High performers know it takes focus, drive and determination to make it to the winner’s circle. Add in a global pandemic, the pivot to remote work, juggling the demands of homeschooling, sharing home and work spaces with your significant other, pets and children, and the endless cycle of Zoom meetings; achieving corporate goals in the pandemic era is an even greater feat of accomplishment. When in-person events resume in the future, the current trend toward incorporating wellness into incentive rewards will expand to include wide open spaces, natural environments and activities and experiences that soothe and settle overwrought peak performers. As organizations embrace the cultural shift of mindful, health-focused events, it becomes more important than ever to choose destinations and experiences that align with your organizational values.
“We know the value of recognizing top performers with events and experiences that not only reward, but that inspire creativity and action, and nurture the spirit,” says Jennifer Attersall, director of sales with Destination Canada Business Events who help global organizations connect with Canada’s unique incentive destinations and experience providers. Attersall points to Canada’s mountain escapes, oceanside retreats, and an off-the-grid summer camp on steroids as some of the country’s most sought-after incentive destinations, each an unparalleled opportunity to foster creativity and new perspectives, shape corporate culture, and forge relationships within the group, and with the natural world.
Whistler, in every season
The daily stresses begin to melt away during the drive between Vancouver and Whistler Resort — the 90-minute drive winds along the picturesque Sea to Sky Highway, named by National Geographic Magazine as one of the top 50 drives of a lifetime thanks to the panoramic views of mountains, forests and breathtaking Howe Sound along the way.
In summer, Whistler is a golfer’s haven with four distinct courses designed by the game’s legends: Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Robert Trent-Jones. Top qualifiers can play a different course each day, then unwind at the Scandinave Spa, an oasis of tranquility where groups may indulge in the ancient practice of hydrotherapy to ease tensions away, let the hot pools ease tired muscles, and cool pools invigorate, before leaning into the body treatments and relaxation zones. More active winners may choose to catch their thrills whitewater rafting the Elaho River, or capture a bird’s eye view of the 12,000-year-old glaciers and alpine lakes on a helicopter tour of Whistler and the surrounding region.
Whistler draws top-performing groups year round to “explore its pedestrian friendly village, variety of cultural experiences at the Squamish Lil’Wat Cultural Centre and the Audain Art Museum,” says Attersall. For incentives seeking an active winter getaway, it’s hard to beat Whistler Blackcomb, the largest ski resort in North America with its dual mountains, 37 lifts, and some 5,000 vertical feet of terrain. Inspiring as it is invigorating, when top performers come together in Whistler they can not only explore on skis, but they can explore a labyrinth of ice chambers, ice flows, and volcanic peaks in an ice cave adventure, test their mettle running bobsleigh at the Whistler Sliding Centre (home to a variety of events during the 2010 Olympic Games) and more. “Whistler’s relaxed mountain environment provides plenty of space for free-range thinking, something we need to do if we are to continue to perform at peak levels,” says Attersall.
Stay chill at Fogo Island Inn
Iceberg Alley, off the coast of Newfoundland, is one of the best places in the world to witness the migration of ancient frozen icebergs. According to Destination Canada, Fogo Island Inn, ranked the third-best hotel on the planet, is one of the best places for top-producing teams to unwind and celebrate together. Every one of the Inn’s 29 one-of-a-kind guest rooms and suites offers dramatic floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto the wildest and most powerful ocean on the planet. A stimulating relief from the hubbub of the pandemic era, the award-winning Inn is built on the principles of sustainability and respect for nature and culture, which is reflected in the unique programming incentive groups enjoy here.
Whether it is intimate iceberg encounters from the shore, by guided group boat tour, or in an open fishing boat, this seasonal wild Atlantic adventure always thrills incentive groups who have chartered Fogo Island Inn. Here, a powerful land and oceanscape contrast the genuine warmth of Newfoundlanders to create the kind of connection with place and people you want for your top performers. Renowned for its unique Newfoundland take on culinary and wine experiences, including a traditional “kitchen party,” groups can enjoy workshops on woodworking, drawing and painting, which speaks to the artisanal spirit of the Island residents.
“Fogo Island Inn is remarkable in any of its seven distinct seasons,” says Attersall, but it is an incredible location from which to watch towering slabs of 10,000-year-old ice make its way from Greenland to South America,” beginning in spring, each year.
Summer camp (for adults)
Canada’s wide-open, wild places are some of the best locations to reset with your team, when the time comes to travel again. Stepping away from distractions, concentrating on the moment, trying new activities, and sharing meals as a group has a way of removing barriers to forward thinking, switching up perspectives, or simply giving teams the space they need to foster creative thinking.
Canada’s Clayoquot Wilderness Resort has been called a summer camp on steroids, or, according to a recent Vanity Fair article, where Downton Abbey meets the Canadian wilderness. Clayoquot’s wild outpost is meant for corporate retreats. Situated in a million-acres protected biosphere playground just off the western coast of Vancouver Island, Clayoquot may be secluded, but that’s just what attracts the likes of United American Insurance which hosted its leadership development board meeting in the tented safari camp.
“This was four-times as great as the European trips I have ever taken,” noted one of their executives in a testimonial for the remote, yet refined resort that specializes in exclusive buy-outs of their 25 luxury safari tents tucked along the coast and in the surrounding forest. Book the resort for a team-building experience that includes target shooting and archery competitions, rock climbing and hiking ancient rainforest cathedrals and lush fern gardens with only a compass and carefully crafted clues. The reward for the winning team? Bragging rights, of course, and a closer connection.
Research shows that experiences in nature lead to improvements in attention span, self-discipline and physical fitness, all while reducing stress. Here are some other ways your top performers can connect with nature in Canada’s wild, wide-open spaces:
- Helicopter to a mountaintop picnic atop a 10,000-year-old glacier, gaining access to over 50,000 square miles of pristine wilderness within minutes of liftoff.
- Spend an afternoon watching for the giants of the deep: humpback and grey whales, and magnificent orcas in Victoria or Tofino.
- Kayak with seals, sea lions and playful porpoises on Canada’s east and west coasts.
- Spy grizzly and black bears fishing for salmon on an interpretive nature tour in the Rockies or in British Columbia’s coastal mountains.
- Savour the scenery – an ocean of rolling mountains, wide-open, blue sky and sun slipping between the trees — cocktail cruises in Tremblant Resort offer utter tranquility.
- Paddle a turquoise blue lake in the shadow of glaciers, explore the valley on a guided mountain bike tour, be thrilled whitewater rafting. Celebrating team successes in Banff takes everyone to the great outdoors.
Make your next incentive program or corporate retreat as stress free as possible. Connect with Destination Canada Business Events for help planning your next event in Canada, when the time is right.