Here are numbers 4 and 5 on the list of top draws for international association meetings as tallied by the International Congress and Convention Association.
Though it placed fourth in ICCA's rankings, with 147 events, Berlin isn't content to rest on its laurels. The German capital city is taking proactive measures to ensure future congress success. Early last month, the trade-fair organization Messe Berlin and Visit Berlin joined forces to purchase a majority stake in the World Health Summit, the international health convention launched three years ago in the city. It's part of the city's effort to not only keep the summit in Berlin, but to establish Berlin as one of the major medical-meeting destinations in the world.
Likewise, the city is investing heavily in its convention facilities. CityCube Berlin, a new convention center with a 10,000-attendee capacity, is slated to open by the end of 2013. Once it's up and running, the current primary convention facility, the International Congress Centrum ICC Berlin, will close for a two-year renovation project. When it reopens in late 2016, the city will have nearly doubled its convention capacity.
The new Berlin Brandenburg Airport, which will be the city's largest, was expected to open this past June, but technical problems with the facility's fire-protection system delayed its debut. A new opening date of March 16, 2013, has been set. A six-track railway station underneath the new airport will provide connections to downtown Berlin and the surrounding region.
The following week will bring the scheduled opening of the Steigenberger
Airport Hotel, Berlin, a 322-room property directly across from the new facility. More than 16,000 square feet of event space is expected at that location.
Properties expected to debut this fall include the Dormero Hotel Stralauer Platz, between the Spree River and Ostbahnhof railway station. The 265-room hotel will offer nearly 6,460 square feet of event space. The 256-room Crowne Plaza Berlin-Potsdamer Platz, meanwhile, will open on the site of a 1930s post office. A restaurant, bar and cigar lounge will be on-site, as will more than 5,300 square feet of meeting space.
Set to open in 2013 is Waldorf Astoria's first new-build hotel in Europe, the 232-room Waldorf Astoria Berlin. The property will be near the Zoological Garden and offer a 3,550-square-foot ballroom. The 307-room Leonardo Boutique Hotel Berlin is also slated for a 2013 debut. The modern, metal-and-glass venue will have a 1,723-square-foot conference area available.
Future developments include a new property from the Turkish company Titanic Resorts & Hotels. Plans involve transforming the former workshop building of the State Opera into a five-star Titanic business hotel.
Singapore, which hosted 142 ICCA events in 2011, has been the top Asian city in the rankings for the past 10 years. The destination welcomed a record high 13.2 million visitors last year, with 3.2 million arriving for business events. And the number of conventions, conferences and trade shows skyrocketed in 2011, eclipsing the previous year's total by 46 percent.
New developments include the completion of a US$51.5 million renovation at the 750-room Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, which unveiled the new Garden Wing. A new restaurant, the Waterfall Garden Café, and a CHI Spa opened in the wing.
Meanwhile, a US$64 million transformation of the Pan Pacific Singapore should wrap up in September. The 790-room hotel closed in April 2012, and some facilities are due to reopen this month. Guest rooms, restaurants and the lobby are all being transformed, as is the Pacific Club on the top floor of the property.
The smaller, 206-room Pan Pacific Orchard also began renovations in April (the property has remained open throughout the project). Guest room upgrades should be complete by the end of September and will include new furnishings, fittings and technology. The hotel's meeting spaces are being refurbished beginning this month and should also be complete by the end of September.
The 240-room W Singapore Sentosa Cove is slated to open Sept. 16. The fashionable resort will be on a private island and will offer 8,073 square feet of meeting space.
Late 2012 should bring the opening of the flagship Parkroyal on Pickering, a 363-room environmentally sustainable property on Upper Pickering Street. In addition to an entire wellness floor and spa, a pool terrace and a business center, the hotel promises an extensive nature trail and waterfall walk.
In the works for 2013 openings are the 134-room Sofitel So Singapore boutique hotel and the 301-room Westin Singapore Marina Bay.