As part of our January 2014 series on Luxury Made in Germany, CPP-LUXURY.COM has interviewed exclusively the General Manager of DAS STUE Hotel, a leading contemporary new luxury hotel in Berlin.
With international hotel chains dominating the luxury hospitality market in Germany, what was your motivation to develop an independent hotel?
I think that is exactly the point. There is a saturation of luxury hotel chains, hence an opportunity was presented in creating a unique, independently owned hotel. Our owners fell in love with the building and realized that there was no luxury boutique hotel in central Berlin.
How did you come up with the design concept?
Well, the design concept was conceived by Patricia Urquiola. She is currently considered to be one of the top interior designers in the world. We had approached her a while back with the proposal. She then came and looked at the hotel incognito and a few days later gave us the ok. She felt inspired by the building and set out to create this warm intimate feel and to follow the concept of the living room. Even our lobby is not a classic lobby for instance and most of the public areas feel like you are in someone’s living room. The warm interior is a stark contrast to the classic Berlin architecture of the 30s and always surprises our guests.
To what extent your hotel caters more to leisure versus corporate guests?
With us its around 50%/50 actually. We really manage to cater to both segments and our hotel has been fitted out for this purpose. We offer complimentary wifi and working space in each room. The tv’s are actually imacs and can be used both as a computer and a TV. We have some very exclusive meeting space as well as a swimming pool and treatment rooms. Today’s corporate guests expect the same amenities as the leisure guest. Also we have ensured a high level of culinary options, working with Paco Perez who along with our restaurant has 5 michelin stars in total. The option of both having a small quick meal or a more elaborate tasting menu satisfies both segments. Our bar is also a focus point of the hotel, where corporates can relax and enjoy great drinks and likewise leisure guests can have some fun.
Which were the biggest challenges you faced developing the hotel?
Working with local contractors was a big challenge and the strict fire regulations (we all know this from the Berlin airport which is delayed!). Patricia has some complicated designs and it was not always easy to materialize and to keep them within regulations! Also due to the building being a historical artifact also presented some challenges
What would you describe as defining features of German hospitality?
The staff may not be as warm as other cultures but are always very professional. German hotels also offer real value as the room rates are much lower compared to other European cities. German guests also have very high expectations which keep us hoteliers always on our toes.
Do you consider expanding your concept to other cities in Germany or even abroad?
No, the hotel is unique, mainly due to the fact that the building is so exceptional and the design was inspired by this.
What are in your view the biggest opportunities in luxury hospitality in Berlin?
The segment still has huge potential as room rates are still one of the lowest in Europe. However Berlin is being more and more frequented by the luxury traveler who has heard of the wonderful things the city has to offer and would like a new experience. People are fed up of being charged too much in Paris or London for instance. Our challenge one day will hopefully be to keep the prices down! Also many hotels are really focusing on the quality food and beverage offerings and are more and more partnering up with famous chefs. As more luxury travelers visit, so our services will have to be constantly improving to meet their demands and hotels will be constantly trying to make a difference with the competition, which is always great for both guests and hoteliers. Also when the new airport finally opens, it will allow more direct flights from the USA, Middle East and Asia to land, which will bring in a new wave of luxury travelers. It is always slightly off putting when one has to take a connecting flight which is the case on many current routes.
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