Water cascades down from the Hercules monument in Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe, Germany’s newest UNESCO World Heritage site.
Germany registered record incoming tourism numbers for the first six months of 2014, including a 4.5 percent increase in overnights (a total of 2,332,476) from the U.S. Many of these visitors may have observed or taken advantage of new or upgraded hotels, services and attractions. And there’s more to come. Having presented an update of recent developments in Berlin in our September 1, 2014, issue, we now take a look at what’s new and forthcoming in Germany beyond the capital.
Attractions and Activities
Over the summer, Germany’s football team (or soccer team, as they’re known in America) made headlines when they won the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Six members of the team play for Bayern Munich, the team that has dominated the Bundesliga for decades. Visitors can watch the team play in the Allianz Arena, which (perhaps somewhat fortuitously) was built when Germany hosted the World Cup in 2006. For tickets, visit fcbayern.de/en.
Frankfurt, meanwhile, is planning to host some notable art installations, including the “German Pop” exhibit at Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt from November 6 through February 8, 2015. In late May, the traditional Wäldchestag is one of the major holidays, with beer gardens and live performances in the municipal forest. The Apple Wine Festival will take place from August 7 through 16 next year, and is a great opportunity for visitors to experience a local drink and an authentically German celebration. And while 2014 is the 25th anniversary of German reunification, 2015 is the 25th anniversary of the Day of German National Unity. Festivities on October 3 next year will include representatives from all of Germany’s 16 states, with stages and booths throughout the city center. Expect concerts, films, dancing and theater performances.
In the north Hessen city of Kassel, the baroque Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe recently celebrated its first anniversary as Germany’s newest UNESCO World Heritage site. The picturesque mountainside park is the largest park (nearly 1,400 acres) built on a hillside in Europe. It took about 150 years to complete, with work beginning late in the 17th century.
|Terminal 2 satellite building at Munich Airport is expected to open next year.|
Highlights include a giant statue of Hercules and monumental water displays, including dramatic waterfalls, wild rapids and the geyser-like Grand Fountain that shoots water 160 feet into the air. Bergpark Wilhelmshöhe brings the total of World Heritage sites in Germany to 38.
Southwest Germany Course
The state of Baden-Württemberg is now offering online Cuckoo Training through which agents can become a certified Southwest Germany specialist. The free program is divided into five courses: Basics, Culture, Nature, Wine & Dine and Well-being. The title derives from the fact that Baden-Württemberg is home to the cuckoo bird and the cuckoo clock was invented in the state’s Black Forest.
Last year, the Kempinski Hotel Gravenbruch Frankfurt unveiled new Deluxe Rooms, Park Suites and a Eurasian restaurant. This year, the renovation is focused on the lobby, which has been gutted to make way for a new foyer and reception area leading to the K-Lounge. A glass dome will be added to the roof to provide natural lighting and an open fireplace will contribute to the ambiance. As of press time, the work is expected to be completed this month.
Closer to Frankfurt International Airport, Starwood Hotels & Resorts launched its Element brand in Europe (indeed, outside of North America) with the Element Frankfurt Airport. The hotel is located in Gateway Gardens, Frankfurt’s new business district adjacent to Frankfurt International Airport, Europe’s third-busiest air travel hub. The hotel has 133 extended-stay studios and one-bedroom suites, a Spanish restaurant, a food pantry for in-room cooking, laundry facilities (good for families or business travelers who need a quick freshen-up) and free Wi-Fi throughout.
In 2017, Hyatt is poised to open an Andaz in Munich—the first hotel under that brand in Germany. The 274-room hotel (including 36 junior suites, three executive suites and a presidential suite) will be developed in central Munich in a cultural district known as Schwabinger Tor. Situated between Leopoldstrasse and Berliner Strasse, Andaz Munich will be part of a mixed-use site with apartments, retail shops, offices, theaters and restaurants.
Germany is famous for its Christmas markets, which can be found in almost every city and town. (Nuremberg claims to have the oldest of the markets.) These markets run throughout the Advent period from late November through the third week in December (some stay open a bit later), and are a great way to experience local crafts, foods and traditions.
Superior Studio at Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ new Element Frankfurt Airport
Plenty of tour operators offer visits to the Christmas markets, and Scenic Cruises is set to offer two eight-day Christmas market trips later this year. On December 1, a cruise from Nuremberg to Amsterdam will visit markets in Bamberg, Würzburg, Rüdesheim and Cologne and Amsterdam. Cruise participants will spend the day as an invited guest of the village of Wertheim.
Tauck is boosting its European river cruising scene this year by increasing the capacity of its Christmas market cruises along the Danube and Rhine rivers. Recently, the company launched two new Inspiration Class ships (the ms Inspire and ms Savor, christened in April and June, respectively) and added four new river cruise itineraries.
For the coming holiday season, Tauck will boost its Christmas market river cruise departures by 67 percent, and increase the number of ships sailing on its two Christmas-themed itineraries from three to four. The new ms Inspire and ms Savor will both make their Christmas market cruise debuts, joining the ms Treasures and the ms Swiss Jewel.
Tauck offers two different eight-day Christmas market river cruises, one “Along the Rhine” and the other “Along the Danube.” Perks on these programs will include onboard cultural performances and local crafts demonstrations, lectures and walking tours, as well as culinary demonstrations. In addition, Tauck will host a tree-trimming party aboard each riverboat. All gratuities, meals, shore excursions, onboard beer, wine and premium spirits and airport transfers are included in the cruise price.
For tips on selling Christmas market cruises, see page 28.
Sailing Into 2015
Good to know: Beyond Christmas, Tauck has two other Danube sailings on the ms Savor. The multi-day “Blue Danube” and “Danube Reflections” itineraries, which include stops in Germany, are fully inclusive. Uniworld, meanwhile, has three new Danube itineraries set to launch next year, and will also launch a new ship, the S.S. Maria Theresa.
Munich Airport Update
A new service at Munich Airport now lets passengers and visitors access the Internet free of charge for as long as they want. Previously, WLAN Internet access at Munich Airport was free of charge only for the first 30 minutes. Now, the airport hotspot has been upgraded in cooperation with provider Deutsche Telekom to allow unlimited free access.
Munich Airport is also close to finishing its Terminal 2 satellite building, which is expected to open next year. (The facility was previously a luggage-handling space, but Lufthansa and the Star Alliance partners reportedly wanted a single terminal for passengers to make easier transfers between flights.) The new terminal will increase the airport’s annual handling capacity by about 11 million to approximately 50 million passengers per year.