The words 'convention centre' conjure up visions of moveable walls, home and specialty shows and lots of exhibitors.
Put the word Kamloops in front of that and you've got a whole new meaning. The Kamloops Convention Centre combines the comfort and luxury of Coast Hotel Resorts with the delicious offerings of ORA restaurant and the vision of a dedicated management team that make this one destination not to be missed.
Yes they have the usual conference/convention capabilities, but it is what they are doing with it that sets them apart from all the rest. Carl Pedersen is the operations manager at the Kamloops Convention Centre (KCC) and has been with them for a little over a year now. Pedersen was hired for his vision and experience; something he has in spades.
“We are in a rebuilding and rebranding phase right now,” explains Pedersen. “It wasn't being utilized to its full potential. We have 30,000 sq. ft. to utilize. We of course hold weddings and conferences and dinner theatre here but there is room for so much more. My vision is to provide a premier spot for people to see great live entertainment.”
Acts like Fefe Dobson, Prism, and April Wine have graced the stages of the KCC theatre. They recently had a Tribute Trio night with Bon Jovi tribute band, Blaze of Glory, Aerosmith tribute band, Aerosmith Rocks and AC/DC tribute band, Who Made Who. The event was sold out and ORA restaurant was completely booked. The place was rockin'.
The best part about events like this is you can make it into complete mini-vacation experience without having to go too far. No need to worry about drinking and driving or making dinner and breakfast when you stay at the KCC.
Pedersen likes the energy of a small concert venue. “I love it when you have 400 to 600 people enjoying the music. It is more of an intimate experience. The sound comes across great too.”
Theatre Set Up at Kamloops Convention Centre
Then there is the cost, which is definitely affordable. Tickets range from $25 to $45 depending on the act. “We are looking at larger acts but then you are looking at a $100 ticket,” said Pedersen. “We are hoping to get sponsorship to get the bigger groups in at an affordable price.”
Events at the KCC range from all ages to 19 plus. The centre is licensed and there are concessions set up for the concerts. Other events have plated dinners in the ballroom and the theatre. The main ballroom has a capacity of 600 and the theatre a cozy 400. “When we do shows like Prism and Streetheart, then we use the larger room,” explained Pedersen. “Last New Year's Eve we did over 900. The theatre had 400 people and then we had a DJ in the ballroom – it was great.”
It's not just music that Pedersen is bringing in. He's also big on comedy for dinner theatre. The Vagina Monologues had a recent run there and the Black Jack Comedy Tour was there March 14.
For the rest of March and April Pedersen has lined up Grapes of Wrath and Odds, Dr. Hook featuring Ray Sawyer, Louisiana Hayride, the Yardbirds and Kenny Shields and Streetheart.
There's more to Pedersen's vision than music and dinner theatre; he's also brought in Chefs in the City. ORA's chef took part in a few of the competitions and won a couple of them. Next year they are thinking of having a larger culinary competition.
The Kamloops Convention Centre has played host to the Mayor's gala and the Royal Inland Hospital gala. They do offsite catering too.
“Basically we have the entire package right here,” Pedersen said. “We have everything from a great hotel to the largest convention centre in the Thompson Okanagan plus a great restaurant. ORA is geared towards the premium, casual market. We are able to offer great products and service at a much better price point.
ORA Restaurant and Lounge at the Kamloops Convention Centre
ORA has also changed their wine list to be 85% BC wines, and of those, the majority are from the Thompson Okanagan area. As for the hotel itself, much of it has been gutted and rebuilt to the tune of several million dollars.
Courtyard at the Kamloops Convention Centre
The Coast Hotel has 202 guestrooms from a standard queen bedroom, poolside and view rooms to the Honeymoon Suites. Add to that all the amenities you expect at a resort hotel like a tropical courtyard with indoor pool, a hot tub, full fitness facility, free high speed internet and the Aberdeen Private Liquor Store, and you have a ready made staycation for any season.
Check them out online at kamloopsconventioncentre.ca. Tell Carl that Darcy from Gonzo sent you.
Operations Manager: Carl Pedersen
General Manager: Robin Langner
Restaurant Manger: Jason Danroth
Kamloops Convention Centre
1250 Rogers Way