Auckland, New Zealand, skyline
Up-and-coming key players for global meetings and eventsAuckland, New Zealand, is the epitome of an emerging international MICE city. Meetings, incentives, conventions and events are thriving in New Zealand’s largest city, so much so that it is building a new convention center to improve upon its already vibrant meeting corridor. During the 20th annual Conventions & Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) in June, Brett O’Riley, chief executive of Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development, discussed his city’s 10-year plan to double financial impact to $430 million by 2023. A key reason that goal is feasible is the development of New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC), scheduled to open in 2019. “We will have a facility that will compete with any facility in the region,” says Simon Jamieson, group general manager for NZICC. “It will make a big difference to New Zealand’s economy when it’s completed.” The new convention center will feature a 2,850-seat plenary and a 71,412-square-foot exhibition hall. It will be within walking distance to 4,500 four- and five-star guest rooms, creating a state-of-the-art meeting district completely integrated into the city. “We are really passionate about it,” says Callum Mallett, operations general manager for NZICC. “It’s another piece of the puzzle. To get to work on a project that’s a first for New Zealand is an honor. You don’t want to let the country down.” Groundbreaking for the three-year project was in February. To make way for NZICC, 16 buildings have been demolished to enhance the flow between downtown and the city’s famous harbor. Auckland’s biggest project is New Zealand’s future.
Auckland, New Zealand“We see great potential for [the MICE] segment. We consider ourselves to be creative and innovative.” −Rene de Monchy, director of trade public relations and major events for Tourism New Zealand Auckland already has a good thing going in and around the location of its new convention center, with an existing conference center and two top-notch adjacent hotels. SkyCity Auckland Convention Centre offers 14,145 sq. ft. of event space, with theater-style seating for up to 1,750. The 316-room SkyCity Grand Hotel is a luxury property adjacent to the convention center. SkyCity Hotel has 340 guest rooms. In addition to a new convention center, the complex will get a third hotel. The street running between the SkyCity hotels can be blocked off for special events. Besides restaurants and bars, the SkyCity complex features a world-class casino and iconic Sky Tower, which offers grand reception space and expansive views from 722 feet above street level. Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour features water views, 172 elegant guest rooms and reception space for up to 140. When the who’s who of the world visits, The Langham, Auckland is a top choice. It offers 409 guest rooms and meeting space for up to 1,200.
Water WorldThe ferry terminal is only a seven-minute walk from the convention center, opening up all kinds of opportunities for attendees to explore Auckland’s harbors and Hauraki Gulf. Fuller ferry service transports visitors on cruises and tours, with leisure service to Waiheke Island and iconic Rangitoto Island, which features the world’s largest pohutukawa forest. Pohutukawa forests can be found on volcanic islands of the Pacific, but are rare in New Zealand. Waiheke Island, only 35 minutes away by ferry, is a must-see. A cross between California’s Napa Valley and Maui, Waiheke features 30 wineries that complement New Zealand’s award-winning wine production. For a real wow factor, rent a luxury yacht to help introduce executives to Auckland’s waterways. Pacific Mermaid has hosted many foreign heads of state. It can hold up to 80 for receptions and 30 for seated dinners. It features four elegant bedrooms, so overnighters are possible. The Kiwis love their boats, which is one of the reasons they were such great hosts during the 2000 and 2003 America’s Cup races. That success continues to resonate thanks to Explore Group, which sails out of Auckland and Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Explore offers sailing, marine wildlife expeditions, diving and cruising in amazing places aboard boats once used for the America’s Cup.
Special-Event VenuesFor those meeting downtown, The Cloud on Queens Wharf makes a convenient waterfront offsite venue. Built in 2011, it features 28,858 sq. ft. of event space and can host up to 4,500. Next door is Shed 10, a historic maritime terminal that can host up to 3,000. ANZ Viaduct Event Centre is a couple of wharfs away, with theater-seating for up to 2,200. ASB Showgrounds became host to CINZ after New Zealand’s annual meetings and events trade show outgrew SkyCity Auckland Convention Centre. With 192,600 sq. ft. of exhibition space, ASB is currently Auckland’s largest venue. Auckland War Memorial Museum, which sits atop a hill that overlooks the city and beyond, features the largest collection of Maori art and artifacts in the world. The museum’s upper-level event center can be customized for groups, with space for up to 500 for receptions and 450 for seated banquets. Museum galleries and the atrium provide culturally rich event space, as well.
Begin All Adventures with Air New ZealandNew Zealand’s meetings and events industry is blessed with committed partnerships. For example, Air New Zealand was a key partner of the hosted buyers program during the 20th annual Conventions and Incentives New Zealand (CINZ) in June. “Our success is linked to New Zealand’s success,” says Leanne Geraghty, regional general manager for distribution and corporate for Air New Zealand. Improved airlift has contributed to the country’s 15 percent growth in international delegates. North American gateways are San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Honolulu and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Air New Zealand offers routes throughout the world, featuring international hub cities such as Sydney, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Buenos Aires. Regarded as one of the top airlines in the world, Air New Zealand has invested $100 million in airport lounges for premium flyers, creating private clubs with complimentary gourmet meals and full bars. The airline’s business premier class features impeccable service and seats that easily convert into 6-foot-6-inch-long flat beds. With personal TV monitors and gourmet food, the flight from San Francisco to Auckland, slightly less than 12 hours, goes much faster than you’d think.
Elizabeth Quay“Elizabeth Quay continues to grow as Western Australia’s premier tourism development and as a highly sought-after waterfront community and premier events venue. Elizabeth Quay’s city, riverside location, flexibility as an event and recreation space, and access to public transportation are certainly contributing to its success as an emerging major tourism attraction for Western Australia.” −Donna Faragher, planning minister for Government of Western Australia Whether it’s hosting arts festivals or concerts, Perth’s new Elizabeth Quay has made an immediate impression and impact on Western Australia’s capital city. Since debuting in January, the inviting open space on a Swan River inlet has already hosted Perth International Arts Festival and Fringe World Festival. It’s scheduled to hold the welcome ceremony for the World Masters Athletics Championships in October. The quay’s public areas feature landscaped terraces, boardwalks and promenades, including a bridge connected to an island. The primary entry point is accented by water features, such as choreographed water jets, with lighting and sound. The water features can be turned off and the area quickly drained, creating event space for up to 800 people. The first restaurant to open in the new waterfront precinct is The Reveley, featuring a rooftop bar with space for 140. Plans also call for mixed-used towers that will house 379 luxury apartments and a 202-room Ritz-Carlton. The hotel is schedule to open in 2018. The quay is next to Barrack Street Jetty precinct, which includes Perth’s iconic Bell Tower, ferry service on Swan River and restaurants. Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre is steps from Elizabeth Quay. There are six exhibition halls that combine to offer 171,200 sq. ft. of space. Riverside Theatre can seat up to 2,500. There are 25 meeting and functions rooms.
Wildflower Terrace“There is a real appetite out there for what Perth has to offer,” says Paul Beeson, chief executive of Perth Convention Bureau. “Not only is the city well-equipped to host visitors from all over the world, but there is also a real sense of excitement in the air.” Crown Towers will debut in December, becoming Perth’s largest hotel, with 500 guest rooms. The 25-story property will be an integral part of the vibrant Crown Perth entertainment complex, which already includes the 397-room Crown Metropol Perth and 291-room Crown Promenade Perth. The complex also features a 24-hour casino, spa, 33 restaurants and bars, and 2,300-seat theater. Crown Events & Conferences Perth has event space for up to 3,000. There are three major meeting rooms, with the largest offering 21,400 sq. ft. Parent company Crown Resorts is intent on developing a world-class entertainment precinct in Perth that will be capable of competing with mega resorts in Singapore and Macau. State buildings located in the Cathedral and Treasury Precinct have been restored, creating bars and restaurants that enhance Perth’s entertainment scene. The project includes the 48-room Como The Treasury, a luxury boutique hotel that earned Hotel of the Year and New Hotel of the Year at the 2016 Gourmet Traveller Hotel Awards. The rooftop Wildflower Terrace offers Swan River views. Scarborough Beach, about a 20-minute drive northwest of the city center, is undergoing a multimillion-dollar renovation to enhance Western Australia’s popular Indian Ocean destination. The project calls for a new square with restaurants, shops, a sports plaza with a climbing wall and skate park, a beachfront swimming pool and a transit hub. The revitalizations are expected to begin this year.
W Taipei“Treat your attendees to a daytrip to Jiufen, a small town with quaint streets, hillside teahouses and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.” −Elaine Chin, director of sales and marketing for Taipei Marriott Hotel A five-year promotional campaign has increased Taiwan’s MICE events to nearly 1,000 annually, with most gatherings based in the capital city’s Taipei International Convention Centre and World Trade Centre Nangang Expo Hall. In the foothills of the thriving Xinyi district, the convention center features four floors of meeting space and a column-free hall that accommodates 3,122, plus lounges, board rooms and party venues. Surrounding streets are dotted with performing arts halls and branded convention hotels, including Grand Hyatt Taipei, Le Meridien Taipei and W Taipei. After dark, meeting-goers can wander out to see eye-popping light shows across the skyscrapers, and walk to outdoor stages for live music and dance performances, product launches and celebrity sightings. In a city known for nonstop nightlife and spectacular corporate events, W Taipei outdid itself for a global brand summer party. The W created a million-dollar stage by the swimming pool, with a giant backdrop spelling “wow,” a 250-inch LED screen and a crystal runway. A bikini fashion parade and cocktail bites served on surfboards delighted 300 guests. Opened in 2015 near the Keelung River and Neihu Technology Park, National Palace Museum and the World Trade Center, the 320-room, five-star Taipei Marriott Hotel is the towering anchor of a new shopping, dining and convention center complex. The Marriott’s Meetings Imagined staff transformed the hotel’s 21,000 sq. ft. of event space, a pillarless ballroom and a rooftop garden into nightclubs, garden parties, interactive screenings and company trainings. Incentive groups are enticed by daytrips to the breathtaking waterfalls of Taroko Gorge and to hot springs at Yangmingshan National Park. Asia Concentrate Corporation, a specialist in event management and guest entertainment, offers a new multiday tea culture experience with visits to plantations to watch picking, rolling and drying.
Innside Manchester“While Greater Manchester is known as a cultural destination, with the newly opened Whitworth and Home making headlines, we want to remind conference organizers why we are an obvious choice for intelligent, knowledge-rich meetings.” −Nick Brooks-Sykes, director of tourism at Marketing Manchester Connected to nine U.S. cities by direct flights, Manchester, in northwest England, is a sophisticated university town with an edgy soccer-focused vibe. Due to growth in tourism and international business, a flurry of new properties are open or on the launchpad. Part of the sprawling First Street development, Home is an art and performance center with state-of-art theaters, a gallery and a breezy terrace. Next door, the new, ultra-contemporary Innside Manchester from Melia Hotels has four meeting rooms and a Mediterranean-style restaurant. Adjoining the new Executive Education Centre at University of Manchester is the 210-room Crowne Plaza Manchester-Oxford Road. Iconic Whitworth Art Gallery hosts elegant gatherings in the lofty, Jacobean-style Grand Hall and in the leafy sculpture park. Among 800 hotel rooms built in 2015 were those at the swanky, new Hotel Gotham in an Art Deco-era building. Hotel Football is backed by Manchester United soccer players, with hospitality venues on 12 floors. Next to Victoria Station, the gleaming, circular, 13-story Hotel Indigo will open in 2017 with spacious VIP suites. Located in a century-old railway station, Manchester Central Convention Complex is the largest exhibition facility in England. It can host more than 10,000 delegates for expos, sporting events and conventions; renovations revived the 804-seat Exchange Auditorium and Exchange Hall, which caters to 1,200 diners. Across the street, The Midland has 312 rooms and conference space for 700. Hilton Manchester Deansgate, Novotel Manchester Centre and more conference hotels are within walking distance. Next year will see the launch of Hotel Indigo Manchester, the 200-suite Manchester Grande Hotel—complete with four restaurants and several bars—and a major expansion of the favorite Radisson Blu Edwardian Manchester, which will add a walkway to Manchester Central.
Whales of Iceland“The brand called Iceland represents uniqueness, freshness and the country that differentiates itself from all others. We chose this special destination to teach business owners how to identify their own unique brands by combining business training with the inspiring wonders of Iceland.” −Runa Magnusdottir, co-founder of Brandit JetBlue and Icelandair have combined their direct routes from major East Coast cities, making it easy for bookings to Iceland, currently one of the world’s most popular destinations. In 2015, Reykjavik saw a 25 percent growth in tourism, and the capital is undergoing a veritable explosion of hotels. Said to be the most peaceful country in the world and famous for stunning natural attractions, The Land of Fire and Ice appeals to incentive groups and those in the market for active itineraries. Meet in Reykjavik Convention Bureau arranges outings, including snowmobiling, river rafting and glacier tours in monster trucks, and wellness retreats at geothermal spas such as Blue Lagoon. The lagoon has a restaurant with a view, accommodating 450 for dining and 1,000 for receptions; 2017 will see the opening of the 60-room Blue Lagoon Hotel. The newest tourist attraction in town, located in the old harbor district, Whales of Iceland is a dazzling setting for parties of up to 500 and candlelit dinners for 200 beneath life-size models of whale species found in Icelandic waters. Another new, chillier choice is an expedition into the world’s largest man-made ice cave, within Langjokull Glacier. A dramatic architectural icon overlooking the city’s picturesque harbor, Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre is a winner of the Best MICE Centre in Northern Europe award; 3,200 are accommodated here for conferences and events. Next door, Marriott is opening the 250-room Reykjavik Edition Hotel in 2018. Reflecting the astounding tourism boom, 872 hotel rooms were built in 2015 and about 2,450 more are planned. Across from the parliament building and the city’s main square, Iceland Parliament Hotel will have 160 rooms and a history museum. Just opened steps from Laugavegur, the main street of shops, eateries and pubs, the 115-room Canopy by Hilton Reykjavik City Centre offers an intimate board room and event space for up to 50.
Jerusalem Payis Arena“Our city has a worldwide reputation for innovation, biotechnology and much more. Jerusalem is a leader in the fields of health and life sciences, boasting two world-renowned research hospitals and countless R&D centers, as well as being an international leader in cultural tourism.” −Nir Barkat, mayor of Jerusalem From networking in a 1,500-year-old citadel to sipping cocktails while watching a sound-and-light show at Tower of David Museum, conventioneers are invigorated by the vibrant mosaic of ancient history and modern culture in Jerusalem. Specializing in international congresses, the city recently hosted 500 attendees during World Science Conference Israel; 3,000 attended International Astronautical Congress; and delegates from 50 countries participated in the Global Investor Summit. Providing translation in every language, International Convention Center (ICC) is comprised of 27 meeting halls, with expo space for 10,000 attendees. Opened in 2014, Jerusalem Payis Arena seats more than 11,400 for concerts and sporting events. For candlelit dinners, receptions and smaller meetings, a plethora of historic sites include the atmospheric Zedekiah’s Cave and the gardens of circa-1880s Hansen House. Rockefeller Museum can host glamorous events for 180 in its sculpture courtyard. Near the ICC, the 650-room Ramada Jerusalem is popular for large groups, with space for up to 1,600 in its grand ballroom and 13 other halls and meeting rooms. The new ultra-modern Mamilla Hotel has a ballroom, an auditorium, meeting rooms and a rooftop terrace where private corporate events are held. In 2013, Hilton opened the 226-room Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem steps from Jaffa Gate in the Old City. Graced by a grand staircase, a lofty atrium and crystal chandeliers in the pillar-free grand ballroom, the hotel has eight meeting rooms and numerous hospitality suites; sundown cocktails are popular on the rooftop terrace. Set to open this year in a 19th-century, golden-toned stone villa is Brown Jerusalem boutique hotel. The five-star, 240-room Orient Hotel of the Isrotel Exclusive Collection will open next spring within two restored Templar-era buildings. It will feature a conference center and rooftop pool.
Jose Cuervo Fabrica La Rojena“With more than a million sq. ft. of space, Expo Guadalajara is the largest MICE venue in Latin America…4,800 of our 27,000 guest rooms are within a five-minute walk from Expo, making this a favorite of association and international companies.” −Humberto Gonzalez Hernandez, president of Expo Guadalajara Named the new “Ciudad Creativa Digital” (Creative Digital City) and called Mexico’s Second City, Guadalajara is a university- and research-oriented destination, with the highest number of IT-electronics companies in Mexico––Oracle, IBM, Intel, etc. Hundreds of direct flights a month connect with more than a dozen U.S. cities. The largest convention center in Mexico and Latin America, Expo Guadalajara encompasses more than 1 million sq. ft., with space for up to 50,000 for expos, trade shows and conventions. Across from the sprawling Expo, 221-room The Westin Guadalajara houses 4,500 sq. ft. of event space. Hotel Ibis Guadalajara Expo has 159 guest rooms and three meeting venues. On the main boulevards on the way to the industrial parks, the soaring 42-story tower of the 550-room Hotel Riu Plaza Guadalajara accommodates more than 1,300 people in 50,000 sq. ft. of function space and features hospitality suites, a penthouse, several eateries and bars, and a spa. Opened in 2014, the 142-room Aloft Guadalajara in the Country Club financial district offers six meeting venues. The new, Marriott-branded, 188-room AC Guadalajara has three meeting rooms and can host more than 100 for receptions. The home of mariachi music, Guadalajara is a cultural treasure of Spanish Colonial architecture, museums and vast historic plazas. Bedecked with dozens of vibrant Orozco murals, the circa-1790 Hospicio Cabanas is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and major tourist attraction, with a rich backdrop for large-scale courtyard receptions. Mariachi and charreria rodeo performances are on every convention itinerary, as are daytrips to the quaint town of Tequila. Delegates hop on the Jose Cuervo Express train to visit Jose Cuervo Fabrica La Rojena in La Rojena and wander the cobblestone streets.
The Granary (photo by Bern Tourism)“When it comes to Swiss cities, Davos and Geneva may come to mind, but for intimacy with big-city flair, and a cultural hub with fantastic museums and restaurants––all within eyeshot of the Alps––I chose Bern for our 2016 conference of editors and writers. My attendees loved the offsite attractions, such as Gurten, the local mountain, and the medieval Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.” −Maren Rudolph, president of Travel Classics International Two hours from Zurich Airport (ZRH), the medieval city of Bern lies on a peninsula surrounded by River Aare and views of the snow-draped Bernese Alps. Renaissance fountains, a soaring Gothic cathedral, a town hall built in the 1400s, and older castles and towers create a rich backdrop for corporate retreats, culture-focused incentive trips and association meetings. Historic and architecturally significant sites are the most desired event venues, especially the eye-popping Zentrum Paul Klee, a museum housing the world’s largest collection of the Swiss artist’s works. There is a 300-seat auditorium, and five seminar and banquet rooms. The adjacent Restaurant Schongrun, in a glass-enclosed villa, is one of Bern’s premier restaurants and is the caterer for the museum. A charming, lantern-lit former town hall of the 1880s, Restaurant Zum Ausseren Stand offers elegant, private Empire Hall for dinners for up to 40 guests and galas for up to 200. Popular for banquets, The Granary (Kornhaus) serves up to 500 in an elaborately decorated, Baroque-style, arch-ceilinged hall entered by a grand staircase, with parquet floors, fancy balconies and murals, and pre-event lounges. Receptions at Gurten-Park in the Green take delegates high above the city to a mountaintop destination with dazzling views of the Alps. Concerts, seminars and celebrations are held in the glass-walled pavilion, on terraces or in meeting rooms. Next door to the Swiss Parliament Building, Bellevue Palace Bern hotel is a 1910 neoclassical landmark and favorite gathering place for politicians and celebrities. Banquet, meeting and convention facilities include elegant theaters and classrooms, reception and boardroom spaces. The hotel is a short walk from Gothic-style Bern Munster cathedral and Einsteinhaus museum.
The Porsche Museum (photo by Porsche AG Bern)“Delegates get a taste of German Gemutlichkeit at the beer and wine festivals. Meeting breaks are exciting at our historic palaces and the futuristic glass art museum on Palace Square, the longest shopping street in Germany.” −Karina Grutzner, sales manager for Stuttgart Convention Bureau Celebrating 30 years of direct flights to major U.S. cities, Stuttgart Airport (STR) is within walking distance of ICS International Congress Center Stuttgart (ICC), which can host 10,000 delegates in its more than 1 million sq. ft., spread out among nine halls. It also features 400,000 sq. ft. of outdoor venues. Conference hotels surround the airport, including the new 150-room Star Inn Hotel Stuttgart Airport-Messe and Dorint Airport-Hotel Stuttgart, both with conference rooms. Attracting more than 350 attendees from auto and tech companies, California-based GENIVI Alliance based its 2015 Open Automotive at ICC, in a nod to the city’s deep roots in the auto industry. While in town, attendees enjoyed beer, wine and music at Stuttgart Spring Festival. The group stayed at the 555-room Maritim Hotel Stuttgart and convened in its historic 1885 Reithalle (Riding Hall). Nearby Liederhalle Concert and Convention Center has five large theater-style halls and 18 conference rooms that are convenient for events based at Maritim. The closing gala was held at Mash, a restaurant and event club across from the hotel. The sleek, spiraling Mercedes-Benz Museum welcomes 1,200 for parties and seminars in the exhibit rooms, on the terrace and on the open-air stage. The Porsche Museum offers private exhibit, factory and architectural tours. One of the most popular conference hotels, near the central station, Schlossgarten Park, opera house and theaters, the 293-room Le Meridien Stuttgart has 13 meeting rooms and Elysee Ballroom. It’s available for up to 450 for auto presentations and expos. In the same neighborhood, Steigenberger Hotels is opening a 170-room hostelry in 2017 on the first seven floors of an 18-story high-rise. Pop-up live performances promise a hip and happening nightspot at the rooftop bar.