In The Netherlands - but wedged up against the Belgian border and only 20 miles west of the border with Germany - Maastricht sits on the river Meuse and is the principal city of the Dutch province of Limburg. Differently for The Netherlands, there are hills hereabouts, and while they are not on parity with The Alps, jokes abound that this city occupies the Alps of Holland – indeed, it is perched a whole 160 feet up in the heavens. Subject to numerous battles and sieges over its history, Maastricht – known for its striking architecture spanning several centuries – perhaps is most famous now for being the site of the agreement that led to today's European Union and the shared currency of the euro. Maastricht MICE venues collect their fair share of this currency.
Maastricht is served by the small Maastricht Aachen Airport (MST), which, despite having a German city in its name, is fully within The Netherlands, in the Dutch town of Beek, six miles northeast of the city centre. It might just be the safest airport in Europe, if being the home of Eurocontrol, or the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation, is any guide to go by. Nearby airports in Germany (Weeze; NRN), Belgium (Liege; LGG) and The Netherlands itself (Eindhoven; EIN) might be good bets, too.
Chief among MICE venues, Maastricht Exhibition & Congress Center (known as MECC Maastricht,) has a good amount of space: it measures 26,942 square meters and is able to host 10,000 persons, including receptions for up to 4,750 and banquets for 1,850.
Maastricht MICE hotels include the 275-room NH Maastricht, next to the convention center, which has room for groups of up to 900 persons; the 166-room Golden Tulip Apple Park Maastricht, which can cater to up to 450 persons; the 144-room Crowne Plaza Maastricht, which has nine function areas, with a maximum capacity of 1,150 persons; and independent, the 49-room Derlon Maastricht, which has space for groups of 150 persons. For a historical alternative, and right in the city centre, try the Kruisherenhotel Maastricht, which occupies a former monastery and Gothic church and has 60 guest rooms and reception space for 1,000 persons.
Unique gathering spots in this beautiful, very historic city include the Bonnefantenmuseum, a museum with both contemporary art and Old Masters, which has a distinct cupola overlooking the Meuse and space for events of up to 475 persons; gorgeous, Baroque castle of Chateau Neercanne, which claims to be the only terraced castle in all of the Benelux nations, is within the borders of Maastricht and has four levels of internationally important gardens and banquet space for up to 1,000 persons; Thiessen Wijnkoopers, the oldest winery and merchant in The Netherlands, founded in 1740, and which extensive cellars all tastefully attired and which has the ability to host banquets of up to 100 persons and receptions of 120, and – also in Maastricht itself, more evidence that this is one unique place – La Caverne de Geulhem, a multi-use space 100 feet beneath the ground that can host up to 1,100 persons, including banquets for 700, and contains an underground chapel built during the Napoleonic era. Eight miles to the northeast is another castle, the Chateau St. Gerlach, which also is Baroque, also has breath-taking gardens and landscaping and contains 112 guest rooms and function space for up to 1,000 persons.
Restaurants able to host parties include Beluga, a casual yet trendy spot with areas with names such as The Love Boat for between eight and 20 persons; much more traditional but just as tasty Au Coin des Bons Enfants, which can fit groups of 50 in the restaurant, 22 in a private dining room and also 22 on a terrace; seafood restaurant O, which has more than 100 wine labels on offer; Toine Hermsen Cuisinier, nestled against the Onze Lieve Vrouwe basilica and with a Provence menu; and another fine-dining restaurant, Le Bon Vivant, which occupies cellars and an old Dutch house and just finished a renovation.