A teambuilding day out of the office is always a welcome respite from the routine of daily tasks. Make the most of the bonding time by engaging the group in a unique learning activity hosted in a non-traditional classroom setting.
Any one of the following venues offers a fresh, social approach to group activities:
Learning Venue: Café by day, social hotspot by night, BevLab is an innovative studio located in Queen Street West’s Theatre Centre that explores the alchemy of food and drink. Capacity: 55 to 100 people
Subject Matter: Not your typical cocktail mixology class! The brainchild of Irwin Adam Eydelnant of I & J Ideations, a food, technology and design consulting group, BevLab workshops are customized around how to play with the science of flavours. Using materials such as liquid nitrogen and other cool tools, people discover a whole new way to interact with food. For example, in a Beverage co-creation session, participants make the rounds of lab stations where they’re coached through the development of their own signature beverage, from concept to flavour experimentation to packaging and bottling.
Top Marks For: The ultra-cool lab-like setting, complete with beakers, test tubes and furnishings that convert from workstation tables and benches to lounge-ready high-tops and bar stools. On-site kitchen for in-house dining or cater in.
Tip Of The Icing
Learning Venue: Le Dolci, on Dundas Street West by Trinity Bellwoods Park, is a bakery, café and culinary school rolled into one, that teaches the art of cupcake making and more. Capacity: Venue, 35 people; classes 12-25
Subject Matter: Help your group discover their inner chef, putting them elbow deep in flour, chocolate and other ingredients to create desserts of all kinds, from cakes and cupcakes to truffles and macarons. Theme sessions to season, such as gingerbread house construction, or stoke competitive spirit with Iron Chef-style and Cake Boss challenges. Customization welcome. Innovative cooking class ideas include Michelangelo’s Supper, where students shop for ingredients using the artist’s illustrated shopping lists and then turn them into an inspired Renaissance feast.
Top Marks For: The added-bonus treat — Le Dolci’s culinary classroom adjacent the bake shop. Bright and airy, exposed brick walls cozy up the space. Crystal chandeliers above the gleaming stainless steel work-dining table add a whimsical touch.
Learning Venue: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, ON, formerly Mosport International Raceway, offers an event centre, a Grand Prix track and a shorter Driver Development Centre course. Capacity: Venue can accommodate 230 theatre-style; car racing, up to 24 participants
Subject Matter: Rev up your group’s engines by putting participants behind the wheel of a high-performance car. The track is the home-base pit stop of several race-calibre driving schools including the Bridgestone Racing Academy. From May to October, half-, full- and multi-day sessions school drivers in handling the power of an open-wheel Formula-model race car. In-class instruction preps participants prior to suiting up for the on-track thrill of speed and the experience of lapping the pace car.
Top Marks For: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park’s grand new event and hospitality centre being group-hosting perfect. Track-facing windows line the two-storey venue, which houses a large upper level event hall and lounge, and lower level meeting space and classrooms.
Pass The Pepperoni
Learning Venue: The School of Italian Pizza, an off-the-radar culinary gem in the Dufferin and Steeles area, delivers all the ingredients for making the perfect pie, with instructors and pizza-making tools straight from Italy. Capacity: 20 students
Subject Matter: Learn the art of slapping and tossing dough; get creative with toppings. Authenticity is the mission here, with master pizza instructors schooled in the classic recipes and secrets of the old country’s most famous non-pasta dish. Participants get hands on finessing dough, preparing and arranging ingredients, and cooking either in a wood-burning, gas or electric oven. Layer on fun challenges.
Top Marks For: The state-of-the-art kitchen which is spacious and congenial. Gather round the kitchen table for post-cooking pizza and wine – Nonna would approve.
Learning Venue: Set your group up with a blank canvas, paints and brushes and see what emerges at Paintlounge, a café bar with an art party soul. Three locations. Capacity: 40-50 people
Subject Matter: The objective is to have fun and provide a creative stress-relief outlet. The premise is simple: Replicate a themed sample or go freelance creating your own masterpiece on a 16” x 20” canvas. Knowledgeable staff, mainly art students, guide budding artists with instructions, suggestions and demonstrations that include the finer points of achieving different brush stroke effects. Paint, easels, brushes and tools are supplied. For enhanced teambuilding, invite everyone to work on one blackboard-sized canvas or design smaller themed canvases that piece together for one collaborative masterpiece.
Top Marks For: Accessibility to cocktails and relaxing teas while painting helps break social ice and perks up the creative juices. Cater in good eats.
Learning Venue: Creative collaboration meets all sorts of workshop projects and tools at The Shop, a converted loft space in Brockton Village at College and Dufferin. Capacity: Up to 20 participants depending on activity
Subject Matter: Fully equipped woodworking, ceramics and craft areas spark all kinds of “maker-style” projects. Group work includes designing and building a functional piece such as a table or bench. Other options include wielding a jigsaw to create walnut cutting boards, learning woodcarving techniques, or getting creative with pottery clay or the finer arts of screen printing and loom weaving. Sessions are led by the art-school grad owners (women, by the way) who will also connect customized projects to other gifted instructors.
Top Marks For: The studio’s maker community approach, providing accessibility to work space and equipment for urban manufacturers, amateur and professional. It’s also pretty cool to take away a finished product you created.
Working On Wellness
Learning Venue: Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton, ON, 90 minutes east of Toronto, is an idyllic countryside oasis for a day’s outing or multi-day retreat guaranteed to refresh and inspire the group.
Subject Matter: A roster of classes delivers loads of customizable options ranging from outdoor and culinary activities to health and wellness coaching. Unique is the equine program. One workshop, held in the new riding arena adjacent the stables, focuses on cooperation and communication as groups work to lead horses around obstacles using only physical or verbal cues. Another session engages individuals in self reflection by assessing each horse’s personality and discussing their connection to it.
Top Marks For: The breathtaking gardens, guest accommodations and amenities that include over 35 spa treatments – the perfect post-teambuilding perk!