Northwest planners looking to take advantage of the experiential travel trend need look no further than Victoria, British Columbia, for their next meeting or event. Located on Vancouver Island, the provincial capital is a natural playground with boundless beauty, upscale comforts and casual elegance. “We know that organizations are looking for meetings and incentive travel options that can’t be replicated,” says Miranda Ji, vice president of sales for the Victoria Conference Centre and Business Events Victoria. “With unforgettable historic charm and Canada’s welcoming hospitality, Victoria will leave your employees with lasting memories.”
When researching accommodations and group activities on the island, here are just a few to consider.
Where to Stay
Below are five hotels that not only have meeting space of their own but are also within walking distance of the Victoria Conference Centre.
The Fairmont Empress
The Fairmont Empress is the grand dame of Vancouver Island. Overlooking Inner Harbour, it’s been recognized as one of the top iconic hotels in the world by National Geographic. More than 400 people visit the hotel daily for afternoon tea, a tradition dating back to 1908. The hotel features 464 rooms and meeting space for up to 1,200, including the Crystal Ballroom, which boasts crystal chandeliers hanging from the intricately detailed curved ceiling.
Hotel Grand Pacific
Located on Inner Harbour, the 304-room Hotel Grand Pacific offers 10,000 square feet of meeting space across eight rooms (including two ballrooms). It also offers a full-service athletic club, restaurant, lounge and café. More intimate groups will love the cozy charm of private dining at The Mark, which offers seating for 24. The Grand Pacific also offers high tea, using local and sustainable ingredients.
Inn at Laurel Point
Featuring 200 rooms and suites, Inn at Laurel Point is just steps from the harbour. It recently underwent a refresh, reimagining its gardens and the Aura Waterfront Restaurant + Patio, which serves a menu of innovative small plates. The renovation also added three new meeting rooms, bringing the total amount of space available to 10,000 square feet.
Delta Hotels by Marriott Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort
Featuring 236 rooms and four suites, Ocean Pointe Resort has 14 meeting rooms totalling more than 14,000 square feet. Amenities include complimentary Wi-Fi, a 24-hour fitness center with indoor pool, squash and racquetball courts, outdoor tennis courts, a spa and both fine dining and grab-and-go options.
Marriott Victoria Inner Harbour
Located across the street from the Victoria Convention Centre, the 16-floor Marriott Victoria Inner Harbour has 228 rooms, eight suites and 5,600-square-feet of meeting space. Additional amenities include the Fire + Water Restaurant, a 24-hour fitness center with indoor pool and complimentary high-speed internet.
Where to Meet
From wineries to galleries, gardens and ocean- side castles, planners can choose to meet in a wide array of unique off-site locations.
Victoria Conference Centre
The city’s largest event facility with 77,000 square feet of meeting space, this sustainable venue includes 21 multipurpose rooms, an exhibit hall and a 400-seat lecture theater.
Royal BC Museum
The Royal BC Museum tells the story of 550 million years of natural history and 9,000 years of human history in the province. The venue’s spaces can be reserved for groups as small as 10 or as large as 2,000.
Church and State Winery
Twenty minutes from downtown Victoria, Church and State Winery can host events both indoors and out. Its main dining area can accommodate 200 guests. The winery also has an events team to assist with planning.
Built by coal baron Robert Dunsmuir in the late 1800s, Craigdarroch Castle is a National Historic Site of Canada. The Victorian home can accommodate up to 200 guests for a cocktail reception. It also has a 70,000-square-foot lawn that can host larger outdoor events.
The Butchart Gardens
Repeatedly honored by Northwest Meetings + Events readers’ choice “Best of” awards, The Butchart Gardens can serve as a colorful backdrop for events of up to 400 guests.
Home to the Royal Roads University, Hatley Castle National Historic Site was built in 1908 as a retirement home for James Dunsmuir, son of Robert Dunsmuir (of Craigdarroch Castle fame). The younger Dunsmuir served as premier of British Columbia and later as lieutenant governor of the province. Hatley Castle’s drawing room can welcome groups as large as 100, with additional tenting for 150 available off the terrace.
An interactive art gallery that connects visitors to the natural environment, the Bateman Foundation Gallery of Nature is located in the historic Steamship Terminal. It can accommodate up to 100 guests for a standing reception.
When gathering in Victoria, groups won’t lack for things to do post-meeting. The city has one of the mildest climates in Canada, so heading outdoors is always a good bet. Options include whale watching, kayaking, golfing or taking a tour of The Butchart Gardens. You can also explore the tastes of the island via a culinary adventure or microbrewery, winery, cidery or distillery tour. Ji notes that Victoria’s walkability makes it easy for delegates to enjoy the “city’s historic charm and breathtaking ocean views.