The event was a meeting for an economic consulting firm this past summer in Whistler, site of the 2010 Winter Olympics located 90 minutes north of Vancouver. The group consisted of 350 attendees from across North America and Europe, including senior executives of the firm such as Hinton, the firm’s clients and potential clients, and family members.
The host property was Four Seasons Resort Whistler.
“We like a mountain destination,” says Ann-Marie Camera, manager of East Coast operations who organized the event. “It was beautiful and there’s plenty to do. I thought Whistler was a winter-only destination but it’s great in the summer also.”
Pacific Destination Services was the DMC who handled all logistics and transportation. Joanne Burns Millar, president, enlisted the services of Whistler Adaptive Sports to help Sam participate in some of the many outdoor activities.
“Whistler Adaptive Sports in an amazing not-for-profit organization that provides year-round recreational programs for people of all ages with disabilities,” she says.
During the mornings, the adults attended sessions while the 76 children, separated by age group, played outdoors under full supervision. The Bike Camp was a huge hit where older kids rode down the professional mountainbike course. The younger kids biked around the lake or played in the Adventure Center. In the afternoon, everyone joined up for outdoor activities.
“Wildplay in Whistler is a big course with ropes, zipline, jeep tours, ATV rides, hiking, etc.,” says Camera. “Everyone was able to pick two different events; each were about 35 minutes. We brought lunch and groups could sit, picnic and enjoy the area. It was great because the families could do everything together.”
While the attendees love that they can bring their kids to these events, it also helps facilitate networking.
“When you’re having fun with the others, it’s a great way to break the ice,” says Camera. “And all of the kids look forward to seeing familiar faces year after year.”
The dinners were another highlight. For a formal event, the group met at the beautiful Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler Village. A more casual meal for 240 pax took place at The Roundhouse on top of Whistler Mountain. After the meal, everyone raved about the lumberjack show on the outdoor deck.
“It was very cool, the lodge is beautiful,” says Camera. “The cultural center was wonderful too. It looks nice without a lot of decor; it was perfect…. The First Nations Dancers performed and the exhibits were a great backdrop.”
We were curious about Sam’s overall experience.
“With the zipline, I was wondering if he was going to like it,” says Hinton. “Some kids were scared. I got to go alongside Sam and he was shouting at the top of his lungs. We discovered that he’s a real thrill seeker. It was the same thing on the ATV ride…. He let us know that he was having a good time.”
It sounds like Sam is looking forward to going back.
“It’s not just Sam,” laughs Hinton. “The members of the family get a lot out of it too. It’s inspiring to see someone who faces challenges in everyday life experience an equal footing with everyone else. It was a special experience for us.”