One of the many benefits to living in Manitoba is that we have nature at our fingertips — a stunning hike, fishing adventure or weekend getaway to a lakefront cabin is often no more than a few hours’ drive away.
This accessibility to nature is a unique opportunity for our local business community. Business leaders can take their staff or executive team on a variety of adventures, which not only bring colleagues closer together but can also create memorable and unique experiences for everyone involved.
Whether your office is interested in a guided fly fishing tour, a hike to some scenic vistas or more traditional team-building games and exercises, there are a variety of resorts and retreats located throughout the province. Many of these locations also offer great opportunities to relax and unwind together when your day of learning and adventure is complete.
With this in mind, here are 11 hot spots to take your team this year.
1. Lakeview Hecla Resort
Located in the Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park, Lakeview Hecla Resort offers a contemporary and comfortable experience for corporate clients and families alike.
“We’re located in a beautiful location with a wide range of accommodations, including 68 rooms with a mix of ‘Single King’ and ‘Double Queen’ rooms, plus 22 suites,” says Karen Kummen Diak, Conference and Group Sales Executive for Lakeview Hotels & Resorts. “We offer all-inclusive packages for our corporate clients that include an overnight stay, breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as two refreshment breaks and access to our meeting room.”
“We have on-site sales and catering staff who can help craft any corporate experience into something memorable,” she states, adding that they offer “family style” dining and catering menus that can be adapted to accommodate any dietary restriction.
When not in the meeting room, which can accommodate up to 250 people, corporate guests can unwind by playing a game of golf at the nearby Lakeview Hecla Golf Course, or by engaging in a team-building exercise. “Geocaching is very popular among our corporate guests,” says Karen. “We also offer free movies in our guest rooms for those interested in unwinding during their stay.”
“Booking a corporate event at Lakeview is like staying at a 4-star resort without ever leaving the province,” she also adds, noting that they often book up to a year in advance.
For corporate guests looking for a unique environment where they can get away, do some work and unwind as a group, Lakeview Hecla Resort is a must for any event in your corporate calendar.
2. FortWhyte Alive
FortWhyte Alive is a busy local venue which offers lots of programming opportunities for corporate clients looking to take their event out of a traditional boardroom, but who may not be up for an out-of-town excursion.
Kalyn Murdock, Group Services Coordinator at FortWhyte Alive, works with groups who are interested in the daytime meeting space and helps plan corporate team-building activities offered on-site. “Typically, our clients are looking for a ‘full day’ experience which involves both a meeting or series of presentations, as well as a team-building and nature-focused element,” she states, adding that their motto is “step out of the office and into FortWhyte.’”
In an effort to bring more value to team building exercises in which everyone is comfortable and excited to participate, Kalyn explains that they “focus on less intimidating, fun activities that are easy to do.” She points to a digital scavenger hunt as a popular option, where guests use their phones to take photos of items or areas around the centre.
“However, we’re pretty flexible,” she states. “It really depends on the group. Some people want an experience which is app-based and features a live scoreboard where they can see who’s in the lead. Others want a more physical and competitive experience, which they can find in our ‘Amazing Chase’ experience.”
Once the meetings have ended and the teams have competed in their activities, Kalyn likes to end the day with an on-site bonfire and some snacks. “This gives groups an opportunity to unwind together, relax and swap stories from their day,” she says.
Two boardrooms are available — the Lakeside Meeting Room, which boasts a wall of windows facing the lake, and the Siobhan Richardson Field Station, which has more of a “cabin in the woods feel.” On-site catering is also available, so your group can stay energized all day.
FortWhyte Alive offers unique, seasonal experiences for corporate groups of all sizes who are interested in fun, low-key activities to enhance their corporate training or meeting experience.
3. Gods River Lodge
Gods River Lodge is a fly-in fishing lodge which caters to guests from the Winnipeg and Thompson areas. A popular spot with both local and American fishing enthusiasts, they offer three day, four day and weeklong packages which include airfare, accommodations, food, a boat, motor and fishing guide.
“We’ve been Canada’s premier fly-in fishing resort for over 40 years,” says Bruce Hastings, who handles bookkeeping at the lodge. “We’re renowned for our trophy fishing and we tell our guests that they will be experiencing the dream of a lifetime when they book with us.”
With four cabins that can accommodate up to 12 people per cabin, Gods River Lodge is equipped to handle large groups of fishing enthusiasts looking to take a break from corporate life and get back to nature. Each cabin offers multiple twin beds, private bathrooms, as well as electric furnaces (some have coal, says Bruce), indoor fireplaces and outdoor fire pits.
With a fully equipped conference centre that accommodates up to 24 people, corporate guests can enjoy a bright setting for their meetings or conferences. These include catered food which is prepared on-site and can accommodate all dietary needs and restrictions.
Once the workday is over, guests can enjoy fishing tours led by guides with many years of experience in the area. “Our guides have the knowledge and skills to find the best spots in the area,” says Bruce. “We don’t employ summer students or part-time guides. All of our guides grew up on the lake and can find the best secret spots to help our guests land a trophy-sized catch.”
Main image of Gods River Lodge via ResortsandLodges.com
4. Buffalo Point Resort
Buffalo Point Resort is a fantastic option for a corporate getaway due to its remote location in Lake of the Woods. Overlooking the waters of Big Traverse Bay, Muskeg Bay and Buffalo Bay, the resort offers outdoor recreational opportunities for groups of all sizes.
Don Revel, Resort Manager at Buffalo Point, states that corporate groups love to stay for a night or two and reconnect over a game of golf. Lake of the Sandhills Golf Course, an 18-hole golf course (with an extra 19th hole), is located on the property and is a popular option for summer guests.
In addition to golfing, summertime guests can enjoy a calm, peaceful getaway with three beachfront locations, a main beach, boardwalk, clubhouse, conference centre with multiple meeting rooms, restaurant and lounge.
Groups can book fishing trips, enjoy hiking excursions, go canoeing around the lake and soak in the relaxing atmosphere. In the winter, visitors can also keep active by snowshoeing or going snowmobiling. “We have great ice fishing in January, too,” says Don. “It’s very popular with our winter visitors.”
Buffalo Point Resort boasts 24 cabins in total, with 14 available year-round. Of note is the ‘Luxury Lakefront’ cabin, that features a hot tub during the summer, a gas fireplace, and a spacious interior. Other options include quaint trailer-style cabins, 600 square foot cabins, and 800 square foot cabins with fireplaces, two bedrooms, full kitchens and jacuzzi bathtubs.
With an in-house kitchen, the resort can accommodate any dietary need or restriction along with the ability to provide buffets for large groups — offering a terrific getaway opportunity for you and your team.
5. Moon Gate Guest House
Moon Gate Guest House is an eco-friendly, all-season retreat located on the banks of the Whitemouth River, just an hour east of Winnipeg. The retreat is managed by Jenny Dupas and her husband, Michel. They work diligently to create an oasis disconnected from the hustle and bustle of digital, everyday life.
“Moon Gate is a sanctuary,” Jenny explains. “We offer our guests the opportunity to ‘slip away’ with us and disconnect from technology, their cell phones, and the constant connectivity that many of us experience in our daily lives.”
Before it became a digital detox, Moon Gate was an egg grading station and a wooden stir stick factory. When repurposing the space, Michel, who has a knack for carpentry, was able to repurpose much of the original materials. With a communal kitchen for guests to share and five rooms decorated to a theme, which are reflective of Jenny and Michel’s heritage and culture, they strive for an intimate, cozy experience that focuses on relaxation.
For team-building exercises, Jenny and Michel will work with you to create an experience that is customized to your needs. By partnering with other local businesses including outdoor outfitters, they can design canoeing, hiking, and snowshoeing excursions that are nature-focused and not too strenuous.
“We partner with a great local cafe called The Spicy Radish for catering events,” says Jenny. “We encourage our guests to cook for themselves and have a BBQ on-site, but being able to showcase fresh, locally-made food is always an option.”
For guests looking for a casual and ‘unplugged’ experience that’s focused on taking time to reflect and grow together, Moon Gate Guest House is the perfect place to take a team who may need that digital detox this season.
6. Pinewood Lodge
Pinewood Lodge is located in the Whiteshell Provincial Park, surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Manitoban wilderness, allowing guests to unwind and reconnect with nature when not learning and reconnecting in their conference facility.
“We strive for a rustic, yet comfortable feel,” says Terrace Banman, who owns Pinewood Lodge. “Our goal is to create an intimate atmosphere for guests looking for a relaxing vacation without having to travel.”
Just an hour from Winnipeg, the Lodge provides accommodations, in-house catering, and a conference space with seating for up to 120 attendees. Corporate guests can customize their stay and can choose from three different styles: Luxury, which comes with a full kitchen, fireplace, two-person whirlpool tub and a queen bed; Spa Deluxe, which comes with a king-size bed, whirlpool tub, and kitchenette; and the Deluxe, which comes with a queen bed and kitchenette.
“In addition to our comfortable accommodations, our guests can also use personal BBQs and (enjoy the) use of our fire pit and beachfront property,” says Terrace. She notes that they don’t do team-building exercises and activities, as they “focus on comfort and leave coordinating those events to our guests.”
For conferences and large corporate events, Pinewood offers top-notch catering, including either a hot breakfast buffet or a continental breakfast, followed by a lunch or dinner. “We also make our own pizzas, which are so popular with our guests that many of them buy extras to take home when they leave,” says Terrace.
7. Falcon Trails Resort
Falcon Trails Resort is a forest resort located on the shores of High Lake and Falcon Lake, in the Whiteshell Provincial Park. It’s owned and operated by two families — the Hamiltons and the Christies —who bring a “down to earth” and authentic feel to every experience they craft for their guests.
Deborah Kuhl-Magnusson, Events Coordinator for Falcon Trails Resort, notes that every group who contacts the resort will be assigned an Accommodation Planner, who assists with planning the perfect weekend getaway for any corporate clients.
The resort also features their High Lake Eco Cabins, which were awarded the Tourism Manitoba Eco-Tourism Award in 2003. These run on solar-powered electricity and were built using largely reclaimed or local materials, including state-of-the-art composting toilets. These cabins, along with the others located on the property, allow for accommodations of up to 38 people. In addition, the resort also features hot tubs, as well as larger units which are often used as ‘meeting places’ for groups and retreats.
“We really pride ourselves on our team-building activities,” she states. “Most of our experiences are outdoor based and make use of the property, plus can be changed to accommodate either competitive or team-building experiences.”
One example she cites is a geocaching adventure where one team heads out in a canoe, while the other stays behind to decipher a cryptogram so they can relay the information to the team out on the water. Then, the teams work together to find the geocached prize and bring it back to complete the mission.
The resort also offers other team-building activities, a biathlon experience, guided hikes and more. “We really cater our experiences to what our clients are looking for,” says Deborah. “We talk to the coordinators and ask things like, ‘Is there a theme?’ and ‘How well do people know each other?’ in order to build the best possible experience.”
8. Caribou Lodge Outfitters
Caribou Lodge Outfitters is a “drive to” hunting and fishing resort which has been providing guided experiences for over 30 years. Owner Norm Sancartier prides himself on being able to create unique and memorable experiences for his guests.
“Arrive as a guest, leave as a friend,” he states. “That’s our motto and we take it very seriously.”
Guests at the Lodge stay in a motel which can accommodate up to 17 people at once, but Norm suggests keeping groups small in order to get the full experience. “We need to make sure everyone is safe and has equipment, so we keep groups small,” he says. “It also makes for a more personal experience, which really matters to our guests.”
Groups staying at Caribou Lodge can rent out the dining room, which can be converted into a meeting hall when necessary for presentations and group activities. Once the learning is over, Norm and his staff offer hunting, fishing, and even ice-fishing excursions where guests can catch “trophy-size” walleye, lake trout, and northern pike.
Norm prides himself on creating customized experiences for his guests, stating that “quizzing” guests about their hobbies and expectations before they arrive plays a critical role in designing unique and memorable experiences.
“We provide our guests with a chance to get a break from real life and get back to nature,” he says. “We provide home-style cooking and can serve fish right from the lake for dinner.” Caribou Lodge can also accommodate any dietary restrictions and can create customized meal plans for the entirety of your stay.
“We walk 1,000 miles for our guests,” Norm says. “Like I said, I want everyone to leave feeling like we all just became friends.”
9. St. Benedict’s Retreat & Conference Centre
Since 1970, St. Benedict’s Retreat & Conference Centre (warmly referred to as ‘St. Ben’s’) has offered a bright, spacious and accessible option for corporate getaways and events for corporate clients. Located on a monastery site just north of Winnipeg, St. Ben’s focuses on restorative and rural experiences for their guests.
“Even though we’re a Roman Catholic community, we’re open to all denominations and nondenominational guests,” says Sister Mary Coswin, the Director at St. Ben’s. “We welcome business groups of all sizes and provide meals and accommodations in an informal setting.”
In keeping with the monastic theme, Sister Mary describes the rooms as comfortable and simple, without Internet access or TVs. “Our goal is to provide an experience which focuses on relaxation and personal development,” she says. “We focus on reconnecting with nature and stepping away from digital life.”
She is quick to note, however, that the conference areas are all equipped with Internet access and audio-visual equipment, “so our guests aren’t completely disconnected.”
She notes that their in-house chef, who was trained in Europe, is a highlight for many guests. “We had a group of Buddhists visit us from India, and our chef prepared breakfast with all the food that they typically have back home,” she states. “Our kitchen is extremely flexible, and during the summer we cook with ingredients grown in our two-acre garden, which is located on-site.”
Featuring six conference rooms which can accommodate groups of up to 100 people, accommodations which can house up to 50 people, and a stellar in-house kitchen with acres of beautiful wooded and riverside walking paths, St. Ben’s is the perfect place to take a break and reconnect with your colleagues.
10. Eagle Nest Lodge
Eagle Nest Lodge is a world-class, remote fishing lodge located in the upper reaches of the Winnipeg River. A family-owned and operated establishment, they offer unique, hands-on wilderness experiences for groups looking to shake off their daily digital lives and experience the true Canadian wilderness.
Jessica Jackson, who manages the marketing and day-to-day operations, notes that one of the unique features of the lodge is its remote location. Her family owns and operates the air service, which brings guests right to the lodge, but is quick to note that since many corporations have strict guidelines for air travel, they’re also happy to bring guests in by boat as well.
Her parents currently own and operate the lodge, but it was initially purchased by her grandparents over 40 years ago. “We offer a variety of packages including weekend trips and corporate getaways,” she states, adding that the resort is popular with fishing nuts due to the abundance of walleye, smallmouth bass and northern pike found in the region.
“We’re a turnkey destination, which means our guests can simply pack a suitcase and they’re ready to go,” says Jessica. “We provide accommodations, licensing, housekeeping and food, and offer guided fishing excursions for our guests.”
Eagle Nest Lodge boasts five large cabins on the water, each with a large deck, air conditioning and heating, Wi-Fi, double and single beds, satellite TV and more. Public spaces include a hot tub area, a fully equipped gym and a rec room area with a pool table, which is great for socializing in the evenings.
One highlight is the “Fishing and Golf” corporate package, which is popular amongst executives and businesspeople who also enjoy a round of golf. “In addition to guided fishing excursions, we can fly guests to the nearby 18-hole golf course at Granite Hills Golf Club in Lac du Bonnet and fly them home for dinner,” says Jessica.
Guests who want to engage in more competitive sports can enjoy skeet shooting, and those interested in a unique experience can ask about wolf watching, where guests can view wild wolves devour a meal from a safe distance away, in boats on the water.
With its remote location, high-end accommodations, and unique offerings, Eagle Nest Lodge is a must for any corporate group looking to break the mold with their next corporate getaway.
11. Wilderness Edge Retreat & Conference Centre
Built in the 1960s, Wilderness Edge Retreat & Conference Centre was originally a staff house for nuclear scientists during the 60s and 70s, and true to Cold War-era design, the facility features a bomb shelter on-site with emergency hatches and routes available from underneath the centre.
However, after a global political shift in the mid-90s, everything in Pinawa — which was then owned by the federal government — went up for sale. In 1999, Kevin Penner, the current owner of Wilderness Edge, purchased the property after initially calling to ask about booking a retreat on-site.
Since then, the space has undergone a transformation and was selected as a Top Destination by Travel Manitoba for rafting and tubing this year. Kevin states that this past summer alone, over 10,000 people came to the farm to enjoy the summer activities available there.
Occupying 11 acres right on the water, Wilderness Edge boasts a facility with 140 bedrooms made of concrete and glass. “It’s a super-strong structure,” says Kevin.
Kevin describes the accommodations as “simple, no frills” and goes on to explain that their focus is on offering large meeting and dining areas, including an inviting cedar sauna and a “massive” hot tub.
In addition, guests can indulge in the Manitoba wilderness by hiking between the nearby dams of Seven Sisters and Pinawa, and going tubing and rafting. In the winter, guests can expect to go on ice fishing, snowshoeing and snowmobiling trips, and can engage in fun group activities like curling and playing hockey on the two rinks available on-site.