The BCBusiness 2019 Corporate Retreat Guide

Your next company retreat doesn't have to be a descent into hotel-meeting-room hell.

Haida House is somewhat remote, but it’s worth it 

Unlock some of the province’s best hidden treasures

Your next company retreat doesn’t have to be a descent into hotel-meeting-room hell.

Here are 10 B.C. options with character to suit every budget, from wilderness escapes to a hilltop winery. 

Haida House, Haida Gwaii

Perfect for: Those who want to find their true nature

Setting: Former bear-hunting lodge, now 100-percent Haida-owned. Next to the Tlell River on the east coast of Graham Island with 50 acres of waterfront, an orchard and forest trails

Amenities: Culturally inspired local cuisine, 35-seat conference room, den with books, board games and DVDs, beach, gardens, carving shed, gift shop

Activities: Kayaking, wildlife viewing, guided and helicopter tours, marine excursions to ancient village sites, meeting local artists, custom options

Group size: Up to 20

Price range: From $2,052 for three nights to $10,822 for 10 nights. Per person based on double occupancy; discount for booking entire lodge

Season: June to September but can accommodate private functions year-round

Getting there: From Vancouver (YVR), a 1.5-hour flight to Sandspit, then about an hour by shuttle and ferry; or a two-hour flight to Masset, then an hour by car driven by Haida House guide

Kumsheen Rafting Resort, Lytton

Perfect for: An industrial business with offices in a few cities. Bring the bigwigs together and force them to do battle with the rapids

Setting: 15 acres with a variety of accommodation options, including Anishinabe-style teepees, canvas cabins, RV and tent sites, overlooking the Thompson River

Amenities: Restaurant, pool and spa, poolside bar

Activities: Rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, mountain biking

Group size: Up to 200

Price range: Starting at $160 per person/night

Season: May through September

Getting there: From Vancouver, a three-hour drive northeast on Highway 1

Echo Valley Ranch & Spa, near Clinton

Perfect for: A tech outfit that just expanded from 35 to 100 and wants to see its leaders form tight bonds that only horseback riding and fly-fishing can provide

Setting: A sprawling 160 acres of rolling hills 3,650 feet up in the Cariboo Mountains, surrounded by forest and featuring four microclimates on the same property

Amenities: 3,000-square-foot meeting venue with smaller breakout areas; restaurant, two spas, pool, sauna

Activities: Barrel-racing or -roping, horseback riding, fly-fishing, hiking, yoga, biking, gold panning, whitewater rafting

Group size: Up to 20 with a bedroom each, up to 35 with shared rooms

Price range: $269-$412 per person/night depending on the season

Season: April through October

Getting there: Fly-in to the ranch available via charter; 2.5-hour drive from Kamloops, five hours from Vancouver

Fossil Beach Farm, Hornby Island

Perfect for: Tight-knit groups that need to get back to their roots

Setting: Oceanfront 80-acre family farm with fruit and nut orchards, cider-making and cattle operations

Amenities: Seven furnished oceanfront glamping tents; cider house with showers, washrooms and, of course, farm-made cider; outdoor kitchen planned for next year; local eateries include Forage Farm and Kitchen, Hornby Island Bakery & Pizzeria, the Breeze restaurant at Sea Breeze Lodge (which also does retreats), Thatch Pub and Restaurant, and Vorizo Cafe

Activities: Swimming; watching eagles, seals and blue herons; beachcombing for fossils; sampling cider made from more than 30 apple varieties grown on the farm 

Group size: Up to 16

Price range: $149-$199 per tent, meals not included

Season: May through September

Getting there: Take the ferry from Buckley Bay on central Vancouver Island to Denman Island, drive across Denman, take another ferry to Hornby Island, and drive to the farm on the northwest side of the island—about a 1.25-hour trip if the ferries are on schedule

Loon Lake Lodge & Retreat Centre, Maple Ridge

Perfect for: Lake-minded people looking to bond

Setting: Beside a quiet (no motorboats) lake in UBC‘s Malcolm Knapp Research Forest, a private, by-reservation-only, gated property near Golden Ears Provincial Park

Amenities: Boardrooms, breakout rooms, classrooms, private dining rooms, Bentley Family dining hall; sleeping facilities ranging from Whistler-style cabins to well-maintained dormitories

Activities: Team-building programs through Vancouver-based Pinnacle Pursuits, nature trails, canoeing, paddleboarding, ropes course, gymnasium, climbing wall, rock climbing and rappelling

Group size: Up to 167

Price range: With meals, $99-$227 per person/night based on shared accommodation

Season: Year-round

Getting there: About a 1.5-hour drive from Vancouver east to 14500 Silver Valley Road north of Maple Ridge, the final seven kilometres on unpaved road

Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, southern Great Bear Rainforest

Perfect for: An adventure-loving team seeking a place to unplug

Setting: Secluded, luxury oceanfront getaway with access to some of B.C.’s most spectacular unspoiled wilderness, from sea level to 13,000 feet

Amenities: Meeting facilities; nine intertidal and forest cabins; fitness room, cedar hot tubs, floating sauna, massage services; on-site restaurant offers locally sourced cuisine and picnic lunches

Activities: Kayaking, paddleboarding, tubing, hiking, yoga; full-day boating excursions with bear viewing and whale watching; helicopter adventures, including waterfall tours, heli-fishing and glacier visits. Guests can hire a facilitator through Victoria-based leadership development and executive coaching firm Roy Group

Group size: Up to 18

Price range: $1,225-$1,995 per person/night, including all meals

Season: May through October

Getting there: By air from Vancouver, the trip takes 90 minutes. Nimmo Bay operates charter flights to Port Hardy, where guests take a float plane to the resort

Mission Hill Family Estate winery, West Kelowna

Perfect for: Businesses large and small that take their food and wine seriously

Setting: The jewel of Anthony von Mandl’s wine empire, the property features dramatic entry gates, a 12-storey bell tower—and sweeping views of Okanagan Lake

Amenities: Exterior: Outdoor Courtyard and two covered venues, the Loggia and the Garden Long Table. Interior: Visitor’s Centre and the smaller Chagall Room and Culinary Theatre. Although the winery has no accommodations, nearby hotels include Delta Hotels by Marriott Grand Okanagan Resort, Hotel Eldorado and Manteo Resort Waterfront Hotel & Villas

Activities: Options include wine-and-food-pairing events, private Chef’s Table dining, private and team-building culinary workshops, and wine-paired receptions

Group size: Up to 400

Price range: Varies by event

Season: Year-round

Getting there: A 30-minute drive west of Kelowna International Airport (YLW) and four hours east of Vancouver via Highway 1

Nita Lake Lodge, Whistler

Perfect for: Weekend warriors who like their breakout sessions in a canoe, atop a paddleboard or on skis

Setting: Boutique hotel on the edge of glacier-fed Nita Lake, 500 metres from Whistler Mountain’s Creekside gondola

Amenities: Almost 6,000 square feet of function space, including a 2,500-square-foot ballroom, with option to use outdoor areas for meetings; 77 oversize suites, some with lake views; gym; spa offering massage therapy and body treatments; year-round lakeside plunge pool and hot tub; rooftop hot tubs; Aura restaurant (chef also oversees banquet service), Cure Lounge & Patio and Fix Café; courtesy shuttle to nearby Whistler Village

Activities: Depending on the season, guests can use complimentary bikes, canoes, kayaks, paddleboards and other recreational equipment, as well as snowshoes and slope-side ski lockers. On-site partner Basecamp Fitness provides classes and personal training; also on the premises, partner Strategic Play delivers team-building programs

Group size: Up to 165

Price range: Varies by season, offering good value for Whistler

Season: Year-round

Getting there: The lodge is in Creekside Village, a 90-minute drive north of Vancouver. In summer, you can also make the journey by float plane or helicopter

West Coast Wilderness Lodge, Egmont

Perfect for: An organization with a diverse team. The West Coast Wilderness Lodge has something for everyone, but doing nothing in this setting? Also great

Setting: At this picturesque Sunshine Coast resort on the edge of the Sechelt Inlet, you’ll feel years away from the city you left a few hours ago

Amenities: More than 2,000 square feet of indoor space with several meeting areas; 26 ocean- and forest-view rooms and suites; spa; Inlets Restaurant, which has a
waterfront patio, can prepare picnic lunches

Activities: Boat and helicopter tours, kayaking, jet-skiing, hiking, biking

Group size: Up to 52

Price range: $225 per person/night

Season: May 1 through October 15

Getting there: From Vancouver, a 40-minute ferry ride to Gibsons via Horseshoe Bay, then a 90-minute drive

Float-plane service available from Nanaimo, Vancouver, Victoria and Whistler

Sparkling Hill Resort & Spa, Vernon

Perfect for: Companies aiming to add some lustre to their corporate culture

Setting: On a bluff overlooking Okanagan Lake, the resort was opened in 2010 by a member of the Austria-based Swarovski family, makers of the eponymous crystals, 3.5 million of which adorn its interior

Amenities: More than 10,000 square feet of meeting facilities; 40,000-square-foot KurSpa with Kneipp hydrotherapy, fitness room, saunas, steam rooms, swimming pools; massage and cryo cold chamber treatments; PeakFine restaurant

Activities: Team-building wellness exercises like yoga, meditation and stretching; SHaRP workplace communication program; Predator Ridge golf course next door

Group size: Up to 200

Price range: Starts at $239-$359 per person/night, depending on time of year. Corporate retreat costs based on each organization’s budget and goals

Season: Year-round

Getting there: A half-hour drive or shuttle ride from Kelowna International Airport (YLW); private jets can land at the nearby Kelowna Shell Aerocentre, and the resort has two pads for private helicopter