The Shaw Conference Centre’s gorgeous surroundings and innovative offerings are a recipe for creating superior Edmonton-based events. April 26, 2011
The Shaw Conference Centre
Meetings & Incentive Travel Advertising Feature
As the province’s largest conference facility, the Shaw Conference Centre features stunning panoramic views of Edmonton’s river valley parkland, as well as an incredibly unique design.
The construction of the Shaw Conference Centre over 25 years ago included one of the world’s largest soil and rock excavations ever undertaken to accommodate a building. Approximately 70 per cent of the Shaw Conference Centre is located underground, concealing the fact that the building is actually over 10 storeys high.
The centre is situated in Edmonton’s picturesque North Saskatchewan River Valley, and many of its meeting rooms offer vistas of some of the country’s most pristine—and vast—greenscapes.
As guests enter the centre from Jasper Avenue, they are often amazed by the brilliant atrium, which benefits from generous natural light. The ceiling and side walls of the hall are made entirely of glass. The Centre is thus able to accommodate many exotic plants and even a waterfall in several of its common areas.
Unlike many other large convention centres in Canada, the Shaw Conference Centre provides its own food service, at a level of quality rivalling some of the city’s best restaurants and hotels. This quality can be attributed in part to Simon Smotkowicz, the centre’s award-winning chef, who is also the 2010 Team Business Manager for Culinary Team Canada. The centre’s pastry chef, James Holehouse, is one of six chefs on the team—one that will represent Canada in the 2012 World Culinary Olympics.
The benefits of providing event attendees with an extraordinary culinary experience at a conference are, of course, not insignificant. Meeting and event planners are looking not only to provide a good overall event experience, they hope for specific elements that will allow an event to stand out in attendees’ minds. For example, outstanding meals can help reinforce some of the messages people hear at a conference, and often they will associate a fantastic meal with a fantastic event.
Another characteristic that can impress conference attendees, especially in Edmonton, is environmental responsibility. The Shaw Conference Centre is a BOMA BEST certified venue, committed to responsible environmental practices. Planners can “green” their events with the Shaw Conference Centre’s Simple Steps, an industry leading, eco-friendly planning programme (see sidebar).
Besides providing excellent events, success for the Shaw Conference Centre comes in providing lots of them. In an average year, the centre receives 330,230 visitors (based on 2005-2010 events). It is booked 93 per cent of the year.
Although only 30 per cent of it is above ground, this high-quality meeting facility is no secret to Canada’s event planners.
Simple Steps Programme
The Shaw Conference Centre launched Simple Steps in 2008. The programme has allowed the facility to move forward with a number of environmental initiatives, reducing its environmental footprint. The most significant programme advantage is its ability to help the centre reduce waste. It is currently diverting about 60 per cent of the waste that goes
through the centre toward recycling and compost.
Simple Steps also provides a number of tips for event planners on how to “green” their events, such as: involve stakeholders and suppliers as you plan, to ensure effective green participation—establishing metrics will allow you to measure your success; and choose hotels and amenities in close proximity, so members can walk or use group/public transportation whenever possible.