Venice, Italy Meeting Planning Overview
Once called "the drawing room of Europe" by Napoleon, Venice, the architectural gem of Italy, offers both challenges and unique benefits to meeting planners. The challenges: no cars and no conference center on the main city island; and no hotel venues in Venice can accommodate 400 people at a single site. The opportunities: walk everywhere on foot or glide by in various watercraft; and Venice's hotels are both close by and magnificent (so no participant feels they drew the short end of the stick). As for "special" venues in Venice, every venue in Venice itself is historic and special in its own way.
Largest among convention venues in the Venice area is The Palazzo del Turismo Venetian, which is on a small island near the city airport, Marco Polo. It has 150,000 square feet of meeting space. But many larger meetings have moved one island over, to the Lido, home of the Venice Festival where the Lido di Venezia Eventi and Congressi offers 43,000 square feet of meeting space about 20 minutes from Venice itself. (The Lido is Hollywood, Venice-style.) The Center encompasses the Palazzo del Cinema and the Casino, linked by a 35-meter-long tunnel that can host over 3,000 people together. Hotels on the island like Starwood's Excelsior offer glamorous movie-themed meeting space in its bars and oceanfront patios where you might just find yourself team-building while Johnnie Depp and Angelina Jolie schmooz with the press under the next umbrella.
PCOs, DMCs and hotel meeting organizers do most of the special event hookups in Venice but can often get meeting planners into spaces like the Guggenheim Museum, the Fenice Opera House, the Palazzo Grassi and other magnificent privately owned palaces and residences. Special event venues in Venice itself include Café Florian, which can host special events (both indoor and outside on its Piazza San Marco patio); it was once frequented by Richard Wagner, Frederich Nietzche, Lord Byron, Charles Dickens and Marcel Proust. The Ca' Rezzonico (Ca' is Venetian dialect for Casa) is a museum of 18th-century Venice where special events can be set amidst the gilt and trappings of Venice's golden age.
Hotels, meanwhile, are not just places to stay in Venice, they are mini museums themselves. The Danieli, Gritti and Europa and Regina Hotels, all Starwood properties, are showplace venues with meeting space for up to 150. (The Gritti was Ernest Hemingway's favorite hotel.) The Danieli is the magnificently ornate former palace; and the Europa and Regina is the result of the linking of five 18th-and 19th-century palaces, the oldest belonging to the family that gave the world the painter Tiepolo.