Eating, drinking, merrymaking -- oh, and networking! -- rule the day at ispo’s lounges and activity hubs

Who says trade shows are all business and no fun? That’s certainly not the case in Munich, Germany, at the ispo winter 2011 show, which sets up enclaves of themed lounges, bars and activity hubs through its sprawling network of sport-product halls. See what all the merriment -- and networking! -- is about.
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At the ispo show in Munich, Germany, the bars and lounge areas can be just as important to the culture as the show. Not only places to eat or drink, they are places to meet, network and relax, providing a true working and entertainment value. And each year the company that oversees them manages to come up with amazing themes and construction that match the feeling and style of the hall they are in. Take a look at last year’s photos in a 2010 SNEWS bar crawl to see the differences from this year's winter show. 

Gordon Seabury, CEO of Nau, which exhibited in the BrandNew area as a winner of that competition’s style award (click here to see our Feb. 14, 2011, story on that area and the fascinating array of products we found), came back from a lunch at one of the lounges and was mouth-agape at how beautiful, relaxing and brimming with yummy food choices it was. “So why can’t we do better restaurants and food at our shows?” he wanted to know.

SNEWS asks, too, “Yeah, why not?” Take a look below and start drooling now.

In the “ispovision” fashion hall, the bar took on a new dimension with classical English music in the background and seating areas made to take you visually to an English garden setting. Nope, they weren’t really hedges, but soft benches covered in green. Apparel displays were down the center and the bar was set in the back with appropriate illustrations to help get you even closer to a garden in your mind.

And beyond the make-believe hedges in the English Garden-Bar was a serene restaurant with chandeliers and white-draped seating.

Although not an official bar, even some brands try to create cozy seating and meeting areas. Ski apparel brand Dare2Be had a living room setting with what looked like a fireplace. It was really just a virtual image; the flames even danced.

In the “sportstyle” hall, you find more fashion flair, as well as more cutting-edge displays and products, so the bar-lounge too has been designed to match those themes. Angular gray lounge chairs made for restful places to kick back.

Peruse further down another hall -- still in one of the two sportstyle areas -- and the bar-restaurant is infused with more fun. The lounge chairs in pretty and bright pastels were wood beach chairs. Need a mental break? Escape by playing on the PlayStation games at the back.

More classic but a real destination-gathering place is the Scandinavian Outdoor Group’s bar. It’s hopping all the time with drinks and snacks -- gratis -- with a fashion show every evening using the top of the bar as the catwalk!

Onward to the “FreeRide Village” where the climbers and BC ski folks hang. It is renowned for the best coffee in the hall -- just walk up and ask for it, no money required -- and turns into THE gathering place with loud, thumping rock music every afternoon. No, it does not shut down when the show closes at 6 p.m., with festivities lasting for a few hours afterward.

Taking a more casual and street look, the place to hang in the board sports hall this year used a rough warehouse look with palettes for the walls, seating area and stage and rough wood at the bar.

--Therese Iknoian

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