Imperial palaces, magnificent museums, coffeehouses and classical music.
The Ritz-Carlton Toronto was alive with the vibes of Vienna on Tuesday (Sept. 13) as the Vienna Tourist Board welcomed a group of VIP travel advisors, tour operators, airlines and media for an evening of networking and updates.
“Vienna is open and ready,” Armando Mendonça, president of AMpm Canada, which represents the Vienna Tourist Board in Canada, told PAX at the dinner, which was held at the hotel's TOCA restaurant.
Mendonça was in the “City of Music” just three weeks ago – and “it was just as vibrant as it was when I was there in 2019.”
“The cafes, museums, palaces and landmarks are open. It was great to see the city alive and ready for tourism,” he said. “If you love the arts and music, Vienna is the city to be in.”
“People definitely want to go to Vienna”
The night was supported by Star Alliance partners Air Canada and Lufthansa Group/Austrian Airlines, Vienna Airport and the Ritz-Carlton Vienna.
Tony Celio, specialty sales manager at Air Canada, said he wants agents to know that “we’re your number one choice from Canada to Vienna” with non-stop flights.
As part of an Atlantic joint venture, Air Canada and Lufthansa Group with Austrian Airlines provides customers with “simplicity, choice and value,” Celio told PAX.
For summer 2022, Air Canada ramped up service from five weekly to daily as of August for the remainder of the season.
Air Canada will continue with flights to Vienna from Toronto into winter with four weekly flights.
Austrian Airlines will continue to operate from Montreal with five weekly flights for the summer and three weekly flights for winter 2022-23.
“We’re seeing strong demand. Our load factors are proving that,” Celio said. “People definitely want to go to Vienna.”
Air Canada customers can use connections domestically and in Europe, Celio added.
“The joint venture allows for seamless connectivity,” he said. “Customers can also take advantage of reciprocal frequent flyer programs.”
Every corner tells a story
With an unrivalled reputation for cakes, pastries and classic coffeehouses, Vienna, Austria’s classic capital on the Danube River, kicked off 2022 with an emphasis on celebrating life, the arts and its vibrantly-diverse culture.
The green city (also known for its opulent Ball season) has some 900 public parks and gardens (53 per cent of the city’s surface area is accounted for by green space) 200 castles and palaces and more than 100 museums.
“The Viennese love to enjoy themselves. It’s a city you can travel to all year long,” said Marie Polt, B2B market manager for USA, UK, Canada at the Vienna Tourist Board.
Every corner of Vienna tells a story.
At the Belvedere, there are two Baroque palaces called the Upper and Lower Belvedere.
The site once served as a summer home for Prince Eugene of Savoy and today it holds the largest collection of paintings by Gustav Klimt – his most famous painting, “The Kiss,” is preserved here.
There’s also the world-famous Vienna Operahouse.
“Even if classical music is not your thing, do a backstage tour of the Operahouse and you’ll get the feeling of why it’s so important to us,” Polt said.
The enduring appeal of Vienna is rooted in its history, which is shaped by an artistic and intellectual legacy due to iconic figures who once lived there, such as Mozart, Beethoven, Sigmund Freud, Egon Schiele, Gustav Klimt and others.
Vienna is also the only major city in the world to have vineyards within its city limits – there’s some 700 hectares of vineyards and 140 winegrowers within 20 minutes of the city centre.
“You can sit in our vineyards, drink your wine and watch the sunset over the city. It doesn't get any more perfect than that,” Polt said.
Those classic coffeehouses? They’re considered “our extended living room,” Polt added. She also referred to the famous Vienna Boys’ Choir as “the world’s oldest boy band.”
Then just wait until mid-November rolls in and Vienna’s traditional Christmas Markets open up. That’s when the city “transforms into a Christmas Wonderland,” Polt said.
The transfer from Vienna International Airport into town is also an easy-breezy experience.
“It takes you 16 minutes to go from the airport to the city on the city airport train,” Polt said.
Gregor Postl of the Austrian Trade Commission also spoke of Vienna’s “very friendly locals.”
“There are more than 100 nationalities in Vienna, so you’ll feel right at home,” he said.
Vienna offers luxury, but not everything comes at a luxury price, Mendonça said, referring to the city’s many boutique hotels.
But clients looking for an elevated experience have options – Vienna is home to several high-end hotel properties.
The Ritz-Carlton Vienna is particularly unique.
With a warm, relaxed and refined ambience, the hotel breaks away from the traditional imperial vibe by creating an upscale and homey environment.
But the hotel still maintains a sense of place by incorporating elements of Viennese art and by naming its spacious suites after popular landmarks – such as the “Albertina Suite,” which is a nod to Vienna’s famous Albertina museum.
The Ritz has a partnership with this famous attraction – in the “Albertina Suite,” there are five masterpieces from the museum on display.
“Instead of going out into the world to see Vienna, we've brought the essence of what Vienna is to you in a place that you can feel absolutely relaxed in,” said Reece Vanasse, director of leisure sales at the Ritz-Carlton Vienna.
Vienna can also be the starting or finishing point of a larger European adventure.
“Once you’re in Austria, you can combine the trip with another country. It can be a multi-country experience,” Mendonça said.
Hot booking incentive
The night also came with a booking incentive – travel advisors can register their bookings to Vienna for a chance to win two Business Class tickets from Canada to Vienna, courtesy of Air Canada and the Vienna Tourist Board.
The promo is valid for bookings from Sept. 5 – Dec. 31, 2022 and for travel between the same window. (Blackout dates and terms and conditions apply).
Agents are invited to e-mail Armando Mendonça at firstname.lastname@example.org to obtain a registration form.
The winner will be contacted the week of Jan. 9 in 2023.