This past May, I traveled to Niagara Falls, Canada to attend Rendez-vous Canada (RVC), an international tourism marketplace highlighting experiences and destinations across Canada. During RVC, the Minister of State for Small Business and Tourism Maxime Bernier announced that Canada “will put more money in the U.S. market.” That’s approximately $30 million dollars Destination Canada will use over the next three years towards a marketing campaign to attract more U.S. travelers.
After RVC, I participated in a FAM through the Ontario region that gave me a peek of Canada’s diverse offerings. In addition to viewing Niagara Falls—from a helicopter, on a cruise, from the Skylon Tower and from a Ferris wheel—I also sipped wine during a dinner under the stars at a winery on Niagara on the Lake, saw moose and wolves, went mining for precious stones, explored caves, and zipped on a mountain coaster. To quote David Goldstein, president and CEO of Destination Canada, I learned “that Canada isn’t just cold, it’s cool, too.”
According to Vanessa Parrish, channel marketing manager for Globus family of brands, “Canada is considered a hot destination for a number of reasons. It’s beautiful, it’s safe, it boasts a favorable exchange rate and it’s an easy destination for Americans to get to.”
Here are my top five reasons why Canada is so hot it’s cool:
1. Wolf Watching: Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve, located in Ontario’s Highlands and the County of Haliburton, is a must-do for outdoorsy types. It’s open year-round, and when I went at the start of summer, the air was still crisp, making it enjoyable to hike along the trails. Lunch at the onsite Cookhouse overlooking Kennisis Lake is a must as this laid-back locale serves homestyle cooking. At the Wolf Centre, visitors are treated to a wolf pack viewing—guests watch from an indoor, above ground room with 360-degree views of the wolves in their natural environment. At Haliburton Forest, guests can also visit a sawmill, meet Hershey the moose, learn about the Wildflower Bee Apiary, meet a team of sled dogs, go on a canopy tour or go biking on the trails.
2. Theme Park Fun: Canada’s Wonderland, located in the Central Counties region, is a perfect stop for those traveling with the family. This theme park features 200 attractions, 69 rides, a 20-acre waterpark, and 16 roller coasters—including Canada’s tallest and fastest rollercoaster, Leviathan.
3. A Peaceful Retreat: Voyageur Quest Algonquin Log Cabin is most definitely the place for those clients who would like a rural experience. Set within the forest, cabins offer views of the stunning natural setting, and the lake—where guests can go canoeing—is just a short walk away. The lodge can also arrange activities such as hiking and wildlife interpretations, as well as moose photography safaris.
4. Heli Over Niagara: While seeing the Falls up-close on the Hornblower cruise is quite an experience, taking a helicopter tour over the Falls provides a unique vantage point. It’s also more personable as it only accommodates five passengers, versus the crowds on the cruise. But sailing near the Falls is no less impressive—it’s a rush like none other to be so near these massive falls.
5. Manning the Mountain: Fun on the mountain isn’t only for ski season. Blue Mountain Village offers guests a wide range of activities, such as a gondola ride up the mountain with stunning views of Georgian Bay, a ropes course, mountain biking, hiking, a mountain coaster, an aquatic center, rock climbing and a private beach on Georgian Bay. During my stay at the Village Suites at the Grand Georgian Hotel at Blue Mountain Resort, I tackled the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, which slowly makes its way to the top of the mountain, then zips down. Definitely an enjoyable experience for both adults and older kids.
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According to Vanessa Parrish, channel marketing manager, Globus family of brands, “Canada is very popular for outdoor activities, primarily in Western Canada where you can experience the beauty of the Canadian Rockies between Vancouver and Calgary. Travelers can experience some out-of-the-ordinary experiences that they may not have the opportunity to do at home. In Jasper National Park, you can ice walk through Maligne Canyon or take a guided wilderness safari. In Banff, take a gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain, and in Jasper, try snowshoeing, ice-skating, or a snowmobile tour all while surrounded by Lake Louise’s beauty.”
Globus’ Canada itineraries include the 9-day Historic Cities of Eastern Canada tour (2016 rates start at $1,957 pp dbl) that starts in Toronto and ends in Montreal with overnights in Niagara Falls, Ottawa and Quebec City. Along the way, guests will see landmarks such as Montreal’s Notre Dame, enjoy a Niagara Falls cruise (there’s also an optional flightseeing tour), and cruise through the waterways of Ontario’s Thousand Islands National Park. There’s also a wine tasting/tour at a vineyard in Niagara on the Lake and dinner in Old Town Quebec, plus a tour/breakfast at a sugar shack in Quebec City. globusjourneys.com