When William Lobkowicz, CEO and owner of Lobkowicz Events Management in Prague, takes groups to see the historic castles and cultural treasures of the Czech Republic, it's a thoroughly personal experience.
Lobkowicz is a direct descendent of the ruling monarchial Lobkowicz family of the Czech nation. His family line ruled an empire that stretched from Vienna to Prague, dating to the mid-1500s and making Lobkowicz himself an actual prince. However, when his grandfather fled Central Europe to escape the Nazis in the 1930s, he left behind the family's castles, art, and other possessions, which were confiscated by the Nazis and then the Communists.
Showcasing his family history is a right for which Lobkowicz fought long and hard.
In 1989, when Czechoslovakia became a free republic, Lobkowicz was living in a suburb of Boston. He began the process of reclaiming his family's property — a challenge that took four lawyers and the better part of a decade. He relocated to Prague and reclaimed ownership of 10 castles, including Nelahozeves Castle, Lobkowicz Palace, and Strekov, as well as a winery, a brewery, numerous works of art, and other treasures. That's when he got the idea to start a destination management company, booking corporate groups at the castles to help pay for their upkeep. “We kind of just fell into it,” he says.
While Strekov is still in ruins, Nelahozeves Castle and the newly restored Lobkowicz Palace can host groups of 30 to 600. Lodging is not available, but catering facilities are on-site, and companies such as McDonald's Corp. and Morgan Stanley have used them for group events.
“We did an incentive event for 600 members of the Young Presidents Organization, which was basically a recreation of a Renaissance fair and festival,” says Lob-kowicz. Actors in period costume entertained, and YPO members tried their hands at archery, candle dipping, and blacksmithing. Swordfighters, falconers, and tarot card readers helped to set the 16th-century scene.
“We get to be ambassadors to a great country and come up with creative ideas on how to give life to these historical properties and objects,” he says “It has just been a heck of a lot of fun.”
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