Located in the Flemish province of West Flanders, Ostend (Oostende) is a lively seaside destination that uniquely combines beach, business and more. Best known for its rich maritime history, Ostend was once a haven for many influential artists such as James Ensor and Marvin Gaye, and recently, it has emerged as a modern, dynamic city with a full calendar of events from fairs and markets to concerts and festivals. Needless to say teambuilding activities are plentiful in the wonderful beach setting.
Ostend is also serious about business. The compact, walkable city also boasts a wide range of well-equipped hotels and meeting facilities with panoramic views of the North Sea. Most notably, Kursaal Oostende is one of the five biggest congress venues in Belgium that can host up to 4,000 guests.
As Belgium’s only conference city by the sea, Ostend is easily accessible by car, train and plane. But beyond its offering of interesting attractions and events, Ostend also prides itself on being actively involved in renewable energy projects.
At first glance, it’s not hard to see why Ostend has remained Belgium’s most famous and popular seaside resort city all these years. Its combination of natural beauty, intriguing history, rich maritime culture, vibrant nightlife, and world-class cuisine (who can resist local specialties like oysters, sole, shrimp croquettes and tomatoes filled with shrimps?) has kept visitors coming back for more every year. There is so much to do and see, from shopping, sightseeing, and museum-hopping to windsurfing, sunbathing, and spa-lounging, to name just a few.
Just 15 minutes away from Bruges and one hour from Brussels by train, the port city of Ostend is located at the midway point of the Belgian coast with a population of about 70,000. Renowned as “the Queen of Beaches” or “The City by the Sea”, Ostend was once a small Flemish fishing town where the Belgian kings, Leopold I and Leopold II, spent their summers near the warm waters. Ostend was also home to many world famous artists such as James Ensor, a Belgian avant-garde artist from the late 19th century, whose works can be found in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, and the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne. In the early 1980s, famous American soul singer Marvin Gaye also spent a fruitful two years in Ostend searching for peace and inspiration as he overcame his demons and addictions.
With its long stretch of sandy beaches, lovely esplanade, museums, beautiful churches and a bustling city center packed with shops, bars and restaurants, (and a casino to boot!) Ostend is a vibrant, historically charming city with a lot going on:many cultural events and recreational activities take place all year round, like Oostende at Anchor, Magic Lights in the Park, and Theatre by the Sea. For meeting delegates, Ostend stands out for its compact size with almost all hotels and venues within easy walking distance, and also for its wide range of excellent hotels and meeting venues, most of which are just a stone’s throw away from sandy beaches with rooms offering stunning sea views. What better way to unwind after a hard day working at the congress than taking a stroll down the promenade and soaking up the ocean breeze with a sweet scent of salt in the air?
In recent years, Ostend has also gained considerable recognition as a sustainable city for cultivating renewable energy sources using offshore winds, waves, tides, and biomass. Various organizations in charge of the implementation as well as the research and development of these projects include Greenbridge, a science park project in collaboration with Ghent University; The Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ), a platform for marine and coastal scientific research in Flanders; and The Energy Port of Oostende, the home base for on-and-offshore renewable energy installations and enterprises.
With its excellent infrastructure as well as welcoming hospitality and progressive attitude from the English-speaking locals, Ostend provides a healthy, congenial and user-friendly setting for organizing all kinds of conferences and events as well as teambuilding activities. Last but not least, you can always count on thehighly dedicated and experienced MICE team from the Oostende Convention Bureau for all the help and advice you might need to plan a successful event.
With its rich history, superb location and unparalleled meeting facilities, the Kursaal Oostende is without a doubt one of the biggest and best-equipped conference venues in Belgium, as well as one of Ostend’s defining landmarks. For more than a century, the venue assumes an imposing presence on the Albert I Promenade, hosting all kinds of events from theatrical performances and banquets to premières and conferences. Renovated just three years ago, the modernist-style building is stylishly decorated with art pieces by the likes of Georges Grard, Van Vlasselaar and Paul Delvaux.
Located just a short walk from the city center, the premier venue features one auditorium (2,200 seats), four multifunctional halls, a meeting center with six fully equipped halls, a majestic spacious lobby with a cloakroom for 3,000 guests, two restaurants and a lounge bar (ideal for seminars, receptions, and standing buffets). Most rooms and halls offer exceptional views of the North Sea thanks to its waterfront location.
Ostend Sea P’lace
Strategically located between the beach, the Wellington racetrack and the 9-hole golf course, this venue offers three newly renovated and flexible spaces in Belle Epoque style with a modern touch. Nestled between the walls of the hippodrome with clear views of the race track and the golf course, the venue features sunlight-filled spaces ideal for events like conferences, seminars, product launches and sit-down dinner. Holding residential events is also made easy with three major hotels within walking distance.
HIP is the venue’s largest meeting hall with a spacious terrace, providing a total area of more than 3,400 sqm. There is also a mezzanine in the main hall with a total area of 445 sqm overlooking the sea, ideal for a reception or a coffee break. The high ceilings and natural daylight gives the space a bright airy feel, perfect for medium exhibitions as well as corporate functions and conferences with a capacity of 2,750 guests.
Located just next to HIP, Bagatelle is a smaller space with a total of 440 sqm featuring a sunny terrace and an unobstructed view of the race track and golf course. It can accommodate up to 400 guests. Under the roof of the hippodrome is the VIP, another meeting space offering a panoramic view of the race track, good for an intimate dinner or reception.
CC De Grote Post
The Cultural Center ‘De Grote Post’ is a former public post office building converted into a multi-purpose arts center in 2012. The modernist-style building boasts avant-garde spaces perfect for music, dance theatrical performances and events seeking a more edgy feel.
The De Grote Post hall, which seats 431 guests, features distinctive triangular acoustic panels accented by neon tubes with two other meeting halls while the Kleine Post hall is equipped with a retractable seating system with 183 seats. The multifunctional Party hall, which offers a wonderful view of Ostend and Leopoldpark, can be used for seminars and corporate events with up to 299 guests. The building also features various reception halls and foyers.
The European Space Weather Week 12 (ESWW12)
More than 400 scientists, engineers and academics from America, Australia, Africa and Europe gathered to study the different aspects and discuss the latest in space weather technology at the 12th edition of the Annual European Space Weather, held at the Kursaal Oostende on 23-27 November 2015.
The European Space Weather Week (ESWW) is an internationally recognized conference participated by scientists, engineers, application developers, service providers and service end-users. Widely known for its high standards in the quality of science education, the annual meeting is organized in collaboration with ESA (European Space Agency), the Royal Observatory of Belgium, the STCE (Solar Terrestrial Centre of Excellence) and the Space Weather Working Team.
The successful bid to bring ESWW12 to Ostend was put forward by Professor Ronald Van der Linden, General Manager of the Royal Observatory of Belgium with the support of Oostende Convention Bureau and Kursaal Oostende. It was the first time that Ostend was chosen to host the event.
The Kursaal Oostende was selected as the host venue because of its spectacular architecture, appropriate size, central location, efficiency of staff and the fact that it is located at the coast.
During the conference, a program of plenary lectures, workshops and network sessions took place throughout the venue, which allowed the delegates to explore the latest research developments on many topics, such as the impact of solar flares and solar storms on the weather and technology here on earth.
In the end, the venue and the flexibility of the team at the Kursaal Oostende resulted in a smooth execution that left the organizers very satisfied and pleased. Meanwhile, the delegates appreciated the city of Ostend for its easy access and compact city center where everything is within walking distance.
Ostend is easily accessible by public transport with direct connections to many cities in Belgium and the rest of Europe.
Travelling to Ostend by rail is ideal as the train station is located right in the city center. The domestic train service from and to the midland offers direct connections to Kortrijk, Brussels and Antwerp. Internationally, there is also a direct train service between Ostend and Lille in France.
The Ostend-Bruges airport, officially called International Airport Ostend–Bruges, is just a few minutes by car from the city center. Currently undergoing a major expansion, the airport welcomes charter flights and private jets, as well as regular flights operated by Belgian airline Jetairfly.
At the time of writing, Jetairfly passengers can fly from Ostend to more than 15 destinations including Barcelona and Tenerife in Spain, Rome in Italy, Nice in France, Antalya and Izmir in Turkey, and Kos in Greece.
Getting to and around Ostend by car is perhaps the most convenient option to explore the city and neighboring area with an abundance of parking space throughout the city. It takes about 1.5 hour by car from the Brussels Airport, and one hour from Calais in France for guests coming via the Chunnel from Britain. The city is also on many coach routes.
Once in Ostend, a bicycle or rented car is the simplest way to get around. If you have more time, go for a relaxing tram ride along the Belgian coast. Delegates can easily explore the sights and attractions further afield thanks to the scenic tram route that covers more than 70 stops.
Treat yourself to a glorious piece of maritime history in Ostend’s marina in this former school ship of the Belgian merchant fleet. The authentic interior of this magnificent three-master was perfectly preserved, a perfect setting for a stand-up dinner on the deck (up to 200 guests) or a sit-down dinner on the lower deck (up to 70 guests).
Designed by the Antarctic explorer Adrien de Gerlache (1866–1934) as a training ship for the Belgian merchant fleet, Mercator was named after Gerardus Mercator (1512–1594), a Flemish cartographer, and built in Leith, Scotland and launched in 1932.
Besides being a training ship, she was also used, mainly before World War II, for scientific observations, or as ambassador for Belgium on world fairs and in sailing events. This ship went through an incredible history.
In 1961, the ship became a floating maritime museum, first in Antwerp, and finally from 1964 in Ostend. Anchored in the marina of Oostende, the ship is also available for hire for exclusive events.
Surround yourself in the regal ambience of an 18th century French fortress built originally for Napoleon. Now a historical monument, Fort Napoleon was erected to withdraw any attack from England at the port of Ostend in 1811. Used by the German army during both World Wars as an artillery quarter, it is now a museum that was beautifully renovated by the Flemish Patrimony Foundation in 1995 featuring a meeting room (80 guests), a small boardroom (15 guests) as well as a bistro and restaurant that can accommodate up to 320 (seated) and 600 (standing) guests in a memorable historic setting.
Located on the site of Wellington golf course, The Pigeon is a former golf pavilion in the ‘Pigeon Shooting Range’ where clay pigeon shooting used to take place. Now a beautifully restored building as part of the Thermae Palace, the Pigeon provides a gorgeous setting for exclusive events with its fantastic views of the Wellington golf course, the Hippodrome and the skyline of the beach. Its top-notch facilities include a golf course clubhouse, an elegant gourmet restaurant and a meeting room for up to 50 delegates.
Classical elegance doesn’t get any better than Venetian Galleries, a stylishly furnished venue that blends old-world charm with Venetian-style architecture. In 1900, Belgian King Leopold II commissioned architect Henri Maquet to design the first royal gallery in the style of Venetian classical architecture.
Once the stage of parading monarchs and other nobility, the galleries were renovated by the city government between 1998 and 1999, and then converted into an exhibition and event space in a unique and majestic setting. Its fine-dining restaurant, Savarin, is considered one of the best in town, and its scenic terrace offers splendid sea views, perfect for banquets (80 guests) and stand-up dinner (130 guests).
Ostend boasts a fine selection of well-equipped seaside accommodation with complimentary WiFi, including four-star hotels with 347 rooms and 14 three-star hotels with 906 rooms, most of which are located right next to the sandy beaches. Don’t fancy staying in a hotel? There are plenty of accommodation options to choose from, including camping sites, accommodation centres, youth hostels, holiday homes and B&Bs.
Hotel Thermae Palace ****
Located at the seashore, the majestic and iconic Hotel Thermae Palace is by far the largest four-star hotel in Ostend. Decked out in impressive art deco style, the hotel features a brasserie, a sauna, fitness facilities, 170 parking spaces and 134 guest rooms that can accommodate up to 1,240 delegates. There are also 18 unique rooms and halls for meetings, congresses, exhibitions, receptions and parties, including four break-out rooms, two boardrooms, one meeting room with terrace and one ballroom for up to 450 guests. Most of these rooms offer wonderful sea views.
Hotel Andromeda ****
Located right next to the Kursaal Oostende in the heart of the city, this four-star hotel boasts 92 gorgeous guest rooms, half of which feature a private terrace with a sea view. Fully equipped with audio visual presentation facilities, their spacious meeting rooms also overlook the sea with a capacity of up to 200 guests. Other facilities include a spa, swimming pool, lounge bar and 40 parking lots.
Eco Hotel Bero ****
This centrally located hotel offers 70 spacious eco rooms and four multi-functional meeting rooms (each seating up to 80 people), equipped with ergonomic chairs and illuminated by natural light. Their use of LED lighting, motion sensors, an elevator with energy recuperation and an intelligent heating system based on heat pumps has established the four-star property as the most environmentally-friendly hotel in Ostend.
Guests can enjoy free access to the pool, sauna, bio sauna, steam bath, infrared heaters and fitness area. Their “Lindores Whiskey Lounge” was named best whiskey bar in Belgium in 2013.
Hotel Mercure ****
Located in the heart of Ostend, the newly renovated Hotel Mercure features a lounge bar, restaurant and meeting room. The hotel also offers 95 guest rooms, including the James Cook suite, which provides flexible space for business meetings and small events. Flooded with natural daylight, the hotel’s event space comfortably accommodates boardroom meetings and seminars with up to 20 delegates in a U-shape or presentations with up to 40 people.
Hotel Royal Astrid ***
For a three-star hotel, The Royal Astrid hotel delivers outstanding value for money with its superb location and facilities. Located just 50 meters from Ostend's beautiful sandy beach, the hotel features 172 comfortable guest rooms and 14 breakout rooms that can accommodate more than 1,000 delegates.
Though just a short walk away from the city center with bars and restaurants, the hotel has their own facilities to keep guests entertained and comfortable throughout their stay, including a bar where guests can enjoy a pre-dinner drink by the fireplace, Restaurant Mozart, which serves up hearty meals in a stylish atmosphere, and a Spa and Wellness centre of more than 500 sqm (featuring an indoor swimming pool, a hydromassage spa tub, a steam room, and more). Parking spaces (41 covered and 9 uncovered) are also available at their guests’ disposal.
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