Schloss Fuschl: an old love story

On a recent trip to Vienna I was able to take this photo of Schloss Fuschl as I remembered it.

My DW and I stayed once in the mid eighties in suite 101 (the Sissi Suite) which has a magnificent view over Lake Fuschl that is located 20 km east of Salzburg in Austria.
Actually that stay was due to a misunderstanding with my travel agent (no, not the lady from LA) who I had asked to make a reservation for a room in the much more moderately priced Jagdhof which then was (as it is nowadays) located at the entrance to the actual Schloss. Both the (Jagd) Schloss Fuschl and the Jagdhof Fuschl (Jagd stands for Hunting) were still operated more privately (or by a small company) in those days. However, I don’t regret the decision to stay in the Schloss rather than in the Hof that my wife knew from a previous visit.

The Schloss is said being built in the 15th century as a hunting lodge for the Bishop of Salzburg. In 1833 ownership passed from the cleric to the Austrian imperial dynasty. Eventually it became a ruin and had many owners until 1950/51 when the building was turned into a hotel. In 1954 Harriet, Countess of Walderberg, who, in 1939, had bought another hotel, the Golderner Hirsch (Golden Deer) in Salzburg, that she had turned into fame, bought the property. From 1957 to 1958, Schloss Fuschl became famous as the set of the legendary Sissi-films with Romy Schneider and Karl-Heinz Boehm. Even nowadays, hotel guests can stay in the suite where Romy Schneider was in those days (yes suite 101).

In 1958, salt baron Carl Adolf Vogel, who later also would buy Goldener Hirsch, bought the estate from Henriette and, together with his wife Winnie Markus, turned it further into a luxury hotel. Around 1967, he built rooms in the actual Jagdhof which housed the hunt and pipe museum well worth seeing, which burnt down in 1993.

In 1976, an auction took place, which ended with the new proprietor being the Max Grundig Foundation with seat in Nuerenberg-Fuerh, Germany. On 20th of May 1981, Schloss Fuschl was classified as a historical monument. In 1998,  Rafael Hotels & Resorts took over Schloss Fuschl.

On the 1st of January 2001, the Hotel Schloss Fuschl Betriebe were passed on from the ownership of the Max Grundig Foundation to the Hotel Schloss Fuschl Ges.m.b.H. The Hotel Schloss Fuschl is led as a “The Luxury Collection” hotel in conjunction with the Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide by way of franchise by the Arabella Sheraton Hotel Management GmbH.

Schloss Fuschl Airview

When I turned into the drive way I noticed that it had expanded dramatically since our last visit 20 years ago. Then from this photo only the tower and a minor addition and a spa building were in existence.

I am not sure I will stay there again, as it does not seem have the same style it had back in the eighties, as it is now operated by the Starwood conglomerate…but mainly because I wouldn’t want to spoil a good memory of that erroneous glorious stay in a bit run down hotel, full of antique, beautiful paintings and a magnificent view….and memories are what hotels are for…n’est pas?

Sources fro the historic part are: J.P. Moser Hotelguide and the book “Goldener Hirsch, Salzburg” of Andreas Augustin of Famous Hotels.

Lars Stroschen: The Artist who became a Hotelier

Recently, I stayed a couple of days in Propeller Island City Lodge in Berlin with a group of about 20 baby boomers.

It was a lot of fun having some members of the group remembering their backpacking and youth hostel days (waaay back!) as the down to earth design of the rooms forced some of us on their old knees to properly enter the bed which was sunken in the floor.

In a separate post I will address some of its features, but now first some attention for Lars, who is the originator and owner of the hotel and with whom I shook hands the day we departed. I asked him whether he liked it to be an hotelier: His answer was:”No, but I liked the making of it, and I have a very nice crew of 5 who attend our guests”.

I had the impression already as he roamed around as if being the ghost host of the hotel during breakfast hours. But indeed his crew is excellent and very friendly and they make the visit worthwhile!

Lars himself explained it as follows somewhere on his site:

Ever since childhood I have always enjoyed doing things that had something to do with sound and images. I had music lessons, started to draw, built my own furniture and took photos like mad. I could never settle for one particular discipline because I loved them all. Because technical innovations were also a great inspiration to me, I soon turned in the church organ for a synthesizer and later shifted from the pencil and the darkroom to computer art.

After school I studied Visual Communication at the Berlin Art College. In my spare time I worked as photographer and sound engineer. During my various travels at this time, I swapped my camera for a microphone and started to collect noises. This material formed the basis for my experimental music and sample-CD projects. My instrument collection grew to a full size, specialist electronic music studio. I then got a job as author of a radio series on electronic music. During these two years I created several compositions for demonstration purposes, several of which got released on CD.

The radio broadcasts also earned me a composition contract for a dance performance at the Berliner Schaubhne (Playhouse Theatre). I got my first recording contract with a Hamburg-based label and shortly afterwards another one in France. From this time onwards, all my projects were published under the name PROPELLER ISLAND. This pseudonym stems from a book written by Jules Verne at the end of the nineteenth century which describes an artificial island that travels with its inhabitants around the world – way ahead of its time! I chose this pseudonym mainly because it sounds good in German and English and because can refer to almost any kind of work – not just music.

Later I founded my own record label so as to be completely independent. Along with the many CDs with music and sound sculptures, I also published (as PROPELLER ISLAND) several sample CDs and CD-ROMs with unusual sound collections.

The only musical excursion without the aid of a ‘propeller’ was with the composer community TONART, which I joined along with other artists in order to publish avant-garde music. We dissolved the group after the fifth CD.

To fund my music projects and my studio, I turned two rooms in my flat into guest’s rooms. Because normal rooms it would have been far too boring, the first rooms of CITY LODGE were created.

The rooms quickly became very popular via the press, especially in England, and soon the letting out became so much work that I had almost no time left for my studio projects. I decided to enlarge the guest room business, thinking that I would be able to hire staff and therefore have more time for my studio. How naive! ….

An old pension hotel in the same building seemed perfect for the expansion. I was lucky, the lease had just run out and it was up for sale. It took over five years to complete PROPELLER ISLAND. During that time I designed hundreds of interior elements, objects, and pictures and drew up new concepts. As a ‘non-hotelier’, I had to learn to think about safety regulations for guests and also convince authorities of the practicality of my fantasy interiors.
It was a long hard road that makes me even more proud of my giant work of art, since so many doubted that I would ever manage to make it work. It is attracting art lovers from all over the worlds- even ‘proper’ architects and ‘proper’ hoteliers! :-))

The only problem is that I still haven’t managed to make enough time for the music – and that is what I wanted to achieve in the first place, didn’t I? … Oh well, c’est la vie!

Lars Stroschen, Summer 2004

Renovation of Wilhelmina Hotel and Beach Hotel Duinheuvel in Domburg almost ready

By coincidence we stayed at the Wilhelmina Hotel in Domburg, province of Zeeland, on May 5, 2005, which is Dutch Liberation Day. It was celebrated as a holiday (once every 5 years it is a holiday, as it is already some time ago that we were liberated….ever heard of the stingy Dutch?). Consequently the adjacent Beach Hotel Duinheuvel where family of us stayed, was entirely booked, but there was a room available in Wilhelmina Hotel. However, it was possible to have a sumptuous breakfast together in the Gallery of Beach Hotel Duinheuvel.

Ontbijt in de Gallerie

Such breakfast is an experience as all guests are draped around a very expensive piano and all sorts of paintings look upon your fresh eggs. The artwork exposed is for sale.

We actually bought a nice bronze of a dancing lady as a present for our dancing daughter who was going to graduate from the Rotterdam Dancing Academy. (How happy a hotelier can be ;-)).

We stayed in one of the renovated Wilhelmina rooms. Very clean, wooden floors, all amenities available and a pleasant atmosphere.

One of the owners is the third generation of the family that operated Wilhelmina Hotel.

Together with his partner, the one who mainly operates the Art Gallery, he bought the Beach Hotel Duinheuvel a couple of years ago. Wilhelmina has been renovated in 2004 and now the renovation of Duinheuvel is almost ready.

I loved the location just two steps over a dune from the beach. The Coasters heading to and from Antwerp sail so close to the coast there, that you can almost touch them.

Service is friendly and very professional.

Berlin: Propeller Island City Lodge

Propeller Island City Lodge

Another quirky hotel is the Propeller Island City Lodge:

It has 45 rooms, all by different artists.

The comment to the photo here is:

A room with a slanted floor which makes grandma’s bed seem to fly. The wardrobe comes out of the wall, but the table has got to stay put! In the rustic bathroom of natural stone you will find eggplant-colored slate.

Bruge, Belgium: Maison le Dragon

Maison Le Dragon

Recently we stayed in this new exclusive private guesthouse.

Emanuel Vanhaecke, a brother of the hostess of the Small Luxury Pandhotel in Bruge is the host of Maison le Dragon. It has three suites and, with a garden in between, it is located back to back with the Pandhotel on short walkting distance of The Markt (market), the centre of this well kept medieval city with a nice array of shops and cultural sightseeing opportunities. One of the suites has its own terrace with Bear Chairs and all three suites are roomy and very well appointed by by Emanuel’s mother. Each suite has a bath and seperate shower stall.

Starting a new venture like this makes you forget some things easily. When a famous Dutch football (soccer for the Americans amongst you) player stayed with him, Emanuel realised he had forgotten a proper guestbook. He run away to fetch a guestbook. Now the photo of this famous guest together with a nice review are on the first page of his guestbook.