Do you want to know a secret? If you have ever flown into the Vancouver Airport, you’ve already been to Richmond, B.C.
What you probably didn’t know is that once you leave the airport and head north out of Richmond to Vancouver, you are leaving one of the most exciting, interactive and unique meeting venues anywhere.
Just 20 minutes north of the U.S. border, or just a few minutes south of the Vancouver airport, sits a vast array of beautiful sights, unique experiences and more than 800 restaurants. This coastal city is set up for professional meetings and events with over 4,500 rooms and a variety of meeting spaces that cover up to 145,000 square feet.
There also are plenty of first-rate hotels like the Delta, located right on the river with 414 rooms. The Delta features the nearly 5,000-square-foot Sea Island Ballroom and was given the Hotel Association of Canada’s 4 Green Key Rating for its environmental operations. The hotel also has Cessna, a sweet chocolate lab that is on-duty in the lobby to help welcome guests.
For corporate meetings and retreats, there are dozens of unique team-building opportunities in Richmond. Visitors can paddle in a dragon boat with a coach from University of British Columbia while meeting in the beautiful new boat house on the Fraser River or reserve the terrace room inside the Olympic Oval overlooking the inside of a huge arena where exhibits can be staged. For larger groups, the River Rock Casino offers spacious meeting rooms with 15,000 square feet of adaptable event space.
On the south side of Richmond, events can be staged on the deck outside the Georgia Cannery. On the west side, the Terra Nova Gardens with Chef Ian Lai features gourmet meals from a wood oven with garden fresh produce. It is a wonderful place for team-building activities.
Richmond’s rich culture comes from the contrasting and blending of three pairs of extremes. First, both dynamic Eastern and Western cultures populate the city. Second, a historic fishing village and the modern Olympic Oval blend the old with the new. And third, rich agricultural land and bountiful seas surround the landscape.
This diversity and rich cultural heritage is defined by a few facts.
The population of Richmond is 65 percent Asian. When Hong Kong’s sovereignty was transferred from the U.K. to the People’s Republic of China in 1997, many Cantonese-speaking immigrants came to Richmond for the fishing, retail and restaurant opportunities. Over the following decade, thousands more came from all over Asia.
It is often said that visiting Richmond’s Asian stores, festivals, temples and restaurants is an exciting and authentic Asian experience without the jet lag.
The city is made up of 17 flat islands in the Fraser River, which makes Richmond perfect for whale watching, fishing or just cruising up and down the passages.
To the south of Richmond is the quaint fishing village of Steveston, which was once one of the largest concentrations of canneries in the Pacific Northwest. Dozens of restaurants serve up fresh grilled salmon, local vegetables and remarkable fish and chips made with fresh cod or halibut.
Some 38 percent of the land in Richmond is covered with fruit and vegetable farms. All the local produce and a variety of seafood right out of the ocean inspire many chefs in Richmond. No wonder there are over 800 restaurants for fewer than 200,000 people.
As a venue city for the 2004 Olympic Games, the beautiful Olympic Oval was built on the Fraser River to house the ice competitions. These facilities are available for corporate team building, meetings and sporting events. The oval also has a professional event team to assist meeting planners. High-end condominiums are being built on the riverfront all around the oval.
Hotels and other brand new infrastructure also are popping up all over town in Richmond. Young professionals and families are moving to Richmond and have easy access to Vancouver by train, the trip taking only 20 minutes.
The next time you head for Vancouver, you might just want to save yourself some time and look south of the airport to experience the authentic Pacific Northwest in Richmond.
Now you know the secret!