M&I Transatlantic Banff

Hannah was fortunate to attend the M&I Transatlantic Forum last week held at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, set in the magnificent Canadian Rockies! Carry on reading to find out more:

‘Upon arrival at the fabulous Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel I was greeted with a smell that I can only describe as ‘Christmas’, a scent with hints of cinnamon and orange which was accompanied by beautiful decorations, a huge gingerbread house and Christmas music! First impressions were ‘WOW!’

On the first day we were taken up to sunshine village ski resort where we split into groups, those who were avid skiers took the lifts up to the black slopes to take in the sites and enjoy the skiing and those of us who were beginners took to the training slope for a lesson! We were taught the basics and had a few runs down the slope before going into the chalet for a hearty lunch! The first evening was a ‘get to know you’ drinks reception where buyers and suppliers alike met and discussed events over a glass or two of wine. We were later invited to add our mark to a large canvas on which a local artist had began to paint a buffalo, safe to say everyone had very different ideas and the painting was very.. Colourful! The night ended on a high with a local band performing and many got up to have a dance before retiring to bed after a long day of travelling for the suppliers and skiing for the buyers!

On the first official day of meetings, we started with a delicious breakfast with items locally sourced including some Elk salami!

The meetings were very productive and included one to ones with suppliers from Cancun, Banff, Bermuda and LA to name a few! During the afternoon we took a gondola up to the top of one of the mountains after a lovely lunch at the Rimrock Resort Hotel. At the top of the mountain we divided into groups for a bit of friendly competition where we had a set of factual questions to answer – our team came second!!! We won a bag each of Elk droppings (chocolate covered raisins of course!).

Once the activities were finished we went back to the hotel to get ready for an evening of bowling and pool at High Rollers Banff town centre, after a few friendly games and lots to eat and drink, we made our way back to bed to ensure we were fresh for an early start as we had another morning of meetings and afternoon of activities to follow at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise!

The 45 minute drive through the Rockies up to Lake Louise was very picturesque, we left early to see the sunrise as we drove - it was incredible! On arrival we could see that Lake Louise was completely frozen over and there was even more snow up here! After a morning of meetings (where I was slightly distracted by the gorgeous backdrop through the huge windows of the Victoria Ballroom!) we then went out to enjoy the Lake!

We were divided into teams of 6 to take part in a ‘mini winter Olympics’ where we had to go ice fishing (not literally of course), giant skiing, build a tent and human curling before finally working together against the other teams to build a sledge and win the final race! In between all of the fun competition we got to take in the wonderful views, make snow angels and watch hotel guests ice skating – it was just magical!!

Upon returning to the hotel we changed out of our snow clothes and put on our checked shirts ready for a night of line dancing in cowboy hats – our transfer was horse and cart through a snowy woodland which for me was one of the highlights of the trip. We sung Christmas songs as the horses pulled us along through darkness, the snow topped trees and sparkling icicles. The bells round their necks ringing perfectly in tune with our song! We pulled out through the trees and arrived at the barn, we entered to find things in full swing – the 2 cowboy singers were getting the crowd ready for a night of line dancing, teaching us the basic moves before we were all off in our lines dancing away to the country music! After some dancing we enjoyed dinner and wine of course!! The bus home was fun – we were the last bus home and enjoyed an amusing sing off which lasted the whole 45 minute journey - front of the coach verses the back!

The final day of meetings was back at the Fairmont Banff Springs where we began with a much needed breakfast of freshly cooked to order omelettes and coffee after a late night! We then made our way to our final morning of meetings, which for me included suppliers from Florida, Las Vegas and Quebec! Our last afternoon of activities varied for each group, some went skiing, some dog sledding and some enjoyed mixology in the mountains, I however went over to Johnsons Canyon for an ice walk! We made our way to the entrance of the canyon wearing snow boots and ice cleats before we were guided through the frozen winter wonderland of waterfalls, canyons and frozen rivers! Some areas of the walk, especially on the slopes and hills were too icy to walk on so we all took to sliding down on our bums which was good fun!!! Once half way up, we stopped to enjoy fresh cookies and hot chocolates to warm up before making our way back along the route we came to get back to the bottom – it was breath-taking, the frozen waterfalls still had running water behind them that you could hear, the water is cold enough to freeze but because of the constant flow of the river/stream it will never actually freeze which was very fascinating to see! On our way back from the canyon we even saw buffalo, on the side of the road! Once we got back to the hotel we had an hour or two of time to get ready for the finale Prohibition Party and awards dinner. Everyone went to such a great effort with the fancy dress, with the guys donning gangster hats and the girls in their black gloves and feather boas! We were greeted with cocktails and music before heading into the Cascade Ballroom for a sumptuous 3 course dinner and the awards ceremonies for best buyer and supplier! But before all of this was the big reveal of the buffalo painting that we all helped to create on the first evening – WOW is all I can say, the artist had completely transformed the painting from the mess we’d made to an absolute masterpiece! There were a lot of laughs, dancing, selfies and drinks before the party ended and we went to the hotel bar for a night cap – it was a brilliant evening!

On the last day before our flight home we got chance to take part in one last activity as our flight wasn’t departing until the evening – I was lucky enough to get the chance to go dog sledding with Alaskan and Siberian Huskies! It was incredible!! On arrival the dogs were all barking and jumping with excitement as they were waiting to run, we helped to harness up the dogs in their order with the leaders at the front, 6 in total for the sledge run! We then got into the sledges in pairs before being pulled onto the beginning of the track with our guide on the back of the sledge! Once we’d started, the dogs were silent, content as they’d started to run, just what they’d been waiting for!! The views were incredible, the beautiful lakes and trees had the magnificent mountain backdrops and it was just breath-taking – we even got to have a go on the reins on the back of the sledge with our guide, holding on and using the breaks too! The dogs ran for 2 miles before we got to give them their treats and enjoyed cookies of our own! This marked the end of our fabulous trip as we made our way back to the hotel for lunch and to say goodbye to our lovely new friends before getting our transfer over to Calgary Airport!

The trip was absolutely fantastic – the destination was just incredible and the memories I will take from it will last a lifetime! I cannot recommend highly enough the Fairmont properties, Banff and Lake Louise as a destination and also the Blue Indigo DMC to any of our clients who would consider this area for an event – there is so much to do, so much to see and it’s very affordable, I will definitely be back!’

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