I love hotels! Small ones, big ones, fancy ones, or even cheap ones (as long as they’re safe and clean). But no matter where I decide to stay, the requisites are that the energy, culture and story of the hotel move me.
Pascal Bandi, the front office Manager of Hotel Schweizerhof in Luzern kindly walked me through the hotel’s history but also stories! He shared with me a side of the hotel that not many people would get to experience. Truly fascinating!
Can you tell me about Patrick and Michael Hauser, owners of the hotel and their involvement in the day-to-day practice?
Let’s first begin with a little history lesson!
Built in 1845 the hotel got purchased by the Hauser family in 1861. Five generations later the two brothers Patrick and Mike Hauser are the owners and Clemens Hunsicker the Managing Director.
Hotel Schweizerhof is privately owned and has never been connected to any other hotel or investing groups. All the money it makes gets re-invested into the hotel.
Does it feel like a family place?
Absolutely! The two brothers have an office on site. They’re not involved in the daily operations 100% but when the General Manager is not here one of them takes over. For instance Patrick gets very involved during the Blue Balls festival where he helps out wherever he’s needed. But mostly they are involved in strategy and renovations related topics and operations are led by the General Manager and Directors.
How do you keep the hotel relevant and innovative?
One way we have stayed relevant is with our story telling book. We’re not just about serving but also about sharing emotions. We tell our guests stories that actually happened and with it revive the spirit of the hotel. Our aim is to make our guests Feel.
We are also very aggressive with our marketing. Our sales manager regularly goes to Singapore, Shanghai, the Arabic states like Saudi Arabia and Dubai to introduce our hotel abroad. Lucerne but Hotel Schweizerhof specifically are very active in promoting themselves internationally to hold and grow the frequency of their visitors.
What other things do you do to set you apart from the other hotels?
Our employees are what separates us from all the other hotels. Their commitment to excellence is outstanding. In our efforts to keep our standards high, a couple of years ago the hotel started offering mandatory empathy classes to all employees. An expert comes here and teaches us how to feel empathy for not only our guests but also each-other. If an employee comes to work happy then the guests will immediately feel it. It’s quite an investment on behalf of the hotel but so worth it. Another great incentive offered by the hotel is education for any staff interested in furthering their development. For example, I have gone back for my Masters in hotel management. These perks make employees feel appreciated and more motivated which in turn our guests will see and feel first hand.
How do you guys manage conflicts and problems?
We like to handle issues as soon as they happen. We have weekly meetings, yearly reviews, and anonymous feedback which help a lot especially because we are not connected to other hotel groups. We can therefore act faster and settle conflicts immediately rather than depend on layers of decision makers.
Who are your guests in general? And how come you have so many prominent names in your book?
Over 30% of the guests are Americans. They generally stop in Luzern during the journey through Europe. China is also a very important market for us then Switzerland and the Arabic states.
Lucerne and this region in general have always been a magnet for personalities. The hotel, it’s history, the fact that it’s family run, all contribute to the appeal.
Who are your most memorable guests?
There are too many stories to tell in one blog!
- Urs Leierer, Director of Blues Balls Festival is a very special person. He lives and breathes this festival to which he comes every single year! He also has a really cool look from his shoes to his glasses to his gray hair! His passion and happiness are contagious.
- Our most famous guest was of course queen Elizabeth II! She stayed with us in 1980.
- One very special story which happened in Room 14. In 2002, the Goodfriend family (famous concert flautist) who had an engagement in Luzern stayed in Room 14. They asked the Concierge, Enzo Baciocchi if he could find them a Bernese Mountain dog to take back to New York! No challenge was ever too big for Enzo! Before the end of their stay he found their dog!
This once again validates our eagerness to change lives whenever possible.
Tell us about the events that you are involved in.
- The Retro festival: this is our main festival which we organize from A to Z. It has become a huge success throughout the years. Tickets were sold out minutes from going online with an expected 800 people at each concert in our concert hall.
- The Blue Balls festival at the end of July. One of the three concert venues is our hotel and all the artists stay with us.
- The Lucerne festival: classical music festival from mid August to mid September. Tickets cost a lot of money and guests expect the highest standards in the quality. We host many repeating guests who have been coming back to the festival for the past 20/30 years.
If you haven’t gotten tickets to the Retro festival this weekend, just come and hang out one of our bars. You will have fun watching people and feeling their energy! Or wait for me!
Once again, a big Thank You to my collaborator Cesar Martins for his beautiful pictures.
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