Well known for its grand Belle Epoque hotels, the Gastein Valley, which includes the ski resort of Badgastein, has long been a fashionable MICE destination. In the 19th century, it attracted the famous and rich from all of Europe (including a young Marie Curie, who studied the waters here on her road to discovering the secrets of radiography), India, and the Middle East. The Valley is in the district of Sankt Johann im Pongau, 65 miles directly south of Salzburg. The Tauern Railway connects the villages and small towns here to the wider Austrian world, and allows the many spa-goers coming here, as well as skiers, to get stress-free around the area. Route 167 wends its way along the valley from Lend in the north, through Bad Hofgastein and Badgastein, to Boeckstein in the south, some 17 miles, before a car-train is needed to go through a mountain to points farther south.
The most accessible airport, straight up the A10 freeway, is Salzburg Airport W.A. Mozart (SZG), named for the composer and the city's most famous son, which is just a little more than 60 miles to the north. It has service only within Europe but that includes airport cities such as Frankfurt, London, Vienna, and Zurich.
The principal and new MICE conference center here is the Kongresszentrum Bad Hofgastein, in Bad Hofgastein, which has 20 function rooms, including a theater for 800 persons and banquet space for 1,200.
Some of the area's grand, Alpine-style MICE hotels include, in Bad Hofgastein, the 89-room Grand Park Hotel Health & Spa, which was founded in 1912 and has space for events of up to 100 persons, and the riverside, 75-room Klammer's Karnten, which has one meeting room. In Badgastein are the 145-room Salzburger Hof Bad Gastein, which has an auditorium for 140 persons and five meeting rooms named after composers, the largest able to cater to 80; Elisabethpark, which has meeting space for up to 130 persons in three rooms, and the 80-room Hoteldorf Gruener Baum Bad Gastein, which has a conference room divisible into two for up to 180 persons.
Unique private places to gather in the valley for functions include yellow-and-green mansion house Villa Solitude, which is in Badgastein and has a restaurant, nine guest rooms, a park-like setting on a slope of woodland and event space for up to 100 persons; Gasteiner Golf Club, which is in the middle of the Hohe Tauern National Park just north of Badgastein and has 18 holes, a history dating to 1960 and a clubhouse with restaurant; the castle of Burg Klammstein, near to Lend and that used to be the site for collection of a toll for anyone passing deeper into the valley, now sits on a hillock on the top of a tunnel and has a museum of armor and weaponry, attractive outdoor grounds and rooms perfect for period banquets and receptions; the restaurant, and the views, from the mountaintop Graukogelhuette that sits 6,400 feet above sea level, is reached by cable car, and has a simple, wooden construction and patio deck; and Pub Gastein, close to the Gasteiner Golf Club, which has a simple Italian restaurant, too, but also a bowling alley.
Restaurants able to cater to groups in Badgastein include steakhouse Steak & Mehr; the eaterie at the attractive Fischerstueberl Gastein, which specializes in fish and meats and has a beer garden next to a pond; and another spot high up a mountainside and reached by cable car, the spectacular Gipfelrestaurant Stubnerkogel with spectacular views. In Bad Hofgastein are Kraut & Rueben, which is a fine-dining vegetarian spot, and the equally fine dining but more varied Das Goldberg, which is in an Alpine-style hotel half way up a mountain on the other side of the valley from Gipfelrestaurant Stubnerkogel. One informal option, more of a cafe really, is at the ski hut and lift station of Haitzingalm, which is even farther up the side of the Alps.