Set in Austria's Tyrol region, amid breathtaking mountain scenery, Innsbruck is a town that can work beautifully for both meetings and incentives. Sited on the banks of the River Inn (Innsbruck means "Inn's bridge") and surrounded by the Tyrolean Alps, the town blends sport and recreational opportunities, historic venues, exciting cultural events, and modern facilities. With its 800-year history (Innsbruck was the royal seat of the Habsburgs, beginning in 1494 with Emperor Maximilian), the town offers visitors medieval castles, baroque cathedrals, a Gothic marketplace, and museums to help them pull it all together.

The city's modern congress center, Congress Innsbruck, is literally on the banks of the Inn. Built in 1973 and fully refurbished in 1995, the center has 12 rooms ranging from 486 to 21,000 square feet in area and three plenary halls. The spectacular Dogana Hall, on the site of a 16th-century, library-turned-customs-hall, seats 835 persons banquet-style between the original arcaded walls--a rare combination of medieval architecture and fully modern technology and facilities.

Innsbruck and the immediate surrounding area have more than 10,000 hotel beds, ranging from the five-star Hotel Europa Tyrol, near the town center and train station, with 125 rooms and suites and seven conference and function rooms for up to 200; to nearby hotels in mountain villages like Igls, only three miles away, where, for example, the five-star Sporthotel Igls serves up tennis, golf, and spa amenities along with crystalline mountain air.

About a ten-minute motorcoach ride from Innsbruck is Swarovski Kristallwelten (Crystal Worlds), a new underground structure, designed by Andre Heller, that almost defies description. Is it a museum? Art gallery? Banqueting venue extraordinaire? Or showplace and sales room for Swarovski crystal and optical products?

It is, in fact, all of these. The structure itself is surrounded by a garden and labyrinth, and visitors must pass under a waterfall to enter the main hall, leading to a series of interlocked chambers, each designed by a different artist. The entry hall dazzles with its 36-foot high, 138-foot long wall, embedded with 12 tons (300,000 carats ) of semiprecious stones. With art works by such artists as Salvador Dali and Niki de Saint Phalle, the entry hall can be used by groups, in the evening after the museum closes to the public, for elegant receptions for up to 150 persons. Guests are free to roam and explore the chambers and galleries--from the Crystal Dome to the Meditation Room.