Incentive Canada Wows Planners

Incentive Canada, meetings
A warm Tremblant welcome at Incentive Canada

An expanded format, top-notch networking and elegant evening events made last week’s Incentive Canada a wow.

Each year, Business Events Canada’s “Incentive Canada” brings dozens of Canadian destinations, hotels and DMCs face-to-face with a high-profile group of meeting planners. This year’s meeting grew from one to two destinations: Montreal, where the group kicked off at the newly renovated downtown landmark hotel, the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth, and the charming mountain resort of Tremblant, an hour-and-a-half drive outside the city.

After mornings in pre-set appointments with the suppliers, attendees spent the afternoons learning by doing in each destination. In Montreal, this writer enjoyed an immersive walking tour in the gentrified Griffin Park neighborhood, where we had a chance to peruse the local produce, cheeses and fresh baked goods at the Atwater Market, housed in a cavernous Art Deco building, then stroll the streets with a stop to meet the owner/pastry chef at Patrice Patissier, Patrice Demers, and learn his techniques firsthand while sampling a variety of sweets. A canal boat ride on the quaint Lachine Canal, which had fallen into disrepair and was restored in 2002 for pleasure boaters, provided a relaxing finish for the day. Attendees were able to choose from other activities, including the floating Bota Bota Spa, located on a former ferry anchored in the Old Port, scooter rides, or a mural walk to see how Saint-Laurent boulevard has been transformed into the country’s premier street art corridor.

Incentive Canada, meetings
Chef Patrice shares his secrets.

The mountain village of Tremblant, where the group spent the last two days the trip, can only be described as delightful. It was easy to imagine bringing an incentive group here, from the moment we disembarked the coach as dozens of smiling greeters rang cowbells to welcome us. The next day was filled with outdoor activities, making it clear that Tremblant is much more than winter skiing: ziplining, hiking, spa, luge, or a must-do ride on the  gondola for a breathtaking view.

Incentive Canada, meetings
The Fairmont Temblant’s pool deck is transformed into a Winter Wonderland.

The final evening at the Fairmont Tremblant embodied the spirit of an incentive, delivering those wow moments winner simply could not create on their own. After a delicious “Four Seasons” dinner of platters piled high with fresh seafood and farm-fresh burrata and tomato salad served up family style (spring and summer) and locally raised filet mignon served with a regional foie gras butter (fall), the group was invited to the pool deck to experience the resort’s “Winter Wonderland.” And that it was, as mountains of snow, ice sculptures and generous pours of Veuve Clicquot from a bar carved in ice topped off a stellar four days with an unforgettable poolside evening.

And after all, isn’t that what an incentive trip is all about?

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.