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Getting to the essence of luxury

Interview with Stephanie Rist, Hotel Director at Hotel Post Bezau by Susanne Kaufmann

European Business: Ms. Rist, “Post” is a rather traditional name for a smaller, modest establishment. But the hotel actually ranks among the luxury class. How come?

Stephanie Rist: The hotel was established around 1850 by the Kaufmann family and there was a time when messengers stopped for a break. In the course of the years the hotel turned from a guesthouse into a spa hotel. This development was boosted when Susanne Kaufmann representing the 5th generation took over 25 years ago. In June 2019 we re-opened the hotel and introduced a new approach. We want to leave the classic wellness segment behind and put a strong focus on the health-aware guest looking for specific retreats that are connected to the fantastic landscape we are located in.

European Business: So “less is more” seems to be the chosen path. In what way does this decision have an effect on the guest’s stay? 

Stephanie Rist: Many of our guests take more time to stay with us. On the average they spend seven nights with us, whilst it was two in the past. Many of them are looking for a retreat from digitalization and perfectionism. They appreciate luxury, but in a reduced manner. To give some examples: We cut down on the menu of our restaurant. Instead of having five different several-course-meals, we offer of á la carte options. Our rooms are very clean and functional, there is not much for you to get distracted.

European Business: How could a week at your hotel look like?

Stephanie Rist: For people that are overwhelmed by the options, we offer complete packages compiled by our staff. They enjoy spa treatments, healthy food and the unique atmosphere of the Bregenzerwald. Those more proactive can create their own individual package. The latter might include yoga, skin lab and workshops on food to their liking. It’s important for us to be a place, where you can find inspiration to change your everyday life.

European Business: One major trend in the hospitality business is sustainability. How do you deal with it?

Stephanie Rist: Sustainability is not a new concept to us but has always been part of our DNA. It’s a constant challenge for us to improve the way we work in the hotel. We had a look at our cleaning supplies and noticed with horror how negative their ingredients are for the environment. Finally, we set up or own cleaning agent and laundry detergent that met our expectations. Then we analysed the food we use in our restaurant and decided to restrict the delivery of the majority of ingredients to a range of 100 km around the hotel. We cook according to the season, not everything has to be available all year round. I strongly believe thinking only about profit won’t be enough to run a successful business in the future.

European Business: To run a successful business you need motivated employees. How does your company culture look like?

Stephanie Rist: Our approach to management is very agile. Our employees are encouraged to make use of their experience. Why would I meddle with the chef? He is the expert in cooking, not me.  Every employee is a unique character and that’s how we treat them. There’s no need to change a single one of them.

European Business: What’s your personal drive working at the Hotel Post?

Stephanie Rist: I’ve been in business for twelve years. I’m glad that Ms. Kaufmann entrusted me with this role as director. That’s a great opportunity for me to develop in my profession, but also to continue the story of the hotel as a whole.