Danish Twists: Copenhagen Mixes Old & New

Copenhagen offers no shortage of incentive or high-end meeting opportunities, whether groups prefer the high style of an ultramodern space, the grandeur of a historic castle, or the elegance of the city's 250-year-old grand dame hotel, MeetingNews learned during a recent press tour. Programs in Denmark's capital also can hinge on seaside lunches or dinners, sail-boating in the Oresund strait as a team-building exercise, gourmet dining amid the world-famous Tivoli Gardens, and shopping on one of Europe's longest pedestrian thoroughfares.

As a group's home base, the modern, 268-room First Hotel Skt. Petri and the Victorian-era, 123-room Hotel D'Angleterre offer polar-opposite themes, but both are primely located. Opened in 1755, the D'Angleterre is one of the oldest hotels in Scandinavia, situated on the eastern end of the bustling, long-winding shopping road Stroget and within walking distance to the popular Nyhavn canal area. Meanwhile, not far from the western end of Stroget, design hotel Skt. Petri, which recently celebrated its fifth year in operation, is a hip and trendy anachronism in its medieval Latin Quarter location—the oldest part of Copenhagen, filled with bars, jazz clubs, and eclectic boutiques.

In October, the D'Angleterre expects to unveil its newly renovated Louis XVI room, a 2,000-sf multi-purpose space. The lavish room will have received a top-to-bottom renewal, with fresh wall treatments, carpeting, and ceiling work. (According to Marcus Nardi, a member of the hotel's sales team, no two guest rooms in the property are alike, with each getting unique wallpaper and carpeting.) Even more stately is D'Angleterre's biggest event room, the 3,100-sf Palm Court, which is said to boast Europe's largest glass-ceiling mosaic.

For meetings and incentives that prefer an edgier environment, Skt. Petri has spaces led by the 2,500-sf Center Stage multifunction room and six meeting rooms within its modern architecture. Also, its outdoor terrace and open, atrium-like lobby serve as function areas. Drawing shows, product launches, and meetings especially from creative- type industries like fashion, the property is no stranger to celebrities like Ice Cube and Pink Floyd, according to front-office manager Line Svenningsen.

Hamlet's castle beckons

About an hour's drive north of the city, the 430-year-old Kronborg Castle, in Elsinore, whisks incentive winners or meeting attendees away from the modern world to late-16th century-style receptions and dinners. Kronborg—known as "Hamlet's castle" because it inspired Shakespeare to use it as the set piece in his tragic play—is available for events of at least 50 attendees that run to midnight and include guided tours, torchlight routes, receptions in the royal Ballroom (said to be the largest hall in northern Europe), and meals in either the arch-ceiling Frederik II's Wine Cellar or Eric of Pomerania's Chamber, one of the castle's oldest rooms.

From Kronborg, Rungsted harbor is about a half-hour south, where sailing expert Sail Cup Ltd. and Restaurant Nokken, serving French, Italian, and Danish fare over seaside views of Oresund strait, reside. Before or after a meal at Nokken, teams of up to six can challenge each other on Sail Cup's 37-foot racing yachts in the sound, with team members working to guide and speed the boats. Or, groups can take a relaxed cruise, surrendering the navigation to experienced skipper/hosts like Carsten Merrild. The excursions can last from three hours to all day but can be customized.

Days on the water can be followed by nights at the renowned Tivoli Gardens amusement park, which turned 165 a month ago. Nestled next to Tivoli is the 13-suite Nimb hotel, which opened in May with event and small-meeting facilities and even its own dairy and chocolate factory. Within the hotel's Taj Mahal-like exterior is the eponymous restaurant of elite Danish chef Thomas Herman. In his 50-seat gourmet eatery, he serves up twists on traditional Danish cuisine and personal creations like North Atlantic turbot with pickled chanterelles and wild watercress, followed by a seemingly endless cake table.

Originally published Sept. 22, 2008