Sure, Kelowna may be known as the fastest growing tech centre in British Columbia, and you can’t miss the vast vineyards and orchards that surround the city or the region’s award-winning wine scene. All these features help draw conferences and incentive travel programs here from far and wide. But when it comes to favourite pastimes once groups arrive, nothing can replace a corporate golf outing.
Whether you play Kelowna’s easy-going or ego-shattering courses, group golf outings are anything but ordinary here. Thanks to our temperate climate, we enjoy one of the longest golf seasons in Canada, teeing off some years as early as February, and hitting the 19th hole for the last time in late October. And with some 19 courses in the greater Kelowna area, there’s a course for every level of player and group tournament.
Rugged and refined best describes the experience golfing Gallagher’s Canyon, a par-72, 18-hole championship course at canyon’s edge in the mountains surrounding Kelowna. Adjacent, the nine-hole Pinnacle course is perfect for a group outing or a quick scramble style event.
“Golf is a great team building activity; it’s exercise disguised as fun, with loads of fresh air, and our courses are surrounded by nature, only minutes from the city,” says Ruthanne Arams, sales, marketing and event manager for Gallagher’s Canyon and Pinnacle golf courses.
At Gallagher’s and Pinnacle, winding fairways, groves of Ponderosa pine and scenic vistas overlooking orchards, vineyards and Okanagan Lake offer a serene setting for tournament play and plenty of challenge for players, a mere 20-minute drive from Kelowna’s conference hotels, including the Fairfield by Marriott which offers groups a special “Slide into Spring” stay and play promotion.
“Our newly redesigned property is the perfect destination after a day on the links,” says Sabrina Neigum, Sales Manager at Fairfield by Marriott, who notes that their Slide into Spring stay and play promotion is valid at many of Kelowna’s golf courses.
Tucked into the foothills of east Kelowna is the Harvest Golf Club, a 7,109 yard, 18-hole course and golf academy – perfect for tournament play, or for offering delegates an opportunity to tune up their game as part of a meeting’s optional activities. Certified PGA Canada professionals provide tips to improve long and short games, putting, and the mental game – lessons that can easily translate in the business world. The course itself is one of the most walkable and scenic in Kelowna with sweeping views to the lake and the mountains. You know your team is playing in Kelowna – where else do fairways, bunkers and greens border vineyards and fruit orchards? Harvest Golf offers corporate group rates beginning at $110 per person in early season, and $130 per person during peak summer golf season.
Stay and Play
With 19 courses to play, we recommend hosting your group in a central location. In Kelowna, meeting planners can select from a wide variety of affordable properties that offer flexible meeting and event space, local culinary experiences all within a short drive of almost any course.
“The Four Points by Sheraton has one of the most convenient locations in Kelowna,” says Dana Chrichton, Director of Sales & Marketing, Four Points by Sheraton Kelowna Airport. “There are five superb courses within a 10-15 minute drive of our hotel. Groups can literally fly-in, check-into our hotel and be on the golf course inside an hour of landing.”
Closer to the heart of Kelowna are the Best Western Plus Kelowna Hotel and Suites and the Sandman Inn, each a moderately priced conference hotel within walking distance of big box shopping and familiar restaurants. Rick Andre, operations manager of Kanata Kelowna Hotel and Conference Centre notes that are plenty of reasons to host corporate group events in Kelowna including, “nineteen different locations to golf in the morning and forty plus wineries in our area” offering plenty for delegates to experience outside of their scheduled meetings. Much more challenging is deciding where to stay, says Andre, noting that his property offers plenty of comfort, amenities and value for conference planners.
“From top to bottom, the Kanata Kelowna Hotel and Conference Center is all about that personal touch that can only be found at an independent property. With full conference and catering facilities, a pool with two great waterslides, a complimentary hot breakfast and 190 rooms, we can handle almost any event. We've built our brand by committing to quality and value and we know that keeping that commitment is what keeps guests coming back.”
Not sure where to begin planning your corporate golf retreat? Engage the services of local professional conference organizers, Impact Events, they take care of all the small details from arranging transportation to tee-times, to prizes for the winners, and everything in between.
Kim Cameron is a content editor specializing in tourism and hospitality storytelling. A former international meeting and incentive travel planner and hotelier, Kim drives all editorial coverage for Business Events Canada, a division of Destination Canada, the country’s national tourism marketing organization. In addition to writing winning awards entries, event proposals and website content for private event planning agencies, Kim is working on her first novel.