The former pithead still stands sentinel over the hotel and restaurant as a reminder of the area’s industrial heritage, while the park in which it sits incorporates many of the former mine’s buildings. However, apart from these cleverly incorporated physical reminders of the past, the area has been completely transformed.
Today, Heiner’s Hotel and Gastronomie sits amid landscaped parkland – a lasting legacy of the 1997 horticultural festival. “The Nordsternpark was created following the closure of the pit and the clean-up of the surrounding area,” says Manager Sami Nofal. “When the Bundesgartenschau was held in 1997, we operated the park cafe and bistro.”
Since then, the scale of the operation has expanded considerably. “In 2009 we rebuilt the premises to create a modern restaurant and conference venue,” says Mr. Nofal. “We also became a popular venue for weddings.” In response to growing demand, the decision was taken to add rooms where guests could spend the night.
“At first, we had a sort of mini-hotel on the first floor but it was soon clear that this was not going to be a long term solution,” describes Mr. Nofal. “So, in 2014, we built a completely new hotel on the plot where we previously had our car park.”
Heiner’s Parkhotel boasts 36 rooms and a wellness and fitness spa. Both the hotel and the restaurant have received numerous awards and prizes for the quality of the service and the warmth of the welcome. “We take pride in everything we do,” insists Mr. Nofal. “Our guests’ comfort and enjoyment are our number one priority and everything else follows on from that.”
The success of any hotel or restaurant is measured by the number of guests it welcomes each year. Heiner’s can hardly complain on that score. It is virtually fully booked throughout the year with weddings and celebrations of all kinds at the weekend and a never ending stream of seminars, conferences and business events during the week.
“Even though we have expanded significantly, we still can’t accommodate everyone who wants to stay or hold their event here,” says Mr. Nofal. “For example, we currently have the Schalke football team in residence and are completely full. When the team plays, we have lots of inquiries that we have to refer elsewhere.” That is why the hotel is set to undertake its most ambitious expansion to date.
“Next year will see the start of a significant building project that will allow us to triple capacity and meet demand,” outlines Mr. Nofal. “We will also be extending our outside dining space and adding a roof so that it can operate all year round. Essentially, we are building a second restaurant.”
Despite this major expansion, Mr. Nofal is adamant that Heiner’s will retain its unique character. “We have the charm of an independent hotel and are happy not to be part of a chain,” he says. “We want to offer our guests an intimate experience with all of the personal touches that make a stay in our hotel or meal at our restaurant memorable. That will never change, no matter how much we expand.”
When the newly extended hotel and restaurant reopens in 2021 it will have 107 rooms at its disposal. “We have worked very hard when planning the expansion to ensure that we can continue to offer the same high standards,” concludes Mr. Nofal. “It probably won’t be the last time we undergo building work. As the park around us shows, things are always changing.”