FROM ITS AWARD-WINNING international airport to its spectacular modern venues, and from its famous beer gardens to its charming Old Town, the vibrant city of Munich offers a singular European experience for international meetings and incentive programs of all sizes. Getting there is easy, with non-stop flights to Munich Airport from most major U.S. cities. Consistently ranked as Europe’s best airport in the annual World Airport Awards from Skytrax, in 2017 Munich Airport was also the first European airport to achieve a 5-star ranking based on such criteria as service, cleanliness and ease of navigation.
Like many German cities, Munich rebuilt after heavy bombing in World War II. Today its cityscape and event venues reflect both meticulous historic renovation and the modern face of sleek, contemporary architecture. Streets, parks and promenades buzz with cyclists and strollers, and restaurants offer an array of international dining as well as traditional German dishes and drafts. Munich also reflects Germany’s strong environmental consciousness — think hyper-local honey from city-bred bees.
“Besides having all the benefits of an ultramodern metropolis, Munich offers visitors an incomparable opportunity to take part in the life of the city,” says Janine David-Steinhart, marketing manager, Incentives & Media Relations, Munich Convention Bureau. “With its world-famous Gemuetlichkeit [cozy feeling of comfort] and colorful traditions, it holds a unique position for professional meetings and authentic incentive programs.”
The lively pedestrian Old Town anchors downtown Munich. The streetscape here feels like a charming time capsule, but most of the buildings are, in fact, rebuilds of historic architecture damaged in World War II, including the 14th-century Town Hall. History gives way to modernity at the Museum of Urban and Contemporary Art, a new street art museum housed in a former municipal building whose façade was designed by Berlin-based street artist Stohead. Available for group functions and with a café serving fresh farmto- fork food, it’s a great spot for groups to experience Munich’s lesser-known contemporary culture.
For top-tier incentive programs, the elegant 340- room Bayerischer Hof in the heart of the city will not disappoint. Owned by the same family for more than a hundred years, the historic, 5-star property built circa 1841 housed guests from Franz Kafka to Sigmund Freud to Michael Jackson. It has 40 meeting rooms and can accommodate events for up to 2,500 people. Jan Hartwig, head chef of the hotel’s signature restaurant, Atelier, received three Michelin stars in 2018.
Among Munich’s other top meeting-centric hotels is the 484-room Hilton Munich Park, located just outside the city center at the entrance to the Englischer Garten (English Garden), a huge riverfront oasis of greenery, walking paths and beer gardens. The Hilton features a grand ballroom that can accommodate more than 1,000 people; 21 meeting rooms; and a rooftop bar with sweeping views of the park that’s a prime spot for a cocktail reception. No visit to Munich is complete without eating at an authentic Biergarten, and the cozy riverfront Seehaus lies within the English Garden, just a short walk from the hotel.
A perfect choice for large events, the iconic Paulaner am Nockherberg beer garden reopened this spring after a head-to-toe renovation. It’s suited to all types of group functions with state-of-the-art technical equipment, various entertainment options, beer specialties from the Paulaner brewery and inhouse brewers, and a locally inspired catering menu. Paulaner can accommodate functions for up to 3,000 in its idyllic location replete with a beautiful fountain and shady chestnut trees.
Munich’s culinary scene is surprisingly diverse, with refined international cuisine and healthy options along with hearty Bavarian comfort food such as pot roast and potato dumplings. There’s a wide choice of chef-driven, highly rated restaurants — a total of eight Munich restaurants scored top marks ranging between 17 and 19.5 (out of a possible 20) in the 2018 edition of the Gault-Millau gourmet guide. Groups can even enjoy gourmet dining in singular venues such as the BMW Welt building. Here, in a luxe setting of wood, dark leather and an open fireplace overlooking the expansive BMW shipping hall, Munich native chef Bobby Bräuer serves elegant French cuisine that just earned two Michelin stars in the 2018 guide.
For an unforgettable excursion less than two hours outside of the city, groups shouldn’t miss the Romanesque Revival Neuschwantstein Castle, situated in a heart-stopping mountain setting in southwest Bavaria near the Austrian border. Built by King Ludwig II in the late 19th century and the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Cinderella castle, it embodies an over-the-top fairy tale.
Munich has many top-tier destination management companies to help set up local events in a wide variety of innovative and interesting venues. For more information and assistance with all Munich has to offer, contact the German Convention Bureau’s North American office at 212 661 4582 or visit the website at gcb.de.
Munich offers many spectacular venues with copious conference space and interesting storylines. “You can surprise your delegates in Munich with unexpected experiences like climbing the rooftop of the Olympic Stadium or doing leadership training at a state-of-theart equestrian performance and learning park,” says Linda Nuss, regional manager North America, German Convention Bureau.
Sports fans will be blown away by the 75,000-seat Allianz Arena and the Olympic Stadium built for the 1972 Games, where the thrilling, adrenalin-pumping roof climb offers expansive views of the city skyline. The Allianz Arena, one of the world’s most well-known soccer stadiums and home to the world-famous Bayern Munich Football Club, makes a stunning first impression with its curved exterior of inflated plastic panels that glows with different colors in the evening, and it boasts many fabulous meeting and event spaces.
The BMW Welt and Event Forum, a Munich landmark with prize-winning architecture and gorgeous modern meeting space, also impresses. This über-cool building is also where BMW buyers pick up their new vehicles.
For high-adrenalin activities, groups can head over to Munich’s hip hot spot and event space, Jochen Schweizer Arena, for lessons on everything from body flying to wave surfing, followed by a tasty dinner of modern cuisine.
Experience a big-city hotel stay that doesn’t feel like your typical urban visit at Chicago’s Claridge House, nestled in the sought-after Gold Coast neighborhood. The hotel’s sophisticated décor and serene residential ambience foster the atmosphere of an oasis amid the hustle and bustle of a busy metropolis.
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