Hosting Meetings in Beautiful Burlington
Recently, I was invited by Tourism Burlington to participate of a city FAM trip where local hospitality professionals could explore the many different venues and activities Burlington has to offer for groups conducting business in the city.
As an event & meeting professional and resident of Burlington, I am embarrassed to say that prior to this FAM trip I was unaware of many of the resources that were available for hosting meetings and events in the city. Beautiful and centrally located, Burlington is going through a period of growth and increased opportunities, and industry professionals throughout the region should consider Burlington as a go-to destination for their meeting & events.
Our day started with an intimate welcome reception at the Holiday Inn Burlington Hotel & Conference Centre. Newly renovated and able to accommodate groups of over 500, this facility offers the city’s largest meeting space under one roof. The group was able to enjoy the continental breakfast and tour the hotel and meeting facilities prior to departing to our second destination of the day.
Throughout the day we were driven around in a first-class luxurious limo bus provided by Symphony Limo. The driver was extremely professional and it was nice to know that this local company has a large variety of vehicles in their fleet that can appeal to a variety of groups requiring transportation.
Next we arrived at the Crossroads Centre and let me tell you what a hidden gem this is!
Home to the Canadian Television Studios – the longest running broadcast studio in Canada – this exceptional venue offers many unique settings for all kinds of events, and seats up to 700 people theatre style. The Crossroads Centre features a large atrium, the Founder’s Hall, and several filming studios that can be completely customized and transformed for your event. The best part? Their in-house production crew can build an entire studio set as a background or décor for your event; not to mention that video, lighting and AV is all part of the package. As I walked through this venue I saw its true potential not only for meetings and events but also for team building activities, corporate promotional videos, and much, much more.
The following stop in our VIP FAM Trip was the Royal Botanical Gardens. The RBG is a gorgeous facility with an incredible amount of green space for outdoor events; and although the gardens were not fully in season during our visit, we got to tour the indoor meeting facilities such as the breakout rooms and the main atrium which can hold over 500 people. Through its living walls, plants and greenery, the RBG offers planners a really organic and relaxing setting to host meetings with a myriad of activities to offer attendees. At the end of the tour our group was treated to a delicious coffee break with snacks from the in-house catering and we participated in a group activity where we each got to plant our own lavender herb and take it home as a gift.
After this, we headed to the Burlington Art Centre – THE BAC. Our group had a blast at this venue! Even though we didn’t get to see many of the event facilities, we did get to experience many of the group activities first hand. The BAC offers a variety of unique workshops for business groups where they can have a great time creating art, working in teams and developing their creative skills. This venue does have three meeting rooms and is able to hold up to 200 people.
On our way to lunch our group got the chance to experience an on-the-road fitness break lead by Sue Abell of Tread Powerfully. Sue is passionate about fitness and has incredible experience working with corporate groups developing customized fitness-based programs such as fitness breaks, team-building, guided walks, and more. As our industry moves forward in a certain direction; we as planners need to ensure that the importance of health, nutrition & fitness be taken into consideration when planning any event. This break was certainly a nice treat as it boosted our energy and kept us alert for the remainder of the day, and I have no doubt these fitness-based programs can offer several other benefits for meeting groups.
Lunch was actually held at Burlington’s very own microbrewery –Nickel Brook Brewery. A local deli catered our freshly made meal and our group had the opportunity to tour the facility and learn about the brewing process as well sample the many different beers offered at Nickel Brook. Their Green Apple beer is by far my favorite, but this particular brewery offers locally sourced ingredients, naturally made beers and even has a gluten free beer! It is certainly a great activity for groups to experience and the venue is extremely flexible when customizing tours & tastings for each party.
After lunch we continued with our VIP FAM trip and headed to the Burlington Golf & Country Club. The lake views from the meeting facilities are breathtaking and will set the mood for any event. This venue can hold up to 200 people and offers a beautiful walk-out terrace which can be used for outdoor events during the summer months. Although the Golf & Country Club offers members-only private golfing; curling is becoming an increasingly popular team building activity for groups and this venue features a curling rink on-site that is open year round and available for corporate bookings.
Our next stop was at the stunning Paletta Lakefront Mansion where our group got to tour
the facility. This 1930’s Edwardian style mansion has so much history behind it, and its original fixtures, details and décor are what make this venue truly special. With an 80 max person capacity, this mansion creates a very intimate setting for meetings and events while at the same time offering versatility through its different indoor and outdoor spaces.
As we got on our limo bus to go to our next location we were joined by Sharon Correia – General Manager of Celli’s Osteria in downtown Burlington who is also an experienced sommelier. Sharon shared her knowledge on basic wine pairings as the group got so sample a delicious ice wine served in mini chocolate cups. In fact, these were so delicious I had three of them! Celli’s Osteria features an elegant and rustic atmosphere with high-quality dishes and a large wine selection, proving to be the perfect setting for private corporate dinners. This facility has three separate private dining areas that can seat up to 100 people in one room and can also host wine tasting activities and pairings.
We finally arrived at Mr. B’s Gift House for a short coffee break and it was a great surprise for all of us. Having never heard of this shop, I was quite impressed with what they could offer meeting and event planners. This shop creates all kinds of traditional and unique gifts baskets and more. Planners can use this resource for all their gifting needs such as speaker gifts, attendee giveaways, auction prizes, etc. and it is all right here in our own backyard. The most popular gift from this shop has got to be their home-made biscottis! This place is known for their freshly baked biscottis of all kinds. Not only do these make for a delicious gift, but the shop allows for groups to come in and make their own, providing planners with yet another great activity for their attendees.
Our final stop for the day was at Climbers Rock, which is a premiere indoor rock climbing facility – one of the best in the country. Our group actually got to climb and experience this venue first hand which was so much fun! Climber’s Rock provides a state-of-the-art facility and a safe environment for groups to participate of different team building activities and experience something new.
After a very busy yet wonderful day, the group returned to the Holiday Inn. Everyone was incredibly satisfied with the overall experience and Tourism Burlington did a fabulous job at executing this FAM trip. It definitely served its purpose by creating awareness and allowing local industry professionals to experience everything first hand so they could offer the same to business groups visiting the city.
If you are a meeting or event planner looking to host an event within our region, I highly recommend taking a look at this beautiful city to host your function. I guarantee you will find the best value, and you will be able to provide your attendees with something special and unique with the help of an incredible team of local professionals who will assist you through the entire process. If you are a local meeting and event professional, I encourage you to explore the city further and consider hosting your meetings in your own backyard.
Note: Tourism Burlington offers a Cash Back incentive program of up to $3,000 for hosting meetings here. *conditions apply, visit website for details.
Guest Blogger – Mariella Irivarren
Mariella Irivarren is a passionate event professional with an Event and Meeting Management Certificate from George Brown College. Her previous experience includes planning and executing events across the industry spectrum, but her true expertise lies in the corporate sector. Mariella is currently the Operations Coordinator at JPdL Toronto & Niagara and was recently appointed the Social Media Ambassador for CanSPEP (Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners). She continuously demonstrates her commitment to the industry by being an active member of MPI (Meeting Professionals International), attending several industry events, and volunteering in multiple event planning committees including eventConnect, and MPI’s Toronto Education Conference (TEC).