Deciding to go forward with a late-September press trip to Switzerland, I found the Alps to be a wonderful balm. Their ancient, craggy peaks seemed to remind our group of numbed Americans that “this too shall pass.” And then there was the comfortable embrace of our host hotels, the 168-room Palace Luzern and the 212-room Victoria-Jungfrau. These sister resorts provide a sweet haven for international travelers.
Both properties are well-known high-end incentive resorts, and now they are in the market for meetings as well. The Palace is a short boat ride across placid Lake Lucerne to the three-year-old KKL conference center. KKL offers its famous 1,800-seat concert hall as well as several multipurpose halls and smaller conference rooms, making it an attractive venue for meetings of up to several thousand people.
The lakeside Palace Luzern, built 95 years ago and beautifully restored over the last few years, offers 13 multipurpose meeting rooms. From the hotel, an hour's drive from Zurich airport, groups can explore myriad central Swiss attractions. We took a cogwheel train ride to the top of 6,000-foot Mount Rigi, a half-day sojourn that started with a steamboat ride across the lake. We also toured the Swiss Museum of Transport, with acres of special exhibits.
After a two-hour train ride through the Alps, we arrived at the resort town of Interlaken, where the Victoria-Jungfrau Hotel has reigned since 1835. Later we took a daylong train trip to the “Top of Europe,” courtesy of Jungfrau Railways. Groups can arrange all sorts of special events at this locale. We had a surprise glass of champagne inside the Ice Palace, an underground museum of ice sculptures carved directly into the glacial ice.
The Victoria-Jungfrau's mix of Old World ballroom space and its purpose-built conference center will knock a planner's socks off. It has a total of 22 function rooms. That doesn't include the wine cellar, where our group had a candlelight tasting, surrounded by 3,000 bottles from around the world. We also enjoyed massages at the hotel's tranquil spa.