Photo: Frankfurt’s skyline © Sean Pavone | Dreamstime.com
Once thought of as just another monochromatic city of banks and industry, Frankfurt am Main blooms with a vibrant regeneration as its creative residents continue to breathe new life into the city’s historic haunts and soaring high-rises. Its unique skyline and urban appeal earned Frankfurt its nickname “Mainhattan,” but it’s the city’s warmth and central location in Europe that earn it a reputation as a world-class city for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions.
“Frankfurt’s popularity as an event and business travel destination is unquestionably the result of its central and very convenient location in the heart of Germany and Europe,” says Jutta Heinrich, director, Frankfurt Convention Bureau, part of the Frankfurt Tourist+Congress Board. “Long known as only a financial hub, Frankfurt has become much more than that over the years, and today the city features an excellent selection of unusual event venues, a rich cultural life and scenic surroundings.”
Frankfurt’s unique positioning in Europe has long attracted people from all around the world, and today more than 5.5 million residents representing 180 countries call the city home. Its international focus creates a unique mash-up of authentic German culture with global influences and turns Frankfurt into one of Germany’s most popular event destinations, with more than 8,000 hotel rooms within walking distance of the convention center and more than 3.8 million square feet of exhibition space.
Although Frankfurt enjoys a long history in trade shows and conventions (the first documented Frankfurt trade fair goes back to the year 1150), the city’s namesake airport does most of the legwork to bring in more than 60 million passengers every year and ranks among the world’s largest and busiest airports. Not only does Frankfurt Airport offer international travelers direct connections to about 300 destinations in 105 countries, but also it’s situated only 12 subway minutes from the city’s main train station, making it easy for visitors to pop in to the city for a quick meeting or transform a business trip into an extended holiday in the region.
“Frankfurt’s ease of accessibility also applies to its city center,” Heinrich adds. “In this place of short distances, no downtown destination is more than a 20-minute walk away. What’s more, Frankfurt disposes over an excellent public transport system, which connects the city with the surrounding Rhine-Main region both quickly and easily.”
The city boasts a large convention center, the Festhalle Messe Frankfurt, with about 6.2 million square feet of barrierfree event space. A handful of convenient hotels near the airport perfect for meetings include the Sheraton Frankfurt Airport Hotel and Conference Center (59,201 square feet of meeting space) and the Hilton Frankfurt Airport (13,660 square feet of meeting space) in the brand-new Squaire. While the downtown area bustles with boutique guesthouses and chain hotels, without a doubt the Jumeirah Frankfurt provides the best option for a meeting hotel in the city. It features more than 7,800 square feet of flexible meeting space, but little extra touches make the Jumeirah stand out as a destination in itself, such as the 105,000-plus crystals embedded in the ceiling of its Crystal Ballroom and the on-site catering by the hotel’s Max on One restaurant, one of the most coveted restaurants for dinner reservations in town. The hotel boasts a central location near Frankfurt’s most famous sites, like the Main Tower, the Städel Museum, the Goethe House, Old Sachsenhausen and the Zeil shopping promenade.
Frankfurt’s forest of skyscrapers and urban edifices acts as the perfect meeting point between a romantic stretch of fairytale castles to the south and a landscape bursting with juicy apfelwein (apple wine) orchards to the north. In this city full of flavor, even the top culinary destinations offer spaces to meet. Restaurant Zenzakan, one of the highest-rated restaurants in the city, offers three recently renovated private meeting spaces for up to 155 guests.
No visit to Frankfurt is complete without sampling the city’s beloved apple wine, and — luckily for MICE groups — the country’s most renowned maker of apple wine offers his organic farm as a place to meet, celebrate or just relax and take in the fresh air. Obsthof am Steinberg, just a 20-minute drive from downtown Frankfurt, offers a luxury immersion into Frankfurt’s apple wine culture.
Andreas Schneider, aka the king of apple wine, operates this rural estate — one of the most prized MICE locations within Frankfurt’s city borders. With a history of making premium apple wine for more than 20 years, Schneider offers groups the chance to visit his acres of orchards for meetings and events or even just tours and tastings. The orchards act as a respite from the city, and visitors can spend the day sipping and sauntering around the grounds before heading beneath the apple trees for a light lunch of local specialties like grüne sosse (green sauce); homemade sausages; and plates of homemade goat’s milk cheese, freshly picked vegetables and locally made charcuterie.
“I love the green and cozy aspect of Frankfurt,” adds Heinrich. “More than 52 percent of the city is open space and expanses of water. This, coupled with a 70-kilometer [43-mile] natural greenbelt that surrounds the city, makes studying and discovering nature an easy and rewarding experience for locals, visitors and meeting attendees alike.”