The alphorn, one of the world’s original
wooden wind instruments, was first documented in the mid-16th century and is
still manufactured in the mountain village
of Habkern. During a visit to Switzerland
last year, I had the privilege of taking a full
workshop tour, including a chance to play,
which I could do surprisingly well, since
the instrument is about as big as me.
Touring the workshop and learning
about its history from Tschiemer, who
comes from a long lineage of alphorn
production, is just one of many Switzer-land-only experiences available for groups
throughout this culturally rich country.
“Switzerland is a small country yet so
diverse,” said Caroline Pidroni, director of
sales and marketing for the Switzerland
Convention & Incentive Bureau.
In addition to four languages, diversity is
reflected in the country’s gastronomy, arts
scene and mentality of the people, according to Pidroni. Attendees are increasingly
interested in finding those unique venues and
outlets that provide a true taste of the country.
“People are looking more and more to
interact with locals,” Pidroni said. “In Swit-
zerland there are opportunities throughout
the country for iconic experiences, such
as making chocolate, learning to yodel or
making a Swiss Army knife.”
DMCs, such as Ovation Switzerland, can
help facilitate those group experiences,
including chocolate making.
“All over Switzerland you can experience
chocolate-making sessions,” said Renato
Grieco, regional director of sales for Ovation Switzerland.
Options include the Maison Cailler chocolate factory located in Broc, Confiserie
Sprungli in Zurich, the Lindt Chocolate
Shop in Kilchberg near Lake Zurich, and
Laderach in Vevey.
Festivals are also a draw for groups, such
as Art Basel and the Montreux Jazz Festival,
as are the country’s myriad arts venues.
Though it’s known as the business and
science center of Switzerland, Zurich also
excels as a cultural and gastronomical
hub, offering everything from art museums to wine-and-cheese boat tours on
Walking Zurich’s storybook Old Town is
like stepping through a history museum,
while trendy areas such as the Zurich West
spill with restaurants, bars and repurposed
old factories that are now market halls and
boutiques. For a unique setting, groups
can organize a banquet in one of the city’s
streetcars or a boat ride on Lake Zurich.
One of Zurich’s newest highlights, the
FIFA World Football Museum, which
opened in 2016, appeals to even a soccer
novice like myself, with its interactive
exhibits, and offers groups space for receptions. The feedback is overwhelmingly
positive, according to Oliver Vrieze, acting
“This clearly distinguishes the museum from many other venues since MICE
participants can either get active, simply
explore or dig deeper into sports culture
after having half- or full-day meetings,”
Aside from unique off-sites, Zurich’s
infrastructure is ideal for groups. After
a three-year refurbishment, the Kon-
44 Meetings Today // 12. 17
“The more we globalize, the more we return to tradition,” declared Heinz Tschiemer, owner of Bernatone Alphornbau in Habkern, an alphorn workshop in Switzerland’s Interlaken region.
LADERACH CHOCOLATE MAKING,
BY MARLENE GOLDMAN
Switzerland’s inimitable venues and experiences draw groups
in search of cultural immersion