With one of Switzerland’s top-five congress centres, a plethora of five-star hotels and more hands-on activities than you can shake a ski pole at, Interlaken makes for an uplifting destination for businesses
Fancy blowing on an Alpine horn? Or trying your hand at coin throwing? Head to Spycher. The classic Swiss restaurant is where dining comes with a helping of traditional folklore. Lunch time guests can watch it via a screen, but groups who are booked in for dinner will get to experience the real thing (warning: audience participation is a given).
The restaurant can be hired exclusively for 200 guests and has several event menus to choose from. If your group fancies carrying the party on into the night, they’ll get free access to the adjoining casino. Top tip: book well in advance.
Swiss TV fans out there might recognise the chef behind Genusswerkstatt. Torsten Götz believes that noble wine, culture and good conversation are important when it comes to dining and tries to create memorable experiences for groups like live cooking demonstrations (for up to 30) and 18-strong cooking classes. If it’s a less hands-on evening you’re after, groups of up to 80 can enjoy aperitifs and dinner.
The Congress Centre Kursaal Interlaken stands in stark contrast to the postcard-picture scenery that surrounds it. The metallic exterior of its auditorium – even more dramatic with the sun glinting off its surface – houses a huge hall and four meeting rooms. Across the whole centre, there are 19 spaces for events.
We particularly like the eastern part. Its focal point is the 1,200sq m Concert Hall. Locals regularly enjoy live music here, but gala dinners for up to 1,150 guests could be just as impressive. There’s also a Ballroom which can hold 320 people.
Although conferencing is the team’s strong suit, they can also help you book hotels, organise teambuilding events and curate social programmes for delegates’ down time. Organising a trip around a holiday season? Not to worry; the venue is open 365 days a year.
The phrase ‘room with a view’ is more than apt when it comes to staying in Interlaken. The five-star Lindner Grand Hotel Beau Rivage has views of both the Bernese Alps (the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau ranges) and the turquoise River Aare. Out of the 101 bedrooms, there are 11 luxury suites that would suit business guests to a tee. Of those, we’d book the Junior Suites, some of which come with balconies overlooking those vistas.
On-site events can be held in one of the 12 spaces for conferences of up to 350 delegates, or within a banquet hall for gala dinners. For smaller dinners, there are two restaurants and a bar to choose from. There's also a sauna and a pool for down time entertainment.
You might not associate skyscrapers with the Swiss Alps, but four-star Hotel Metropole is as close as you’ll get to one. Nearly all of its 96 rooms have views of the Jungfrau mountain from their windows, with the best of those being from the two luxury suites which sit on the top two levels of the hotel. Up to 200 guests can be accommodated for in-house events from tech-support seminars to banquets.
We like the sound of the catering too: the likes of smoked trout tartare, Zurich-style veal and sautéed pike-perch will give guests an authentic experience. Been out on the Alps and need a refresh? Worry not, as the hotel also comes with a spa, sauna and hairdresser.
It will come as no surprise that the surrounding peaks provide most of the entertainment in Interlaken. Anyone who partakes in James Bond fandom will not want to miss a visit to the Schilthorn. The mountain plays the part of Blofeld’s allergy clinic in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. As well as the eye-popping scenery from the 2,970m viewing platform, you can also follow in George Lazenby’s steps at the Bond World 007 exhibition and take a stroll on the new 007 Walk of Fame. If it’s an adrenaline rush you’re after, head for the Thrill Walk to get pulses racing.
If it’s local history your group fancies, the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum is a real immersive experience. It houses over 100 century-old buildings and 250 farm animals, as well as gardens and fields for groups to walk around. Guided tours will give you an in-depth insight into life in the Alps, natural healing powers and birth and death ceremonies. If your group wants to roll up their sleeves, workshops, bread baking, herbal tea mixing and wood-burning stove cooking can all be arranged.
Perhaps the most special of Interlaken’s offerings is The North Face of the Eiger (Stollenloch). Usually, only brave alpinists take on the 3,967m altitude of the summit. Now, professional guides can take groups up close to one of Switzerland’s most impressive mountain faces, all-the-while enjoying it from the comfort of the tour train. If you do want to get your feet on the snow though, the guides can take groups out of the gallery, get them safely roped up and let them enjoy the fresh mountain breeze first-hand.
Interlaken Congress & Events (+41 (0)33 827 62 00) offers free advice and a venue-finding service for event organisers
Keen on Switzerland? Head here to find out what the capital Bern has to offer for events.