As we move gratefully back to in-person meetings and functions, event planners, conference organizers and wedding planners are looking at venues through a new prism.
The ideal venue needs to be stunning, of course – that’s an element that hasn’t changed. But it also should be spacious and private, because few event-goers want to be sharing elevators with strangers, or squeezing together in lineups. And it should be nearby.
“People are ready to get back together, but they’re not necessarily ready to travel long distances for corporate retreats,” says Alana Mackle of Alpine Ski Club.
Little wonder, then, that the private ski club on the shores of Georgian Bay is showing up on the radar of more and more event planners.
The clubhouse certainly has the “stunning” element covered. The 45,000 sq. ft. building, which opened in 2016, sits at the base of the private ski club’s 760-foot hills. A soaring glass wall makes up the south side of the main hall, offering sweeping views of the ski runs and the surrounding forest; to the north, visitors enjoy an equally marvelous view of Georgian Bay.
The building features a wide array of event spaces, including the spacious main hall, an adjacent fireside lounge and bar, and several other large and small spaces, including a massive outdoor patio with a fire pit. Even with all of these options, the club is only rented to one group at a time. “If you’re renting this space, it’s yours exclusively,” says Alana. “You really do own the building for the time you’re here.”
And what do people do with this space? The sky’s the limit. The event team at Alpine has turned it into a casino, an indoor garden party, a rock club and more. The main hall can be used for a large group or divided into clusters of intimate sitting areas with couches and soft lighting, or focused on a central stage, set up with giant screens and effects lighting, or shifted from one use to another throughout the event. “It’s a blank canvas, and our team loves to help build and develop creative ideas,” says events manager Kim Giffen.
Alpine Ski Club has long been known for its superb food, thanks to an amazing partnership with Men with Knives. “We design the menu to flow with the theme,” says Julie Carter, owner of the renowned catering firm. “It could be white tablecloth formal, or smoked Texas barbecue on the patio, or anything in between.”
Alpine and Men with Knives have won numerous 2021 Simcoe Readers’ Choice awards, including Favourite Venue and Favourite Caterer.
“When event organizers come here for the first time, they are stunned,” says Kim. “There’s so much here, and it’s all very close to home.”
TEXT A. WAGNER-CHAZALON | PHOTOS SCOTT TURNBULL