Fresh Air & Fresh Ideas in Nova Scotia
By Denise Marie Germano, Director of Events and Operations
Anyone who manages a remote team can attest: No amount of emails and video calls can replace the power of bonding in person. Even better if you can gather the group in a remarkable place for extraordinary experiences.
That’s exactly what the global sales team did, when 15 of us converged on the serene seaside town of Halifax, Nova Scotia for our team retreat. Of course, as a consortium of global DMCs, we naturally leaned on our expert in the region, Downeast DMC. Managing Director Pearleen Mofford, CIS, managed all the details, while we concentrated on event content and meeting our retreat objectives.
Here’s what I found: Halifax and its surrounding areas in Nova Scotia were downright dreamscapes for meeting planners!
Here are our favorite group experiences worth writing home about:
Meeting in the Region’s Largest Green Building
One of Canada’s most technologically advanced meeting spaces, the Halifax Convention Center blew us away with its forward-thinking design and amenities. This LEED Gold Certified Facility stands just 100 steps away from the Atlantic and packs in some cool elements. The most memorable? Its more than 120,000 square feet of flexible event space divided into five levels with two separate entrances. This means multiple meetings can run simultaneously, where attendees never have to intersect and enjoy their own facilities.
Plus, there’s built-in bottle refill stations, advanced lighting and technology, zero wifi dead zones, and designated delegate experience team members who ensure a seamless event. Even the food was a standout with creative recipes crafted with local ingredients and a European influence.
Discovering Incentive Potential & Sunset Spotting on the Atlantic Coast
Sure, the ambiance at Fox Harb’r Resort is insanely tranquil, nestled on Nova Scotia’s dramatic north shore. And, yes, the serene landscape is ideal for executive retreats for 10, small incentives, or conferences for up to 170. Once done meeting in the resort’s ballroom and boardrooms, your group’s stay at this landmark destination will be action-packed: Horseback riding, kayaking, trout fishing, boating, golfing and hiking the Wallace Bay National Wildlife Area Trail.
All that activity means hungry attendees. Chef Shane will pour and plate a tailored culinary experience at the sporting lodge or oceanside. You’ll lodge in either suites or townhouses, featuring fireplaces, heated granite bathroom floors, kitchenettes and terraces to watch some of the best sunsets of your life.
Sipping Maple Tonics on a Maple Farm
Winding through the sugar woods of northern Nova Scotia, we stopped by Sugar Moon Farm, a working maple farm. As part of our hand-crafted maple adventure, we sampled early and last season pure maple syrup, learned how maple syrup is made and tasted their famous non-alcoholic maple tonics and biscuits with maple butter. More sweet options for groups: Hikes through the sugar woods, buyouts and maple-inspired chef tastings.
Mingling Old & New at an Atlantic Canada Icon
Since opening its doors in 1928 across from the famous Victorian-style Public Gardens, the 262-room Lord Nelson Hotel & Suites has won planners’ hearts and business with its stunning mingling of refined history, modern updates, and luxe lodging. From a ballroom with soaring ceilings, to a newly renovated hospitality suite, to intimate boardrooms, you’ll discover 12,000 square feet of venue options ideal for gatherings of 10 to 500. If the Swarovski chandeliers and historic elegance don’t captivate you, then the modern details from its recent multi-million dollar renovation surely will. Executive Chef Tahir even treated us to the official snack of Halifax – the Donair, a warm pita wrapping around layers of seasoned beef, tomatoes, onions and garlic sauce.
Savoring the Longest Operating Winery in the Atlantic Region
Taking up 100 acres in an area blessed with more sun than anywhere else in Atlantic Canada, Jost Winery is tucked among coastal inlets and gentle hillsides. Here, your group can taste their signature acid-bright wines (thanks to cooling sea breezes), plus tour the vineyards, have a private lunch or organize meetings in their tasting room. In peak season, you can even hike, bike, and picnic with spectacular vineyard views. One of their more memorable wines is their Tidal Bay, created completely with Nova Scotia grapes and brilliantly representing the unique terroir of the region.
Brasserie Dining with the Locals
We wrapped up our Halifax and Nova Scotia adventure by joining local foodies-in-the-know at Agricola Street Brasserie. Once an early 1900s-era printing shop, this restaurant in Halifax’s hip North End wooed us with its French-inspired dishes and abundant local ingredients. Soak up the cozy, convivial atmosphere in their private dining space (up to 15 people) or get in on the action in their open kitchen for larger events.
Insider Tips for Bringing Your Group to Nova Scotia
When To Visit
The region is warmer than you think! While peak operational season is May to October, average summer temperatures are 75 degrees, with the warmest waters north of the Carolinas.
There are daily direct flights from multiple U.S. cities, including Boston, Chicago, Newark, New York, Philadelphia and multiple cities in Florida. Plus, Halifax is accessible by non-stop service connecting the UK, France, Germany and Iceland.
Get Ready for the Nice
Everything you’ve heard about Nova Scotians are true: They are truly some of the friendliest and warmest people you will ever meet. Authentic hospitality isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a way of life here.
Make Room on that Plate
Located on the Atlantic coast, Nova Scotia plates some of the best seafood in Canada. Think oysters, mussels, crabs, halibut, salmon, haddock, scallops and their world-famed lobsters. All fresh, all the time.
Entice Your Diverse Attendees
As one of North America’s oldest cities, there’s no shortage of historic wonder in Halifax. But, you’ll also find a buzzy hub of art galleries, live music, festivals, nightlife and endless modern architecture. Plus, the nature is astounding: Once out the boardroom, attendees can hike rugged coastal trails, explore rolling terrain, and set sail on Atlantic waters.
Here’s just a taste of the group adventures that await when you pair up with Hosts and Downeast DMC in Canada’s Maritime province.
Contact your Global Sales Liaison to explore more!