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Containing approximately 30 cities, Central Counties sits on the crown of Toronto, from Lake Simcoe (which supposedly contains a Loch Ness Monster-type of creature called Igopogo) in the north to the city of Wellington in the west; with another lake, Scugog, to the east and Great Lake Ontario to the south. Since the combined area contains a lot of people, but also is a lot of countryside, forests and lakes, Central Counties MICE venues are varied.
The nearest airport is the Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), which also is known as Lester B. Pearson International Airport. Approximately 35 miles southwest of Ajax and 24 miles southwest of Markham, there are flights from and to it from all over North America and the world. Also, in Downtown Toronto is the Toronto's city airport, Billy Bishop, which occupies its own island. From it, passengers need to take a one-minute ferry ride (free) that goes right to Downtown Toronto. The only scheduled airline serving it is Porter, which flies to a dozen or so destinations within Canada and from and to Boston, New York/Newark (EWR), Chicago and Myrtle Beach, SC, in the U.S.
Chief among MICE convention venues in Central Counties, the largest meeting space is in the Markham area – the Premiere Ballroom & Convention Centre, which has room for up to 1,200 persons in more than 27,000 square feet of space. In addition, MICE hotels in Central Counties region include two in Markham, the 312-room Sheraton Parkway Toronto North Hotel, which has 35 meeting and function spaces covering more than 30,000 square feet of space, and the 204-room Delta Markham, which has eight meeting rooms and two ballrooms both able to host up to 350 persons.
Elsewhere, the 133-room Hilton Garden Inn Toronto/Ajax has six meeting rooms for up to 225 persons, while in Oshawa are the 194-room Quality Hotel & Conference Centre Oshawa, which has which has 10,000 square feet of meeting space, its largest room being the Guild Hall for 466 persons. The 68-room Best Western Plus Durham Hotel & Conference Centre, which has 7,000 square feet of meeting space for up to 350 persons.
Unique function and gathering spots in this large area include the Ajax Convention Centre, which has five meeting rooms and four ballrooms, the largest spanning 8,824 square feet; Reptila Reptile Zoo & Education Facility, which is in the city of Vaughan, spans 25,000 square feet and can incorporate the non-venomous amongst its inhabitants into functions; Markham Museum, the grounds of which contain an 1884 church, as well as a pavilion and two halls; General Motors Centre, which is in Durham, puts on concerts and professional sports events and has two ice skating rinks for hire, as well as private boxes and five function areas; and Woodensticks Golf Club, which is in Uxbridge, is a public golf and has a club house with space for events of up to 170 persons.
Excellent restaurants in the area for groups include Fishbone, which is in Stouffville (German origins) and is a Portuguese-Canadian restaurant known for its seafood; Chatterpaul's, in Whitby, which has smart interiors, private dining rooms and an exotic menu, despite being in a shopping plaza; the fine-dining restaurant at hotel The Briars, which sits on Lake Simcoe; Graystones, in Aurora, which has a European (mostly German) menu, and Tin Mill, in an old, converted flour mill in Uxbridge, with an innovative menu.
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Premiere Ballroom & Convention Centre
Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ)
Approximate taxi fare: $55 CAD
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