Hotelier becomes fiction writer: A Five Star Mistery

Karin Schmollgruber

Travel Bloggers are becoming a sort of travel bloggers community of their own: They read each others Blogs, refer and comment to each other and exchange tips.

Karin Smollgruber is based in Austria. She She uses her German language Blog Fasten Your Seatbelts as a means of communicating about her PR business Passion PR AT.

On several occasions I have hinted to my interest in Vienna. Along the road I got her attention. Some time ago she tipped me that she had interviewed Daniel Edward Craig of Opus Hotel and that she started to post some posts in the English language. Since then she has written some interesting posts in English as well.

I didn’t have enough time to follow up on this tip till now. In doing so now I found out that I had not followed up correctly on my claim to keep my T-List Page as complete as possible: I had completely forgotten to put her site in.

I have corrected that now. To date the number of Blogs on my T-List is 180.

Returning to Daniel Craig:

Daniel Craig
Daniel Craig

Daniel is the General Manager of Opus Hotel in Vancouver, Canada. He writes his own Blog General Manager’s Blog together with Katrina Carroll-Foster, Director of Sales & Marketing of the Opus Hotel.

One of the reasons he is writing a Blog is that he is a writer himself and that brings me back to the tile of this post: The first thriller Daniel is in the process of writing of has the title:

Murder at the Universe
Murder At The Universe

Murder at the Universe, an imaginary hotel in New York City. According to Daniel Craig‘s writers’ site the book is will be released in June 2008.

Update: And here is my own interview with Daniel: 10 Questions for (41): Daniel Edward Craig

Last edited by GJE on December 5, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Suite with a Vault in Vienna

Coburg Loft Suite

You have suites with a view, but at the Palais Coburg Hotel Residenz in Vienna you can have a suite with a view and a safe in the vault.

Palais Coburg was built in the period 1840-45 by Duke Ferdinand Georg August of Saxe-Coburg & Gotha (1785-1851) on the Braunbastei [‘Brown Bastion’] – a part of the city defenses dating back to the 16th century. It is thanks to this “super-construction” that a large part of the Renaissance fortification, in particular the casemates, have been preserved.

The Late Neo-Classical/Early Historicist building is notable for its portico with its freestanding columns in the central section of the facade; this feature soon led to the Palais being given an affectionate nickname by the locals, the “Spargelburg” [literally, “The Asparagus Palace”].

The house of Saxe-Coburg has many strong ties to European Royalty, as for instance Queen Victoria of the UK was a niece of Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg.

During the period of occupation after World War II, Russian soldiers were quartered in the Palais. In September 1947 the exhibition “800 Years of Moscow” was shown in the Palais. After the occupying troops moved out, the first and second floors of the Palais were leased to the Austrian federal railways, which used the premises until 1997. The Palais was sold in 1978 to a property dealer by the last Coburg to own the building, Princess Sarah Aurelia, who lived in the Palais until her death in 1994. The property dealer used the Palais as a means to speculate. Through the onward sale and subsequent bankruptcy of the purchaser, the Palais ultimately came into the ownership of the Länderbank, subsequently the Zentralsparkasse (central savings bank), from whom the building was acquired by a private foundation, the POK Pühringer Privatstiftung, in 1997.

Coburg Front

The Palais Coburg has been restored by the POK Pühringer Privatstiftung, in close collaboration with the Federal office for the preservation of buildings and monuments (Bundesdenkmalamt), over the period from 2000 to 2003.

The hotel has 35 suites.

Staying at The Coburg is for the haves:

Look for instance at this promotion:

New Years eve at the Palais Coburg

Experience and tour the incomparable and authentic splendour from 16th to 19th Century Imperial Vienna and celebrate New Years’ Eve in the casemates and the Grand Ball Rooms on the ‘Bel Etage’ of the Palais Coburg.

This exquisite Gala Evening commences at 19.00 hours with a Champagne reception in the Coburg Vaults Foyer ‘Stadtbild’, followed by a classical concert in the ‘higher casemate’. Then it is time for a six course Gala Dinner prepared by Palais Coburg’s lauded Chef Christian Petz and his brigade. Each course is accompanied by specially selected wines from the Palais Coburg’s favourite Cellars, unrivalled for the extraordinary collection of rarest vintages and specialised in vintages from Bordeaux and Burgundy.

Entertainment is provided by a live band and an Austrian New Years’ tradition of ‘lead casting’. Fine cigars and digestifs are enjoyed in the adjacent Blue Salon. And finally bid farewell to the year 2006 from the terrace of the Palais Coburg with views over the legendary city park, fine champagne and a ‘little surprise’.

New Year’s Extravaganza € 10,760 for two people sharing Stay for four in a deluxe Suite, join the Gala Dinner on New Years Eve and enjoy the ‘Wiener Philharmoniker’ live in the best seats at the Musikverein on New Years’ Day. Two spa treatments of your choice are also included.

New Years’ Eve Concert Special € 5,160 for two people sharing
Stay for two nights in an elegant City Suite, join the Gala Dinner on New Years Eve and enjoy the ‘Wiener Philharmoniker’ live in the best seats at the Musikverein on New Years’ Eve. Two spa treatments of your choice and a late checkout are also included in this special arrangement.

Gala Dinner € 3,360 for two people sharing a Stay for two nights in an elegant Suite and join the Gala Dinner on New Years Eve.

All arrangements include all taxes, service and the airport transfers as well.
Dress Code: Formal (Black/White Tie)

The tickets for the New Years concert are easily two thousand Euros. Taking that into account I would say the promotion is even reasonable and very tempting, as waltzing into the New Year in Vienna is still on my wish list…

Palais Coburg is the seat of the Palais Coburg Tresor where one can hire a safe in the Vault with 24/24 access. This seams to me an ideal drop off for a character in one of Robert Ludlum future stories….

Also the Institut für strategische Kapitalmarktforschung (ISK) (Institute for Capital Market Research) has its seat at the palace. Next to research it performs asset- and portfolio management.

I have been in the entrance Hall of the Palais and bought their book about the renovation which is excellent. However the atmosphere was a bit cold, as if entering a bank rather than a hotel. For further entrance you have to pass a security guard and/or have a key card. No way to enter the restaurant or the bar: It is very private off course, but a bit uncharacteristic for a typical Relais et Chateaux member.

Relais et Chateaux

I have been on a short trip to Vienna trough Munich and Salzburg. Before anything else I would like to share this:

The planning of this trip gave me some insight in the pros and contras of planning your own trip versus using a travel agent nowadays. In the days of my frequent business traveling, long before the Internet area, we used a Los Angeles based one woman Travel Agent. Why based in Los Angeles? Because when the travel plans were made, usually after Dutch business hours, each and every Dutch travel agent was closed. She was there, reliable as always, willing to combine unusual travel requests and destinations, and, last but not least, she was one of the first woman I know of who could toggle the GDS schemes in a favorable way for us. One who could suggest a round the world ticket for an Amsterdam Los Angeles round trip as being much cheaper than a simple return ticket. Coming to think of this, I am curious how she is doing these days.

Already ten years ago, in the Internet infancy days, I once booked a satisfactory stay in one of the hotels of their collection through the Internet (then via an aptly answered e-mail exchange) as I did again during this trip to Vienna.

Relais et Chateaux

My conclusion is that they still are way ahead of the crowd. If you want to pick a hotel in a certain area you want to see where it is located. The site of Relais et Chateaux gives it all: Fast loading and to the point location of the hotel of your choice and in addition to to the point information about the hotel. Moreover they have their complete catalog on line in an easy flip through PDF format which you can also download if you want.

Finally in flipping through their portfolio, my conclusion is that they still are one of the primary sources for a real (luxury) weekend hotel.

From Sacher to Andreas Augustin of Famous Hotels

Frequently Vienna is our travel destination: Be it to visit family or to show Dutch friends around this charming city. Hence my more than average attention for Vienna and now some attention for Andreas Augustin who was born in Vienna in 1956 and recently paid some attention to one of my favourite grand old ladies of Hotellerie:

Sacher Top Terrace

I am sure you don’t recognise it: No wrong! Not Istanbul, but a view from a recently added and very modern rooftop terrace of the Sacher Hotel in Vienna.

Also I believe to know something Andreas doesn’t know: A couple of years ago it was possible to have a dining party at the Naturhistorisches Museum of which you just can see the green roof dome over the green roof of the Opera. Part of the dining party was a very romantic guided tour over the roof of the museum at which you then couldn’t see yet the Sacher Roof, because it wasn’t built yet. There were rumours in Vienna that the new floor Sacher added was a bit (to?) high…

Now About Andreas:
Andreas Augustin
‘I would like to leave this world
a comprehensive and reliable library
of the history of hospitality.’

He studied hotel management at the Hotel Management College at the Castle of Klesheim, Salzburg. Instead of pursuing a hotel career, he followed his life-long desire to write. He became a journalist and at 25 became the editor of his own publication, a Salzburg city magazine.

The following years as magazine reporter, newspaper columnist, radio host and international correspondent led to extensive journeys to the Orient and Far East. In 1986 he took up residence for three years at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore to study and to write about the region and the hotels of South East Asia. It was there that he developed the series of books “The Most Famous Hotels in the World”, possessed by the idea to set new standards in the field of historic research and hotel publications.

With a wonderful team of writers, historians, researchers and photographers he is building the library of hospitality. The Most Famous Hotels in the World – today with almost 400 select member hotels – has built a major value driver and creator, recognized as the leading archives of historic hotels, thus representing a major source of information to build the future of hospitality.

As President of the associated Club of The Friends of The Most Famous Hotels in the World Andreas Augustin also takes care of its members from all over the world.

His company’s website Famous Hotels will be relaunched on 28th November 2006. In the past I visited it already some times and found there a lot of useful information about the world’s most famous hotels.