Falkensteiner hotel Montafon you decided to build 1,000 meters above sea level on a relatively steep slope. I can imagine that the construction was not easy or cheap. Did you encounter any difficulties during the construction?
We have built several hotels in the mountain environment in the past, so we already had the necessary experience. Moreover, a thousand meters above sea level is nothing unmanageable with today’s construction possibilities, even for a hotel of this type. The price was more demanding. The prices of building materials have often increased by leaps and bounds during the last eighteen months. Inflation is felt in almost all sectors, so the resulting construction price was 20 percent higher than we originally planned.
What made you build this right here?
For us, the Falkensteiner hotels are something like a journey, and along the way we always considered the western part of Austria, where we wanted to leave your mark. We wanted a place that was close to Switzerland but also to Stuttgart, Germany. The more than thirty kilometer long Montafon valley is very popular in the area. Tourists seek it out for its slopes and ski mountaineering.
When our investors came to us saying that they saw an opportunity right here, overall it suited us. The owner of the property is the powerful energy company Illwerke Vkw, from which we rent the hotel. In such an operation, it is important to have a strong partner who is able to cover part of the costs.
How big an investment are we actually talking about?
I can’t tell you exactly, but to give you an idea, it is in the tens of millions of euros.
How long have you been building?
Approximately two years. For the first year, we dealt with plans and building permits.
What exactly is the connection between Illwerke Vkw and Falkensteiner Montafon?
In addition to being an investor, he produces all the energy for the hotel. Years ago, they built a hydroelectric power plant here and with it the corresponding infrastructure. But after a while it stopped fulfilling its function and they decided to turn it into a ski resort. The company is very strongly anchored in the region, it takes it as its social responsibility. But at the same time, it looks at added value in the form of higher quality. They wanted a five-star hotel and were looking for a partner with experience in its operation.
Your hotel is characterized by its sustainability. Is it a trend that is already inherent to such an operation today?
Certainly. Clients demand it. Our company had such considerations more than ten years ago. But back then, awareness of climate and sustainability was not at the same level as it is today. In other words, it’s a matter of the market – when the market and clients accept it, you can do business that way. On the contrary, it is not possible.
And the construction itself?
As for the construction, it was not a problem for us. Already twenty years ago, when we started building in the Dolomites in South Tyrol, we followed the Klimahaus A standard. Today, similar standards are introduced in the entire spectrum of construction. Sustainability is an advantage for us in many ways. For example, food – we don’t have to import a lot from abroad, but we use regional resources and food. There are many advantages. We also offer benefits for our clients such as the Falkensteiner Green Rate. If clients go without room service for three days, they will receive a five percent discount on accommodation. The so-called Green Rate is used by more than thirty percent of our guests.
Did you hire local craftsmen and construction companies?
Of course. That’s the standard. It also applies to hotel employees. Today, 120 of them work here full-time.
What is the financial condition of the entire Falkensteiner Group? Did you make it through the covid period?
We got some wrinkles, but we survived. Government subsidies and support helped us and also a significant part of our income comes from the DACH markets, once the quarantines ended we had great seasons.
You now have in Looking for a new destination where you would like to open a new hotel?
Not directly, but if an interesting opportunity arose in the south of Germany, we certainly do not oppose it. We plan to expand our activities in Italy and want to focus on Croatia. We definitely want to focus on the luxury camping industry. This is currently a very popular way for families to spend their holidays. We already operate one five-star campsite and we are planning to open another one.
How is a five-star campsite different from a regular one?
Everything is at a higher level, from the social facilities to, for example, swimming pools, sports activities and, of course, gastronomy.
Why do you see more interest in luxury camping? Do people want to be closer to nature after months of isolation?
Partly. Overall, it is a trend towards sustainability and returning to our nature. Education also plays a role. Our generation grew up outdoors. Today’s children spend more time locked at home with their mobile phones constantly at hand. It’s hard to tear them away from him. However, you can spend your vacation in nature with quality facilities and services that city life offers in a different way. People are looking for an active life, and last but not least, the point is that if you live closer to nature, you also behave more socially responsible.
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