Austria: Austria's Alpine potential

CIT takes a closer look at six destinations offering a mix of meeting facilities and Tyrolean charm.

ALPBACH

This attractive alpine village (above) is perhaps a surprising location for a state-of-the-art conference centre. Built into the mountain, the centre offers a plenary hall for 500 delegates and five further meeting rooms. The village hotels all have to comply with the region's traditional chalet style and all of them are family run. The largest property, the Alpbacherof, has 65 rooms, while the 50-room Hotel Bogler has a garden for summer events. Two of the village's three-star properties - the Gasthof Wiedersbergerhorn and the Hotel Galtenberg - are currently upgrading to four-star status, in preparation for the winter season. Incentive activities take place around the mountains - groups can take the cable car up to mountain restaurants, the largest of which can seat 550 guests.

INNSBRUCK

As the Tyrol's biggest town, Innsbruck boasts the largest number of conference facilities and hotels. Its congress centre (above), which offers 15 halls and 20,000m2 of space, recently merged with the Innsbruck Fairgrounds to add a further nine halls. There are good-quality four-star properties, such as the 110-room Hotel Innsbruck and the 176-room Hilton, and a wide range of unusual venues. These range from Olympiaworld Innsbruck, which can host cocktail receptions for up to 600 in its Olympiahalle, to Swarovski World, and the world-renowned Austria crystal museum and factory just 15 minutes outside Innsbruck, that can seat 250 for dinner. "Innsbruck gave us a few really good options for events," says Powder Byrne's Wells.

KITZBUHEL

Probably one of the best-known ski resorts in Austria, a feasibility study is currently underway to decide where a dedicated conference centre should be built. The medieval town has two five-star hotels and 23 four-star hotels, including the 111-room Hotel Schloss Lebenberg (above). Furthermore, the five-star Hotel A-Rosa, which will have conference facilities for 200, is opening in December this year. "Kitzbuhel is one of the great winter resorts every skier or snow-boarder should try at least once," says Capital Incentives director travel & event management Chris McQue. "The range of alternative mountain venues is impressive, the cuisine and service are magnificent and, in summer, it comes alive with its combination of four golf courses, spas and outdoor pursuits."

SEEFELD

Located on a plateau 1,200m above sea level, and just 20 minutes from Innsbruck airport, Seefeld is renowned for its cross-country and alpine skiing. There are six five-star hotels between Seefeld and the surrounding Olympiaregion area, including the typically Tyrolean Hotel Klosterbrau in Seefeld, a former 16th century monastery. The mountain roads around Seefeld are ideal for test-drives, while groups looking to experience the nightlife can head to the casino (above). P&MM executive director Nigel Cooper took a winter incentive group from IT group MCI to Seefeld, staying at the five-star Dorint Sofitel Hotel. "We took the group skiing and tobogganing, and did team-building exercises using snowmobiles, cross-country skiing and archery," he says.

ST ANTON AM ARLBERG

As the host of the 2001 World Skiing Championships and the BBC programme Born to Win, St Anton is a town dedicated to sports activities. Even its purpose-built conference centre, the Arlberg-well.com (above), which has maximum capacity for 500 delegates, has a spa attached to the centre, plus an ice-skating rink for winter use. There are 9,500 guest rooms in the area, ranging from budget hotels to the five-star Raffl's St Anton Hof and the Hospiz Hotel in neighbouring St Christophe. Incentive groups can take a cable car to a mountain summit and eat at restaurants such as the Galzigrestaurant that seats up to 560, or at the Gampenrestaurant. "While the space is limited here, we sometimes get in with smaller groups," says Powder Byrne senior account handler Henry Wells.

ZELL AM SEE

This lakeside village in Saalfelden Leogang, part of Salzburgerland, is another Alpine resort dedicated to both winter and summer activities. It is located close to the Kaprun glacier, which is ideal for ski and winter sports pursuits, while in summer, groups can make use of the five golf courses at the Golf Alpin Resort. The five-star spa and golf hotel Salzburger Hof is located in the centre of town, while four-star options include the Grand Hotel Zell am See, which is set on a private peninsula on Lake Zell (above), the Hotel Badhaus, a haven for gastronomes, and the Vitalhotel Glocknerhof. The area offers plenty of hiking activities, with trails along the shores of Lake Zell. Delegates can also take a gondola up to the Schmittenhohe and hike the trail down to the valley.

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