European Business: Ms. Bambach, you were the driving force behind the idea of the Il Paradis members’ club. What was your inspiration?
Meike Bambach: To be successful as a small hotel – the Hotel Paradies has just 23 rooms and suites – you have to pay careful attention to new developments in tourism and the hotel market. Booking trends and structures, and even the way people prefer to spend their holidays have all changed in a very short space of time. In the past, it was common to take four weeks summer holiday; today, short vacations are more popular. Cheap flights and increasing weather uncertainty in this region add to the challenges and, as a small tourist hotel, you have to be flexible and consider how to attract guests with something different and special. Il Paradis, introduced a year ago, is our response to the changing market.
European Business: What exactly does this involve?
Meike Bambach: Access to the hotel is only available with membership, a little like a golf or tennis club in the UK. Guests join the club for three years, which guarantees them the opportunity to spend at least one week a year at the Hotel Paradies. Membership is limited to 200 people; this exclusivity creates a special ambiance where one feels among friends.
European Business: What facilities and services do you offer your guests?
Meike Bambach: We have to fulfil many different demands. Our guests are looking for rest, relaxation and luxury, but this means different things to different people, according to their interests, age, and even nationality. In practical terms, we offer a range of accommodation from double rooms to large suites. Guests can select from a wide portfolio of activities including cross-country and downhill skiing, walking, and carriage rides into the valley. In respect of hospitality, they can sit back and be served from a wide range of regional culinary treats, and guests can even make their own cappuccino or gin and tonic if they prefer. We offer a very intimate and trustful atmosphere, which has little in common with a normal hotel. Everything is tailored to our guests’ individual requirements. It is a niche; we provide discerning guests with their own perfect holiday experience.
European Business: How would you describe a typical Il Paradis club member?
Meike Bambach: Our members are generally very independent individuals who value art and culture, and are prepared to invest in their holidays. Although a large number are aged over 40, we also have many younger members too, which creates a very cosmopolitan environment. They feel very comfortable here, part of a club, which I believe creates a sense of ‘coming home’. We offer them a retreat that is good for the soul, where they feel safe and know what to expect. This connects them emotionally to the hotel, which is important for us if we are to retain members on a long-term basis.
European Business: What plans do you have for Il Paradis and the Hotel Paradies?
Meike Bambach: It is very much a work in progress. Our goal is to secure 200 members while retaining the all-important exclusive atmosphere. Our guests tell us that we offer a unique concept with a real future, in a very special location. Such concepts are important for the future of the hotel sector. For me personally, it is a privilege to work in such an inspiring and emotionally moving environment.