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MIM Europe magazine Destination Report Antwerp is a special edition of MIM Europe magazine – IMEX May 2014 Published by Meeting Media Company (Belgium)


Opening end 2016

Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp

©Neutelings Riedijk architects_photo sarah Blee


Seven-league boots for the City of Antwerp The City of Antwerp has everything Antwerp, a world-famous port as well as a vibrant city of fashion and diamonds, has for years been going without a truly iconic and easily recognisable conference venue. However, the long wait is over – The Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp is slated to open at the end of 2016. Texts and Interviews: Katie Lau and Marcel A.M. Vissers

A world city of diamonds A staggering 85 per cent of all rough diamonds and 50 per cent of polished

MAS ©Antwerp Tourism & Conventions

As Europe’s second biggest port, Antwerp is home to many worldwide chemical and petrochemical companies that make up the largest chemical cluster in the continent (and the world’s second largest). There’s always something new in the works due to the port’s constant pursuit to upgrade its logistics facilities and infrastructure. The most exciting update would be the construction of the new port office atop the fire station directly across from The Ark, a stylish waterfront multifunctional event venue converted from a pump house (Port Office designed by the leading British Architect Zaha Hadid). Within the walking distance is the newly redeveloped docklands area, the Eilandje, (The Little Island) located between the Old Town and the modern port. Successfully revitalised into a cultural and meeting hotspot, the neighbourhood features offices, a waterfront promenade, a wide range of cafés and restaurants as well as two exciting new museums – MAS (Museum aan de Stroom) and Red Star Line – both of which are particularly wellequipped to host conferences with excellent support in catering, transportation and technology.

diamonds are traded through Antwerp every year, so it’s easy to see why Antwerp is the world’s most important diamond trading centre. For more than 500 years, Antwerp has retained its status as the world’s leading centre for cutting, processing and trading diamonds, controlling three-quarters of the world trade in diamonds and accounting for 8 per cent of the GNP. While the Diamond Museum was closed in 2012, it partnered with Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) to set up the Diamond Pavilion at the MAS, where some of the masterpieces from the former collection of the Diamond Museum can be viewed. Diamond lovers are also looking forward to the newly launched Diamond Land, Antwerp’s biggest diamond shop, which will refresh its brand with a new logo and identity. While a new diamond experience centre is still in the pipelines, the Diamond Museum Province of Antwerp continues to organise BrilliAntwerp initiatives for MICE events at different locations in the city.

Red Star Line Museum © Port of Antwerp

Europe’s second largest port

Gastronomy The Belgians’ collective love of food and drink is central to their philosophy of enjoying “the good life”. Steeped in rich culinary traditions, Antwerp offers an impressive array of enticing restaurants, fresh bakeries, coffee shops, chocolate stores, and pubs. You will be most likely charmed by the authentic and sophisticated dining experiences in historic settings. De Koninck brewery,

Port House by Zaha Hadid


Antwerp’s oldest city brewery founded in 1833, is set to open its 3,000 m² innovative beer experience centre next spring. Visitors can soak up the Belgian beer culture behind the scenes in this authentic and multifunctional venue. Besides catering for individual and group visits as well as provides tailored services to MICE groups, the venue also boasts easy access to other uniquely Flemish attractions in the area and the nearby Art Nouveau neighbourhood.

A Funky City of Fashion More than 30 years after the famous “Antwerp Six” put the city on the

international fashion map, Antwerp has lived up to the hype as the world’s leading fashion capital with effortless charm and funkiness. The fashion department of Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts continues to attract the best of creative talent from all over the world, while the city’s streets are dotted with trendy boutiques and shops featuring creations by numerous trendsetting young designers. Soak up Antwerp’s vibrant cultural ambience by visiting the stylishly curated Fashion Museum (MoMu), which can be booked for group visits in combination with other themed guided tours, creative workshops, and more.

Antwerp Tourism and Congress: We provide services to advise and support companies. We know what service providers in Antwerp have to offer, and this means we are in an ideal position to help you find an entertaining, original or thematic venue. We can also suggest excellent event agencies and ideas for activities before, during or after your congress. As part of Antwerp Tourism, we are at your service with a wide variety of brochures and information about the many facets of Antwerp. Contact: Antwerpen Tourisme & Congres E-mail:

Interview: Koen Kennis, City Councillor 1. Antwerp has been given a fantastic present – a purpose-built congress centre So how will you do your international promotion, because competition is lurking everywhere? Antwerpen Toerisme & Congres has been promoting Antwerp at home and abroad for some years now as a city for meetings and congresses. We want to profile Antwerp as a top tourist destination by means of international city marketing and networking. Over the coming years we will be profiling ourselves at international (professional) trade fairs, events and workshops. As the City Councillor responsible for tourism, my ambition is to get Antwerp into the top 25 European city tourist destinations. For business tourism we position Antwerp in the market as an attractive destination for meetings and trade fairs. We will be focussing on attracting large multi-day events and congresses, in consultation with the players involved. For a limited number of major international congresses we will provide for profiling through ‘city dressing’. Our location has much to offer for companies and for the meetings world. Antwerp is not only the second largest harbour city in Europe and the second largest petrochemical cluster in the world, but also

has an international reputation in the field of fashion and diamonds. Of course, the arrival of a new congress centre within walking distance of the history museum is an added plus that we will be making full use of. It is not only the historical building, adjacent to a beautiful historical zoo, but also the capacity that play an important role in this respect. 2. For what type of clients (congress organisers) is Antwerp the ideal city? In the past, we have always focussed on medium-sized congresses between 10 and 600 people. The arrival of the congress centre will ensure that we can expand the target group and attract larger congresses of up to 2,000 people. In addition to companies, we will continue to focus on organisations that have links with the strengths of the city, such as transport, petrochemicals, diamonds, fashion, the retail trade, and so on. 3. Do you now see Antwerp as a fullyfledged congress city or should something more be happening? Organising a congress involves more than just providing locations and hotel capacity. Transport from, to and within the city is also important. With our Central Station,

one of the most beautiful in the world, with the current services from Zaventem airport and with the Thalys, which will be Koen Kennis, City Councillor further extended for Tourism in Antwerp in 2016 with the Eurostar from London, we have outstanding connections with the world. What’s more, we are ensuring optimal collaboration with public transport and such things as the taxi sector for support in relation to congresses. In addition, we have a great deal to offer to enhance the visitor’s perception of the Antwerp, with numerous incentives in the city at beautiful locations and in museums. We are also continuing to work on customer-friendly services tailored to their needs. A good example of this is our Antwerp Citycard: the extension to a 24, 48 and 72-hour card offers congress participants more possibilities. In addition, we set aside a budget this year for the first time to undertake ‘city dressing’ to support congress organisers in their publicity for major international congresses, such as Breakbulk, for example.


Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp is a large-scale venue (about 25.000m2) and integrates the magnificent outer walls and halls of the original 19th century concert hall.

FLANDERS MEETING & CONVENTION CENTER ANTWERP State-of-the-art congress centre with international allures in the heart of Antwerp Antwerp is one of the largest centres for diamonds in the world and will be adding another unique gem to its crown in 2016: the new Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp. This complex is located near the magnificent Central Station, which was built in 1905, and is destined to become a multifaceted venue for the meetings & event industry. This new project promises to become the absolute standard in Antwerp

for conferences, trade fairs and exhibitions, seminars, national and international congresses, as well as corporate events. The owner of this project, KMDA (Royal Zoological Society Antwerp), has chosen the latest state-of-the-art technical and logistical facilities for this new complex. At the same time, the necessary respect is being shown for the adjacent, listed monument of Antwerp ZOO, and the historically valuable Marble Room,

Darwin Room, Verlat Room, and the Winter Garden. In addition to these very special, historic rooms, which are the main focus in the complex, another 15 rooms are being built, spread across 3 levels. The new Queen Elisabeth Concert Hall is without a doubt the central gem in the crown. This room has perfect acoustics and excellent technical sound facilities thanks to the know-how of Kirkegaard Associates. The shape of the room


Authentic meets Modern is the general theme, with the ‘meeting centre’ of the new congress centre located in the large and sunlit Atrium.

Dries Herpoelaert, CEO of KMDA, sums it up as follows: The Flanders Meeting & Convention Center Antwerp will be a newly constructed building with modern amenities and technical facilities, and offer increased seating capacity and ideal logistics. An international attraction with unique benefits in a splendid setting, with sustainable materials and low-energy facilities.

The new auditorium is shaping up to the centre’s undisputed USP. It not only has 2000 seats, but by 2016 it will also meet the highest acoustic standards of the 21st century.

allows the sound to resonate perfectly, and special techniques, including a ceiling with mobile panels, ensure a perfect projection of the sound. The new auditorium in the Queen Elisabeth Concert Hall is both the nerve centre and the dynamic, beating heart of the congress centre. It will have 2000 seats which is a tremendous advantage for many organisers. The Royal Flemish Philharmonic will have his homebase in the complex.

The internationally renowned architectural firm Ian Simpson from Manchester designed and developed this tour de force. “I consciously chose natural light and clarity above elegance as the leitmotiv for this project. It stands as a symbol for the city of Antwerp, and will inspire every visitor”, said Simpson.


‘Experience Meetings’ at the Radisson Blu Astrid Hotel The meeting rooms of Radisson Blu Astrid are situated across two dedicated meeting floors. The last few months, the first floor has totally been renovated. “These rooms have been in use for over thirteen years. The time was right to revamp this floor and give it a total make-over,” explains Dominique Jansen, Director of Sales&Marketing of the Radisson Blu Astrid hotel. “The meeting rooms were stripped from head to toe after which they have entirely been redesigned and redecorated. The main lobby was enlarged in a more functional way and equipped with a new lounge. The first floor now offers two boardrooms for 12 people, two small event rooms for 15 people and a bigger hall for 50 people, that can be divided in four separate spaces.”

Relaxing and contemporary For the renovation, the Radisson Blu Astrid hotel got in touch with the internationally renowned Dutch design studio of Piet Boon®. “With his team, Piet Boon redesigned the different meeting rooms and gave them a contemporary, stylish

look & feel. It was our intention to create a calming and timeless design, therefore we went for lots of symmetry and a modest color palette with creamy and white colors. Contrasts, as in the color of the new furniture, enliven the interior. During the renovation works we’ve also had an eye for practical solutions. Extra elevators stop at the first floor now and the air conditioning was adapted.” Every detail in the new meeting rooms exudes the Radisson Blu identity. The renovations are part of the “Experience Meetings” concept of Radisson Blu with the purpose of inspiring businessmen to the smallest details to meet successfully.

Experience Meetings By implementing the “Experience Meetings” concept, Radisson Blu wishes to offer inspiring locations for successful meetings. Meeting rooms with an UNUSUAL set-up or a DIFFERENT look and feel can be quite inspiring! “This concept is based on three core components. ‘Brain Box’ stands for breakout rooms designed to elevate

efficiency and to stimulate creativity. ‘Brain Food’ stands for innovative and responsible food & beverage solutions developed by skilled chefs and nutritionists that improve efficiency, the ability to concentrate and mental speed. And finally free and fast WiFi is offered to all meeting delegates, even if they’re not staying in the hotel. Meeting at the Radisson Blu Astrid hotel thus becomes a unique experience. In 2016 the new congress centre at the Koningin Astrid Square is expected to open. Thanks to the Radisson Blu Astrid hotel, the area is ensured of quality break-out rooms,” decides Dominique Jansen. More info on Experience Meetings at the Radisson Blu Astrid hotel: E: sales.astrid.antwerp@ T: +32 3 203 12 34 Radisson Blu Astrid hotel Koningin Astridplein 7, 2018 Antwerp astridhotel-antwerp

Special destination report: Antwerp  
Special destination report: Antwerp