If casting a fishing line or horseback riding through a mountain range is your idea of a great escape for a corporate retreat, British Columbia offers numerous opportunities for your team. Remote getaways accessible only by dirt road, boat or even helicopter can be found throughout the province.
In the Cariboo region around Kelowna, also known as “cowboy country,” Echo Valley Ranch & Spa and Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort both offer high-end facilities in stunning natural settings.
At Echo Valley, near Clinton, you can reserve a few rooms or an entire lodge and enjoy horseback riding, target shooting, haute cuisine, full spa facilities, guided yoga classes and fly-fishing instruction at two trout-filled lakes right on the property.
Owners Norm and Nan Dove have created a heavenly getaway that combines Thai and western culture. That includes the Baan Thai, which offers a 3,000-square-foot meeting space, complete with a state-of-the-art audiovisual system. Smaller meetings can be held in the informal seating areas in the lodges. In nice weather, outdoor assemblies can take place under the barbecue hut or around a campfire.
A little farther north, Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort specializes in corporate retreats of eight to 12 people. Meetings can mix formal time, structured team-building activities and off-road adventure. The resort’s 160 acres offer horseback riding, a trout-filled lake for fishing, outdoor yoga and helicopter adventures.
For indoor gatherings, the ranch has full business amenities with 1,500 square feet of informal and formal meeting space. Team-building specialists can create competitive events, along with educational seminars.
If you’re not up for driving, getting to Echo Valley is a short-haul flight from Kelowna, and Norm Dove can fly clients in himself, landing on the resort’s airstrip. Accessing Siwash Lake is an easy hour-and-a-half flight from Vancouver.
On sunny days, take your meetings outdoors at Echo Valley’s barbecue pit, or around a campfire or on the shady patio | Baila Lazarus
Heading farther east, in the Canadian Rockies, you’ll find the Three Bars Guest Ranch, just 20 minutes from Cranbrook. Outside of the high season, Three Bars focuses on accommodations and activities for corporate meetings and other large groups. Visitors can take over all 21 rooms and have access to conference rooms for up to 40, high-speed Wi-Fi and exclusive use of the ranch facilities, which includes striking views of the Rockies. Activities include horseback riding and lessons, four-by-four off-roading, trap shooting, archery, fly-fishing, rafting, golf and mountain biking.
In northern B.C., the Bear Claw Lodge in the Kispiox Valley is a 15,000-square-foot luxury accommodation an hour and a half north of Smithers. It’s frequented by heli-skiers in the winter and fishing enthusiasts in the summer. The Kispiox River is said to be home to the largest strain of wild steelhead in the world. Bear Claw welcomes eco-retreats to its aboriginal-inspired getaway, but it has only eight bedrooms, so be sure to plan ahead.
If seaside fishing on a secluded island is more your speed, the King Pacific Lodge at Milbanke Sound on Dufferin Island, west of Bella Coola, offers some of the best fishing on the mainland coast.
George and Lisa Cuthbert have run the lodge for 25 years. Not only will they show you the best chinook and coho salmon fishing you can hope for, their staff will also fillet, cut, vacuum pack, freeze and crate your catch for your return flight.
The 34-room floating lodge has a large dining area and numerous lounges for small meetings. Packages include flights from Vancouver to Bella Bella followed by a helicopter ride to the resort, all meals and use of all fishing equipment and clothing.
On Vancouver Island, a variety of oceanside retreats get visitors out of urban areas and deep into nature.
The Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, accessible only by boat or float plane, is an eco-resort set up with luxury tents that offer accommodation and small meeting areas. Activities and amenities include kayaking and wildlife tours, horseback riding, spa facilities and even zip lines.
A 20-minute boatride - or five minutes by helicopter - from Tofino, the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort is a perfect remote eco-getaway with full luxury amenities | Clayoquot Wilderness Resort
Farther south, situated in lush rainforest, the luxurious Wya Point Resort is only a short drive from Ucluelet but may as well be hundreds of miles away. With motifs reflective of the Yuu-thlu-ilth-aht First Nation, the resort offers traditional and yurt-style accommodations, beautifully appointed with aboriginal carvings, as well as first-class cuisine and amenities. Aboriginal Tourism BC honoured it with the 2014 Outstanding Accommodations Award.
Use one of its oceanview lodges for small board meetings, then head out to hike the spectacular shoreline, opt for First Nations-led surf lessons or plan a fishing charter for a day.
If you’re ready to take your group into the wild, British Columbia has no shortage of options.
Tents at the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort are used for eating, sleeping and lounging | Clayoquot Wilderness Resort