If ever in Europe and looking for a meeting or incentive destination that offers a lot of “bang for the buck” – look no further than Prague (Praha in local dialect)! This location has unbelievable infrastructure to support meetings, local properties full of charm like the Aria Hotel or the Alchymist Grand Hotel & Spa, plus modern accommodations at places such as Radisson Blu Alcron, Marriott, InterContinental, Mandarin Oriental, Four Seasons (right on the river, adjacent to the bridge no less!) and Hilton (2 properties). MCI Group’s awesome DMC Ovation, led by Sylvie Neves and her amazing team, is also based in town to support transportation, dine-arounds, activities, on-site support staff, and any other requirements that your meeting, event or incentive may require.
It was my first visit to this spectacular city, and it is extremely walkable (I averaged 8 miles a day on foot!). There is the contrast of New vs. Old Prague – everything from the breathtaking architecture from the “Beaux Arts” buildings to the contrasting Communist septic designs. Landmarks include the iconic St. Charles bridge, which dates back to the 1300s, crossing the Vltava River, the palace, the monastery and the incredible library it houses, the Clementinum, and the National Library, and the list goes on and on… however, with as many beautiful sites to see as there are, it was completely manageable for a short stay. The highlight for me (being a world history nerd), and something that I was oblivious to, was the period of Communism and the revolution in 1989. There is a museum dedicated to that part of Prague’s history that is fascinating, including footage to put it all in context. Lastly, if you are curious about WWII History, go check out Cyril Church and learn about the heroes of Operation Anthropoid and get an undeniable glimpse of war conditions in that era.
If you’re a foodie looking for excellent food at an extremely reasonable price, Prague is for you. I am a vegan, so with the support of my “Happy Cow” app, I was even able to feast on a Goulash and other traditional delicacies with the vegan twist… all which took me to off-the-beaten-path neighbourhoods that I would have otherwise missed. The city’s diverse cuisine is featured from one delicious meal to another. In addition to the restaurants and little markets in the squares that offer roasted pigs cooked on the spits right there, be sure to make room for dessert and taste trdelníks – also known as doughnut cones. They’re a traditional Czech cinnamon-flavoured pastry shaped like a spiralled cone, often coated in chocolate on the inside, with a heap of soft served ice cream. You can eat an extremely delicious 3-course dinner for under $35 per person.
Everyone in Prague speaks English, making it a destination extremely rich in history and beautiful architecture that provides a great bargain when compared to Western EU capitals. As parting words, I have to share the kitschy but so appropriate souvenir that I brought back – a set of Russian matryoshka dolls of the New England Patriots (sorry Philly fans – Eagles version did not exist) – best souvenir I’ve ever bought! Ahoj!