A real prize for incentive winners is a trip through Europe's so-called Golden Triangle: the three cities of Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; and Prague, Czech Republic. All are filled with history, cultural attractions, beautiful architecture, and each is different enough from the others to keep the interest level of incentive qualifiers high.
InterContinental Wien, is in the heart of Vienna, opposite the Stadtpark, close by the State Opera, concert halls, and the main shopping area. The hotel has 453 rooms and suites, and about 20,000 square feet of meeting space, including a dedicated conference floor.
InterContinental Wien is one of the main shareholders of the conference center at the Hofburg Palace, former Imperial Palace of the Habsburg dynasty. The imperial state rooms of the Hofburg Congress Center & Redoutensaele Vienna glitter with crystal and old marble but are on the cutting edge technologically. The 35 meeting rooms cover 182,000 square feet to accommodate 50 to 3,500 attendees. The Hofburg Gallery and Forum is a sleek and modern meeting space within the center; its soaring glass wall overlooks a historic inner courtyard and the baroque dome of the palace.
Vienna's central shopping district, a stroll away from both the conference center and the InterContinental, is full of interesting shops and coffeehouses. The center city also holds other little gems for events, like Palais Ferstell, which formerly served as a stock exchange, and Palais Niederosterreich, which hosts functions for up to 800 in the beautifully restored former Lower Austrian Parliament Building.
Next stop, Budapest — “the pearl of the Danube” — 150 miles away. The InterContinental, Budapest (398 rooms and suites, an 8,310-square-foot ballroom, and nine breakout rooms) is perfectly sited on the shore of the river to drink in the beauty of the dual city. This former Communist country is awakening from a long, grey period; its beautiful architecture is being cleaned and restored, and the city is vibrant and exciting. Continental Europe's oldest subway system is kept so clean — with original, ornate wood and metalwork — that banquets are sometimes held on the platforms of the historic stations. The city has more than 80 thermal springs, and if you spend a few days here, a trip to one of the city's bathhouses is de rigueur.
Budapest Opera House on the showcase Andrassy Avenue has some stunning rooms available for group events, and it is well worth taking a guided tour of this architectural jewel, considered among the most beautiful opera houses in the world.
Third stop: Prague. The InterContinental Praha (372 rooms and suites, 12 meeting rooms, and a ballroom) affords amazing views over the Old City from its elegant rooftop restaurant. The hotel is just steps from the Vlatava River and near the eminently strollable Charles Bridge. The 13th-century Old-New Synagogue is a block away from the hotel, and the Old Town Square, with its famous astrological clock, is a 5-minute walk past some of the city's most upscale shops.
Across the river, Prague Castle complex lends itself to at least a half day of exploration. Dating to the 880s, it was for centuries the residence of Czech kings. Within its fortified walls, the soaring, gothic St. Vitus Cathedral is today a repository of the country's art and history. Many of the castle buildings and halls are available for group functions.