Elegant Vienna is in many ways like Paris at a slower pace. The city was the capital of the Hapsburg Empire for more than six centuries, and many splendid royal residences and official buildings remain. Just when you think you've seen the room with the most magnificent crystal chandeliers of all, or the most elaborately painted ceiling, you see another that's even more opulent.
Incentive qualifiers themselves could easily feel like royalty in Vienna. They can take tours of palaces, attend banquets in palaces, and even stay in hotels that were palaces. Among them are the Hofburg, the Hapsburgs' winter palace, with 26 function rooms; Pallavicini Palace, with seven glittering function rooms; and Schwarzenberg Palace, with five small, elaborately decorated meeting rooms and a high-ceilinged, domed reception area.
There are function rooms in two palace hotels on the Ringstrasse (the boulevard encircling the city center), the Radisson SAS Palais and the Imperial. The 245-room Radisson comprises two restored 19th-century palaces. Its 14 function rooms accommodate up to 600 persons. The top-of-the-line Imperial, a former ducal palace, has conference facilities for up to 250 persons. Its 130 luxurious guest rooms have silk-covered walls, antiques, and their own chandeliers.
Among the contemporary hotels are the 460-room Inter-Continental, the 313-room Marriott, and the 309-room Renaissance.
Heading any sightseeing list is the Schonbrunn, the Hapsburgs' summer palace, with its butter-yellow exterior. Other highlights are the mammoth St. Stephen's Cathedral and the Belvedere Palace, now an art gallery but once home of Archduke Ferdinand, whose assassination in 1914 sparked World War I.