Meetings & Conventions: Newsline
Some highlights of Graz (clockwise from top): The Island in
the Mur; Mariahilfer Platz; house on the Herrengasse; Kunsthaus
museum; Graz Opera House
Famous for waltzes, formal balls, imperial palaces and a
talented local musician named Mozart, Austria also is becoming
better known as a meetings destination.
Austria’s second largest city, this capital of the province of
Styria has been designated the official Cultural Capital of Europe
for 2003, and special events will run throughout the year.
A boldly designed new events center, The Island in the Mur,
opened Jan. 11. Shaped like two oyster shells (imagine one face
down, the other face up), the facility is in the middle of the
River Mur and reached by pedestrian bridge. Designed by New York
City-based Vito Acconci, the Mur contains a café and an outdoor
amphitheater seating approximately 100.
Opening in September, the Kunsthaus art museum also is raising
Sitting on the edge of the River Mur, the facility, which has
been nicknamed the “Friendly Alien” due to its unusual roof, will
have no permanent exhibits, but for groups it will offer a
2,500-square-foot lobby and a 1,750-square-foot multipurpose events
Stadthalle Graz, the city’s convention center, opened last
October. The facility has 140,000 square feet of exhibition space,
including eight meeting rooms and a 65,000-square-foot, pillarless
area; the city’s fairgrounds sit directly behind.
In September 2002, the Innsbruck Bergisel Ski Jump opened the
Bergisel Café, an indoor 120-seat restaurant with modernist
touches. Perched at the top of the 150-foot-high ski tower, the
eatery enjoys a 360-degree view and can host up to 180 for
Covered in grass, shaped like a giant with huge, blue-crystal
eyes and sitting next to the world-famous Swarovski crystal
factory, the Swarovski Crystal Worlds museum in Wattens, nine miles
east of Innsbruck, will double in size by year-end to 40,000 square
Following its first renovations in 100 years, the Albertina Museum,
which owns works by such masters as Michelangelo, Rembrandt and
Rubens, reopens this month. Once an official residence of the
Hapsburgs, the facility has space for groups, including two new
galleries and several magnificent staterooms that have been redone
in gold leaf.
The 753,000-square-foot Reed Messe Wien Congress Center is due
to finish a renovation project in August. The center also plans to
add its first hotel, with 220 rooms, in late 2004. By 2007, a new
subway stop will result in shorter trips between the facility and
the heart of the city.
A new Méridien will open in October on the Ringstrasse, directly
opposite the opera house. It will have 301 rooms, 12,000 square
feet of meeting space and a distinctly modernist look.
The 572-room Hilton Vienna closed in February for a $60 million
renovation that will add 10 meeting rooms, 8,640 square feet of
function space, a spa and a restaurant. The hotel is due to reopen
in May 2004.
• By Lisa Grimaldi
Lisbon’s 194-room Pestana Carlton Palace Hotel, formerly the Palácio Valle Flor, opened last year. The main building, a national monument, was restored to its grand 19th-century ambience, and two wings were added to house the guest rooms. The property has 15 meeting rooms, a fitness center, formal gardens and an outdoor pool. (011) 351-291-209100; www.pestana.com
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