Incentive Canada brings Atlantic Canada’s many charms into focus
Located on the edge of North America, Nova Scotia has countless charms — from stunning seascapes and red sand beaches to delicious seafood and warm hospitality. Over the course of four days this past July, 20 international clients had the chance to see all of that and more at Incentive Canada 2022.
As one of Destination Canada Business Events’ signature events, Incentive Canada brings together qualified incentive agencies to highlight a different Canadian incentive destination twice a year, during the summer and winter. Past attendees have taken part in transformative experiences that range from locking eyes with polar bears to experiencing French-Canadian sugar shacks and ziplining above a mountain of trees.
Upon arriving in Halifax from around the globe and checking in to the Westin Nova Scotian — a breathtaking hotel perched overtop the ocean — buyers were immersed in the city’s culture and natural beauty with a two-hour sunset guided cruise. As they sailed from the harbour, they received an exceptional introduction to local East Coast cuisine with dishes like lobster rolls and signature cocktails.
“The entire Incentive Canada experience was full of wow moments, but the highlight for me was gliding back from the cruise that first evening,” recalls Padraic Gilligan, SITE’s Chief Marketing Officer. “The sails were hoisted, and we cut the breeze on the bay — it was just an exhilarating experience.”
After a good night’s rest, the group took a scenic, 90-minute drive from Halifax to Fox Harb’r, an idyllic five-star resort located on the Northumberland Strait. Along the way, they stopped to see an incredibly rare tidal phenomenon, known as the tidal bore, which occurs when a significant amount of water travels up a river. Upon arriving at Fox Harb’r, they got a glimpse into the variety of fun activities at the resort’s sporting lodge, like archery and sport shooting, before sitting down for a delicious lunch that featured trout from the resort’s two on-site trout ponds. They then attended an insightful fireside chat hosted by Padraic Gilligan, who spoke about how transformational travel is shaping the incentive industry.
“It was so amazing to hear about the power of transformational travel, while attendees had the chance to experience that first-hand,” says Jennifer Attersall, Director of Incentive Travel at Destination Canada Business Events. “Attendees felt transformed throughout the week — with many of them sharing that the trip opened their eyes to the breadth of legendary incentive offerings available within Canada.”
For their first dinner at Fox Harb’r, clients experienced the local culture of Nova Scotia with a four course meal created by Acadian celebrity chef Alain Bosse, known as “the Kilted Chef.” Dishes included Atlantic salmon and chicken fricot, along with a sampling of wines from the resort’s vineyards. Local artist Mary Garoutte painted the evening for keepsake memories awarded to one lucky guest, while décor inspired by Acadian villages showcased the region’s vibrant culture.
The next day was filled with adventures. Incentive Canada attendees had their pick between two morning activities centered around wellness, an essential component of incentive travel. Some went on a picturesque sunrise bike ride along the Atlantic coast (with seal and fox sightings included) and others took part in a watercolour paint session with Mary Garoutte. Afterward, guests broke into smaller groups for an afternoon of transformative experiences.
Some attendees played nine holes of golf at the resort’s immaculate oceanside course, one of Canada’s top rated (Tiger Woods currently holds the course record). Others spent a rejuvenating afternoon at its renowned Dol-άs Spa — choosing from eight luxurious spa services centered around local ocean ingredients — along with an exclusive private wine tasting at Fox Harb’r’s own sea-view vineyard.
There was also a scenic helicopter ride from Fox Harb’r to Steinhart Distillery, where guests sampled and learned the secrets behind distilling their own gin. Meanwhile, several attendees went on an interpretive boat ride along the dramatic Northumberland coastline to Oak Island, taking in the tranquil coastline with music, food and drink as they spotted harp seals and enjoyed a refreshing swim in the ocean.
In the evening, guests came together for Lobster 101, an interactive session led by Chef Nathan Gray that covered how to pick, cook and eat the highly coveted crustacean. Following the demonstration, they enjoyed a wine pairing with an assortment of lobster canapes, against the backdrop of the white-capped waves of the Atlantic.
On the final night after dinner, guests made their way into the Joyce Centre, a world-class meeting space that was transformed into a bohemian style live recording studio. A stage was set in the centre of the room for a 90-minute song writer’s circle that was hosted by Bruce Guthro, who was also joined by fellow renowned artists. Each artist shared their personal and moving stories accompanied by live music in an intimate and exclusive setting. With a mix of emotions — from laughter and tears to the contagious energy of the singing crowd — it was the perfect way to end the trip.
Throughout the week, there were also one-on-one marketplace meetings with Canadian suppliers from across the country that allowed guests to take a virtual journey to discover the diversity of incentive offerings available.
“I fell in love with Atlantic Canada 25 years ago while attending my first tourism conference and I continue to be amazed every time with the natural beauty of the area and the genuine and warm hospitality of the people,” says Chantal Sturk-Nadeau, Executive Director of Business Events at Destination Canada. “A huge thank you to everyone who attended this exceptional event, especially Discover Halifax, Fox Harb’r and Westin Nova Scotian for your support in showing attendees what makes this region an unforgettable destination for incentive travel.”
“I left Atlantic Canada and Nova Scotia feeling in awe of what’s available in Canada,” says Richard Williams, CEO of American Guest. “Everyone I spoke with had the same sense of something so unique. I don’t think planners or clients have fully imagined what Canada can be until they get here and feel the experiences. You know a destination is special when planners want to linger a good bit longer”