by Tom Isler | July 01, 2006

Alster Lake in Hamburg


Stroll here: Handsome buildings
border central Alster Lake in Hamburg.

Hamburg has all the attributes of a major international travel and meetings destination, but not the corresponding reputation. The city, Germany’s second largest, has more bridges and canals than Venice, a downtown centered around a scenic lake, a vibrant nightlife, some of the most lavish shopping in the country and several top-quality meeting hotels.
    Local hospitality officials hope expanding transportation routes and new construction will boost Hamburg’s image, making it more attractive to Americans.

After Hamburg Airport unveiled a new terminal in May 2005, Continental Airlines launched nonstop flights from Newark, N.J., to the city, a move that helped boost passenger volume at the airport past the 10 million mark for the first time. An underground rail station at the airport will be connected to the metropolitan rail network in 2008, providing a 23-minute connection to Hamburg’s main downtown station.

Meeting venues
The Congress Center Hamburg will open an expansion this September featuring a new 75,000-square-foot exhibit hall, giving the center a total of nearly 130,000 square feet of meeting and exhibit space. The expanded center will have 43 air-conditioned halls and meeting rooms, plus seating for a total of 16,000 people. An 86,000-square-foot rooftop garden will be added next year.
    Hamburg Messe, a five-minute walk from the CCH, plans to expand its main trade show hall from approximately 700,000 square feet to more than 900,000 square feet by the end of 2008.

Hotel news
Hamburg’s jewel on the inner Alster Lake, the 156-room Raffles Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, opened the Jahreszeiten Terrace, an attractive open-air cafe along the lake’s banks, in April.
    The 252-room Hotel Atlantic Kempinski Hamburg opened a new Pilates studio in March. The facility was co-designed by dancer Karin Schoenfeld.
    The Grand Elysee Hamburg completed an expansion in April that increased the hotel’s room count to 511 and meeting space to approximately 21,500 square feet.
    The 285-room Crowne Plaza Hamburg renovated its eight meeting rooms last year.
    The 284-room Le Royal Meridien Hamburg in August opened Le Soleil, a restaurant exclusively for private events, with a terrace overlooking Alster Lake.
    The 277-room Hamburg Marriott Hotel replaced all of its beds last year and plans to renovate its 4,500 square feet of meeting space this year.
    The 226-room Movenpick Hotel Hamburg is being constructed in an early 20th-century water tower and will open in early 2007 with 4,800 square feet of meeting space.

Other news
The most significant construction in Hamburg is the revitalization of the city’s warehouse district, dubbed HafenCity, a 385-acre harbor neighborhood a half-mile from City Hall. The project will include 5,500 apartments, office space, parks, the Elbe Philharmonic concert hall, a maritime museum, an aquarium, a science center and a new cruise ship terminal. These various ele-ments will open in stages through 2009.
    Also in the works is BallinStadt, a new museum dedicated to European emigration to America, which will open in 2007 near HafenCity.
    Europa Passage, a new shopping arcade, will open this fall, extending the lakeside Jungfernsteig shopping district. The complex will feature more than 100 stores, restaurants and 365,800 square feet of office space.
    Spielbudenplatz, an outdoor plaza with a moveable stage, opened on the Reeperbahn last month, beside Angie’s Nightclub.