We were thrilled to partner with Destination Toronto earlier this month to take a small group of our ‘nineteen’ agency leaders on a whistlestop tour of Ontario’s vibrant capital to see what it has to offer event and incentive groups, before heading onto IMEX America in Las Vegas.
Our group included first timers, along with several that had previously visited Toronto, but a mix of new and iconic venues and experiences kept everyone thoroughly entertained throughout our brief but action-packed trip and left us all wanting to explore further…
Arriving in style
We arrived in Toronto feeling fresh and rested thanks to being seated in Air Canada’s Business Class Cabin, which was well equipped and comfortable and made the 7-hour journey literally fly by.
Our home for the next two nights was the hip and trendy Bisha Hotel in Toronto’s Entertainment District, which is at the centre of it all, yet unabashedly original. Checking in on a buzzing Friday night left us in no doubt that this is THE place to be and be seen.
The 96-room hotel oozes cool and there’s an entire floor designed by celebrity icon Lenny Kravitz and his firm, Kravitz Design Inc. In terms of location, it’s hard to beat – just a five-minute walk to both Rogers Centre (home of Blue Jays baseball) and the CN Tower – and the Sky Suite on the 43rd floor is a stunning space for events with sweeping views of the city skyline, as its name suggests.
The next day we explored the trendy Distillery District. Set in quaint 19th century buildings that once housed a large whiskey distillery, the cobblestone streets are now brimming with hip indie restaurants, art galleries, bars and boutiques and there’s plenty here to keep groups entertained.
Our next stop was bohemian Kensington, Toronto’s most vibrant and diverse neighbourhood and a place where the city’s motto “Diversity is our strength” and rich tapestry of immigration is showcased at its best. The 1950s immigration started with Jewish community and was closely followed by the Vietnamese, Chinese, Indians and Europeans, making Toronto the diverse melting pot it is today, experienced through its districts, food, drink and architecture.
A short but worthwhile visit to Evergreen Brick Works gave us the opportunity to check out one of Toronto’s most sought-after event facilities. Nestled in Toronto’s lush ravines in a setting of awe-inspiring heritage buildings, Evergreen Brick Works offers a unique and memorable setting for events and would be perfect for tech or life science clients.
You can’t go to Toronto without visiting the CN Tower, which dominates the city’s skyline. Once the world’s tallest tower, this iconic 553.33-meter (1,815.4 foot) structure is still super impressive, and there are three different viewing levels. We enjoyed a delicious dinner in the Tower’s famous 360 restaurant, accompanied by breath-taking views of the city and lake below. There’s also the option to take part in an EdgeWalk —- a full-circle, hands-free walk around the CN Tower’s outer ledge, perfect for groups looking for an adrenalin-pumping experience.
We rounded off the day perfectly watching an exciting ice hockey match at the Scotiabank Arena, where the Toronto Maple Leafs took on the Detroit Red Wings, coming away with a 5-1 emphatic win. North American sports are a great incentive activity. Ice hockey in particular works great for everyone as the rules are quick to pick up and the spectacle is a joy to watch no matter if you have a sporty group or not.
The following day we headed for Billy Bishop Airfield for a short 20-minute hop to the world-famous Niagara Falls. Niagara is one of Canada’s top wine areas, and after a spot of wine tasting, we took to the skies on a helicopter tour, soaring over the mighty falls below – a true bucket list experience.
This was followed by a fabulous lunch at Peller Estates, which has been crafting quality wines for Canadians for over 50 years.
The final evening was spent at Alo, a contemporary French restaurant located atop a heritage building in downtown Toronto with an international-inspired menu that celebrates the finest in seasonal ingredients. The food was divine, and it’s easy to see why the restaurant was recently awarded a Michelin Star in the first ever Michelin Guide to Toronto. It was the perfect way to end our trip!
We loved Toronto – it’s a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with plenty of activities to suit all tastes, and perfect for combining with nearby Niagara Falls to experience both city and nature and get the best of both worlds.
Our nineteen agency leaders were equally impressed. Dina Green, MD at Orange Door said: “It really surprised us as to how much can be done here in Toronto. It’s a clean and safe city that’s well laid out and organised. It’s the perfect place to bring a big group of people for a trip because it ticks all the boxes – it’s easy to get to and has great weather for a big part of the year. I would highly recommend it.”
Jemma Peers, MD of Top Banana who was visiting Toronto for the first time, added: “I was expecting a very traditional city experience and my eyes have been really opened to the fact that this is a very diverse destination and can offer something very different to a whole range of profiles… whether that’s the young hip group looking for something really adventurous to the more cultural group who really wants to get involved with the local community.”