As the most populous city in British Columbia, Vancouver is a bustling seaport that is a favored destination by many from around the world. Surrounded by mountains, ocean, rainforests, and foliage that reflect the wonders of all four seasons, it is truly a place that fuses nature with cultural diversity.
“[Vancouver] is a different alternative to the West,” says Jackie Kavcak, director of meetings and conventions U.S. “We are probably one of few cities where the mountains meet the water and [also] has a close, compact city. … We are small but mighty.”
To maintain the accompanying environment to the lively city, Vancouver has a prominent green thumb. Greenspace, an organization established in 1971 that supports the preservation and well-being of Mother Nature, helps the city pave the way toward a green, progressive future.
Implementing these positive practices has transpired into the fabric of the community—and for many businesses and organizations in the region, being eco-conscious has become a top priority. “We know what it takes to be green, and it is a huge commitment, but the whole city has taken a part [in it],” Kavcak says.
But its approach to nature isn’t the only notable factor. As the seventh North American city to have a Michelin Guide, Vancouver is home to a world-class culinary scene. In addition, it was also recognized for having the best airport in North America for 12 consecutive years by Skytrax World Airport. And, after hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2010, the city will also host the Invictus Games in 2025 and some matches of the World Cup in 2026 (along with Toronto and cities in the United States and Mexico).
To offer a glimpse into the heart of the city, we highlighted some of the major attractions, venues, and accommodations in Vancouver that will take your meeting or event to the next level.
“You could be 5 years old, or you could be 100 years old. … There is always something for you to do,” Kavcak says.
Head to the Salish Sea to go whale watching with Wild Whales off Granville Island. The guided tour provides attendees with the opportunity to catch a firsthand look of the pristine marine life of the wild Pacific Coast. With experiences for every type of adventurer, the company provides partly sheltered, open-air, and zodiac vessels to glide observers across the glistening water.
The Vancouver Aquarium offers a larger-than-life peek at what life is like under the sea. Wander through exhibits showcasing ecosystems spanning the globe from Canada’s Arctic to the Amazon Rainforest, with creatures like penguins, frogs, sea otters, and jellyfish to name a few. The Marine Mammal Rescue Center, one of the largest rescue facilities in the world, features an exhibit with rescued seals and sea lions in the B.C. Wild Coast Exhibit center.
The aquarium is also a great location to host your event. Nestled in the natural landscape of the region, the stunning venue boasts space for up to 2,000 guests alongside the company of 65,000 aquatic animals.
If sea life isn’t for you, there are other ways to enjoy the natural features of the region. Stroll through the city’s first and largest urban oasis, Stanley Park. Where cedar forests meet sandy beaches, the park serves as the perfect space to sprawl and relax. Explore the dense 1,000-acre temperate rainforest trails, golf at The Stanley Park Pitch & Putt, bring your own food to dine at one of the stunning picnic areas for up to 150 people, or walk along the Seawall, the world’s longest uninterrupted waterfront path.
One can also parade through the lush, climate-controlled paradise at Bloedel Conservatory. Located at the city’s highest point in Queen Elizabeth Park, the domed venue showcases schools of koi fish, over 100 free-flying exotic birds, and 500 tropical plants to roam among. This unique setting also provides a refreshing, intimate space for up to 50 people.
For a getaway within arm’s reach, catch a water taxi to Granville Island to interact with the local scene and see the indoor public market, which Kavcak compares to Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market. With loads of dining options, colorful produce, and handcrafted goods, there is truly something for every visitor.
A Gold-Star Venue
The Vancouver Convention Centre—the first to be double LEED Platinum-certified—is deemed one of the most sustainable convention centers in the world. “These initiatives are embedded in our day-to-day operations,” says Zayn Jinah, media relations manager for the Vancouver Convention Centre. “For us, sustainability is an everyday practice, and every one of our staff and suppliers are committed to delivering exciting events while helping to protect the environment.”
Located along the Seawall in the heart of downtown, the Vancouver Convention Centre is in proximity to a plethora of amenities. Near the SeaBus for a quick trip to Lonsdale Quay in Northern Vancouver and the Canada Line for fast transportation to and from Vancouver International Airport, it is also a walkable distance from Stanley Park, the Jack Poole Plaza—home to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games cauldron—and the Vancouver Art Gallery.
There is also a variety of on-site dining options including Chop Steakhouse & Bar, Mahony’s Tavern, LOT185 Cafe + Wine Bar, and Uno Gelato, as well as bike rentals and the Club 16 Trevor Linden gym.
Vancouver Convention Centre by the Numbers
» Canada’s largest waterfront ballroom at 53,000 square feet for up to 3,000 dine-in or 6,000 theater-style
» Six exhibition halls totaling 311,500 square feet of space
» 72 meeting rooms
» 57,964 square feet of outdoor plaza space
» 18 foyers equating to 150,000 square feet of space
Where to Stay
As a registered Heritage Property, the Castle in the City, otherwise known as the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, has served the region’s tourists since 1888. Just a seven-minute walk from the Vancouver Convention Centre, a mere two blocks from the Skytrain, and within minutes of the area’s top shopping centers, this historic hotel is the perfect setting for your meeting or event. The venue has the capability to host groups of up to 1,000 within its 63,000 square feet of flexible meeting spaces between boardrooms, hospitality suites, ballrooms, and The Roof, which features a skyline view of the city.
For an eco-escape, the Fairmont brand also offers the Fairmont Waterfront. Located on the Harbourfront with breathtaking views of Stanley Park, the mountains, and the city skyline, this hotel features 24,000 square feet of meeting space spanning from hospitality suites to private terraces and the stunning Waterfront Ballroom.
For a serene getaway, the Bowen Island Lodge is the perfect location to not only connect with nature but also with one another. Just 30 minutes from downtown Vancouver in Deep Bay, this escape boasts 24 guest rooms with three meeting rooms to host up to 150. Enjoy hikes by Mount Gardner, stroll the shores of Killarney Lake, and take part in other activities like kayaking, cycling, bocce ball, paddleboarding, and yoga.
Pass the Plate
Vancouver is known for its food scene with its star chefs, worldly influences, and local ingredients. Get a forkful of some of the delectable grub around town. To start, visit Notch8 Restaurant & Bar at the historic Fairmont Hotel Vancouver for glamourous regional fare and prized classics from pre- and post-Prohibition eras for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. To experience the taste of French cuisine and the culture of Quebec, visit the Michelin Starred St. Lawrence. Or, for food that encapsulates the flavor of the local habitat from a contemporary, yet sustainable approach, venture to Published on Main or Hawksworth Restaurant on West Georgia Street.