CONGRESS CITY WITH A TEMPERAMENT
Cities packed with buzzing groups of tourists might be considered quite difficult from a congress perspective, having the risk that participants could be absorbed into the hustle and bustle of the city before the last plenary session has delivered its closing remarks.
I have to confess to suddenly finding myself in the midst of the heavenly garden at the summer mansion with the name Generalife. The garden was just as the writers of children novels had depicted it to me, and the same as I had imagined it whilst reading the cult novel Alamut. Indeed, the writer Vladimir Barol was supposedly inspired by this very self same ‘Alhambra’.
Granada really has been marked by history. Over the centuries the traces of three great cultures have been engraved in the city: Muslim, Catholic and Jewish. The longest era saw the city used as a base for the Moors, and the Arabic temperament still defines the character of the city. It’s hard to find a street that doesn’t have some building with Arabic elements in it – it feels as if you have walked into the heart of the Arabic world.
In the Middle Ages Granada was famous for its grand bazaar, where merchants from the Islamic and Christian worlds would gather. The bazaars were famous for their silk, which was mostly produced at Granada, and the culture of the bazaar is still palpable in the city and enthuses many congress guests who come to the city for the congress meetings alongside the extraordinary history. With that in mind the city’s historical monuments can also be a special venue for your event reception – there are plenty of special venues, the hard part being to pick just one of them for a reception.
One of the most beautiful and mighty palaces in Europe, the Alhambra will undoubtedly leave you speechless. Built in the 14th century during the reign of the Moors, the Alhambra is simultaneously palace and fortress, and its majestic architectural play with rock, colour and carved wooden artefact combine to frame a palace of architectural achievement that it is simply not possible to put into words. The Alhambra entrances with its typically Arabic symmetrical patterns on the walls, ceiling and pillars, all of which creates a majestic architectural ensemble.
The Alhambra was home, fortress and palace to all of the ministerial officials and Sultans in the time of the Nasrid dynasty. Nowadays it is sieged with hoards of tourists – they sometimes even need to restrict visitor numbers.
Across from the Alhambra can be found the old Moor ‘Kasbah’, or ‘Medina’, with just the narrow River Darro valley separating them. Its beguiling maze of narrow streets and white-painted houses is the main reason that congress guests might be looking forward to escaping the congress centre a bit early… The friendly tapas bars and diverse restaurants in this area are some of the most important elements of experiencing the city and its tradition and the offer here is diverse, reaching all the way to restaurants with Michelin stars. Despite these heady culinary achievements we simply couldn’t get enough of the high quality prosciutto and other meat products that are excellent even in the most hidden-away bistro. In this part of the town there is even a gypsy suburb called El Sacramonte, where gypsies used to live in the underground caves.
A Universe in Granada
Alongside Granada’s rich historical heritage, the city is also known for its Spanish university, University of Granada, which is a highly important institution and with its more than 60,000 students lends a youthful appearance to the city. The first university in the city, which was famous for its wealthy library, was established in 1349 by Nasrid sultan Jusuf I. When the catholic King Fernando and Queen Izabela conquered Granada in 1492, they allowed the university to carry on teaching, a reminder of its long and rich history visible in the La Madraza building that has been entirely restored. Nowadays, the university has 122 departments with more than 5,100 employees, who cover more than 80 different study programmes. The exceptional academic potential of the city is a generator for numerous congresses, so for this reason the foray into the international field of association congresses is not in any way surprising.
Temperament and Flamenco
In Granada you simply can’t avoid Flamenco; even a quite gimmicky Flamenco sightseeing tour in the underground caves isn’t a disappointment. The gypsies, who have an amazing sense for music, rhythm and dancing, dominate this part of the city’s scene, not to forget this part of the city’s business too, of course, as it is visited by so many tourists. Flamenco is actually a combination of three elements – singing, dancing and playing instruments. The vocals take care of the melody and storyline, the guitar the rhythm and harmony, with the dance adding the visual element. The dance should symbolize both passion and pain, and in it you can feel the influence of Jewish, Arab, Greek, South American and Gypsy music. Granada is known as a cradle of Flamenco, and with a little bit of luck you will be able to socialize with gypsies until the early hours. This really is an unforgettable experience.
Congress Voice of the People
Granada is one of the medium-sized convention destinations where local Spanish competition is most pronounced. Research from 2008 showed the city to be dominated by regional and local meetings, with the proportion of international events notably smaller. The Palacio de Congresos congress centre, built in 1992 and the heart of the city’s congress hardware, is still very competitive and appreciated by event organisers for its excellent location practically right in the city centre, despite it also being comparatively relatively old. The main hall shaped as an auditorium can accommodate 2,000 event participants, which is also the limit of scientific conventions in the city. In addition to the convention centre, conference facilities are also available at the Fermasa exhibition centre, where the largest hall can accommodate 4,000 participants. Furthermore, multifunctional space is available at Kinepolis Granada, with its 15 halls and exceptional technical equipment.
In addition to the above there are many extremely large special venues in the city, and the Carmen De Isabela is one of the city’s most avant-garde venues with a large garden suitable for receptions. Among meeting planners, El Capricho is one of the most popular venues, with a maximum area for 4,000 participants and a wide variety of conference rooms, including the attractive garden. Cortijo Alameda is designed primarily for corporate events and is famous for its excellent cuisine. In the vicinity of the city you can also find many “haciendas”, such as Hacienda Señorío de Nevada, which is surrounded by vineyards and offers wine tastings. There are then so many other palaces, medieval castles and other special venues that we simply don’t have the space to list them all.
Supporting all of the above, congress facilities are also offered by many hotels, especially those of 4 or 5 stars and among them all the important Spanish hotel chains, such as Barcelo, Eurostars, NG, Melia and a litany of local hotels with a diverse and complementary offer.
Another huge benefit of the destination is its sheer number of restaurants, with some data suggesting there are around 1,200 in the city and with many of a size meaning you wouldn’t have any problems organising dinner for groups larger than 100 participants. There are also plenty of catering providers, such as Abades Catering, Alameda Catering, Catering Jam and others, all ready to supply good services for larger groups.
The list of DMCs, PCOs and teambuilding agencies also doesn’t come up short; in fact, the entire chain of suppliers is well developed and connected within the Granada Convention Bureau. It has been operating since 2014 as a public-private partnership, within which time the city of Granada has managed to connect the entire meetings industry, something that one could also sense during the EMEC 2016 conference, which was held at the beginning of March.
To completely understand the city of Granada, however, one has to make the effort to understand its famous and popular poet, Federica Garcia Lorca, who lived in the city. His tragic death echoed and marked the bloody period of Spanish history, yet despite the fact that his life ended so suddenly and violently, his glamorous poetry has remained as a precious spiritual legacy of Spain and the whole world. The famous Lament for Ignacio Sanchez Mejias is a poetic masterpiece, the reading of which I recommend to all congress guests who come to this beautiful city. With the poetry of Lorca you will sense the deepest impulses of the Spanish soul. Lorca was excited by the complexity of human nature, passion, the cruel world of Andalusian Gypsies, and all of these themes raise childlike sense of wonder over the city even today.
WHAT'S HOT IN 2017
1. EMEC 2017 / March 2017
The annual European Meetings & Event Conference (EMEC) in one of the main conference centres of Spain, the Palacio de Congresos in Granada. The 3-day conference features relevant education, networking and business exchange for the meeting industry.
2. Freestyle Ski World Championship / March 2017
The 2017 Sierra Nevada Freestyle Ski and Snowboarding World Championships was held from 7th-19th March with almost two weeks of competitions covering a total of thirteen finals (seven snowboarding and six freestyle ski), including four of them held at night.
3. IWWBIO 2017 / April 2017
5th International Work-Conference on Bioinformatics and Biomedical Engineering with a discussion forum for scientists, engineers, educators and students of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research encompassing disciplines of computer science, mathematics, statistics, biology, bioinformatics, and biomedicine.
4. EDSI 2017 / May 2017
8th Annual Conference of the European Decision Sciences Institute (EDSI 2017).
EDSI is the European division of the Decision Sciences Institute (DSI) (www.decisionsciences.org).
5. EASP 2017 / July 2017
18th General Meeting of the European Association of Social Psychology. The General Meeting of the European Association of Social Psychology is one of the largest and most important meetings of social psychologists that takes place in Europe every 3 years.
QUALITY MEETINGS DESTINATION
5 – excellent meetings destination
4 – quality meetings destination
3 – reccommendable meetings destination
2 – average meetings destination
1 – so so
A. Natural and cultural factors: 4.76
With its picturesque architecture, culture and hospitality of the locals, the city is a rich combination that leaves an impression of exceptional adventure on its guests.
It is complemented by the highest mountain in Spain, the Sierra Nevada and its famous ski resort, and the legendary Costa del Sol, both of which are just a short bus ride away. Add to this a pleasant climate, excellent gastronomy and buzzing nightlife and you will begin to understand why UNESCO put the city on their list way back in 1984.
B. General and transport infrastructure: 4.26
Granada is known nowadays as a modern city with well-organised infrastructure. The public transportation works perfectly and the city seems to be the perfect option for the place to live – also going by the locals’ opinion. The only drawback is not the best air accessibility, although to some degree this is compensated by an excellent bus and rail network. To Andalusia’s central airport in Malaga it takes an hour and a half of admittedly comfortable bus ride.
C. Tourist infrastructure: 4.78
Tourism is an important industry in Granada that creates many jobs. Over the last few years a lot of tourist and transport infrastructure was built; almost 400 hotels in the city have been adapted to all types of tourists and specifically for the needs of congress guests 108 hotels of a category higher than 3 stars, among them 36% of all hotels in the classic 4-star congress category, are available. The ratio between hotels and meeting facilities is excellent and the high added value of the location is the possibility of entertainment and an exceptional gastronomic offer.
D. Meetings infrastructure: 4.63
Meetings industry in Granada represents Granada Convention Bureau, which works under the principle of public-private partnership. The generator of its development is their congress center, complemented by about 4,000 hotel rooms in the vicinity. A whole chain of suppliers is available – from PCOs, DMCs and event agencies. The destination operates as a well-organized totality and is an excellent choice for incentive events and international congresses of medium size.
E. Subjective grade: 4.61
It is fair to say that Granada is a very user-friendly convention destination, as the majority of tourist attractions can be visited on foot and the feeling of security in the city is highly rated. The main advantage is the excellent relationship between quality and price, which is complemented by the hospitality of the locals. The personal experience was very positive, despite the relatively complicated accessibility.
F. Marketing buzz 4.25
Granada’s tourist brand of is one of the iconic Spanish tourist brands, which is positive for the development of congress tourism, although the dominant communication is aimed at leisure tourists. For the young and positive team of the Convention Bureau, therefore, lots of work is waiting for them in terms of content, digital marketing and social media networks. The competition inside Spain is also extremely tough, so with its positive urban spirit Granada is a new, friendly destination for all congress guests, which is not reflected in the current communication.
|GRANADA INDIVIDUAL GRADES 2017|
|Natural and cultural factors:||4.76|
|General and transport infrastructure:||4.26|
|Numbeo quality of life Index:||4.30|
|Global Peace Index:||3.57|
BEST INCENTIVE IDEA
COMPARISONS WITH THE REGION
This might come across as something of an exaggeration, but such a rich combination of natural and historical experiences and contrasts are difficult to find in the otherwise attraction-loaded Spain. Granada is nestled between the largest Spanish ski resort of Sierra Nevada and the nearby Costa del Tropico. This creates an unprecedented combination of experiences that attracts both incentive organisers as well as organisers of professional associations. In our view, the number of events would increase with better airline accessibility – the city has great potential in the fields of science and new technologies that are not yet able to be fully exploited.
Jamón de Trevelez
Trevélez ham is a kind of spanish ham that is produced and processed in the southeast province of Granada. The village is famous for the quality of its Trevélez ham, attributable to its climate, which turns the Granada town into a ‘pantry’ where the hams are naturally cured.