When you go to a restaurant, food always arrives on the table. At breakfast in your hotel your cappuccino appears at the drop of a hat and every corner of the room sparkles with cleanliness. On holiday everything seems to organise itself – however, to get to this level, there’s plenty to do in the background. Sometimes it’s hectic – at times, fun. Julia and Michael Walchhofer from the Alpenhof Hotel in Filzmoos take us behind the scenes of their hotel.
It’s just before 6 o‘clock. The lights are switched on at the Alpenhof in Filzmoos. The owner Julia is on the early shift together with two of her staff. A number of rooms are unlocked, everything prepared in the kitchen, the dining room tables laid. At 7:30 am the first guests wander in, to find everything their hearts’ desire at the sumptuous breakfast buffet. “We have to have everything ready by then. The early bird catches the worm“, explains Julia, who splits the early and late shifts with her husband. “Basically I’m responsible for the kitchen, service, management and rooms. Michael is mostly behind reception and takes care of the post, marketing and sales plus the accounts. Of course we both need to keep an overview of the various departments and know what’s going on“, says Julia.
Know which way the wind’s blowing
Whilst the first guests are enjoying their breakfast, the chambermaids start their work throughout the whole hotel. Around 8 o’clock Michael arrives. His first job is a technical one. “First thing in the morning I always check whether everything is working properly throughout the hotel. There’s always something broken. Once our technical cog is running smoothly, I can then get on with the day’s post“, explains Michael. His own life has been entwined with the hotel ever since he can remember. “The most important thing is simply contact with the guests. That’s why there’s always a family member on hand. It doesn’t matter what enquiries we receive – we always reply as a family-run business on a personal and individual level. That’s exactly what makes a holiday a very special experience. Of course nature and the scenic surroundings are an experience for themselves. That’s why we have so many regular guests, who know each other and have become friends. It’s really lovely to welcome so many guests as members of the family“, adds Michael, whilst he sits at the reception desk and attends to his letters and emails. In the meantime Julia is in the kitchen putting together the menu with the chef and organising the shopping. Coming into contact with the service staff you soon notice that the owners of the Alpenhof Hotel in Filzmoos are on personal and friendly terms with their staff. “A good team is the be all and end all in the hotel business. Enthusiastic staff are very important – our guests are appreciative and give us positive feedback. That’s why it’s very important to us, that our staff are happy. Only then are they able to and want to work well“, explains Julia, who’s at this moment looking at the photo album of the past year with Melanie, a member of staff. “Such things are also important. Our guests just love it when we not only celebrate our time together but record the memories in an album. Our guests feel honoured and a part of the Walchhofer Family“, says Julia.
Rising to a challenge
Over lunchtime each of the owners has a two-hour break. “That’s easy these days as our children, Markus, Thomas and Anna help out in the hotel too. So one of the family is also present during the lunch buffet. At around 3 pm the majority of guests return from hiking or skiing – then there’s a cake buffet, which is very popular. Afterwards guests can enjoy the in-house sauna and spa area, and then they reappear refreshed at 6 pm for the evening meal“, adds Julia. “Our many years experience in the the hotel industry have made us very flexible. Firstly with regard to the needs of our guests – secondly with regard to the working hours of our staff. As a whole our concept functions very well. Of course now and again there are turbulent times and friction within the team – but that’s the case in other companies too. It’s just important to rise to the challenge, always keeping an eye out for growth and improvement and of course being on the ball when it comes to trends and developments in the gastro-scene “. And when does the day end for hotel owners? “It varies. I generally finish around 10 pm, Michael around two hours later. So it’s easily gone midnight before we get to bed. It depends on our guests’ programme. We offer, for example wine tasting, schnaps distilling, Kaiserschmarrn evenings, torchlight walks, barbecue evenings and hiking get-togethers. If we get chance to sit down with our guests in the evening and create a feeling of togetherness, then we don’t mind if we finish a bit later“, adds Julia. Then when there’s time in the afternoon, Michael turns his attention to sales and marketing. A project that’s very dear to him is the Filzmooser-Almcard. “Guests staying in member properties can savour special culinary delights and a taste of alpine and farming life in Filzmoos“, explains Michael.
Photo credits: Landhotel Alpenhof in Filzmoos, Coen Weesjes