Venue Review: Scalaria, Austria
I must admit that I’m very much of the opinion that the only reason to be up at 5am on a Saturday is if you’re yet to go to bed. It was therefore with much horror, and some anger, that I found myself leaving the relative comfort of the Radisson Stanstead at 5am on July 23rd to head to the airport.
We had been invited by our good friends, and sister company, AOK Events to a venue in Austria which they are now representing on the UK market, Scalaria. Their venue finding team had stumbled upon it when working on a brief for a client, who was looking for a unique venue to take 300+ staff for a conference retreat. Upon visiting they found one of Europe’s most incredible venues, complete with a stunning setting, amazing event spaces, plentiful bedrooms and service levels to match.
Scalaria is the brain child of former banker Peter Gastberger, who is still at the helm and very much involved in the business today. Upon buying a traditional Austrian schloss, he turned to the events market to provide an income while renovating it. One thing lead to another and Scalaria was born.
Our visit was going to be brief but spectacular as it was the annual Scalaria Symphony, a one night jaw-dropping show of music, acrobatics and air races! Upon our arrival at Salzburg airport we were met by a trio of branded, chauffeur driven BMW’s that whisked us away to enjoy the short 35 minute journey to Scalaria in unbridled luxury, whilst admiring the astounding views this part of the world has to offer.
The first point of call was lunch in the Schloss part of the venue, an old Austrian castle overlooking Lake Wolfgangsee. Once finished, we were taken on a tour of what is perhaps the most incredible venue in Europe, more of this later, followed by drinks on the beach. With 3 hours until the Symphony commenced, our hosts had arranged a short trip to a local schnapps distillery to try some of the ‘delights’ on offer. Let’s say it was an experience, and that true Austrian schnapps is probably an acquired taste; however, it was a fab way to kill a few hours in a semi-cultural fashion.
A quick shower and costume change later we reconvened on the beach ready for the Symphony to begin. The advantage of living a stone’s throw from the owner of Red Bull, as well as being friends and air racing buddies, means that when you want to impress clients he may well lend you a couple of planes and some helicopters to do so.
The Symphony was one of the most incredible, awe-inspiring events any of us had ever witnessed live. We sat drinks in hand listening to the live band, who were floating in the middle of the lake while planes and helicopters performed death defying stunts just meters above us. In the background, a flotilla of drummers sailed towards us, as numerous acrobats and fire performers wowed the crowds up close. Post Symphony we headed inside for steak, wine, and dancing, partying through until 2am.
So what’s Scalaria like as a venue? Well it’s probably the most astounding events venue I’ve seen in my time. It really does have it all; large spaces, small spaces, a stunning setting, bedrooms, great food, enough AV to embarrass most concert venues, and activities nearby for all to enjoy. The tiered DO-X Theatre can seat a whopping 1200 for a conference or 800 for dinner, and includes two stages, both of which move up/down and lift vehicles. For added wow factor the ceiling opens should you wish for your keynote speaker to arrive in style. Circus Circus is the in house restaurant, which can handle banquets for around 600, and again features a moving stage, perfect for a big reveal. Outside Circus Circus is a sizeable terrace with views across the lake and mountains in the distance. When guests have finished eating they can head to Mystic Underworld, the onsite nightclub cut into a cave, to party the night away. There are 8 breakout spaces, all featuring state of the art AV and natural daylight, as well as 137 well-appointed lake facing bedrooms on site.
Overall, Scalaria is probably Europe’s best venue for larger, residential (150-400) conferences and events, as well as being a proven venue for product launches, especially automotive ones. Branding opportunities are found everywhere so you can really take the venue over and make it your brands own.
Now, I suppose you’re wondering, at what cost? Well, we’ve found it cheaper to take large groups here, including flights, than host them in outer London 5* hotels….
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