By Nicola Alexander, Travel Alberta’s Business Development Director MICE, Europe
Nestled in the southwest corner of the Canadian province of Alberta – with quick and easy access to spectacular Rocky Mountain getaways – the gateway city of Calgary has long been a prime location for international conferences and meetings.
Well-known as the hub for Canada’s oil and gas industry, Calgary now also leads the nation in technology start-up companies and is the second largest head-office city in Canada.
As Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, its appeal has never been stronger. Its favorable currency rate provides maximum budget value. It’s also globally recognised as welcoming, inclusive, clean and safe – a significant advantage given the complex geo-political security issues meeting planners contend with today.
Alberta, Canada’s second-most western province, has even more to offer – no provincial sales tax and an explosion of economic innovation and business diversity.
Better yet, Alberta in wintertime offers extraordinary value-added opportunities to enjoy some of the world’s most awe-inspiring winter scenery and adventures while teambuilding with colleagues and peers.
There’s no question: Alberta in wintertime is hard to beat.
Calgary: Gateway to innovation
The city of Calgary is a thriving metropolis that attracts innovators from all over the world. It sizzles with world-class cuisine, arts, shopping and entertainment. And the snow-kissed mountain peaks of Banff and Lake Louise are so close, you can see them from the high-rises in the downtown core.
With almost 50 non-stop airline flights to cities throughout Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia, South America and the United States, Calgary’s newly renovated international airport – Canada’s third largest and busiest – provides easy access to this open-hearted place for the world to meet.
With more than 1.2 million square feet of meeting space, over 12,000 guestrooms and some 2,000 multicultural restaurants, Calgary accommodates events and conferences of all sizes. Famous for its western hospitality, the city regularly hosts international conferences and events including the annual Global Petroleum Show which attracts more than 50,000 energy professionals from more than 90 countries over three days in June. Later this year and into 2018 Calgary will host a number of international association conferences including the International Play Association, the International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and the International Society of Women Police Training.
While Calgary has long been Canada’s oil and gas powerhouse, it has diversified over the years and is now propelling the nation in information and communication technology – over half of Alberta’s thriving companies are in the ICT sector – and is driving innovation in transportation and logistics, finance, life sciences and emerging creative industries such as film.
These key industries are playing a critical role in attracting international meetings and conventions.
Heartbeat from the mountains
A 1.5-hour drive from Calgary are the iconic mountain towns of Banff and Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies. More than 25 meeting and convention properties can accommodate groups as few as 10 and as many as 1,500. Choose from small boutique hotels, rustic mountain lodges with all the comforts, or historic castle-like resorts.
Surrounded by rugged, snow-capped mountains, the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is seeing increased demand as a location for international meetings. In 2018 the Centre will welcome the Active Living Research Conference during the winter season in February and the 7th International Nurse Education Conference in May. This unique arts campus offers customised conference experiences and exceptional services in a breathtaking natural environment.
This creative melting pot, also home to an international research station for mathematical innovation and discovery, has meeting rooms, lecture theatres and auditoriums for up to 450 participants. Two on-site hotels provide well-appointed accommodation, dining, fitness and recreation facilities.
Winter Wonderland for teambuilding
The mountain towns of Banff and Lake Louise are situated in Banff National Park, a protected wilderness space where environmental stewardship is a top priority. Canada’s oldest national park – established in 1885 – it boasts glaciers, ice fields, dense coniferous forest and alpine landscapes.
Think Frozen-meets-Narnia. This is a magical winter wonderland of fairy-tale castles and frozen waterfalls, nestled among rugged, unspoiled mountains.
There are plenty of winter teambuilding activities for your delegates right on your doorstep, from dog sledding and canyon ice walks, to skating, ice climbing and snowshoeing. An abundance of snow falls almost daily from December to March, making for some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the world at multiple ski resorts.
For those who just want to relax and indulge in classic Alberta “remember to breathe” moments, enjoy a private sleigh ride or slip into a natural hot spring under the stars.
Experience Alberta at its best
Alberta has so much to offer for businesses and organisations around the world. A thriving, intellectually diverse and research-intensive economy. Affordability. Safety and security. World-class service and infrastructure. And a unique wilderness winter wonderland that provides attendees with once-in-a-lifetime personal development experiences. This is a great time to experience Alberta.