One thing we love about Canada is it’s big! Big on contrasts, surprises, scenery and hospitality. And lesser known Alberta is potentially the biggest of the lot when it comes to delivering a big, ‘wow’ laden experience for incentive travel groups!
Located on the other side of the Rockies to Vancouver, Alberta is possibly something of a mystery to many incentive and group travel planners. Mention Calgary and Edmonton and perhaps a picture of where and what may start to emerge. However, it provides options for incentive travel every bit as good as those further west, and, being landlocked, what you might lose in terms of water and sea based activities you gain on flight times over two hours shorter, and a more favourable climate.
Why Alberta as an Incentive Destination?
In a quirky way it provides the best of everything Canada has to offer but with a twist. For starters, despite hosting a winter Olympiad and being flanked by the Canadian Rockies to the west if we mentioned winter is low season would it surprise you? It did us. This compared to other, perhaps better known, North American winter destinations, throws up some fantastic options, especially in the value category. It’s not as if Alberta is lacking by comparison either, Calgary has hosted a winter Olympiad, has the longest North American season and Lake Louise, in the Banff National Park, is one of 15 classic downhill venues and renowned as one of the most picturesque ski areas in the world. A winter programme, remember it’s great value as it’s low season, would provide no shortage of variety and exhilaration, our Design Team’s quick incentive for the adventurous would include:
- A stay in Calgary, with the top quality dining, cultural and leisure options expected of a large city and a real Canadian experience of the Flames hockey team and the thrill of a bobsleigh ride! Not for the faint-hearted that one.
- Short transfer to Lake Louise – a winter in the Rockies is a magical experience, the scale of the landscape humbles an Alpine event, and the Alberta resorts are blessed with an abundance of ‘champagne powder’.
- For non-skiers there is so much more to do outdoors - dog-sledding, snow-shoeing, ice climbing, ice skating and hockey on Lake Louise, frozen canyon walks, crosscountry skiing, private sleigh rides or slipping into a natural hot spring under the stars!
Alberta also has two very significant plus points for European incentive travel groups: flight times are more than two hours shorter than the west coast and its location on the east side of the Rockies give it a more continental climate, in essence it is drier. Great for winter and summer travel.
What of Alberta in the Summer?
After the snow has gone from all but the highest areas, Alberta’s summer kicks in and delivers options and contrasts unique to the region. Being Canada the outdoors features large, and Calgary and 'stampede' are synonymous for what is billed as "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth", the Calgary Stampede. A ten day, rodeo based extravaganza and festival. However, this is not the sole reason to visit in the summer as the region can offer groups a summer programme every bit as varied and memorable as winter:
- Days are long, with daylight hours of up to 17 hours extending the event design options
- Head outdoors for activities like horseback trail-riding, heli-hiking, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, cycling, fly fishing, golf, star gazing, glacier tours & rodeo’s, camp fires and bbq’s, and a whole lot more
- City living in style, as noted Calgary can vie with the best for cuisine and culture, and ‘cowboy hospitality’ is not the preserve of the Americans. Be ‘white hatted’ as honorary Calgarians
- A trip to the Badlands? It is not widely known that the area is one of the richest regions for dinosaur discoveries and the Dinosaur Provincial Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and accessible from Calgary
- Stunning summer scenery – the Icefields Parkway, running up the east side of the Rockies, is described as the “World’s Most Spectacular Journey” and its stunning vistas are the ideal back drop for accessing activity trips out of Calgary, or as an activity in itself
Such choice and options are not out of reach of most group incentive planners and, like all destinations, careful consideration has to be given to the group’s experience, expectations and demographic make-up. Here are some fast facts on why we think Alberta is a first choice destination
Alberta for Incentive Travel – Our Big Reasons Why
- Winter Value. With winter being low season there is great value to be had for a winter incentive - in some of the world’s most spectacular scenery and with a huge variety of first-class activities
- Climate. Being on the flipside of the Rockies to west coast destinations means a drier climate - drier snow (the ‘champagne powder’), clearer skies, warmer summers, cold crisp winters. Calgary has more than twice the snow and a third of the rain compared to Vancouver
- Good Access. Flights into Calgary depart London daily with BA arriving early evening and Air Canada late afternoon. Flight times are just 8 hours 45 mins. For European participants KLM fly from Amsterdam and Air Canada from Frankfurt. If the political capital Edmonton is included Air Canada fly direct from Heathrow
- World Class Facilities – outdoors and indoors. Hotel options are as you’d expect and cater for all needs and requirements. Perhaps more important, the outdoor options on the doorstep are, literally, out of this world
- Time. Flight times are more than two hours shorter than heading to the west coast of Canada. Time difference is -7 hours GMT
- Character – Alberta, and Calgary, provide the quintessential experience of Canada, but with a unique twist thanks, primarily, to the geography
Like much of Canada for incentive travel, it is the breathtaking scale of the scenery that is often its differentiator, and this coupled with first class access, facilities and activities provide a unique and memorable experience. To get a quick peek at Calgary and Alberta, check out the Pinterest board.