Offering sandy beaches, rolling fields and warm evenings around the campfire, PEI earns its reputation as one of Canada’s premier spring and summer destinations. But this island paradise is also open for business when the leaves fall and the snow flies.
“Some may not know that we can, and do, host meetings across Prince Edward Island all year-round,” says Susan Freeman, Executive Director of Meetings & Conventions PEI. “We don’t shut down the Island when the snow starts to fly here just because it gets a little cold,” she laughs.
This destination marketing organization, with 217 members, represents restaurants, tour operators, entertainers, transportation providers and, of course, accommodation and convention spaces (2,000 of the Island’s rooms and more than 200,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space), which attract an average of 17,680 delegates in every season. In fact, the meetings and conventions business contributes nearly $20 million annually to the provincial economy.
Says Freeman: “Our team’s role at Meetings & Conventions PEI is to prospect and qualify potential meeting planners that are looking to host a meeting on PEI, and to facilitate as much of that process from start to finish as the planner would like.”
Specifically, the organization’s mission is to promote the entire province as a must-visit meetings and conventions destination and then offer its assistance with the details. The team does this by pulling out all the stops when it comes to event-planning solutions, wherever they may be found across the Island.
“We’re here to connect those dots between our members and those who are planning a conference,” Freeman explains. “That could be anyone—not only meeting planners, but also administrative assistants who just don’t know where to start. We can do that legwork and help connect them with the member who is open and available, whether that’s in Charlottetown or Summerside or in the western or eastern ends of the province.”
PEI does much to accommodate the business visitor at every time of year.
With over 1,200 guestrooms and dozens of unique venues, from performance halls to breweries, Charlottetown provides great facilities including the new PEI Convention Centre, connected to the Delta Prince Edward, which has over 50,000 sq ft.. Sixty kilometers away, Summerside can host meetings for up to 500 in the Veterans Convention Centre (4,500 square feet) and at Credit Union Place (17,000 square feet).
Both cities also host new micro hotels. Summerside already has built some micro suites and is building a second hotel, a 100-room facility beside Credit Union Place opening in 2021. Meanwhile, there is a finalized deal in place to open a new 105 micro-room hotel with self-checkin in Charlottetown in May 2020.
Off-season meetings are also popular in the province’s eastern and western regions. In the west, Mill River Resort is a newly renovated hotel with 80 guest rooms, four meeting rooms and plenty of programmed experiences. In the east, Montague offers Lanes Riverhouse, a year-round facility with 53 guest rooms, meeting space and even an 85-seat theatre.
In fact, new hotel construction and renovations to existing properties, are helping increase interest in off-season meetings across Prince Edward Island in general. Over the past seven years, these have included such projects as (and for): Hampton Inn and Suites; Inn at Bay Fortune; Sydney Boutique Inn and Suites; Around the Sea Rotating House; Great George Hotel; Holiday Inn Express and Suites; The Hotel on Pownal; and Loyalist Country Inn and Conference Centre.
And, of course, PEI strives to entertain with year-round delights at, (and with), for example: Mark Arendz Provincial Ski Park at Brookvale; the Indian River Festival at Historic St. Mary’s (June-September); the Stompin’ Tom Festival in Skinners Pond (September); the International Shellfish Festival (September); and the Fall Flavours Culinary Festival. Plus, there are microbreweries, distilleries, live music and theatre almost everywhere a visitor looks.
Says Susan Freeman: “Meetings can be held on Prince Edward Island year-round and Meetings & Conventions PEI is here to help, no charge, 365 days a year.”