Meeting MPI Toronto - January/February 2015 - (Page 14)

HIDING IN PLAIN SIGHT: By Paula Racher, Niagara Falls Tourism THE NEW NIAGARA S ome of my favourite site inspections are with individuals who live somewhere in the Niagara Region and have been deemed the "local expert" by a conference committee. I brace myself for the inevitable proclamation that they know all there is to know about our lovely destination. After all, they have been coming to the Falls their entire lives! They grew up here. While this may be true, they have typically been schlepping relatives to tourist hotspots; they haven't been viewing Niagara from a meetings and conference perspective, and they certainly aren't retreats. They certainly wouldn't know that the Men's Sanctuary is just as lush and serene as the Women's, or that groups of 20 to 25 can rotate through mini facials, mani/pedis and massage experiences. They may event think that there's something different about the façade of the Best Western PLUS Cairn Croft. Where does that black door bordered in bold red lead to? It wasn't there last summer - Doc Magilligan's Irish Pub and Restaurant, of course! Doc's warm wood, reflective tin ceiling and richly coloured interior was hand-crafted in Ireland and assembled on top of all the recent additions to our product offerings. These individuals have likely travelled along Niagara Stone Road into Niagara-on-the-Lake to perhaps attend the Shaw Festival Theatre, stroll historic Queen Street, or enjoy a wine tasting or two at any of the fine wineries along that road. They will likely tell you that the quaint red barn on the left houses antiques ... oh wait a second ... Niagara Oast House Brewers have converted this once popular antique store into a craft brewery that pays tribute to traditional European farm-based brewers. The Hayloft of the barn is home to new event space, accommodating a 72-person meal or 120-person reception, and offers a new spin on a traditional winemaker's dinner. It is highly unlikely that these local experts have experienced a Brew Tour or sampled the seasonal Country Bumpkin beer (think toasted pumpkin and all the pie spices) or any of Chef Hynam-Smith's culinary experiences, such as The Great Oast BBQ (an exciting twist on southern classics) or the The Beer Hall (think Oktoberfest). If they imagine themselves as an oenophile (fancy word for wine expert), they may not have experienced the best of both worlds with Swirls, Sips and Hops, a joint venture between the neighbouring Stratus Vineyards. While escorting relatives to some of the iconic Niagara Falls experiences, these individuals may pass by two hidden gems on Lundy's Lane - Senses Spa within the Americana Conference Resort, and Doc Magilligan's Irish Pub and Restaurant at the Best Western PLUS Cairn Croft. The local experts may have attended a meeting at the Americana, but they have likely never stepped inside their Senses Spa - one of the area's finest relaxation and wellness onsite. Open for almost one year, we can't fault individuals for not knowing that 200-person corporate groups have enjoyed Gaelic Kitchen Party experiences with live music and Irish Dancers or that the Reubin Bites are delish! After stopping to view the Falls or perhaps escort relatives on a Hornblower Niagara Cruise fireworks edition, our local experts have likely helped relatives lighten their pockets at the Fallsview Casino Resort. Unknown to the group, they could all have been enjoying quiet conversation and a beverage in R5, the Fallsview's uber contemporary second floor lounge that commands a stunning view of the Falls.  They could opt to sit on R5's patio or enjoying a seat by the fireplace while taking the evening skies with the ever present backdrop of the falls. Spyce Lounge ... nope, doesn't sound familiar to our local experts. The floor-to-ceiling windows roll up to invite people in to the Hilton Hotel & Suite's newest street level space. Sounds of local performers waft along Fallsview Boulevard with aromas of appetizers and casual meals just behind. Groups are surprised by the elegance of the newly found Spyce Lounge and wonder what more there is to discover. All of the above is just a small sampling of what is new and exciting. I feel gratified when I have helped guide our so called "local experts" become aware that Niagara is constantly improving to accommodate the meetings industry. With this new knowledge in hand, individuals can truly become just that - local experts - and they can be our hidden gems in assisting our meetings market grow to its full potential. 14 * ME ETING | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2015 Paula Racher is a Manager at Niagara Falls Tourism and can be reached at

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Meeting MPI Toronto - January/February 2015

President’s Message
Editor’s Word
Welcome, New Members!
Upcoming Events
Discovering Toronto’s Best Kept Secrets – A Venue Guide
Entertainment Trend Forecast 2015
Inside the Chapter: MPI Toronto’s Hidden Gems
Canada’s Hidden Gems: Ready to Welcome and Delight Groups of All Sizes
Hiding in Plain Sight: The New Niagara
Secrets for Effective Negotiation and Getting What You Want
Chapter Speaks
Attendee Engagement – Try Something New!
The Rise of Restaurant-Inspired Events
Destination Winnipeg
Advertisers’ Index &

Meeting MPI Toronto - January/February 2015