The capital of Spain and one of the largest cities in Europe, business travel to Madrid should include experiences in the old town, museums and modern facilities for meetings and conventions. Whether you’re searching for conference facilities or unique venues, Madrid offers a full range of suitable options for business events. Its warmer climate offered by its central location within the Iberian peninsula is also a plus.
Madrid attracts more than 5 million business travelers each year. Perhaps part of this is because Madrid is strategically located for international meetings and events that require direct access from South America, Europe and Africa; Madrid is also has direct airline access from many U.S. cities. Another important factor contributing to Madrid’s success in the business travel market is because of Madrid’s expanded infrastructure for transportation and special events venues.
For meetings and event planning, many of Madrid’s hotels are capable of hosting a range of group sizes; however, for those interested in IFEMA is Madrid’s fairgrounds where large conventions and trade shows are held; IFEMA includes 200,000 sq. meters of exhibiting space, 12 Halls and 3 Convention and Congress Centres, among other facilities – more than 80 events are held there annually. Those who have attended or visited Fitur (Spain’s international tourism fair) gain a sense of how effective IFEMA is organized to handle large conventions.
Madrid Business Hotels
The greater Madrid area offers 879 hotels with a total of 72,546 hotel beds (February 2009) – half of which are in four and five star hotels. In Madrid, you’ll find nearly 200 hotels, including more than 27,000 guest rooms and 54,000 beds – 20 are in the five star category and 105 are rated with four stars. As the Spanish capital, Madrid offers a full range of hotel choices: traditional business hotels, modern, artistic, boutique and luxury hotels that offer some of the finest service. Madrid business hotel suggestions include:
- Hotel Gran Melia Fenix
- Hotel Melia Castilla
- Westin Palace
Other business travel hotels in Madrid include Hotel Urban and NH Paseo del Prado.
Madrid Business Activities
Madrid is an art and culture city, offering 73 museums and many are popular for hosting a variety of special events and group activities for Madrid meetings. Popular museums for group tours include the Prado Museum and Queen Sofia National Arte Centre Museum. The Thyssen Bornemisza Museum on Paseo del Prado, which includes the long term collection of Carmen Thyssen-Bornemisza and a mixture of other art on loan from around the world, seems to offer a lot of flexibility for groups wishing to host receptions within their galleries. What’s unique about Madrid is designers and architects have created many unique spaces that incorporate traditional and new architectural elements. For example, Caixa Forum is a family cultural center that offers exhibition space, an auditorium 2,000 square meters of exhibition rooms, conference space and an auditorium that can hold up to 322 people. Hotel Urban features a unique rooftop reception space. Business events entertainment should consider including live music – from jazz and Flamenco in Madrid. And the city is filled with a full range of options to fill spare time between meetings and receptions – including the shops of Madrid’s old town, Plaza Mayor, and to walk around the city to enjoy its parks and unique architecture.
Madrid Business Dining
Dining in Madrid is part of the business events experience, and there about 3,100 restaurants in Madrid – six of which are recognized by Michelin. Madrid is known for offering some of the best of Spanish cuisine – from popular tapas (consider Estado Puro) to gastronomic creations to traditional and modern Spanish dishes, even vegetarian restaurants. For a special evening, consider La Terraza de Casino (Casino de Madrid – this is not a casino). Like many European cities, Madrid offers a range of international restaurants and dining experiences. Seafood lovers benefit from Madrid’s central Spain location because seafood is brought in from both the Mediterranean and Atlantic. Remember to enjoy lunch and dinner with a Spanish wine. Lunch and dinner dining is on a later schedule than Americans may be used to, and make sure you’re ready for a long and leisure experience.
Madrid Business Information
Spanish is the official language of Madrid and Spain, but English seems to be almost a second language for many people in Madrid, especially the young and those involved in the hospitality industry. Barajas International Airport is Madrid’s airport with an estimate of more than 45 million passengers each year – one of Europe’s busiest airports. Iberia is the official Spanish airline and offers excellent business travel lounges. Terminal 4 (T4) opened in February 2006 and recognized for its architectural design. RENFE is Spain’s national railway with high-speed routes connecting to the center of Madrid. Several options exist for traveling around conveniently within Madrid itself.
Photo: (c) 2008 Rob Hard / RH Communications, Inc.