An absolute favourite place of ours is a – for us – new discovery: The Seehotel Ambach in Kaltern near Bolzano in South Tyrol. We have seldom seen how operators can transfer a hotel in the original tradition into the modern age and still manage to retain their regular clientele and still attract a new, hip clientele. Here you can read our impressions and see some photos.
We were so enthusiastic that we asked the owner Klaus Maran a few questions via email, which he answered. Read our interview here:
How did it come at all to take over this “old” house?
In 1973 my aunt Anna Ambach opened her Seehotel on the northeast shore of Lake Kaltern. It was planned by the doyen of South Tyrolean modernism, Othmar Barth (1927-2010).
He was something like the personal architect of our family, moreover, a friend of the house. Shortly before, he had planned my parents’ bathing and restaurant business “Gretl am See”.
This architectural family jewel was bequeathed to me by my aunt in 2014, since then I have been running it together with my wife Manuela.
When was the moment when you realized that the hotel is not obsolete, but on the contrary a style icon?
Always! I grew up with the architecture of Othmar Barth (new building Gretl am See, adaptations Gretl am See, private house).
Initially, the Seehotel was ridiculed as a stranded ship and the unique architecture was not appreciated at all. The Seehotel Ambach was in a “Sleeping Beauty sleep” for decades and was mainly known only to regular guests and lovers of architecture, who recognized the total work of art in it. For 40 years my aunt hardly changed anything, which later turned out to be a stroke of luck.
Since 2014 we have been running the hotel and have used the last few years to carefully renovate it and adapt it to contemporary standards – with the intention of preserving the original character of the house.
You can see in the hotel that there are old, regular guests as well as young, stylish guests. How do you manage the balancing act between these two fundamentally different target groups?
The older generation are regular guests who have remained loyal to the hotel and have already recognised and appreciated the special features (architecture and nature) in their younger years.
In recent years, we have also been able to draw the attention of a younger, stylish audience to our house, mainly through the internet, hotel portals and collections, social media.
The possibility of various activities appeals to guests of different age groups. The generous space available inside and outside allows each guest to find their own area.
For the older generation the style of the 70s is nostalgia, for the younger generation it is hip.
Thanks to Klaus Maran for his answers.