There are few things more inspiring than a terrific meal, which makes culinary attractions a an excellent, and increasingly popular offering for incentive groups. And there are few destinations that offer as exciting a menu of food and beverage experiences as Canada. From British Columbia to the Maritimes, incentive participants can experience friendly local engagement and meaningful interactive programming year-round while devouring exquisite food, wine and spirits. When hosting your incentive travel program in Canada, your participants are in for a flavorful experience tailored to their particular company or corporate objectives. Here are six impactful options for groups with a taste for exploration.
Perfect pairings along the Victoria Flavour Trail
Nicknamed "The Island's Salad and Fruit Bowl," the Saanich Peninsula is one of Vancouver Island's best-kept secrets. Located just outside Victoria's city center, the Flavour Trail offers a cornucopia of local food, craft beer and wine, with farmsteads, bakers, honey farmers, brewers and growers producing myriad culinary delights for groups to discover. Sip award-winning cider while enjoying panoramic water views overlooking the Sea Cider Farm's apple orchard, learn about honey at the Country Bee Honey Farm or host a private yoga class at Church & State Wines followed by a wine tasting.
"Your group can be attending their conference downtown and transported within 20 minutes to the Saanich Peninsula to engage with passionate local farmers, and see where and how the food and drinks they have enjoyed in the restaurants downtown are made," says Miranda Ji, vice president of sales for the Victoria Conference Centre and Business Events Victoria. "The diversity of products and experiences — from wineries to sheep shearing to tasting food products created from local Douglas Fir Trees and enjoying these products within the Fir Forest — are all within minutes from each other on the Flavour Trail."
Eat off the land (and sea) in Vancouver
Vancouver's world-class culinary scene takes inspiration from the surrounding land and sea. Groups can participate in many tide-to-table experiences, such as a rainforest walk and Wild Edibles Foraging Tour with Swallow Tail, where your guests will learn how to safely gather, prepare and cook the unique flavors found only in nature, including fiddleheads, licorice head, wild camomile and oyster mushrooms. Or enjoy a sunset Sea Foraging experience and beach picnic, where groups can fish for Dungeness Crab and harvest seaweed, sea asparagus and fresh seafood.
A scenic 2.5-hour drive from Vancouver, up the "Sea to Sky Highway," will bring visitors to the small town of Pemberton, north of Whistler. There, visitors can dine under the stars and watch the sun set beyond Mount Currie or enjoy a community-building, gourmet farm-to-table feast at North Arm Farm, complete with signature cocktails, the best of British Columbia's wines and freshly harvested organic food.
Go beyond the vines in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Home of the acclaimed Canadian icewine, Ontario's popular wine destination Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to numerous wineries producing some of the world's best cool climate wines. Groups can experience exclusive outings and intimate venues to dine al fresco in a vineyard, complete with white tablecloths and elevated service, or sample local wines and discover the region's distinctive terroir.
Here, in one of the country's finest culinary regions, your guests can learn about the history of grape growing and wine making at Peller Estates Winery, walk through the vines, smoke cheese with a blowtorch and enjoy award-winning icewine from the comfort of a chair carved from ice. Or, take your team to Wayne Gretzky Estates Winery & Distillery for interactive wine and whisky tasting workshops. Guests can skate on The Great One's backyard ice rink and relax on the heated Whisky Bar patio.
Tremblant: A hidden jewel in Quebec's Laurentian Mountains
Your top performers can experience a traditional Québecois cabane à sucre — sugar shack. Dining at a sugar shack is much more than a meal, but a full-sensory experience. Midway up the mountain at the luxurious Mont-Tremblant Resort, groups can enjoy a unique sugar shack experience and live music at Le Refuge du Trappeur, a rustic log cabin in the woods between two ski trails with gorgeous views of the Laurentians.
Deeply rooted in local culture and the abundance of sugar maple trees, the sugar shack is based on a centuries-old French-Canadian method of boiling sap to craft maple syrup. Guests can take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the forest and learn about the "sugaring off" process to make maple syrup on their way to a gourmet cabin party at Le Pont Couvert, a riverside log cabin 10 minutes from Mont-Tremblant. Here, they'll enjoy warm mulled wine and authentic Québecois dishes including split-pea soup, carved ham, baked beans, maple sugar pie and frozen taffy on snow. Once the meal has ended, participants can play the spoons, or enjoy fireside folk music and storytelling.
Kick up your heels at a Canadian kitchen party in the Maritimes
Think of it as a warm, welcoming hug: The kitchen party is a longstanding rite of passage for visitors to Atlantic Canada, where friends share a delicious communal meal fresh from the ocean, followed by songs, stories and dancing. Based on traditional gatherings in neighbors' kitchens to share food, laughs and memories, today's modern kitchen parties have evolved into unique experiences where groups gather on a beach or at a local farmer's market to enjoy a lobster boil, farm-fresh vegetables and local singers, poets and dancers. Add to the experience by making this a truly sea-to-table experience, partnering with local fishermen to help incentive winners catch their own dinner.
Friendships tend to blossom — or deepen — at a kitchen party in Eastern Canada, making this an ideal teambuilding event. Some of the best places to host this memorable activity include Charlottetown, Halifax and St. John's.
Dine under the Northern Lights in Manitoba
Offer your incentive group a bucket-list experience: A multi-course feast at Dan's Diner, beneath the spectacular view of the Northern Lights in Churchill, Manitoba. In this rugged frontier town on the shores of the Hudson Bay visitors can kayak with Beluga whales or see polar bears up close in their natural habitat.
"This is a remote culinary experience like no other with an exquisitely curated menu featuring regional and local fare," says Melanie Swenarchuk, senior manager of market development for Travel Manitoba.
For this authentic Canadian adventure, Frontiers North's tundra buggies whisk your guests to their pop-up diner, where they'll stay warm on the frozen tundra in a custom-built mobile dining hall with panoramic windows. They'll savor inventive ingredients foraged from the land and sea while enjoying the dancing aurora borealis overhead.
When it comes to culinary offerings, Canada boasts an abundance of immersive experiences that will not just delight their taste buds but activate all their senses, and leave them with memories that will last long after the meal is finished.
Canada offers a vast range of incentive experiences, for those passionate about wellness, gastronomy, culture and more. Learn more about Canada’s Signature Incentive Experience Collection here.
Create a truly memorable incentive program by tapping into the expertise and creativity of the Destination Canada’s business events team. Learn how your Canada experts can help tailor a program to your group’s interests and needs by visiting businesseventscanada.ca.
Content sponsored by Destination Canada Business Events