Get to Know: Kelowna, BC

Lisanne Ballantyne, president and CEO of Tourism Kelowna, is not originally from British Columbia. Born in Montreal and raised in Winnipeg, she was working in Alberta—most recently as general manager of the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton— before arriving in Kelowna last year. The decision to move, she notes, was an easy one. “The Okanagan Valley is one of the most beautiful destinations in Canada and a region undergoing tremendous growth. I have family in Kelowna, so it was a very special opportunity to live and work in a place where building the tourism economy is such a recognized part of the future of regional growth.”

She’s already immersed herself in the Kelowna “vibe,” as she calls it, spending Sundays on mountain trails or hosting friends who travel to the region to experience the Okanagan food and wine culture, urban adventures and all the outdoor activities that come from living in a destination surrounded by mountains, orchards and lakes. 

For meeting and event planners looking to travel to the city, Kelowna has 110,000-plus square feet of meeting space, 4,500 hotel rooms and 26 special-event venues, along with hotels and resorts that focus on creative indoor-outdoor space. “This is a community that cares deeply about hospitality and authentic experiences. People choose to live or visit here for the lifestyle, pace and opportunities that are uniquely Kelowna,” says Ballantyne.

She says three more reasons to choose Kelowna as a destination for meetings and events are:

» Kelowna is an experienced meeting destination that offers urban attractions and stunning landscapes combined with teams of hospitality and event experts ready to showcase the Kelowna experience for your delegates. 

» It is a unique year-round destination with 2,000-plus hours of sunshine, 40 wineries, 30 beaches, 16 golf courses and two ski resorts.

» It is the international gateway to the Okanagan Valley. It is easily accessible by major U.S. and Canadian highways, and has an international airport with 60 daily non-stop flights to nine cities. tourismkelowna.com.

These tours have all the right ingredients for a fulfilling—and filling—post-meeting activity.

 

Melissa Jurcan, president of ILEA Seattle, penned a moving tribute to the hospitality industry for the Emerald City Applause Awards. Here is an abridged version.