I know, I’m excited too! I mean, how often can you use the words “Victoria” and “budget” in the same sentence?!
So it’s that time of year again – time to start planning various Holiday events. Office parties, family get-togethers… for this article, I have chosen three local venues that I can personally recommend for such events. Yes, I have paid my dues on the office party planning committee (mostly ’cause it’s the only committee I can halfway stand. Plus, we all must do our part to annoy our co-workers, right?). I know all-too-well the ins and outs of trying to force a mismatched group of people into all liking the food, the ambiance, the price etc. in order to spend a couple of hours of
forced quality bonding time. So without further adieu, here are my top three picks for Victoria’s best Holiday party venues that won’t cost you (or your company) your life-savings:
Ferris’ Oyster Bar | 536 Yates St. | www.ferrisoysterbar.com
Capacity: 27 sit-down dinner, 40 casual reception
Price: $1500 – $3500 minimum plus Gratuity and Tax (Mon – Wed are the cheapest nights). Please see the Special Event Menu for details.
Contact: Dave Craggs, 250-382-2344 or email@example.com
Parking: Yates St. Parkade (free after 6pm), Street
Personal accolades: I have planned a couple of office events through Dave. He is absolutely a pleasure to work with. The food is always excellent, the decor lovely (lots of space, comfy couches/chairs) and the staff is very accommodating if you need to get in a bit early to set up, for example. For stand-up receptions, I would recommend ordering lots of “anything on a stick” – that always seems to be the biggest hit (for my office, anyway).
Union Pacific Coffee | 537 Herald St. | www.unionpacificcoffee.com
Capacity: 30 – 75 people
Price: $1000 minimum plus Gratuity and Tax. Orders must be submitted 1 week prior to event.
Parking: Street (meters free after 6pm)
Personal accolades: Union Pacific makes great food, hands down. They may not be able to spell “hors d’oeuvres” on their menu, but they sure know how to make them! Their private event menu suggests ordering about $12/person to ensure you have enough food. Beer, wine and spirits are available for $5.75 – $6.50/glass. Bottles of wine are also available for $24 – $26. The atmosphere is really cool – an old brick interior with exposed pipes/ductwork that just screams “San Francisco, 1866” (yes, I looked it up). I also like that it is located just outside of the downtown core, which helps with the parking/traffic situation.
The Bengal Lounge | The Fairmont Empress – 721 Government St. | www.fairmont.com/empress/vanity/epicureanjourneys
*Please note this is a lunch time (11:30am – 2pm) offering only*
Capacity: unlimited (groups of 25 or more may be able to secure a private room).
Price: Buffet lunch $32/person plus Gratuity and Tax.
Contact: 250-389-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Parking: Parkade or street ($)
Personal accolades: You can’t go wrong with the Bengal Lounge. The buffet lunch is described as “Seasonal Spice” but to the unclassy such as yours truly, it’s Indian food. Amazing Indian food (is there any other kind?)! The buffet lunch includes salads, soup, entrees and desserts. The atmosphere is worth the $200 cocktails (may be exaggerating – slightly), and the only downside is having to return to ‘real life’ afterwards. And perhaps the biggest secret of all (I can’t believe I’m telling anyone else about this): if you join Friends of the Empress, you’ll save 20%. And that’s not all, the Friends of the Empress program extends to room bookings, spa treatments, and discounts at other restaurants/retailers both in the hotel and around downtown Victoria.
Merry Christmas, indeed!
(If anyone has suggestions for other venues around town, I am always thankful for recommendations! I have a long list of mismatched friends and family members that I like to gather together and force to get along at the most stressful time of year… previous years’ winners have included the Laurel Point Inn, the penthouse at Swans Hotel, the penthouse at the Victoria Regent Hotel, and the Strawberry Vale Community Hall).