In 2019, the Riederalm celebrates its 30th anniversary... this is not only a reason to celebrate but also an opportunity to get information from the passionate hotelier Friedl Herbst. For our blog he has reviewed the last 30 years and asked our questions.
Dear Friedl, first of all, congratulations on the 30th anniversary of the Riederalm. When you look back on the last few years, what are you thinking about first?
I think that our hotel has changed a lot over the last 30 years, but one thing has remained the same all along, namely our passion for tourism and that we are hosts with heart. And I think of the many ideas that we've realised, which have allowed us to stand right here in 30 years. Among all these ideas, four investments were particularly ground-breaking, namely the children's traffic education park (which has attracted children since 1998), the Almgartl (our heated guest garden, which was extremely popular from 2000 to 2014), the indoor water slide (which my sons insisted on, which has led to some discussions, but since then has been very popular among the young and young at heart) and the construction of the thermal pool in 2017. And of course, in the last 30 years, there's been many, many more things that we like to think about a lot.
The Riederalm has developed over the years from an Après Ski Bar to a first-class 4* hotel, many guests are loyal regular customers for years despite the growth. Why do you think you are so successful?
We had a lot of luck and the right ideas at the right time. The world is always changing and external circumstances often demand change - fortunately we have very, very often bet on the right horse. In the beginning apres skiing and music events were hugely successful, but when the euphoria subsided, we became a family restaurant and specialised in the a la carte business. The great success for a family restaurant was the children's traffic education park. When the valley station of the Asitzbahn mountain lift was reconstructed, my wife and I decided to build a hotel, also at the urging of our sons. Since the opening of the hotel, since 2007 to be precise, we have constantly created innovations and according to the feedback of our guests, also invested in the right things. Consistent, as 30 years ago, is our honest hospitality, which also rewards us with our many loyal regular customers.
In the Riederalm, the whole family is involved. How do you or you all manage the balancing act between private and professional life?
I have a very understanding wife, who also has to be patient with me sometimes, but we all get along very well, even if there are discussions sometimes. It is important that the family is involved in the decision making process, and that each family member has the same voting right. Family time is particularly valuable, as is the daily lunch, family outings, and short breaks. In order to clear my head, I like mountain biking in summer and I go on various ski tours in winter.
What do you enjoy most about your work as a hotelier?
It is very nice when our guests and friends are enthusiastic about our new ideas and novelties. I'm a visionary, and out of a lot of imagination I had the best ideas. I am particularly pleased with the personal contact with the guests every day and also our weekly hotel hike to Birnbachloch. I also like to integrate my old DJ hobby into my everyday hotel life.
And what are the biggest challenges?
In retrospect, the change from the a la carte restaurant or from the ski hut to the hotel was the biggest challenge and an enormous learning process. There are smaller and bigger challenges in daily business almost every day. It's difficult, when the technology lets us down — usually on weekends and when the hotel is full — we have to improvise, but that's one of our strengths as well.
Is there an experience from the last 30 years that you particularly like to remember?
There are a lot of things. We often say that we could actually write a book about with all our experiences.. At the beginning there were great live music evenings with plenty of party people in the Riederalm. The construction of the children's traffic education park and the construction of the Almgartl was also wonderful, since all guests were so enthusiastic and we were able to acquire many regular guests. But I was particularly proud of our Birnhorn addition in 2015, because we had already had such a success during the first season and our ideas became reality.
Finally, a look into the future: Will you tell us if you are already working on new ideas for the Riederalm?
We are always good for surprises and we are not running out of ideas. Just let yourself be surprised.
Thank you very much, dear Friedl, for your time and honesty. Even if you leave room for speculation by answering the last question, we are convinced that all your future ideas and plans will continue to inspire all guests.
And now in a nutshell - our 'Word-Rap' with resort manager Friedl Herbst:
Always be up for surprises.
For me, work and family mean:
Family simply means everything to me, especially important is that we work so well together as a team. My profession is my passion - I am a host with heart and soul.
This makes us so successful:
The creativeness of the whole family and the fact that we all pull together on a string.
When I treat myself to a holiday, it is important:
Comfort with good cuisine and personal ambience.
My favourite holiday destination is:
My favourite food is:
Fish and pasta
My favourite place in Leogang:
The Birnbachloch - a place of power.
The Riederalm in a nutshell:
Paying attention to the details, personal, enjoyable!