FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Viennese Vibe

by Chadner Navarro

Sep 1, 2016
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In 2016, the Mercer Quality of Life study named Vienna the world’s most livable city for the seventh year in a row. For this annual report, Mercer surveys everything from political and economic climate to medical care and recreational perks; and for another year, the Austrian capital is tops. Residents here enjoy affordable housing, widespread safety, a top-notch public transportation network and renowned education. Add world-class museums, beautiful parks, elegant restaurants and fine wineries within city limits, and it becomes immediately clear why Vienna consistently rules this specific ranking.

As a business destination, for decades the city lured international companies to settle here. In fact, Vienna is a major hub for biotechnology, oncology, immunology and other related life science fields. Big-name brands like Baxter, Pfizer and Boehringer have offices here largely because of the Medical University of Vienna, one of the world’s premier medical schools. The capital is quickly establishing itself as a major destination for information and communication technology in Europe as well. (Right now it is in the top five.) As of 2015 104,000 different companies from various industries have set up either headquarters or satellite offices here. Vienna sees steady growth when it comes to seducing business relocations to the capital region, too. In 2015 it saw 175 international companies relocate here — a 10 percent increase from the previous year. These transfers (a majority of which come from Germany) brought 1,450 jobs to Vienna plus hundreds of millions of euros in investments.

Vienna at night

Vienna at night © TOMAS1111 | DREAMSTIME.COM

A high quality of life is, of course, instrumental to bringing big-name companies to Vienna, especially if they want their most valued talent to relocate with them. One of the most impressive infrastructural organizations specifically tasked with growing the capital’s business footprint is the Vienna Business Agency. This administration (unique in the world) offers support to both national and international companies looking to establish themselves in the Austrian capital. The objective here: to strengthen these enterprises by offering assistance through the entire process, from the initial planning all the way to helping with the move.

This path might start with bureaucratic support (whether you’re starting a project or moving a multinational to the region, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered) and lead to everything from helping find real estate (the VBA can advise on offices for rent or research facilities) to providing financial assistance and aiding in the acclimation to their new home of those moving to Vienna. An Expat Center acts as a resource — both professional and social — for the city’s international workforce. It often arranges social opportunities for foreigners to expand their local network, offering them a more holistic lifestyle.

While technology and life sciences are the more traditional business avenues, Vienna now courts startup companies in the creative industries, too. Nearly 18 percent of locally based businesses are part of that creative economy, bringing in an annual revenue of more than €11 billion. To continue to encourage this growth, the VBA has funding programs to assist projects that will bring the “maker” economy back to Vienna. This could apply to fashion designers or even app developers. The VBA also introduced the Vienna Start-up Package, a sort of residency program for up-and-coming businesses that includes travel to and from Vienna, accommodations, space in a co-working facility and professional coaching.

Whether it’s business or tourism, Vienna’s mix of traditional and contemporary has never been more pronounced than it is today. Thus this former imperial capital is enjoying a dynamic stretch of recent history that it hasn’t experienced in a long time. It’s an exciting time to be in Vienna.

Things to Do in Vienna

For film enthusiasts, the most famous attraction in Vienna may be the Ferris wheel (called the Riesenrad), showcased in many classic movies including Before Sunrise and The Third Man. During favorable weather, riding the wheel reveals some of the most captivating vistas — certainly worthy of an Instagram post or two.

Beyond the city’s cinematic stature, there’s plenty to see in the Austrian capital. Start with the museums; there are tons of them. The Belvedere is the most well-regarded thanks to its vast collection of Austrian artist Gustav Klimt’s Art Nouveau paintings; the highlight is The Kiss. Check out the Leopold for an exhaustive permanent exhibit of another local creative, Egon Schiele. And then head to the Kunsthistorisches Museum for classic works such as Egyptian sarcophagi and Greek statues. For more contemporary pieces, don’t miss the exploding gallery scene in the city: Bäckerstrasse4 and Galerie Andreas Huber are two of the best for discovering new acquisitions.

St. Stephen’s Cathedral

St. Stephen’s Cathedral © ÖZGÜR GÜVENÇ | DREAMSTIME.COM

First-timers also should not miss three classic Viennese sights: Schonbrunn Palace, St. Stephen’s Cathedral and the Imperial Palace. And if time allows, take the opportunity to tour the city’s vast café scene. Café Central from the 19th century, for example, was an atmospheric hangout for the likes of Sigmund Freud and Leon Trotsky. They likely fell in love with the clientele’s intellectual gravitas and the architecture’s dramatic vaulted ceiling.

CHECKING IN WITH MONIQUE DEKKER

General Manager, Park Hyatt Vienna

What are the main reasons people travel to Vienna?
Vienna is a city full of history, sights, a place to listen to amazing music, see beautiful architecture and shop in luxury boutiques. It offers a variety of activities, things to do and to see. The culinary scene of the city is wide and diverse. Not to forget that Vienna is only a two-hour flight from anywhere in Europe. The central location of the city is perfect.

What makes Vienna a great destination for business travelers?
The city is an easy-to-reach destination, offering great flight connections to anywhere in the world. Direct flights to the United States, Middle East and the whole of Europe are offered on a daily basis. Vienna is a convenient location for many international companies. The OPEC has its headquarters in Vienna; the U.N. has one of its four headquarters in Vienna. Also, the Viennese inhabitants all speak English well, making it easy for international business travelers to get through the city.

Park Hyatt Vienna restaurant

Park Hyatt Vienna restaurant © PARK HYATT VIENNA

How does the Park Hyatt Vienna give its guests an authentic local experience?
Our hotel has a long history which we like to share with our guests. Many of the historical elements (from its past as a bank) have been restored and newly interpreted. The former cashier hall is now our restaurant; the former vault now hosts our 50-foot-long pool; and the former bank directors’ offices are meeting rooms today. The combination of contemporary design and history offer a unique experience for our local and international guests.

What do you think most surprises people about Vienna?
Besides the historical things most people know — like Sisi, Franz Joseph, Mozart — Vienna is also a vibrant city. The city is full of young people, offering various places to satisfy their needs and wants. A lot of festivals, events, parades and open-air concerts take place in Vienna. The annual Life Ball, happening at the town hall, is a definite highlight for the LGBT scene. Restaurants offering all kinds of cuisines and international brands with their flagship stores offer something for everybody.

How does Vienna differentiate itself from its neighbors?
Vienna is a metropolis — a metropolis full of history, art, fashion and lifestyle. You can take daytrips to vineyards, just 30 minutes away from the city center. It’s a city but also offers a lot of parks with green areas.

Vienna Info to Go

Located approximately 10 miles east of the city center, Vienna International Airport is conveniently serviced by the City Airport Train, a 16-minute tide to Mitte (about $13.50 one way or $21.50 for a round-trip ticket). Otherwise, taxis (about $40) are safe and plentiful.

Vienna: Just the Facts

Time zone: GMT +1
Phone code: Country code: 43 City code: 1
Currency: Euro
Entry/exit requirements: For U.S. citizens there are no visa requirements to travel to Austria (or any Schengen country) for business or tourism for up to 90 days. Your passport must be valid for at least six months of travel.
Official language: German
Key industries: Biotechnology, life sciences, pharmaceuticals, tourism, finance

Where to Stay in Vienna

The Guesthouse Vienna Staying at this stylish boutique hotel near centrally located Albertinaplatz gets you a spacious, apartment-esque room plus a bustling street-level restaurant serving fabulous pastries. Führichgasse 10 $$$

Hotel Sacher In a city that defines imperial elegance, no property fits the bill as perfectly as this iconic hotel thanks to its plush, throwback décor. Don’t forget to indulge in a Sachertorte. Philharmonikersstrasse 4 $$$$$

The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna Occupying four 19th-century palaces on the famed Ring Strasse, this newish hotel (opened in 2012) features all the trappings of a European grande dame: opulent interiors, scene-y restaurant and peerless service. Schubertring 5-7 $$$$$

Restaurants in Vienna

Kussmaul This trendy newcomer near the MuseumsQuartier impresses with contemporary interiors and a menu at once approachable (cheeseburger) and adventurous (tripe stew). Spittelberggasse 12 $$$

Steirereck Austrian ingredients combine with Chef Heinz Reitbauer’s cutting-edge culinary philosophies to create one of Europe’s most celebrated kitchens. Indulge in a tasting menu (plus the wine pairings) that’s at once traditional and forward-thinking. Am Heumarkt 2A $$$$

Tian Restaurant A chic, vegetarian hot spot (in Vienna, of all places!) where the whimsical approach to preparing wild broccoli, chanterelles and barley will make you forget about the Wiener schnitzel. Himmelpfortgasse 23 $$$$

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