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Meeting in Bermuda: The Canadian Construction Association’s Annual Conference

When choosing a destination for their annual conference, the Canadian Construction Association (CCA) were not short on options. In their 101 years, they’ve chosen a new place each time, from all over Canada and the US to Mexico, Hawaii, Panama and a cruise through the Caribbean.

Like other destinations, Bermuda provided state-of-the-art meeting spaces and modern and comfortable accommodations, but the island set itself apart with a wealth of activities for more than 700 attendees from across Canada. Just two hours from Toronto and East Coast US cities, Bermuda is easy to get to, but a world away. Sailing and snorkelling on board a catamaran, biking lush trails, a photography tour through nature reserve and local rum tastings were just a bite of what the group experienced out here in March 2019.

“It’s definitely a first rate destination. There’s plenty to do and attendees truly enjoyed it,”

said Chantal Montpetit, Director of Meetings and Conferences, CCA, who offered nine different tours and activities outside of their many scheduled events. She worked with a local Destination Management Company at the Fairmont Southampton, the island’s largest resort with 593 rooms, nine restaurants and bars, heated pools, shops, tennis courts, a private pink sand beach, dive centre, beach and a Willow Stream spa. Not a traditional incentive trip, each guest paid their own fights and board and children and families were welcome.

“The Bermuda Tourism Authority and Air Canada also worked with us and the route,” she affirmed.  Following the Authority’s outreach to the airline on behalf of the client, Air Canada stepped in with extra capacity to satisfy their demands, increasing its airlift between Toronto and Bermuda to host the group and temporarily swapping the 146-seat Airbus 320 for a 200-seat Airbus 321 (Air Canada Rouge).

Montpetit said it was valuable to be able to lean on the island’s tourism stakeholders to help plan and coordinate the itinerary.

“It worked really well. We were able to presell the activities with guests registering for in advance. They did everything and anything from the rum cruise, biking, kayaking, a photography tour. Just a few things,” she laughed

“Everybody was really friendly and accommodating. You have some real gems – one guy helped me with a last-minute order for batteries because we had over 500 receivers that we brought in for translation. For us, it is vital – we cannot do without it.”

A large portion of the group require French-English translation. The CCA were able to bring in their own audio-visual team, translators and ship in the necessary equipment relying on collaboration between the Bermuda Tourism Authority and the island’s tourism stakeholders.

A look inside the National Musuem of Bermuda 

A series of events highlighted Bermudian cultures, including a presentation on the island’s seagoing history, a night out at the National Museum of Bermuda, an awards breakfast and beach party. 

“It’s a busy programme – with a lot of events,” said Montpetit. Some of her highlights include exploring the caves and the Town of St. George, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The guests took part in a golf tournament at Turtle Hill Golf Club, an 18-hole, par 3 championship course on the grounds of the Fairmont Southampton.

A welcoming evening at the hotel flaunted the island’s cuisine, steel pan band and a colourful Gombey dancer presentation. A nautical-themed dinner at the National Museum was a highlight with welcoming drinks served in the Commissioner’s House, a grand, 19th century mansion, and a plated dinner on the lawn for 700 guests.

Commissioner House, National Museum of Bermuda

Commissioner House, National Museum of Bermuda

“Fourways catering did an awesome job with the food and the service,” said Montpetit. “Everyone was complimenting it. It worked really, really well. We used local entertainment, HindSight. They made the crowd dance.”