Vienna’s Offbeat Passions: Wine, Design and Harry Lime
By Maria Lisella
For the first time, Vienna’s “enjoyment path” extends from wine to design this year. Inaugurated as part of the city’s wine and design promotion (October 1 – November 30, 2008) it takes in the most interesting and attractive places to enjoy a glass of wine in the city— from wine taverns to more than 100 city pubs and restaurants and will have plenty of vintage treats.
Competitions with prizes including 1,000 bottles of the very best Viennese wine and 100 objects by Viennese designers are slated all over town. The Vienna, wine and design brochure complete with information on the promotion and entry coupon for the competition is available at Vienna Hotels and the Tourist Information Center (corner of Albertinaplatz and Maysedergasse, 1st district, open 9 a.m.-7 p.m.). There are also 10,000 instant prizes waiting to be won at the Tourist Information Center.
The history of wine production in Vienna dates back more than 2,500 years. Today, it is the only capital city in the world with extensive vineyards within the city limits. Each year a total of about 320 growers produce around two million liters of quality wines. Wine is never far away in Vienna – the wine taverns and vineyards of Grinzing and Nussdorf are just a 20-minute tram ride from the historic city center. A raft of recent international awards shows that Viennese wine is experiencing something of a renaissance, as reflected by the emergence of new approaches to wine cellar architecture and wine tavern design, both of which can be seen among top producers’ like Fritz Wieninger (www.wieninger.at) and Rainer Christ (www.weingut-christ.at).
From Imperial Courts to Avant-garde
Vienna is known as a breeding ground for art and design. From the Imperial Court to the Wiener Werkstätte and today’s contemporary designers, The Vienna Design Week festival (Oct. 2-12, 2008, www.viennadesignweek.at) features a high-quality program that is supported by major museums and institutions as well as a selection of smaller shops and galleries. The “passion paths” take visitors on an expedition all around the city that includes experimental projects by designers in various locations. Blickfang (October 17-19, 2008, www.blickfang.com) at the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) is a great place to find out about design and make a purchase. The art festival comes hot on the heels of the Blickfang design festival. During viennaartweek (November 17-23, 2008, www.viennaartweek.com) a total of 45 Viennese museums, exhibition venues and art institutes will open their doors for numerous events.
At the ARTmART exhibition about 2,000 works by 200 different artists will be for sale at a set price of just 70 euros or about $100 each (www.2008.artmart.at).
Those who visit Vienna are really never very far from its post World War II icon – the silver screen classic, “The Third Man,” which was shot in Vienna in 1949. Since the Burg Kino cinema on Opernring shows The Third Man every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, suggest clients combine the film with a lavish brunch at one of Vienna’s other classical experiences, its coffee houses.
In the Footsteps of Harry Lime
Visitors can retrace the footsteps of Harry Lime on the Third Man Tour, at the Riesenrad (the Giant Ferris Wheel) and in the Third Man Museum. The Giant Ferris Wheel in the Prater, the Vienna sewers, Orson Welles and the haunting zither music of Anton Karas – The Third Man painted a picture of Vienna previously unseen on the big screen. Director Carol Reed presented the story of the smuggler Harry Lime, played by Orson Welles, which turns into a game of cat and mouse set in the Vienna of 1947. While Reed portrays the city’s dark side, like the sewers and the rubble left by the war, the film also shows the picturesque streets of the old town and Viennese trademarks such as the Giant Ferris Wheel.
Sixty years on, “The Third Man” has lost none of its fascinating qualities, as visitors can see for themselves by taking a Third Man tour. With the help of pictures and music samples, the Third Man walking tour gives visitors a taste of the film’s atmosphere and follows the trail of Harry Lime to original locations in the Old Town, such as Josephsplatz and Mölkerbastei. The Third Man sewer tour takes visitors down to the “underworld” of the Vienna sewers, as immortalized in the pursuit of Harry Lime.
The Third Man Museum also offers more insights into the world of this cinema classic. Besides numerous props from the film, and photos and objects from the post-WWII era, Anton Karas’ zither from the world-famous theme tune is also on display here. Call +43 1-586 48 72; www.3mpc.net
The Third Man tour takes in both the Third Man Museum and the Burg Kino cinema. A visit to one of the stopping points entitles visitors to discounts on the others. Call +43 1-587 84 06; www.burgkino.at
Popular destinations for outings include the Zentralfriedhof (Central Cemetery) in Simmering – which can be seen at the beginning and end of the film – and the traditional Prater amusement park with its Giant Ferris Wheel. The location for one of the film’s main scenes, it is in stark contrast with the underground sewers and offers amazing views over the city. Call +43-1-4000-3033; www.drittemanntour.at, www.viennawalks.com
The Vienna Tourist Board (www.b2b.vienna.info) operates a handy search engine for hotel bookings at choices of 350 properties. For more information, contact the Austrian Tourist Office 212-944-6880; E-mail: email@example.com; www.austria-tourism.biz
Austrian Airlines operates the only non-stop flights to Vienna from New York, Chicago, Washington, DC and Toronto. A member of the Star Alliance Austrian flies to 130 destinations worldwide. Passengers can earn miles on Austrian’s Miles & More, United Airlines Mileage Plus and US Airways Dividend Miles programs.
Marking its 50th anniversary this year, Austrian Airlines has placed First in the categories of Business Class Catering and Cabin Staff in a worldwide survey conducted by Skytrax - a British consulting company. The results were drawn from more than one million air passengers from 95 countries around the world.
This is the second year in a row that Austrian Airlines has won First Place in the “Catering in Business Class Long-Haul” global category. Austrian Airlines has a long history of employing Austrian and internationally renowned chefs to design its in-flight gourmet menus and features trained “on-board sommeliers” as well as a distinctive Viennese coffee house service in business class - all of which set it apart as unique and superior in the eyes of its passengers. Winning First Place in the “Cabin Staff of Europe” category underscores the success of Austrian’s “we care” philosophy - again, making the company unique in comparison with international competitor airlines. “In this, our 50th anniversary year,” says Paul Paflik, Austrian Airlines’ General Manager, North America, “it is especially gratifying that our dedication to consistent quality and service continues to be recognized by our passengers, reconfirming Austrian’s leading status among international airlines.” Visit www.austrian.com
April 2008 Cover Feature
At the Heart of Vienna : Culture & Coffee
By Tom Bross
This diverse, ever-appealing capital city is on a roll. A renowned tourism and
business-travel hub at Europe’s eastern-western juncture, Vienna tallied record-breaking visitor numbers for the fifth consecutive year in 2007.
Overnight stays totaled 9,675,208—including 656,000 American overnights. Those figures surpassed (by 3.4%) incoming volume generated by 2006’s internationally promoted Mozart anniversary.
The Culture of Coffee
Consider Vienna’s cosmopolitan abundance: three opera houses, five concert halls, two major symphony orchestras, 26 museums (11 in the fine-arts category), five prominent theaters, eight bona-fide palaces. Size should also be on your clients’ minds: 23 districts spread over 160 square miles; population totaling 1.8 million within city limits, with more parks than any other European capital.
Any roundup wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the city’s traditional coffee houses—113 by the latest official count. Two dozen qualify as concert-cafés, where patrons can sip coffee while listening to piano music or waltz medleys. Among the most venerable spots are Landtmann, Café Central, Imperial, Prückel, Sperl, Schmidt Hansl, Diglas and Frauenhuber (Ludwig van Beethoven’s favorite hangout many years ago). Visit www.wiener-kaffeehaus.at.
Among major symphonic events typifying civic prestige, audiences will enjoy free admittance to the fifth annual Concert for Europe (June 3), when the Vienna Philharmonic performs beneath the stars, in front of the floodlit Neptune Fountain at Schönbrunn Palace. We all know about the Staatsoper (State Opera House), consistently ranked among the best-known local landmarks since its debut in 1869.
Operettas and Operas
But another such venue—Theater an der Wien—has its own roster of notable world premieres. Beethoven’s Fidelio, for instance, plus Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow and the comparably popular Die Fledermaus by Johann Strauss. Coming there in summertime: an operatic double-header, beginning with Federico Moreno Torroba’s Luisa Fernanda from 1932, starring tenor Plácido Domingo (July 7-18), followed by Mozart’s The Magic Flute (Aug. 10-19). Elsewhere in town, the 17th-century Schönbrunn Palace Theater presents a new Die Fledermaus production (July 11-Aug. 24).
For specially scheduled entertainment offerings, turn your attention to Vienna Operetta Summer performances, in the Wieden district’s Theresianum Schlosspark (July 2-Aug. 9), and—in the Konzerthaus and other citywide venues—Wien Modern, a festival of contemporary music (Oct. 26-Nov. 30). At twilight time on the Ringstrasse’s Rathausplatz, movie viewers gather for free Music Film Festival evenings, featuring cinema adaptations of opera, ballet, concerts and jazz projected on an outdoor screen (July 12-Aug. 31).
Organized in 1498 and world-renowned ever since, the Vienna Boys’ Choir appears on featured Sundays in the Hofburg Palace’s Royal Chapel. Accompanying a full symphonic orchestra, the youngsters will add their voices to Mozart’s Missa Solemnis (June 22). For much lighter stuff, the The Merry Widow highlights the Volksoper’s schedule (June 25), then the recently reopened Ronacher Theater stages a transatlanic transplant: Mel Brooks’ rollicking musical comedy, The Producers, in a German-language rendition (June 30, July 2-8).
Alongside the Burgarten (locale of a much-photographed Mozart statue) and merely four short inner-city blocks from steeple-topped St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Albertina (www.albertina.at) contains a world-class collection of more than 60,000 drawings and 1,500,000 prints by graphics-arts masters ranging from da Vinci, Rubens and Dürer to Cèzanne, Matisse and Picasso. But periodic exhibitions make the splashiest news. Two standouts highlight 2008’s schedule. Austria’s biggest-ever showing of Swiss-born Paul Klee’s expressionist paintings—65 overall—will attract museumgoers (May 9-Aug. 10). It’s Vincent van Gogh’s turn later this year, when 50 of his paintings along with rare drawings will be displayed (Sept. 5-Dec. 7). For a rest-their-feet break, your clients can linger at the on-site DO&CO Café, where luncheons and refreshments enliven a terrace overlooking Albertinaplatz.
Klimt at the Belvedere, Fun Fest on the Danube
Historical tidbit: Gustav Klimt completed The Kiss (above)—his famously sexy, gilded-layered masterpiece—in 1908. So there you have an excellent 100th-anniversary reason to see it “in person,” along with other gorgeous Klimts, plus prominent works by French Impressionists and Viennese Biedermeier-period painters. They adorn the Upper Belvedere’s Austrian Gallery inside Prince Eugene of Savoy’s summer palace.
Travelers arriving in midyear might hear a barrage of sound coming from the Danube, where a skinny island developed as a flood barrier extends 13 miles—unobstructed parkland favored by bikers-hikers-rollerbladers-joggers and beach-blanket sunbathers. It becomes a stomping ground during the annual three-day Danube Island Festival (June 13-15), a thumpin’, jumpin’ party amounting to 500 hours of hip-hop, jazz, rock, pop, country, blues, cabaret acts and Wienerlied song sessions. Upwards of 3,000,000 revelers join in. Then, for utter contrast and a June 16th open-air grand finale: classical music-making by the Vienna Symphony Orchestra.
Keeping the month buzzing, competing international teams bring UEFA EURO football (a.k.a. soccer) action to Vienna, where seven deciding games of the Swiss and Austrian-hosted series will be played in the Prater recreation park’s 53,000-seat Ernst Happel Stadium. They begin June 8th—culminating in the final championship matchup on the 29th. Expect the stadium to be jam-packed. Same for a free-admittance Central Fan Zone, extending 1.2 kilometers from the Rathausplatz, through Volksgarten public greenery and southward onto the imperial Hofburg’s Heldenplatz. Ten giant screens along the route will treat onlookers to live telecasts of each match.
For Luxury-Minded Clientele
Clients with five-star taste (and pocketbooks to match) should know about three new deluxe properties, all centrally located. Occupying a redeveloped neoclassical building dating from 1913, the 186-room Steigenberger Herrenhof will open in October on Herrengasse, therefore near the Hofburg palace complex (www.steigenberger.com). Amenities include a spa and 10 seminar rooms.
Another five-star beauty, in a 19th-century Wilhelminian edifice, the 68-room Ring Hotel overlooks the store-lined Kärntner Ring in the Staatsoper’s immediate vicinity (www.theringhotel.com). Then, early next year, comes the Hotel im Palais Schwarzenberg, with 44 guest rooms fitted into the right wing of this 18th-century Baroque landmark on an 18-acre setting, walkable to Karlsplatz as well as Stadtpark greenery, (www.palais.schwarzenberg.com).
During recent Viennese visits, JAX FAX stayed in a pair of mid-city “recommendables.” On the Schotten Ring, five-star, 194-room Hotel de France began existence in 1872. For a decade following 1945’s end of World War II, it functioned as French military-occupation headquarters. Now refined comfort touches are evident, with Restaurant Bel Etage acclaimed for culinary excellence. High-season rack rates for doubles range 245-290 euros or from about $390 to $460 (www.austria-hotels.at).
As of this month, attendees doing business in the city’s trade-fair halls can book accommodations at a four-star newcomer on adjacent Trabrennstasse: 251-room Courtyard by Marriott (www.courtyard-wien-messe.at).
Opened last August on the Rennweg side of Belvedere’s vast palatial and botanical-garden acreage, aptly named, four-star Lindner Hotel am Belvedere is sleekly modernistic and artsy, comprising 219 bedrooms, plus restaurant servings in a skylit conservatory, meeting facilities for up to 150 attendees, woodsy Heuriger wine tavern and seventh-floor fitness center-with-a-view (www.lindnerhotels.at).
Bikes, Metro and City Cards
As in several other European capitals (Berlin, Paris, Brussels, Copenhagen, Helsinki), Citybike Vienna gives visitors pedal-pushing opportunities to do some up-close sightseeing via more than 1,000 kilometers of signposted pathways. Stocked with brightly colored two-wheelers, 54 rental stations are conveniently located alongside U-Bahn subway stations and charges are reasonable (1 euro for two hours, 4 euros for a morning or afternoon jaunt). The www.citybikewien.at website provides details.
Tell your cost-conscious FIT clients about the 72-hour Wien-Karte, still a bargain at 18.50 euros (about $27)—valid for substantial price reductions at more than 36 museums, plus theaters, concert halls, shops and restaurants, even wine bars. Card holder also save money on guided tours and bicycle rentals, and they ride free on Viennese buses, streetcars and U-Bahn subway lines. Cards available at the Tourist Information Office on Albertinaplatz (alongside the opera house) and at most hotels.
Austrian Airlines (celebrating its 50th anniversary as of March ’08) flies daily nonstops between New York JFK and Vienna VIE, also daily from/to Washington Dulles IAD and six times weekly between Chicago ORD and the Schwechat Airport gateway southeast of the city center. In addition, Delta Air Lines operates five-times-weekly nonstop service between Atlanta ATL and Schwechat.
FIT travelers like the time-saving advantages of riding aboard the green double-decker City Airport Train (CAT) from and to Vienna’s international airport. The 11-mile commute takes only 16 minutes for nine euros (about $13); in-town arrival at the Wien-Mitte rail station near the north side of the Stadtpark. CAT CAB, a supplemental service introduced last January, provides swift station-to-hotel transport for 24 euros (about $35). Full details (and online ticketing) at: www.cityairtransportation.com.
More specifically, the Vienna Tourist Board (www.b2b.vienna.info) keeps agents “in the know” about entertainment, exhibitions and special-events and is a handy search engine for hotel bookings at 350 properties.
On b2b.wien.info, agents will find specific information and services for tour operators and travel agents including downloads of the Event Manual, which previews the top events taking place in Vienna, and the Destination Guide, an essential reference for tour operators and counter staff.
Furthermore, agents can join the interactive online destinations course provided by the Austrian National Tourist Office in the U.S. and become an Austria Expert. Those who graduate from this course can continue their education by participating in one of the study trips to Austria and after a testing may earn the title A.C.T.S. (Austria Certified Travel Specialist). The Vienna Tourist Board has been a partner in this training program for more than 10 years.
For further information, contact Marsa Kindl at the Austrian Tourist Office in New York, E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-575 7723-13.
For general information, contact the Austrian Tourist Office in New York City, 212-944-6880; E-mail: email@example.com; Vienna Boasts High Repeat Business
Vienna Boasts High Repeat Business
By Maria Lisella
Norbert Kettner was named Managing Director of the Vienna Tourist Board last September (see JF, Dec. 2007 issue). Kettner’s intentions are to build on Vienna’s powerful image as a “beautiful city with a great history” by harnessing its qualities as a “creative city” and “powerhouse of innovation.”
JF: Mr. Kettner, your CV indicates that you have been innovative in transforming arts and crafts into viable businesses. Do you see yourself as transferring what you learned in that realm to developing sustainable tourism in Vienna?
Kettner: I do indeed, because Vienna's vast creative potential has not yet been used to the full in tourism. There are still too many people, who associate our city only with its historic splendor without seeing its attractive modern facets.
JF: How is Vienna preparing for its role as Europe's capital of soccer for UEFA EURO 2008?
Kettner: The central fan zone will be right in the middle of the city: 1.2 kilometers of our famous Ring boulevard will be transformed for this purpose and provide room for 70,000 people. Nine giant screens will transmit the matches, efficient gastronomy will be provided as well as manifold entertainment from 9 a.m. to midnight. Entry will be free. Actually, the whole city will celebrate a big multinational party, not just for soccer fans, but also for those, who just want to enjoy the special atmosphere and excitement this event brings to "off side soccer" Vienna.
JF: Why should travel agents send their clients to your destination?
Kettner: Vienna is a must for everyone who claims to be well-traveled. Because it offers Europe at its best: Stunning historic treasures alongside with contemporary arts, design and lifestyle and an easy-going way of life. Because it is the world capital of music offering numerous concerts and music festivals throughout the year as well as 300 performances at the Vienna State Opera, Theater an der Wien and the Volksoper.
JF: Are there new attractions for travel agents to pitch to clients?
Kettner: Lovers of classical music can look forward to 2009 when we shall celebrate the musical genius Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809). Lots of star-studded concerts and a major exhibition will be staged, additionally in Vienna there are many places to visit and walk in the master's footsteps.
JF: Is there any new air service to report on?
Kettner: Air service is basically unchanged: Austrian Airlines operates non-stop flights between Vienna and New York (JFK), Washington DC. and Chicago. As the national carrier, it maintains a broad network of inter-European flights. Delta Airlines operates non-stop service between Atlanta and Vienna.
JF: What do you consider Vienna’s best selling point?
Kettner: Vienna's ability to blend old with the most contemporary ideas, thus creating relevant events that cannot be experienced anywhere else. For example, the Life Ball, Europe's largest AIDS charity event that takes place on May 17, could not have been invented elsewhere, because it took the Viennese ball tradition as a starting point. Or the Magic of Advent is a direct "off-spring" from our traditional Christmas markets.
JF: Can you give us a description of clients that visit your country?
Kettner: According to visitor surveys, the average visitor to Vienna is 40 years old, very well-educated and culture-minded. He or she travels with a partner, and generally without children. Only half of the city's guests are first-time visitors while more than 30% of them have already visited more than twice.
JF: How many Americans visited in 2007? How does this compare to 2006 and what are your goals for the future?
Kettner: Last year our number of U.S. visitors dropped by 1.7 % to 262,000 and their 656,000 overnight-stays represent the same decline. Our goal is of course to increase figures, although the strong EURO is not very helpful at the moment. Nevertheless, in January and February we had an increase of U.S. visitors by 7 %, so we hope this will establish a trend for this year.
JF: Any trends to be on the look out for?
Kettner: In tourism I see a trend I should like to call the dissolving of target groups. In the past you could largely go by nations, age groups, special interest groups, etc.
These days individuality rules with every person being a target group in itself. Someone aged 50 might go in for baroque paintings and avant-garde architecture, music by Mozart and the Rolling Stones, haute couture and shabby chic, rustic food and luxury dining - all that and switching between poles every minute. This is a challenge for destinations, let alone destination marketing.
JF: What is the impression you would like visitors to take home after they visit?
Kettner: That one visit is not enough and that they will recommend Vienna highly to all their friends.
June 2007 Feature
Vienna Show Unites Regional Tourism Efforts
by Tom Bross
Travel agents and tour operators have an extra-special reason to be in Vienna during the first month of each new year. That’s one of our industry’s major overseas get-together times—focusing on an event previously known as atb (austrian travel business). Now, as of 2007, the marketing approach and the nomenclature have broadened, hence the debut of austrian and central european travel business (actb). Accordingly, host-country Austria shared Viennese trade-fair space (Jan. 28-30) with the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Hungary.
Overall, 872 buyers, 530 exhibitors and 200 travel journalists convened at large-scale Messezentrum facilities situated close to a branch of the Danube and the Austrian capital’s famous Prater amusement park north of the historic city center.
“Europe is consolidating, new opportunities are opening up,” explained Dr. Petra Stolba, new CEO of the Vienna-headquartered Austrian National Tourist Office. “Reason enough for us to expand Austria’s largest self-contained tourism fair to include the Central European region, with atcb partnerships providing business contacts and business deals in a pleasant, professional working environment—a one-stop shop where everything is at a glace, under one roof.”
As in 2005 and ’06, the Danube Travel Mart—renamed Danube Salon—functioned simultaneously with the two-day atb schedule. For additional multinational scope, some 40 exhibitors affiliated with the Danube Tourist Commission spotlighted coordinated travel products and services covering the region.
Attractions along the river, the continent’s second-longest after the easterly Volga, include 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites amidst such diverse locales as Regensburg and Bamberg, Linz and Austria’s Wachau Valley, Estergom, Budapest, Novi Sad, Vulkovar, Belgrade and—approaching the Black Sea—the Danube Delta nature realm, proclaimed Landscape of the Year for 2007-08.
Now that Austria’s annual national travel-trade show has morphed into a coordinated exhibition involving exhibitors representing a dozen other central European countries, it’s time to put an extra-sharp focus on host-city Vienna as a cultural, intellectual and entertainment hub for the entire Danube region. With population totaling 1.6 million within city limits, the capital comprises 23 spread-out districts. So advise your clients of the 72-hour Wien-Karte costing 18.50 euros—a good investment, since it’s valid for free public transportation via subway, bus and tram.
Top-echelon “name” hotels exemplifing urbane prestige include the Bristol, Marriott, Grand, Radisson SAS Palais, Hilton Vienna, InterContinental, Renaissance Wien, Le Meridien, recently renovated Sacher and ultra-deluxe Palais Coburg Residenz. New as of last May, near Vienna’s tall-towered city hall: the upscale, artsy Levante Parliament. www.thelevante.com.
Among coming attractions at the Kunsthistorisches Museum: Late Works of Titian, Oct. 18-Jan. 6 (www.kmh.at). Oscar Kokoshka’s expressionist landscapes comprise a noteworthy Albertina retrospective, Oct. 12-Feb. 24 (www.albertina.at). In the Lower Belvedere, 250 French-Austrian modernist paintings (Cezannes, Gauguins, Van Goghs, Klimts) will be on view this year until Aug. 14. Klimt’s sexy The Kiss is, famously, in the permanent collection.
For lunch in chic settings, tell your clients about four relative newcomers. The Albertina’s DO&CO Cafè has an outdoor terrace (Albertina Platz). Look toward St. Stephen’s spires while seated at Cantino, atop Haus der Musik (Seilerstätte 30). MuseumQuartier’s Glacis Beisl specializes in classic Viennese cuisine (Museumplatz 1). View skyline panoramics through Sky Café windows on Steffl department store’s 7th floor (Kärtner Strasse 19).
Danube Bike Paths and Cruise Programs
Bicycling enthusiasts enjoy pedaling on the signposted Donauradweg pathway, extending from Passau to Bratislava, with plentiful stopover accommodations. Currently 113 ships have registered to cruise the river during this year’s season.
Vienna welcomed 200,000 cruise passengers last year; Linz recorded 492 dockings and 95,500 passengers; Belgrade tallied 160,000 disembarkations. All-purpose Danube Sales Manual content (in English and German) is available online. www.danubesalesmanual.com
Mindful of the river’s significant appeal for their FIT and group clientele, a worldwide contingent of buyers (including 60 from North America, twice as many as last year’s atb group) had opportunities to meet, “network” and socialize with destination specialists from Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia and Romania.
Call Austrian Tourist Office, 212-944-6880; www.austria-tourism.biz