21 FEB 2014: Anyone who’s visited our neighbouring eastern province knows Québec is an original. Tourisme Québec reps and partners alongside Destination Québec’s Susan Prophet, director of meetings and conventions and incentive travel with her fabulous team convened at the Fairmont Royal York’s illustrious Canadian Room to celebrate Québec Day, a highly anticipated annual marketplace for the meetings and incentive travel crowd that showcases some of the province’s finest originals.


Québec’s Minister of Tourism Pascal Bérubé was also in attendance and later offered some insightful statistics and news he shared at a media reception hosted by Isabel Gil, the director general of Destination Québec which took place at The Thompson Landry Gallery in the Distillery District.

The Originals
Be sure to tune into the province’s new campaign Québec Original launched last year. Here’s a quick video clip titled “White Away”

The numbers svp
Ontario IS Québec’s most important tourism market. Bérubé says the province welcomes some 4.3 million visitors annually from Ontario. “(That’s) 85.7 percent of Canadian visitors to Québec came from Ontario,” he notes.

Montréal
This city with the sultry red lips in its logo is so easy to love. The legendary bed-in with John Lennon and Yoko Ono took place at the Fairmont Queen Elizabeth back in 1969. “It’s actually where he wrote and recorded Give Peace a Chance,” says the hotel’s senior sales manager, Victor Paixao.

“We remain the largest hotel in the city with the number of rooms (982) and we are in close proximity to everything,” he notes. Well when you figure Central Station is below, VIA passengers do not have to trudge far at all. It’s a simple elevator ride up, merci.

James Kozukan, manager for meeting and convention sales for the Canadian market reminds me how the convention crowd gets extra pampering from Tourisme Montréal on its now legendary breakfast-in-bed and spa ‘meetings.’ Delegates at select conventions like PCMA, MPI, ASAE and IMEX as examples can sign up for this out-of-the-box approach.

“We want them to enjoy the experience and think of us and our suppliers. It’s let your hair down and chill. People love it. There’s no hard sell,” says James and adds, “What we are is in the people industry. It’s really about making relationships.” The spa is informal. Picture manis and pedis in bath robes and post spa treatment your hosts are on hand to see how you like them. Okay -- sign me up.

Montréal’s stunning skyline capped off with the glorious Mount Royal has some highrise stunners that have stirred plenty of talk since their openings. The building affectionately nicknamed “The cheese grater” at 1 Place du Canada is one. Opened for the Expo 67 the lofty perch has simply the finest meeting space on floor 36 boasting the best view of the city says one hotel insider.

“You have a total panoramic view. You can see the Montreal Biosphere from Expo 67, Habitat 67 and Mont Royal,” smiles Jennifer Labrosse, association sales manager at the Marriott Montréal Chateau-Champlain.

And who doesn’t love a circus? Watch for a new dinner circus show inspired by Charlie Chaplin’s son Eugene. Natalie Poirier says the Chapiteau Eugene Chaplin incorporates the highly successful circus show under one huge big top. The venue is 30 minutes west from Montreal.

Laurentides

Forty-five minutes from Montreal this region’s been busy in the refurb department. Helene Prud’homme, a rep with Tourisme Laurentides, says many of the hotels have undergone extensive renovations. She rhymes off a list that includes Manoir Saint Sauveur, Westin Tremblant, Esterel and Fairmont Tremblant.

With Olympic fever in the air no doubt you can count on several Olympic originals to. “Oh yes we have the Dufour-Lapointe sisters, Jasey-Jay Anderson and Mikael Kingsbury,” she says proudly.

Now isn’t the Laurentides just the ‘best’ spot to brush up on your ski and snowboard skills?

Sherbrooke, Eastern Townships

Based in the Eastern Townships capital Marie-Claude Dubois, sales coordinator of marketing and communications with Destination Sherbrooke looks at some fabulous city/countryside retreats. Hop on board the refurbished train, the Orford Express for a delightful dinner rail journey or take a memorable dinner cruise with Escapades Memphremagog. Sightings of Memphre, the resident lake monster, are certainly guaranteed in a surprising night show featured by the cruise company.

Big with the medical, pharmaceutical and the university set, Sherbrooke meshes the old and new with its collection of shops, hotels and restaurants situated in close proximity to agri-businesses.

One delightful original is Manoir Hovey near North Hatley. The family-run boutique hotel is lauded with a Relais and Chateaux moniker known for its exquisite cuisine. The historic property was the vacation dream home of American tycoon Henry Atkinson who wanted to recreate the beauty of George Washington’s home in Mount Vernon.

Québec City: La Belle Ville
One of the biggest originals, Quebec’s capital city is lauded for numerous accolades among them a UNESCO World Heritage Site and North America’s only walled city north of Mexico. Find plenty of surprises. The iconic Fairmont Chateau Frontenac is nearing the completion of a massive renovation and while it’s getting some nips and tucks, the property observes Regis Fleury, an account executive with Québec City Tourism has remained opened. For updates see http://nouveauchateau.com/en/

For details on hotel disruptions click here.

By the Plains of Abraham around five minutes from the heart of Old Québec spot the Hotel Chateau Laurier on Grand Allee. A collection of old homes built in the 1800s the Girard family purchased these plum properties in the mid-70s and over the years they have added some magnificent finds to the family-run hotel. The latest was in 2007 with the construction of a new part and underground parking and as Michelle de Billy, the hotel’s sales manager points out, “We have also renovated 34 rooms which will be ready in June. They are more corporate like executive suites.”

The fabulous original, the Québec Winter Carnival, just ended another successful season. Regis tells me revellers and long-time fans of the winter festival were especially pleased to see the much anticipated return of the Duke and Duchess. “People told us they missed seeing them so they were brought back.”

Among the bragging rights at the city’s convention centre the Centre des Congres de Québec you’ll also find Canada’s first convention centre to offer free high-speed wi-fi everywhere. The facility is nearing some renovations which is expected to be completed by March 20. “We’ve been getting more requests for larger break-out rooms,” says Aline Tesser, sales manager, who adds the facility will be deemed as Canada’s fourth largest convention centre.

How’s that for original?



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Ilona Kauremszky

A regular contributor to Travel Industry Today, Ilona is a prize winning journalist whose writing pursuits have taken her around the globe.

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