A TOWN THAT HAS IT ALL
The town of Saalfelden and its village of Leogang are part of the Salzburg region in Austria. They are so close to each other that entrepreneurial Austrians promote it as one destination. The wider skiing area of Saalbach-Hinterglemm-Leogang is one of the most renowned and diverse holiday resorts in the Austrian Alps. Winter time brings 200 kilometres of ski slopes of all difficulty levels and in the summer, the region comes to life as the epicentre of mountain biking and hiking. Less known is the fact that Saalfelden is also an extraordinary meeting/incentive destination that keeps impressing visitors all year round. It impressed us at the end of the summer, when the region was hosting all sorts of events that took us by surprise.
Where nature and man walk in sync
This Alpine paradise was long reserved just for the locals who lived there and kept it intact. They were stubborn and felt that everything was dependent upon them. It is because of this that tourism in Saalfelden has always had sustainability in mind. The entire hotel infrastructure is based on small family hotels and an offer that organically follows natural conditions and doesn’t interfere with local limits. A strong subconscious harmony between nature and man has been established that can be felt throughout the region. It’s why the cultural identity of places like this has remained so authentic, something that attracts numerous meeting planners every year.
Abundance of wood
Wood is a resource that has had an immense effect on the region. It’s a strategic material that has driven the development of numerous large processing plants in the region. Wood is something you just can’t get enough of, whether it’s in the hotel rooms, restaurants, congress centres or art exhibitions. It seems as if the region is the centre of Austria’s wood industry tradition. The smell and warmth of the natural material will stay with you even when you leave the hotel room. We recommend a visit to the small village of Bergdorf Priesteregg, where 16 rustic-looking chalets built from 200-year-old wood await.
Mining tradition and the start of tourism
The town was built on mining. After mines of silver, lead and iron were exhausted, people turned to selling salt and later on, tourism. Today, meeting guests can look at the historical mine and get a glimpse into what the region looked like. The Mining and Gothic Museum in Leogang exhibits interesting gothic sculptures of mining saints. It’s an incredible collection, even on a European scale.
A mega ski resort
With the opening of new ski lifts, two ski resorts were connected. Together, Saalbach-Hinterglemm and Zell am See are the largest skiing area in Austria. With more than 30,000 hotel beds, it’s also an area with one of the most comprehensive tourist offers in Austria. The established connection means that there are 270 kilometres of ski slopes, 70 ski lifts and 115 slopes, for which one skiing day certainly won’t be enough.
Alpine roads with the iconic Grossglockner pass are not the only reason to visit the region. If you are in the automotive industry, the OAMTC Driving Centre, located next to the Gut Brandlhof hotel will be one reason more. It’s one of the most advanced driving centres in Europe, where drivers can attend a safety driving school, test out the limits of their cars and drive in different simulated weather conditions. Space is adapted to the needs of automotive event organisers and it even has a car wash, making it the perfect place for car launch events. The entire region is a paradise for such events.
The mother of all roads
There’s no lack of picturesque winding roads in the region, but many come here just because of one. The famous Grossglockner pass is a 48-kilometre stretch of road that connects the Salzburg with the Tyrol region. It’s the highest panoramic road in the Alps that will get you pretty close to Austria’s highest peak at 3,798m. You will be rewarded with spectacular views of the Grossglockner and the Pasterze glacier. There’s a varied choice of catering along the way and we also recommend a visit to the Alpine Naturschau museum. The road is open from May to the beginning of November.
Walkthrough 40 years of jazz history at the Saalfelden Jazz Festival, one of the oldest and most legendary jazz festivals in Europe. On the last week of August, Saalfelden is overflowing with jazz concerts, lectures and performances, filling up the town’s capacities completely. The core of the festival takes place in Congress Saalfelden, but smaller venues are also used. In most small towns across Europe, the locals aren’t very excited if a festival comes knocking on their front door. Saalfelden is different. The festival turns the town into a lively hotspot, where visitors get to meet the friendly locals in bars, while at the same time giving Saalfalden much-needed media recognition.
On top of Salzburg
Kitzsteinhorn is an iconic glacier peak at 3029m, accessible via gondola. Visiting the glacier ski resort is attractive for meeting participants, as they can enjoy spectacular views on the viewing platform or have some winter fun at the Ice Arena in the middle of summer. Views stretch all the way to the Grossglockner and 19 modern ski lifts guarantee an excellent day of skiing.
UCI Mountain Bike Downhill 2020
Leogang will be the host of the Mountain Bike World Cup in 2020. In mountain-biking circles, the race has a similar status to F1 in motorsports, attracting over 10,000 spectators and attended by 700 competitors. To host such an event is the dream of every mountain-bike resort in Europe and the world. Because of huge international interest, the race has also become compelling in terms of tourism. The international live stream will be taking place on Red Bull Live TV, the official media partner.
Saalfelden Congress Centre
Most known as the heart of groove and funk during the Saalfelden Jazz Festival, it’s also a first-class meeting venue. An almost too beautiful natural idyll serves as its backdrop surrounded by mountains on all sides. The hyper-stylish, multifunctional congress centre was re-opened in 2006 and its design allowed it to keep in step with the times. There are 14 halls, the largest one being able to host 900 participants. The most special space can be found on the rooftop, where there’s a 400m2 terrace that will take your event to the next level. Quite literally. The recently renovated design hotel Die Hindenburg is just the cherry on top.
A determined meetings scene
In addition to the congress centre, Saalfelden has plenty of other interesting conference capacities. The first can be found in Hotel Gut Brandlhof, run by Birgit and Alexander Strobl. The small family hotel by the Steinerne Meer mountain massif has grown to become one of the largest regional hotels specialised in hosting events. The Gut Brandlhof estate stretches across 450 acres of land, allowing their range of services to develop rapidly. The hotel is especially popular among automotive event organisers.
Hotel & Spa Ritzenhof’s smaller conference centre and an array of outdoor surfaces are located by the picturesque Ritzensee lake on the outskirts of Saalfelden. In Leogang, numerous hotels specialise in meetings tourism. Hotel Krallerhof is a regional institution renowned for its wellness and a unique art gallery. In its near vicinity is also the minimalistic Hotel Puradies that has a small conference centre and some outdoor options for events.
Our favourite and certainly the most out-of-the-box is the Mama Thresl hotel. The place is extraordinary in many ways and it has quickly become the heart of Leogang’s hotel scene. It’s completely in tune with the town’s modern spirit and active lifestyle. It’s also the first choice for incentive programme organisers.
The choice is really diverse and it would be hard to name all capacities in this MTLG, as there are at least 20 family hotels that have an excellent range of meetings services. There’s no lack of special venues either.
A trip to Saalfelden without a visit to an Alpine hut is pretty much unimaginable. We recommend taking a gondola to the Asitz mountain, where you will find the coolest mountain hut ever. The Alte Schmiede in Asitzbräu is a museum, restaurant, bar, brewery, a spectacular special venue and the vision of its owner, Sepp Altenberger. He is an antiques collector who has created a truly special atmosphere. Before going all the way up to the top, stop at the middle gondola station and visit the Senses Park. As its name suggests, it’s an experience for the senses through an interesting herbal garden.
An attractive part of the region’s offer is the Arthouse Nexus cultural centre, where there is always something going on. It’s a multifunctional centre, where you can carry out everything from concerts to meetings.
We could go on and on about Saalfelden’s endless meeting possibilities. There is just such an abundance of high-quality facilities in such a small area. Something has to be emphasised. Individuals providers in Saalfelden are excellently connected and the Saalfelden Leogang Touristik is of immense help. Their young team is very dedicated and actively involved with activities of the Salzburg Convention Bureau. After our visit, we can confirm that the small, unexplored region of Saalfelden Leogang truly has it all.
SAALFELDEN LEOGANG INDIVIDUAL GRADES 2019
MTLG INDEX / 2019 EDITION
M – MEETING DESTINATION
Destinations that can host more than 1200 congress attendees.
- The number of 4* and 5* category hotel rooms: 1,500
- The number of 4* and 5* category hotels: 19
- Banquet hall maximum capacity: 700
- The largest hall in the city (in m2): 800 m2
- Destination population: 19,785
- Maximum hall capacity in theatre style: 900
SAALFELDEN LEOGANG OVERALL PERFORMANCE
Natural and cultural factors: 4.91
General and transport infrastructure: 4.87
Tourist infrastructure: 4.80
Meeting infrastructure: 4.95
Subjective grade: 4.83
Marketing Buzz 4.65
ICCA index: 1.25
Numbeo Quality of Life Index: 3.74
Numbeo Safety Index: 4.72
ACI Airport Connectivity Index: 2.93
OVERALL SCORE: 4.17
COMPARISON WITH THE REGION
Often, things that are hidden are much more interesting. The same can be said about the tourist destination of Saalfelden Leogang. The destination swears by sustainability and strong connections between tourism, agriculture, forestry and trade. From what we have seen, they have been doing an excellent job. A lot of hotels have their own water source, the pools are heated with solar energy and smaller hotels have their own heating stations running on wood chips from the surrounding forests. Many destinations have a lot to learn and Saalfelden is a shining example in this field. Everything functions well, the food is local and the well-being of guests is excellently taken care of.
Eisenhut – a special hat-shaped fondue that has become a social culinary event is best experienced in one of the mountain huts. We recommend Huwi’s Alm & Garten hut in Priesteregg. The dish consists of marinated beef or pork that is baked on a special heater and in combination with some beef soup, it’s a match made in heaven. The meal would not be complete without some special sauces and baked potatoes.
HOT IN 2019
BEST INCENTIVE IDEAS
Flying Fox XXL
With a length of 1,600 metres, a height of up to 143 metres and potential top speeds of up to 130 km/h, Flying Fox XXL is one of the fastest and longest steel rope slides in the world. The feeling you get is akin to a weightless freefall.
Action Day at OAMTC Road Safety Training Centre
You will be instructed by the Centre’s experts to drive up and descend selected trails. You will experience spectacular slope angles and learn more about axle articulation. Finally, you can prove your driving capabilities at a water intrusion.