Not content with taking a back seat to their big-city, convention-centre siblings, conference centres across the country have been winning a more significant share of the meetings and event spotlight in recent years. Whether it’s a former waterfront cargo shed that has been transformed into a spectacular year-round event venue in Halifax to a stylish and elegant conference centre minutes from downtown Edmonton or an architecturally stunning facility in the heart of downtown Victoria, B.C., the country’s wide variety of conference centres are ready for their moment in the sun.
Halifax’s newest event venue, Cunard Centre, is a waterfront cargo shed renovated into a large multipurpose, year-round event centre. Located at Pier 23, as part of the Halifax Port Authority’s SeaPort redevelopment, the venue’s sheer size – 53,000 sq. ft. of column-free space – boasts one of the largest capacities for events in the Halifax area. Cunard Centre can accommodate a variety of functions, from formal banquets for up to 2,200 guests, receptions and concerts for 4,000 people, trade and consumer shows, to charity and fundraising events and product launches. “The size of the venue and the fact that it is turnkey for organizers, make it particularly appealing as an event destination,” says Elizabeth Newman, VP, Sales and Marketing, for RCR Hospitality Group. “Our state-of-the-art kitchen offers restaurant-quality food in a banquet setting, the location near downtown affords a spectacular view of the harbor and the venue has the flexibility to host large groups, such a recent lobster dinner for 2,100 guests, or to be sectioned off to accommodate smaller numbers.” Newman says that the amount of repeat business is a great indicator of how popular the venue has become in recent months. “We work closely with meeting planners to co-ordinate every detail and we build strong and lasting relationships.” One of the significant events coming up for Cunard Centre in 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the infamous Titanic voyage which is being remembered with events across Halifax. “We are planning a number of themed events that will incorporate menu items and entertainment from that era,” says Newman. “When conference groups have an event at the Cunard, their guests are always delighted with the quality of food and level of service.” www.clubzone.com/c/15007/cunard-centre-halifax
Oasis Conference Centre
Nestled in the west side of Edmonton, 15 minutes from the city centre and 30 minutes from the airport, is the Oasis Centre. Known to locals as the “jewel of the West End,” the Oasis Centre is billed as a premier venue for companies, organizations and individuals wanting to add a more personal touch to their conferences, conventions, trade shows, meetings and special events. Noted for its technologically advanced facilities and services, the Oasis Centre offers a full range of broadcasting, recording, and HD video conferencing capabilities. The tiered theatre and balcony seating accommodates up to 800 people and table seating is available for up to 400 people. “The Oasis Centre also has something unique to conference centres: Beautiful landscaped, private gardens complete with a pond and two waterfalls, ideal for summer weddings and larger gala social events,” says Director of Marketing Pasquale Pagliuso. “We are a unique setting, a private facility, not a hotel. We offer an in-house event planner to work with each client who gets full focus and attention for their event. We also offer a private entrance and executive lounge and VIP room area.”Other amenities and meeting options at the Oasis Centre include 24 ft. ceilings with natural or controlled lighting; built-in projectors with dual 12’ projection screens; and free on-site private parking for over 180 vehicles. www.oasiscentre.com
Victoria Conference Centre
The Victoria Conference Centre (VCC) is Vancouver Island’s largest conference facility. With 73,000 sq. ft. in the heart of British Columbia’s capital city, the VCC embraces Victoria’s combination of big-city sophistication, vibrant business community, and first-class leisure activities in an abundant natural setting. “Victoria has a close-knit business community, and we come together in support of your meeting,” says Brenda Anderson, Director of Sales and Marketing, adding that the city is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. “We’re a city where face-to-face still happens, and in our intimate setting, your delegates will find themselves in conversations with each other – relationships form, solutions are found, decisions move forward. There’s an ease to the way business happens here, yet vibrancy as well.” Victoria also delivers choice, says Anderson. “It has the highest ratio of hotel rooms to conference room space in Canada: there are 5,593 hotel bedrooms near the VCC, and within this number there is everything from five-star branded properties, to boutique hotels. This same richness of choice is also true for our restaurants, attractions, festivals and year-round golfing – thanks in part to our status as a top leisure destination.” Anderson says the VCC, with its 16 multi-purpose meeting rooms, large exhibit hall and 400-seat lecture theatre, has hosted an eclectic variety of events over the years. “A couple of our most unique events include the International Pranic Healers, who practiced meditative yoga in the courtyard during breaks, and the US National Defense Industrial Association, where we were in complete lock-down mode!” www.victoriaconference.com