantyhose and suits, depending on the setting.

  • Overall, courtesy and conversational skills seem to be more refined than in the U.S.

  • The U.S. dollar is now on a par with the loonie (the Canadian name for a dollar coin), and Canadians believe that's as it should be, so don't expect any sympathetic ears when you complain to them.

  • Expect sticker shock at the gas (petrol) pump; thisspring, prices were the equivalent of $5 a gallon, at least in western Canada.

Ask The CVB

Canadian Tourism Comm.
www.meetings.canada.travel
(703) 875-9519

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

Calgary CVB
(800) 661-1678
www.tourismcalgary.com
Total Hotel Tax: 11%*

Destination Halifax
(877) 422-9334
www.destinationhalifax.com
Total Hotel Tax: 15%*

Québec City and Area Tourism and Conv. 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 Toronto
(416) 203-2600
www.torontotourism.com
Total Hotel Tax: 14%*

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

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: 15.5%*

Travel Alberta
(866) 511-1200
www.travelalberta.com
Total Hotel Tax: 10%*
*includes 7% GST

Special Venues

  • Erected in 1859 as part of the famous Gooderham and Worts Distillery, the Fermenting Cellar (www.fermentingcellar.ca) now plays a leading role in Toronto's first pedestrian-only village.

  • Located in the Old Port district, the large and bright spaces of the Montréal Science Centre (www.centredessciencesdemontreal.com) were created from former sheds dating back to the early 20th century and reflect Montréal's industrial and maritime history. Several spaces of various dimensions are available for rental.

  • Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden (www.vancouverchinesegarden.com), set in Vancouver's Chinatown, is a re-creation of an authentic Chinese scholar's garden and home, built with Chinese materials and techniques. The serene indoor spaces blend with strategically designed rocks, plants, and water features for an unusual setting for up to 400 guests.

  • Capilano Suspension Bridge (www.capbridge.com), just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver, is a historic footbridge, park, and rain forest treetop experience. The scenic and lushly green site also houses several restaurants and can cater to private events for groups of 30 to 700, either indoors or among the trees.