Eder celebrates 60th Anniversary
8. Oktober 2020
In 2021, the Hotel Eder celebrates a very special anniversary: Exactly 60 years ago, the foundation stone for the success story of the host family was laid with the Gasthof Eder in Maria Alm.
60 Years Roots & Wings
In 1961, Josef Eder, today affectionately known as Grandpa Sepp, created Gasthof Eder from a horse stable on the village square in Maria Alm. To dare something new, Sepp was a pioneer in the idyllic Alm village. In the meantime - in the spirit of his visionary grandfather - Josef "Sepp" Schwaiger is the third generation to run the family business and has expanded it into the Eder Collection. The former inn is now the 4-star superior Hotel Eder. With the Hotel SEPP an exclusive design hotel has been added in 2018. Sepp's brother has established the Tom Almhütte as a highlight on the mountain and further projects such as the Maria & Josef Consepp Store are already in the making. There is no standing still in the Eder/Schwaiger family.
Thus, Sepp runs the family business with openness and foresight, with heart and soul and hospitality, as well as full of joy and passion - just as his family exemplified the role of host to him. "I am particularly proud that today we can show our grandparents and parents that their diligence has brought about so much good in us and that their work is moving forward," says the dedicated hotelier, describing his roots and wings.
Lived Hospitality and Tradition
The name Eder is associated in Maria Alm, the picturesque village at the foot of the mountains "Steinernes Meer" and the Hochkönig massif, for 60 years with lived hospitality and tradition in the heart of one of the most beautiful alpine villages of Salzburg province. Authentic, honest and full of joy in the task, the host family from the beginning made their profession their vocation and the satisfaction of their guests the highest priority. Three generations have thus not only written their own history to this day, but have also helped to shape that of the idyllic Pinzgau community.
With the beginning of the 1960s, the sleepy farming village quickly became a popular tourist destination for hikers and mountaineers, nature lovers and recreation seekers, and especially for winter sports enthusiasts. This meant not only economic upswing, but above all expansion on the infrastructural level as well as the will and commitment of community citizens and institutions.
Challenges of this kind have always been carried along, supported, and sometimes even forced by the entrepreneurial spirit and innovative vision of the Eder family. Despite everything, the success never lacked the sensitivity for the preservation of old values and traditions or the love for the homeland.
Pioneer Spirit in the Blood
Even great-grandfather Rupert Eder from Leogang had a certain intuition: In Maria Alm, the upswing was imminent. In 1958, he bought the so called Pichl stable on the village square and built an inn in its place for his boy with a restaurant for 40 people, a large regulars' table, a terrace and 15 guest rooms with showers on each floor. After the completion of the inn, the 19-year-old Sepp Eder came to Maria Alm in 1960 and took over the management.
The likeable nature of the trained butcher and his involvement in clubs such as the ice shooters, the fire department, the ski club, tourist club, tourism association, municipal council and the comradeship association made it easy for the ambitious young man to settle in quickly.
The right woman at his side was also found very soon: Franziska from Maria Alm - a landlady with heart and soul.
Central Meeting Place in the Village
With the addition of a hall for around 240 people in 1969, the Gasthof Eder moved into the center of public interest and became the event center par excellence: large events such as local evenings, balls and above all weddings filled the calendar from then on throughout the year and also for the legendary theater performances of the Almer Heimatbühne the hall finally offered an adequate home again. The farmers' theater had been an institution in Maria Alm since 1899 and shaped the cultural diversity of the village. Despite a long absence from the stage, the community spontaneously agreed to revive this venerable tradition. In the following years, up to 40 performances per year enjoyed great popularity among locals and guests alike.
The conviviality at the regulars' table and the cultivation of communication with the guests were always among the greatest concerns of senior chef Sepp. Were it the venerable pastor or originals like "da Hangei", local celebrities like Willy Schwaiger, from the family of the popular opera singer Rosl Schwaiger, federal politicians like Jörg Haider and Heinz Fischer, or ski star and slalom ace Sylvia Eder, a scion of the family tribe in Leogang - at the Eder all felt comfortable and that made the inn a popular meeting place for guests from near and far.
But most important is that the family is particularly proud of many returning guests, who have grown up with the family, so to speak, and who keep coming back because of the lived warmth and hospitality of the family.
Horse Happiness, Craftsmanship and Host Culture
The days at the inn were full of work, but senior boss Sepp still found time for his great passion: breeding the only horse breed of Noriker originating from Austria. A hobby that has already been honored with numerous prizes and recognitions and definitely reached a peak in the co-organization of the 1st International Alpine Championships for cold-blooded horses.
In terms of business management, however, senior boss Franzi always kept a firm grip on the reins. A certain rigor in personnel management did not preclude dealing with employees in a familiar and cordial atmosphere. A hobby also became an indispensable leisure activity for senior manager Franzi: she enjoyed performing her duties as a flag mother in traditional Almer costume for the Catholic Women's Society. Above all, however, she loved to cook and delighted her guests with her homemade juices, jams, loaves of bread and old farmhouse recipes. She had also become very fond of handicrafts and diligently distributed self-knitted gloves to her five grandchildren, family and friends.
Maria Alm blossoms
From the 6o's onwards, tourism developed into the number one economic pillar in Maria Alm. Even initial skeptics were convinced of the positive development of the village through the advantages of infrastructural measures such as the construction and expansion of lifts and the introduction of snow cannons. Sepp Eder also ensured this in his function as a municipal representative, in his commitment as one of ten company founders of the Aberg and Natrun lifts and as their interim managing director.
With daughter Gertrude at their side, the continuation of the family business was assured for Sepp and Franziska Eder. After graduating from the tourism college, she was indispensable as the right hand for the business and especially responsible for new achievements such as the introduction of new booking systems, the conversion to computers as well as the bookkeeping. Today, Gertrude is an experienced manager who knows everything and maintains control and an overview.
In 1981 a big wedding was celebrated in the Eder house: Gertrude married Josef Schwaiger, a native of Maria Alm, a trained carpenter with a great relation for gastronomy. He had previously spent his wandering years as a waiter at Lake Chiemsee and in two neighboring inns in the area. He had conquered not only Gertrude's heart with his likeable nature, but soon that of the guests as well.
The Eder and Schwaiger families took the next step towards expansion in 1984 with the conversion of the existing building and the extension by building over the dining room. In this way, the number of guest rooms was doubled to 29, the ground floor was completely redesigned and the typical local coziness was further enhanced by refined wooden constructions and large tiled stoves.
The children Josef, born in 1980, Thomas, born in 1985, and Theresia, born in 1986, made the young family happiness complete. But it was to last only a few years. The inconceivable happened already in 1989. The beloved husband and father of three Josef Schwaiger died of leukemia.
The family, especially her children, helped the strong Gertrude to cope with the heavy blow of fate.Sepp, the eldest, graduated from the technical college for structural engineering and, after studying architecture, moved on to the University of Applied Sciences in Innsbruck, where he completed the course for business management and management in the tourism and leisure industry with a master's degree.
Thomas and Theresia both graduated from the tourism school in St. Johann in Tyrol and subsequently gained professional practice in service, reception and management. After years in the family business, Thomas has now successfully established his own impressive alpine lodge "Tom Almhütte". Theresia now heads the reception and sales team at the Eder Collection.
Between Tourism Boom and Love of Home
Despite constant modernization and the determined expansion of the range of tourist offers, Maria Alm has managed to preserve its picturesque image as an idyllic village during the 1990s as well as in the new millennium. This is documented by the advertising appearances as a destination with originality, intact nature and lived tradition. Utopian tourism visions of past years luckily never became real in Maria Alm. In contrast, the authenticity of the traditions lived in the Alps is still reflected today, especially in the major festivities throughout the year: at Bartholomä, for example, the oldest mountain pilgrimage in Europe with up to 3,000 participants who make the pilgrimage across the wildly romantic mountain landscape of the mountains "Steinernes Meer" to the lake "Königssee", or in the variety of programs at the unique festival "Bauernherbst" - not to mention homemade specialities like the so called "Eder'sche Bauernkrapfen", whose delicious reputation has already spread far beyond the borders of Maria Alm.
Over the years, hotel owner Gertrude has been able to build up a considerable group business, which today is one of the strongest pillars in the company. During this time, she had also found a new love again. In 1998 Andreas Hofmann gave up his business in Germany and came to Maria Alm. With him and their children Fabian and Carola, Gertrude expanded her beloved family. The two younger children developed the same ambition as their mother at a young age.
The Eder-Schwaiger family has always been aware of its great responsibility regarding the sensitive location in the center of the village of Maria Alm. This is certainly one of the reasons why the balancing act between living in tune with the times and preserving old values and village characteristics has been so masterfully achieved to this day.
Handing over the Scepter & Looking ahead
With Josef "Sepp" Schwaiger, there is now a man at the helm of the family business who, with young dynamic freshness, calculated determination and creative visions, has dared to take the step into the next dimension of tourism challenge: from the traditional inn to the Eder Collection.
Sepp's first official act after the generation change was the conversion and expansion of Hotel Eder. The aim was to maintain the familiar and warm atmosphere and at the same time to create a new identity in order to increase the interest of existing target groups and to inspire new customers and guests.The project started with the conversion of the attic for a new home for the host family. In the process, a model suite was also created for testing new tourist offers, the success of which encouraged the planning of further variants. It quickly became clear that the integration of neighboring buildings was also necessary for the expansion. After the purchase of an adjacent house, talks began with the bank as owner of the second neighboring building and the tourism association as subtenant.
A renovation and redesign was the appropriate solution, coupled with the addition of 15 new guest rooms on the second floor. When construction work on the hotel project got underway, the summer scene in the center of Maria Alm was dominated by cheerful construction workers and industrious craftsmen. Observing the progress of construction work quickly turned into an attraction and became a popular daily program for many vacationers.
After the end of the second construction phase, another important chapter in the company's history began: the conversion into the 4-star Hotel Eder with 48 completely redesigned rooms and designer pine suites, 15 renovated and improved rooms in the main building, an exclusive feel-good spa oasis and a relax garden in the courtyard.
The new concept is not only based on the intact nature that surrounds Maria Alm, it also relies on well-thought-out design elements that make nature fascinatingly restaged and tangible in terms of interior design. The extraordinary combination of design and rustic coziness, the flair of the good old days mixed with the latest high-tech and modern equipment surprises the Eder guests again and again.
The extravagant look - created with great attention to detail by landlord and visionary Sepp Schwaiger - combined with regional materials allows for a modern interpretation of traditions and customs. After completion of four renovation stages in 2016, Hotel Eder today offers state-of-the-art interior and technical refinements as well as the good old regulars' table.
The four-star hotel now has 72 rooms and suites, a sophisticated culinary offering, an exclusive wellness and spa area, a varied range of sports activities and an extravagant conference area for up to 120 people.
Standing still is not an Option
As soon as the renovation and expansion of the Hotel Eder had been completed in 2016, the creative Sepp with his affinity for design and architecture was already impatient to get started again. And so the idea of Hotel SEPP was born in 2017, which was promptly opened in September 2018.
And 2018 was also a truly memorable year in terms of family: In January 2018, son Sepp was born and in October 2018, Sepp finally married his beloved Tanja.
Starting Signal for the Eder Collection
The opening of Hotel SEPP laid the foundation for the Eder Collection.
Extraordinary. Unique. Remarkable. Just "exSEPPtional". That is the claim of the SEPP. Under the motto "together in the thick of it", guests celebrate life here in a stylishly casual ambience and unconventional feel-good atmosphere. Adults-only concept for guests over 21, design refinements, favorite places and extravagant details give the hotel a unique touch for a special kind of lifestyle.
The loft with live cooking station and the meanwhile legendary brunch until 1 p.m., the roof-top lounge, the thermal infinity pool and the Airstream converted into a sauna for the hotel offer spectacular views of the mountains from the roof-top. A leather lounge specially designed by the traditional brand Meindl, trendy Hutschn swings on the balconies and the stylish atrium with a hundred-year-old tree underline the extravagant and at the same time playful touch of the extraordinary hotel.
40 casually cozy rooms surprise with various clever details such as integrated cinema screen, separate storage space for bikes in summer and skis and snowboards in winter, cozy beds, quaint old wood walls that could tell stories, a solid, heated wooden floor that invites you to walk barefoot, record players and design highlights with attention to detail.
Once again, the pioneering spirit of the family has had its hand in the game....
But Sepp would not be Sepp if that were to end now. Even after 60 years of passionate hospitality, standing still is far from being an option for the Eder/Schwaiger family.
In 2019, for example, the Winter Garden in the Hotel Eder was converted into a stylish lounge and the facade was renewed. In 2020, the Roof Top at Hotel SEPP will be expanded with a sauna and relaxation area. At the same time, additional sunbathing areas and a roof at the pool will be created at Hotel Eder. And the crowning glory at the end of the year is the opening of the new store Maria & Josef on the village square.
The Eder Collection continues to grow and we can look forward to what Sepp, his Tanja and the family will come up with for the anniversary year 2021...