Toronto is evolving into one of the most cost effective luxury destinations for meetings and events in North America. Offering great accessibility, one of North America’s most robust festival schedules and an intriguing portfolio of “new urbanist” venues, the city is growing in popularity as a meetings destination. And when it comes to showing your groups Toronto’s softer (yet often decidedly rugged) side, rest assured, there are plenty of suitors.
Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours takes groups on an adventurous, wet ride though the Niagara rapids. Group packages go up to 250 people, who are provided with a “jet suit” that includes a yellow jump suit, poncho, life jacket and water booties. After everyone changes and gets the safety speech, you hop on an open-top jet boat for a 45-minute tour as the speedy boat speeds, jumps and spins through the class-5 rapids below Niagara Falls. A dome boat is an alternative option for those who want the experience without getting soaked.
We flew over the falls with Niagara Helicopters. Up to eight people can take a customized tour anywhere in the region, from the airport to a local golf course. Riding high above Niagara Falls is a pretty incredible feeling, something your attendees will never forget.
You can also chopper over to Jackson Triggs Winery, located on 11 acres of the Niagara peninsula just a few minutes from the falls. Upon arrival, the seemingly endless fields and scent of grapes create an atmosphere of sophistication and romance. Groups can take a guided tour of the vineyard and sample the seasonal wines, such as a crisp 2009 Entourage Grand Reserve or 2012 White Meritage.
A long stone pond leads the way to the Great Hall with large glass airplane hanger doors. Planners can organize gala events for up to 500 diners or book a series of 5-course progressive dinners at five different locations throughout the winery.
Our favorite dining spaces are the candlelit wine cellar with large oak tables surrounded by barrels of wine and the winery’s amphitheatre. Planners can also book local talent while they eat under the stars surrounded by the vineyard.
The menu during our visit was designed by estate chef Tim Mackiddle. Dinner started with a baked potato consommé in a shot glass. Main course selections included a porcini lasagna in a lemon truffle broth and pork terrine with quail eggs.
Having visited many new world wine regions, it’s somewhat surprising to find yourself on an estate in Ontario, but then again, there are a lot of surprises when you meet in Toronto.