What you should know

Named the “Best City in the Americas” by Conde Nast Traveler, Vancouver, British Columbia, is a multicultural melting pot of Asian, Indian and European influences. Located almost exactly halfway between Europe and the Asia-Pacific region, the city is a central location for global meetings. The International Congress & Convention Association (ICCA) ranked the city as North America’s top destination for international meetings for at least three years. And if your meeting requires a sports or recreational activity, you’ve come to the right place. The city is ranked the No. 5 destination in the world to hold a sporting event, as evinced by Vancouver’s hosting of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

What will surprise you

Vancouver International Airport was the first in the world to be designed and operated to move cruise ship passengers through quickly and easily, whether they're en route to or from a trip. The airport also was the first in North America to offer a full-service drugstore, walk-in dental center, medical center and laboratory service so passengers could fulfill all their health care needs without leaving the terminal. Traveling families will appreciate the airport’s nursery and several play areas around the terminals, while weary travelers needing a little pampering will enjoy two on-site spas; travelers also can spark their energy with a workout at the airport’s health club. Vancouver International Airport offers free high-speed Internet access. The main entrance of the Four-Diamond Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel is located at the international departure gate, so travelers can go right from their flight to their room.

The 411:
  • 471,000 square feet of meeting and exhibition space in the Vancouver Convention Centre
  • 24,000 guest rooms in greater Vancouver
  • 13,000+ guest rooms downtown
Cultural notes:
  • Official languages: English and French
  • Currency: Canadian Dollar. Average rate of exchange is 0.9774 per $1.00 U.S.
  • Climate: Mild climate with some rainfall.  Average temperatures range from 32 degrees to 50 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Gratuities: In Canada, tipping is part of the culture. As a general rule, servers (in restaurants, bars and pubs) receive a tip of about 15 to 20 percent of the total bill, depending on the level of service. The same tipping rule also applies to other service providers, such as bartenders, hairdressers and taxi drivers.
  • International Dialing Code: 1 followed by area code 604
  • Time: Pacific Standard Time
  • Attire: Casual dress
  • Entry Requirements: U.S. passport

Want to keep it green?

Vancouver’s Ocean Wise program is run by the nonprofit Vancouver Aquarium to help restaurants ensure their seafood is environmentally friendly and sustainable. The Green Table Network advises restaurants and caterers about going green in areas such as water conservation, pollution prevention, energy conservation and purchasing. Some hotels, such as the Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Downtown, have established their own green standards. The Marriott’s initiatives save 83 million kilowatt hours of energy consumption per year by using solar power, LED signs and electronic thermostats. A few local hotels also offer discounts to guests with hybrid vehicles. The boutique Opus Hotel gives free valet parking to drivers of hybrids and the Metropolitan Hotel Vancouver gives a $25 gas card and a free car wash. If you fly into Vancouver, the Pacific Palisades Hotel offers a $30 carbon offset to help reduce your carbon footprint.

Want an educational setting?

Located just 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver, the University of British Columbia provides sophisticated meeting facilities in a serene setting, surrounded by forests and the ocean. Signature venues include the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, a 1,200-seat concert hall with adjoining studio and cinema theaters that provide additional seating for breakouts and simultaneous broadcasts. For elegant social events or unique business meetings of up to 200 people, the university offers the historic Cecil Green Park House. Built in 1912, all of the home’s meeting rooms have an ocean view and lead out to a veranda and gardens sloping to the beach below. If you’re looking for a high-tech option, the Case Room at The Liu Centre for the Study of Global Issues features full audio/visual and webcasting capabilities. The Liu Centre also has a multipurpose meeting room that can accommodate 150 theater-style and up to 250 for receptions. Accommodations available at the university range from contemporary one-bedroom suites with fully-equipped kitchens to single or double dormitory-style suites.

Want to throw an outdoor party?

The site of the 1986 World Exposition, the Plaza of Nations can accommodate large-scale corporate functions, festivals and concerts for 10,000 people. This outdoor venue has an amphitheater with a permanent stage and built-in seating for 750 people. A favorite of location managers for television and feature film productions, the property is in an area known as the entertainment cornerstone of Vancouver’s Lower Mainland. The facility is in close proximity to the downtown business district, trendy Yaletown, and historical Gastown and Chinatown. Many hotels are located nearby, conveniently accessible by both car and SkyTrain, Vancouver’s automated light rapid transit system.

Want unusual group activities?

Stanley Park, the second-largest urban park in North America, is a 1,000-acre garden that offers several cultural activities. Tour the park’s many monuments, from the landmark totem poles marking the history of British Columbia’s native aboriginal people to the Harding Memorial commemorating the first visit by a U.S. president. In the summer, visitors can “dance at dusk” in the park’s Ceperley Meadows, learning a variety of styles from Scottish country dance to ballroom dancing. At Painter’s Circle, view an outdoor gallery of landscape artists who demonstrate their technique to park visitors. End your group’s tour with a performance by Theatre Under the Stars, showcasing Canada’s homegrown thespians.

Want to meet on a mountaintop?

Grouse Mountain, the location for NBC’s Today Show broadcast of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, is a spectacular site for meetings and team-building adventures. The Super Skyride lifts guests 3,700 feet above the city to meeting facilities that range from the alpine-themed Timber Room (capacity: 160 reception-style) to the chic Altitudes Bistro, which seats 140 for dinner. A buyout of the top floor of the Peak Chalet (which includes both venues and The Observatory, a fine dining restaurant) will accommodate 800 reception-style or 500 for dinner. Winter team-building activities include skiing and snowshoeing, sleigh rides and ice skating on the mountaintop rink. In the warmer months, groups can hike the mountain’s many trails and zipline from its peak at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

Want accommodations?

Vancouver has a plethora of hotel options; from large convention properties to boutique hotels, the city can meet your program’s unique needs. The Fairmont brand of properties offer a wide range of flexible meeting space from the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, with 37,000 square feet of meeting space and 556 guest rooms, to the Fairmont Pacific Rim and the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel, each of which have 24,000 square feet of meeting space and 489 guest rooms. If you’re looking for larger meeting space, the Westin Bayshore Resort & Marina offers an total of 51,344 square feet of meeting space, which includes a 15,521-square foot ballroom. Luxury options include the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, with 21,270 square feet of meeting space and 375 guest rooms, and the five-star Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver, which has 42,000 square feet of meeting space and 504 guest rooms.