Felix Kupfer

"Anyone in search of an Alpine space for inspiration will come to us"

Gurgl Carat managing director Felix Kupfer in conversation about the new conference center in Tirol’s Ötztal

Published 10.06.2021

It’s starting again. While the snow melts on the peaks, the calyxes of Alpine gentian compete with delicate mountain snowbells and cheerful chirping of birds mingles with rustling of the brooks. Just as nature awakens in the mountains, Europe's highest conference center - Gurgl Carat in Tirol's Ötztal - is getting ready for its guests.

Opened at the beginning of 2020, due to the Corona pandemic it soon became quiet again around this architectural jewel shaped in the form of a cut diamond. In an interview, Gurgl Carat managing director Felix Kupfer reveals why exactly a gem was the inspiration, what makes the location so particularly attractive for events and why you can plan and implement your conference here with a maximum of safety.

The mountain village of Obergurgl at over 1900 meters above sea level is primarily known as a ski paradise. What made the operators decide to build a conference center here?

Felix Kupfer: Gurgl Carat was built exactly where the Piccardsaal hall could be found for 30 years. It was also an event center, but there was only room for 250 people. In the new conference center we can now offer space for up to 500 guests taking part in congresses, conferences, seminars and meetings. We are equipped with the latest technology and at the same time we have this awe-inspiring natural environment and such a majestic mountain backdrop.

Our shareholders - Ötztal Tourismus, the municipality of Sölden and the University of Innsbruck - see great potential here: the tourism association wants to stimulate summer tourism and extend the season to year-round occupancy thanks to Gurgl Carat. Furthermore, the university is investing in the “Gurgl science location” in order to upgrade the local university branch and its Alpine Research Center. The community has thus created an attractive event center for the entire population. We owe it to all these interests that we can now offer the top quality Gurgl Carat congress center for guests from home and abroad.

 

Why does the architecture remind of a diamond-shaped building – a fact that can also be found in the name of the new congress center?

The Obergurgl-Hochgurgl ski area is nicknamed the “Diamond of the Alps” due to its fabulous location at the heart of Ötztal’s glacier world and its superb slopes. That was decisive for both the architectural characteristics and the name of the new center. We also want to point out the extraordinary, the very high quality. I can hold a meeting almost anywhere. But if you are looking for an Alpine place of inspiration, come to us.

 

The Corona pandemic is causing a feeling of uncertainty in many companies. Those responsible are afraid of holding face-to-face events. How do you respond to this skepticism?

There is no need to hesitate any longer for the following reasons:

First, we have an elaborate Covid-19 prevention concept. Our safety and hygiene measures have already been tested in practice at a number of events. For example, Gurgl Carat has its own guidance concept including a one-way system to control the stream of conference guests while a seating plan ensures the minimum distance. It has proved very useful. Even an in-house rapid antigen test is available before the event starts.

Second, the Austrian federal government has set up protective measures for events. If an event has to be canceled or significantly restricted due to Corona, up to 90% of the costs incurred will be reimbursed. This security in planning applies to all organizers, regardless of which country they come from. For example, we have customers from Germany and Switzerland who can benefit from it as well.

Third, after many months in the home office people are simply tired of computer screens. They long for real encounters, teams want to get back together. Here with us, the breathtaking natural surroundings of Gurgl’s mountains can be easily integrated into a meeting. Meadows and Alpine pasturelands serve as extraordinary breakout rooms. Gurgl and its surroundings are also ideal for product presentations. Sports gear and items can be tested on site, the winding Timmelsjoch pass road is ideal for cars.

Break-outs at over 2600 m in company with animals

Break-outs at over 2600 m in company with animals

Italy is only a few hairpin bends away via Timmelsjoch

Italy is only a few hairpin bends away via Timmelsjoch

We talked about companies. Are there any other business fields that you are addressing with the new Gurgl Carat?

In addition to the economic sector, it is clearly science. Gurgl has a long tradition - just like in the congress segment. Due to its topography, Ötztal has attracted the world of scholarship over the centuries. However, one event stands out in particular. I am coming back to the Piccardsaal event hall, which was named after the scientist and researcher Auguste Piccard. In 1931 he reached the stratosphere in his hot-air balloon and made an emergency landing on Gurgler Ferner, a nearby glacier. Still today, a memorial in front of Gurgl Carat commemorates this spectacular event that celebrated its 90th anniversary on 31 May 2021. Our third mainstay are cultural events, with which both locals and guests can enjoy varied entertainment. The spectrum ranges from concerts and cinema shows to festivals and folk music evenings.

 

In addition to the new conference center and the spectacular natural surroundings: what else can conference guests look forward to in Gurgl?

We have first-class hotels in Gurgl with a varied choice of four and five star hotels that can be reached on foot in less than ten minutes from Gurgl Carat. In all seasons we offer several incentive programs and a wide variety of sports. On request, our expert event team will take care of the entire event planning process, from meeting rooms to catering facilities, search for accommodation or supporting programs.

Last but not least: we are very secluded at the rear end of Ötztal. If you want to meet in peace without distraction, you are in good hands with us.

Author: Sigrid Neureiter

Sigrid Neureiter is both founder and owner of Dr. Neureiter PR Agency based in Vienna. Tirolean by heart and very committed to the MICE sector, Tirol as a conference region is a particular concern of Sigrid Neureiter. Together with her expert team and Gurgl Carat, she is responsible for editorial planning and implementation of the Carat.Blog.

"Conferences held at Gurgl Carat stand for inspiration, foresight, tranquility in a truly incomparable ambience of the unique Alpine scenery. I am therefore very happy that I can contribute to bringing the advantages of Europe's highest conference center and its unique surroundings closer to customers."

Sigrid Neureiter

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