Shining a spotlight on Canada’s transformative winter experiences
It’s widely known that Canada excels in delivering legendary experiences that reward and inspire top performers — but with so many to choose from, it can be tricky for incentive buyers to keep tabs on the best the country has to offer. Recognizing the value of taking part in these offerings first-hand, Destination Canada’s Business Events team launched its signature event, Incentive Canada, in 2012.
Over the years, Incentive Canada, which has always been held in the summer, has showcased Canada’s extraordinary destinations and experiences, giving international corporate clients and agencies the chance to get nose-to-nose with polar bears, discover the charm of French-Canadian sugar shacks, enjoy the thrill of a whale-watching tour, zipline above a mountain of trees and take in an afternoon of treatments at a floating spa.
In December, Destination Canada took this to the next level by launching the first-ever Incentive Canada Winter Program. The inaugural event was held from December 4 to 8, 2021 in Vancouver and Whistler. It gave 20 incentive buyers from the US and Europe the chance to enjoy exciting winter adventures, unparalleled culinary experiences, eye-opening cultural activities and more.
The primary goal, as Chantal Sturk-Nadeau, Executive Director of Business Events at Destination Canada explains, was to shine a light on the transformative experiences that are available in Canada throughout the winter to celebrate hard-working teams.
“Canada is famous for being a four-season destination, and the winter months are packed with legendary experiences that are sure to leave teams with long-lasting memories,” she says. “We wanted to showcase our country’s full value proposition through the Incentive Canada Winter Program, while highlighting the transformative power winter incentive travel offers for fostering connection and rewarding high achievers.”
So, what did that look like? Among the offerings, guests enjoyed the thrill of North Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge before gates opened to the public. They kicked off their morning with a hearty breakfast followed by an exclusive excursion with centuries of history behind it. They crossed the glowing suspension bridge in the crisp morning air on a private guided tour, with majestic eagles soaring above them and the canyon and Capilano River illuminated with some 500,000 lights below. Guests also journeyed through the magical rainforest and ventured from one towering 1,300-year-old Douglas-fir tree to another during a canopy walk that’s unlike any other in the world.
After taking one of the world’s most scenic and awe-inspiring drives, guests arrived in the resort town of Whistler. Once there, they were whisked away to a fully guided ski and snowboard adventure on Whistler Blackcomb. They rode snowmobiles while taking in the breathtaking scenery in the Callaghan Valley. After satisfying their need for speed, guests relaxed and connected with nature on snowshoeing and hiking excursions. Lunch that included homemade hot chocolate and cheesecake was served at The Barn, a cozy and rustic space in the middle of the wilderness, as a lively local band played for the group.
“Being invited to participate in the inaugural Incentive Canada Winter program was an absolute privilege. While we learned so much about Canada from the fantastic partners onsite, the real treat was seeing Vancouver and Whistler firsthand,” recalls Carvie Gillikin, Chief Operations Officer of McVeigh. “The accommodations at the Fairmont Pacific Rim and the Fairmont Whistler were impressive. Coupling that with once-in-a-lifetime excursions and an abundance of delicious food made this a true first-class experience. I had no idea Canada had so much to offer during the winter months and am already speaking with our clients about considering it as a destination for their meetings and incentives.”
“To experience the beauty of Canada is a must,” adds Donna Nash Williams, Manager of Events & Incentives at Lennox International. “Being in Canada makes me feel alive — it’s an experience that I want to share with everyone I meet. From snowboarding through the fresh powder to a winter spa experience, attending the Incentive Canada Winter Program was truly a gift.”
Buyers also immersed themselves in the local culture through authentic experiences. At the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, they enjoyed a private ceremonial feast inspired by First Nations culinary tradition, which included dishes like freshly baked Bannock bread, steamed clams and mouthwatering wild salmon. They also watched memorable performances of dance and music.
Incentive Canada guests relaxed at the world-class Scandinave Spa, a calming oasis tucked into a forest. They bonded and created new memories as they took part in the ancient practice of hydrotherapy, which consists of a hot-cold-relax circuit of outdoor baths, indoor solariums, saunas, steam rooms and more. In addition, they also enjoyed après ski drinks at Garibaldi Lift Co. and dinner at the acclaimed Bearfoot Bistro, which included an elegant multi-course dinner and a flight of vodka in the world’s coldest vodka tasting room.
“No one does winter incentives quite like Vancouver and Whistler,” says Jennifer Attersall, Director of Incentive Travel at Destination Canada. “Slope-side fun, spa retreats and cultural experiences are just some of the endless ways to wow top performers on an incentive getaway to these incredible destinations. We're thrilled that we could provide a glimpse into what Canada has to offer.”