The design hotel Bergland in Soelden is an elegant hotspot for winter sports and a retreat in the middle of the Oetztal Alps. Hotelière and owner Elisabeth Gruener invites us to taste the house-made Lillet cockail Bergfrische and tells about James Bond, the sheep of her husband, and her source of power.
Apparently, in 1999, the takeover of the hotel, which stems from your family, was a gut decision. Why?
Because gut decisions are always the best as they come from the heart.
They involve a lot of passion, which you definitely need to manage a project like this.
Have you ever regretted it?
I have never regretted it but sometimes I was at my limits indeed, because I had imagined it easier in the beginning. However, there is nothing easy about running a 170-bed hotel.
What would you have become if you had not inherited a hotel?
No idea. This is something I have never asked myself because I do not really miss anything in that respect.
As a hotel owner, are you also a bit of “common property”? Do you find that exhausting or do you enjoy being with guests?
I would not see myself as common property. Of course, there are lines that you have to draw. Our guests are temporary friends, whom we simply want to host and pamper. We are happy if they enjoy their stay and are able to relax. We also need this balance and I do of course appreciate a day of doing nothing and of just having silence and nature around me. I actually do gain a lot of strength from my family.
Do you have a favorite place in the hotel?
Yes. The Room of Silence with the aromatic hay beds on the 5th floor.
You have two daughters – will they continue the decades of family tradition and take over the hotel, or will they move in a different direction?
We will see. Currently there is a tendency to work in the hotel. Both have finished or are attending tourism trainings but right now it is still too early for them. At age 18 and 16 you may or should explore the world and a bit later we will see where their way ends. It will certainly also play a crucial role, which partners they will choose.
Are there any people in your hotel who you consider “family”? Can you delegate things?
Our employees, who have been with us since the very beginning, have contributed significantly to the success of the company and are the supporting core of the Bergland family. We can always rely on them and the other way round. Especially Kathrin Glanzer, our hotel manager, who is mainly responsible for the employees, is not only a friend but also a family member.
Your husband does not come from the hotel industry – where did the two of you meet?
At a wedding of mutual friends.
The topic of the sheep is visible throughout the entire house – why?
My husband has a farm and is an enthusiastic sheep farmer. His large flock of Oetztal mountain sheep grazes on the hill above the hotel. The interior of our hotel reflects the alpine lifestyle, the mountains and nature. The wool we use for our decoration comes from our own flock and shows our connection to the nature around us.
What is “The Black Sheep”?
Every family needs a black sheep, that’s like the spice in the soup, otherwise it would just be boring. In our case it is also the name of our hotel restaurant.
Can you enjoy a drink or dinner in your own home?
Of course. Dear guests and attentive employees provide the relaxed atmosphere.
Where is the culinary focus of your house?
Local and light cuisine, refined and prepared with love. Also, as already mentioned, my husband Sigi is a sheep breeder and an expert on tasty lamb. In this respect, both in our à la carte restaurant wine & dine and in the hotel restaurant Das Schwarze Schaf (The Black Sheep), samples of the Soelden lamb are regularly served.
You are the first Design Hotel in the Oetztal and were allowed to host part of the film crew including the leading actor Daniel Craig for the filming of the James Bond Film Spectre in 2015. How does it feel to have such guests?
Exciting and TOP SECRET. Daniel Craig and his wife Rachel Weisz stayed in the Gipfelsuite. They were very friendly and not complicated at all. It was a great honor for us, because you can only host a James Bond once in your life … or maybe not. Due to 007 Elements (the James Bond exhibition, which is opening in summer) he might return. We will see. If that is the case, of course, he will be again on a secret mission, but afterwards we will definitely be able to report details.
Also female crew members like the Bond girl Léa Sedoux were your guests. What do women like about your hotel?
All crew members were extremely polite and nice and loved our exclusive spa area. Daniel Craig visited it frequently, especially the fitness area, which of course was shielded towards the public. Lea Sedoux was pampered by our spa team, she especially liked the body treatments and signature massages.
How did you come up with the idea for the Lillet signature drink Bergfrische?
As we are always looking for something new and yet traditional, we came up with this cocktail. It is suitable for the mountains and easy to prepare. And of course the most important thing: it tastes really good! The fresh welcome drink should help you calm down and already convey a holiday feeling.
Where do you get the power to start the new season with full energy?
We do enjoy vacations as well, either in our beautiful country Austria or once in a while also abroad. For me vacation means a nice hotel, exercising outdoors, nice people, good food and drinks. That’s exactly what we want to provide for our guests as well.
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A Cooperation with Lifestylehotels and Lillet.