Tourism Spotlight

Spain: Reimagining Business Travel

From Madrid to Barcelona, Spain brims with fantastic venues, top-notch stays, and diverse opportunities to explore the vibrant Spanish culture, making it a perfect MICE destination.

The skyline of Madrid; © JOSE BAREA
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Spain stands out globally as a bustling centre for professional gatherings in addition to being a sought-after tourist destination. According to the 2022 ICCA report, it holds the second position worldwide for hosting international meetings. This accomplishment is underscored by Barcelona and Madrid both securing spots in the top ten.

The appeal of Spain as a MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions) destination rests on its robust infrastructure, boasting 16,000 hotels, including around 100 renowned Paradores known for hosting events and their rich history. Spain comfortably accommodates large gatherings with ease.

Adding to its allure, Spain possesses an efficient transportation network, featuring over 30 international airports, seven major cruise ports, a vast 3,000-kilometer high-speed railway system, and Europe's most extensive road network.

Spain's commitment to the MICE sector is ingrained in its core. Through its specialized departments forming the Spain Convention Bureau network and partnerships with experienced local service providers, the country orchestrates over 22,000 business events yearly, attended by nearly four million participants. This ensures not just effective event planning and execution but also a memorable and productive experience for attendees.

Moreover, Spain offers an ideal blend of business and leisure, showcasing architectural marvels like Barcelona's Art Nouveau buildings and a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage sites across its historic cities.

MADRID

Spain's cosmopolitan capital, Madrid, stands as a prime destination for MICE and business travel, underpinned by a wealth of possibilities and a track record of hosting prestigious international events, including ESMO (European Congress of Medical Oncology), WOBI (World Business Forum), WATMC (World ATM Congress), and FITUR (International Tourism Fair). 

As one of the main Spanish transportation hubs, Madrid offers unparalleled air, high-speed train, and road connectivity, with an airport linking to 170 global destinations. In addition, supported by the Madrid Convention Bureau (MCB), a member of the Best Cities Global Alliance dedicated to promoting excellence in major congress organisations and an array of agencies and associations, event planning is seamless.

TOP VENUES

Feria De Madrid Congresses And Conventions
Feria De Madrid Congresses And Conventions
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IFEMA- Feria De Madrid Congresses And Conventions houses twelve pavilions, two auditoriums, and 97 rooms; © Francesco Pinton

The city's allure is further amplified by its diverse range of unique venues. The sleek and contemporary Nancampo De Las Naciones Municipal Conference Centre is an architectural masterpiece by Ricardo Bofill. It offers exhibition spaces, an auditorium, a versatile multipurpose hall, and rooms of varying capacities.

Meanwhile, IFEMA- Feria De Madrid Congresses And Conventions, with twelve pavilions, two auditoriums, and 97 rooms accommodating 50 to 500 individuals, guarantee the success of any congress or event. 

For bigger events, Caja Magica Complex, with three stadiums that facilitate both outdoor and indoor events, is an ideal place. 

WHERE TO STAY

With 80,000 beds and a diverse array of top-notch establishments, including numerous four-and five-star options, Madrid’s hospitality network ensures that you can tailor your choice to the specific needs of your congress or meeting.

Gran Via Gran Vía
Gran Via Gran Vía
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Gran Via Gran Vía is one of Madrids most famous and popular streets. Its known for its shopping, grand hotels, and art theatres. ; © Cesar Lucas Abreu

In the bustling business district of Paseo de la Castellana, you will discover the Intercontinental Madrid and the Eurostars Madrid Tower, both renowned for their expansive capacity and comprehensive services.

Meanwhile, in the 4-star category, the Meliá Castilla deserves special mention, offering a generous 7,000 square metres of meeting space and a 500-seat auditorium. 

BEYOND BUSINESS

In addition to its exceptional infrastructure for hosting congresses, conferences, and incentive travel, Madrid boasts a captivating blend of artistic and cultural treasures, culinary innovation, and vibrant nightlife.

A quintessential experience to grasp Madrid's creative essence is the Art Walk, encompassing the renowned Prado Museum, the Reina Sofía National Art Centre, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, where you can also delve deeper into exploring the gastronomic culture and art through a thematic Art+Wine tour, complete with an audio guide and tasting.

Madrid's nightlife is best enjoyed by making your way to the plethora of theatres, live music venues, and an extensive array of clubs and bars. The Círculo de Bellas Artes rooftop is a sought-after spot, where you can enjoy breathtaking views while sipping cocktails.

That’s not all. In Madrid, indulging in a wine-tasting experience is essential as surrounded by several renowned wine-producing regions. Arganda del Rey Winery, steeped in winemaking tradition and conveniently accessible by metro, stands out as a prime choice.

With an 80-year legacy melded with modern facilities, the winery guarantees a delightful wine journey.

BARCELONA

Aerial View of Plaça dEspanya and Montjuïc hill
Aerial View of Plaça dEspanya and Montjuïc hill
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Aerial View of Plaça dEspanya and Montjuïc hill with National Art Museum of Catalonia; Shutterstock.com

Barcelona, a versatile destination, offers an array of venues suitable for both large conventions and smaller events. With state-of-the-art facilities, complemented by an extensive network of exceptional hotels, Barcelona positions itself impressively in the ICCA ranking, both in terms of the sheer number of congresses held and the attendance they attract.

Additionally, the city boasts exceptional connectivity through an international airport and one of the Mediterranean's foremost all-purpose ports.

For over three decades, the Barcelona Convention Bureau (BCB) has provided invaluable assistance and counsel to congress and meeting organizers, all at no cost. Their expertise extends beyond merely locating suitable local partners as they also navigate the intricacies of arrangements and paperwork within this city of boundless opportunities.

TOP VENUES

The city offers a wealth of event facilities, including a convention centre, three substantial conference centres, and numerous auditoriums and halls equipped with cutting-edge technology.

CCIB- Catalonia Convention Centre
CCIB- Catalonia Convention Centre
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CCIB-Catalonia Convention Centre is known for offering unparalleled facilities and sea views; joan_bautista/Shutterstock.com

Fira De Barcelona, boasting 14 pavilions and two congress centres, provides an impeccable infrastructure and services suitable for a wide range of corporate gatherings.

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Meanwhile, CCIB-Catalonia Convention Centre features 20 versatile halls, each affording breathtaking sea vistas.

The Gran Hotel Rey Don Jaime Congress Centre with its 350-seat auditorium and an annex with eight halls is another fantastic choice. These halls also offer splendid sea and mountain views while being outfitted with state-of-the-art technology.

WHERE TO STAY

With approximately 75,000 hotel beds, Barcelona offers an array of accommodations tailored to your needs. Barceló Sants, a distinguished four-star establishment, proudly lays claim to its status as the most conveniently located hotel in Barcelona, nestled within the precincts of the city's primary railway station.

For an elegant and refined experience, the five-star Hotel El Palace with six distinct venues of varying capacities makes for an ideal choice.

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Equally well-connected is the Hotel Barcelona Center, strategically situated in close proximity to Paseo de Gracia, the shopping district, and the bustling business hub.

You can also consider the upscale and conveniently located Meliá Barcelona Sarrià, which not only offers tastefully designed rooms, but also boasts 22 event spaces, making it an ideal choice for your meetings and conferences.

BEYOND BUSINESS

With diverse cultural and recreational options, Barcelona is just the right place to strike a balance between work and leisure. While here, embark on a trail to discover Antoni Gaudi’s finest works, including the Pedrera, Casa Batlló, the vibrant Parc Güell and, of course, the iconic Sagrada Familia. Add to that treasures like the Picasso Museum, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, and CaixaForum, and Barcelona will charm the artist in you.

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La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia
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The part of La Sagrada Familia built by Gaudí was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005; Pajor Pawel/Shutterstock.com

But if you want to level up your experience of the city, the luxury event planning agency Empirance is your genie on command. You can either choose to take to the skies on a helicopter tour from Barcelona to Ibiza or indulge in the best of Catalan gastronomy with a private cooking experience led by renowned chefs.

If you have the luxury of extending your stay and venturing beyond city limits, head to Tarragona, located 100 km away. It is renowned for its remarkable concentration of Roman relics, including the amphitheatre, circus, praetorium, theatre, and Les Ferreres aqueduct—all open to visitors. And don’t miss a visit to the Casa de las Contadurías or the Clock Tower, from where you can enjoy a magnificent view of the typical white towers of the city against the backdrop of the sea. For a more laidback time, stroll along Terragona’s 15 km of sandy coastline.

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This article is published in collaboration with Tourism Office of Spain (Turespaña), Mumbai

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