by Pádraic Gilligan, Managing Partner, SoolNua
Frankfurt is a destination in a neutral grey Hugo Boss suit that waits patiently at the side of a traffic-free road rather than cross the street when there’s a red light. It’s laid out on both banks of the broad Main River, the two sides linked by bridges of no obvious architectural note. There’s nothing like the Chain Bridge in Budapest, or no piece of Calatrava modernist whimsey. There are clusters of contemporary buildings in glass and steel none of which is particularly distinctive or daring, at least to the untrained eye. There’s no Shard or Gherkin, no Burj el Khalifa or Petronas Towers.
The lack of architectural iconography around Frankfurt, however, doesn’t mean the city is missing great event spaces. During a scouting trip earlier this week, my SITE colleague John Iannini of Melia Hotels and I discovered a plethora of great locations around the city for a 500 person stand-up event. Here are some locations that we visited and really liked. You’ll have to wait until IMEX16 to find out which one we selected for our event.
Innside by Melia
Although not in contention for our 500 person function, I do want to highlight Innside by Melia both for its spectacular and capacious guest rooms (min size is 35sqm but they go up to 75 sqm) and its truly unique event spaces. Perched on the upper floors of the Eurotheum building, a glass and steel structure dating from 1999, Innside by Melia is a boutique property of 74 guest rooms, a panoramic 22nd floor bar and some wonderful, small meetings facilities suitable for board meetings or think tanks. There’s a real sense of privacy and discretion about this property that makes it the perfect place to socialise with IMEX colleagues or clients, particularly when you want to be far from the madding crowd.
The Palmengarten is one of 2 botanical gardens in Frankfurt constituting a footprint of some 22 green and natural hectares in the centre of the city. It is laid out behind the thoroughly impressive Gesellschaftshaus which comprises the stunning Bauhaus facade, built in the late 1920s, and the sumptuous Victorian Festsaal, or ballroom, dating from the early 1870s.
The ballroom offers 600 sqm of uninterrupted floor space supplemented by an additional 280 sqm on the balcony around its perimeter. It’s filled with natural daylight and extends onto an outdoor terrace of flourishing, rampant greenery. Its a vast space that can take 1000 guests for a stand-up function or 750 for a seated dinner. The facility re-opened as a special events venue in 2012 having been closed for many years.
Contact: Caroline Llamas Wohler [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Depot 1899 is a restored tram shed that had been re-imagined and re-purposed as a restaurant / venue with capacities for large numbers. It’s located on the Sachsenhausen side of the Main and, despite its vastness, has a strong neighbourhood feel to it.
This is a perfect party venue for 500+ and can be rented out exclusively upon payment of a flat fee to include food and beverage. One of the two dedicated event spaces is at the rear of the facility.
It’s a double height rectangular space that can take about 200 persons. Upstairs there’s a second space which is almost a replica of the ground floor, minus the large bar area that occupies much of the front of the first floor. The 2 spaces together offer unrivalled space with natural flow. Food here is decidedly local with a focus on traditional German pork products, cheeses and pickled vegetables.
Contact: Frank von Kolcznski [email@example.com]
Like Palmengarten, Palais Frankfurt is another period facility that has only recently come to the market as a private event space. Dating initially from the early 1700s, and with connections to the prestigious von Lobkowicz family, the building was mostly destroyed during WW2 but meticulously re-constructed in 2002 as part of a general urban renewal and re-generation of the entire surrounding area.
It stands at the base of two super-tall contemporary buildings (one of which is the recently opened Jumeriah Frankfurt) its Baroque aesthetics, scale and features in dramatic but elegant counterpoint. Palais Frankfurt is actually a portfolio of events spaces comprising an external courtyard, the Rotunda building and the Sala Grande.
The Sala Grande is 1000 sqm of flexible event space but is actually located at basement level, underneath the courtyard. It has been designed and fitted-out by event professionals and offers a truly versatile tabula rasa upon which to paint your perfect event.
The first floor of the Rotunda building comprises two interconnecting spaces with high ceiling period detail with access to an outdoor terrace from which you can survey the courtyard below. The combination of Rotunda and Sala Grande would make a perfect drinks followed by diner followed by high tech entertainment.
Contact: Luca Cinelli [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Situated across the road from the Innside by Melia and beside the historic Opera House, Kameha Suite started life over 100 years ago as the headquarter building for an insurance company. Since 2009 it has been operating as a restaurant and events space. It can be rented exclusively with capacity for up to 500 guests across a stunning suite of rooms and a beautiful outdoor terrace.
It’s city centre location beside the Opera House makes its particularly easy to get to while its beautiful heritage facade, lit magnificently at night, creates a sense of drama and exclusivity for arriving guests. The drama continues upon entering the building with the marble staircase leading both right and left off the atrium onto balconies that give you a bird’s eye view of proceedings.
The house restaurant occupies one side of the upper floor while the other side is private event space which connects with further spaces and rooms creating a perfect flow pattern that takes you around the entire house. Food at Kameha matches the stately elegance of the venue.
Contact: Nadine Moeller [email@example.com]
Pádraic Gilligan and Patrick Delaney are Managing Partners at SoolNua. They work with destinations, hotel groups, venues and other business tourism enterprises on strategy and marketing for meetings and events. Padraic and John were in Frankfurt in their capacities as Co-Chairs of SITENite.
Please join us for a spectacular India Themed night of networking and great food and beverages at the amazing InterContinental Hotel, Frankfurt on 18 May next at 7pm
Huge thanks to Jutta Heinrich at the Frankfurt Convention Bureau for helping us with our plans for SITENite 2016