Geneva's prime location in the center of Europe; its situation on the fringes of still pristine Lake Geneva; its charming old quarter, wine cellars and fine restaurants; and the white peaks of the Alps on the horizon are all key reasons why this elegant city is a perennial favorite of global meeting planners. The second-largest city in Switzerland after Zurich, Geneva is considered one of the most international hubs in Europe, with over 40 percent of its citizens coming from outside the country. As home to the World Health Organization and other global organizations, Geneva meeting venues have polished skills, thanks to such groups.
As befits an international capital, several convention venues serve planners in Geneva. The 1.1-million-square-foot Palexpo at the International Airport greets visitors right off the plane with fully integrated exhibition and convention halls. Incongruous but charming, there is a 19th-century manor house, the Villa Sarasin, preserved within the exhibition complex that offers smaller venues to meetings planners. Elsewhere, the 75,348-square-foot International Conference Centre of Geneva has 32 meeting rooms and the IATA Geneva Conference Center has more than 7,500 square feet and nine meeting rooms. Geneva is also quite close (an hour on the high-speed train) to the annual music festival at the Montreux Music and Convention Centre. When not hosting the yearly festivities, the Centre can book from 200 to 1,800 guests.
In the city center itself, within view of the iconic fountain jet of water spraying high over the lake, classic Geneva venues from the days of the Grand Tour offer elegant ballrooms and guest accommodations that once welcomed the likes of Coco Chanel, Winston Churchill and Sarah Bernhardt. A 19th-century gem at the edge of Lake Geneva, the Hotel Beau Rivage has meeting facilities for up to 200 guests. Right next door and sharing some facilities is the Hotel D'Angleterre, named for its famous English guests (such as Lord Byron). Banquet facilities for 60 and townhouse-like accommodations behind the main street in a private garden area define the discreet and private venue for the planner of smaller meetings.
Back in the 19th century, Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein while lingering with poets Shelley and Byron at Geneva's Villa Diodati (which remains to this day). Other unique venues in Geneva itself include the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization and the Societie de Lecture. The first offers translation facilities so that meetings can be held simultaneously in four languages and the second boasts one of Switzerland's largest libraries (Lecture means "Reading") and elegant rooms designed at the height of the Age of Reason (when Voltaire was the hot new philosopher of note).
All average costs based on U.S. Government Per Diem rates as published by the U.S. General Services Administration.
Approximate taxi fare: 41 CHF
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