FROM AN ARISTOCRATIC RESIDENCE TO A MODERN CONFERENCE HOTEL
Villa Stokkum – a cultural monument steeped in history, idyllically yet conveniently located in the Steinheim district of Hanau, has been well-known far beyond the city limits since its extensive renovation from 1989 to 1993 as a family-owned, four-star hotel. The 135 rooms of the Best Western Premier Hotel have now been completely redesigned in two construction phases. The REINHOLD KELLER Group from Kleinheubach, situated about 60 kilometers away, was commissioned with the remodeling as general contractor and as supplier for the shopfitting work. Together with Christoph Krieger, the executive partner of the tradition-rich house in Hanau, we took a look back and reviewed the remodeling.
PROFESSIONAL INTERIOR TALK WITH CHRISTOPH KRIEGER
RK: Mr. Krieger, First off, thank you for taking time to meet with us. All 135 hotel rooms now shine in a new design since the remodeling work was completed in July. Even though there was less than a year between the two construction phases, 2019 remodeling was done under entirely different conditions.
CHRISTOPH KRIEGER: That’s right! The 84 rooms were remodeled in 2019 during ongoing operations and, as we have to say today, under ″normal conditions.″ Looking back, I can give my team a huge compliment because this was a logistical master achievement for us. Guests, conferences, events – the challenges were enormous, but we did a great job. Also thanks to the fantastic collaboration with REINHOLD KELLER.
RK: The start of the second construction phase was originally planned for summer 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and related shutdown, you decided to push the remodeling forward.
CHRISTOPH KRIEGER: After talking to Mr. Maier from your company on the phone, it was clear to us relatively quickly that the remodeling measures would start right away, therefore enabling us to effectively use the closing times. As a medium-sized enterprise, we make all decisions ourselves which also gives us a completely different motivation to achieve our goal. Everything virtually happened overnight and the first craftsmen were already inside the building. Due to the shutdown, it was a relatively pleasant remodeling in this sense because our hotel had to remain closed for all of April. We were only allowed to open the gates again on May 15.
RK: What was the greatest added value for you in the cooperation with REINHOLD KELLER and why did you actually decide to team up with us?
CHRISTOPH KRIEGER: We heard about you from architect Dreesen, who already got to know us through his previous cooperation during other projects. He highly recommended you further. But for me personally, not only were the recommendation and references on your website important, but I also wanted to know exactly who is actually behind REINHOLD KELLER!
We are also a family-owned company, foster traditions and attach great importance to regionality. The geographical proximity from Hanau to Kleinheubach was a decisive factor for our decision, too.
My credo is: ″You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression″ and with REINHOLD KELLER, we chose the right partner. This has been confirmed time and again. For example, we had one contact person on site who we could turn to at all times. In this way, decisions were made in real-time, no time was lost. The ″one face to the customer″ principle has more than proven itself for us.
RK: As a cultural monument, your hotel stands for a history spanning more than 300 years, which started in 1665 with a vaulted cellar. And in 1800, it was the residence of Baron Friedrich Stokkum-Sternfels. When redesigning the 135 rooms, history and regionality play the main role. What is it all about?
CHRISTOPH KRIEGER: For the new designs, we deliberately opted for the theme rooms ″Tobacco″ and ″Grimm.″ By doing this, not only do we pay tribute to our building’s history, but also to the Brothers Grimm, the most famous sons of our hometown Hanau. From 1870 to 1926, we had a tobacco factory in our building, which we take up in the theme room ″tobacco″. The rooms were deliberately designed in warm brown tones and unique artistic elements were created from historical tobacco banderoles. At the time, the cigar factory was located in the ensemble of an old villa and a brick annex, including a water tower and fire bell. We dedicate the second theme room to the Brothers Grimm and their importance around the world as linguists. We chose shades of red and blue for this; artistic elements and the matching decoration on the theme of language round off the interior design. Alongside the two design themes, we do not only offer our guests the numerous amenities of a four-star hotel, but also, among other things, extra-long box spring beds for optimal sleep and a ″pillow buffet″ with 14 different pillows for outstanding sleeping comfort.
RK: Were there any special features or something curious during the individual construction phases that you remember?
CHRISTOPH KRIEGER: Dismantling of the old furnishings and the demolition work were interesting and also beautiful for us at the same time. Then the wallpaper from the 90s suddenly came to light, which was really amusing. Of course, the new furniture and design were greatly anticipated. Delivery took place by using elevating platforms, which made safe transport possible on both sides of our building.
RK: Besides many other industries, the corona crisis has hit the hotel business hard. It will certainly be a long time before you can speak of a ″new normality″. Villa Stokkum is not only a sought-after place as a conference hotel, but private customers are happy to book it, too, whether for weddings or other festivities. How have you adapted to the new situation?
CHRISTOPH KRIEGER: Unfortunately, we cannot change anything about the situation by ourselves and I can tell you that never in my life have I had so much work as I have had over the last few months.The corona crisis must be overcome because the situation – not only for hoteliers is, in part, dramatic. We were able to bridge the summer well with our Villa Stokkum, but September and temporary local orders by authorities created a big hole in the booking situation again. We now have to weather the lean spell and demonstrate staying power in order to get back into regular calm waters again. Fortunately, the last few years have gone well for us and despite all of the circumstances, conference guests are still coming to stay with us. Up to 50 persons are currently permitted and with our hygiene concept, we ensure the greatest possible safety. Of course, this means additional logistical efforts for our team, but we are glad to accept this because things are gradually continuing to get back on track and heading towards normality.
RK: What is the nicest compliment guests give you and your team?
CHRISTOPH KRIEGER (answers with a smile): For me and my team, no criticism means that everything was fine and the guest was completely satisfied. It goes without saying that we are happy about every positive feedback and good evaluations. Thanks to the newly designed hotel rooms, we’re now scoring additional points with our guests.
RK: Villa Stokkum has been a hotel for 27 years and owned by your family for 30 years now. What is the attraction for you in the ″next″ generation to be a host? And in your eyes, what distinguishes the perfect host?
CHRISTOPH KRIEGER: Together with our 53 employees, we have the claim to be the best hotel and top address in the surrounding area. Everyone who is anyone came and comes to us here at Villa Stokkum and we can rightly be proud of this. And no matter whether they are large-scale conferences, company parties or private celebrations: We fulfill our guests’ individual wishes and look for flexible solutions for each single guest. In my opinion, this is what makes the perfect host stand out. My grandfather started the remodeling and extensive restoration measures of the building in 1989. Four years later, celebrations were held for the opening of Villa Stokkum and the hotel business took off. Our family originally comes from the agricultural sector. The real estate industry, and in the 90s the hotel industry, were added afterwards. For me, the hotel has simply been an integral part of my life since I was a little kid and my ″playground″ used to simply be a little bit bigger than those of kids of my same age.
RK: Since May 15, 2020, you’ve also been running the ″Villa Stokkum’s Brasserie on the golf course″ in Seligenstadt. How did that come about and are you maybe a golfer yourself?
CHRISTOPH KRIEGER: Actually, this connection was made through a friend because I have to admit that playing golf is simply not on my list of priorities due to time constraints. But that will certainly change sometime when there is a little more time for leisure time, and I’m looking forward to that. After intensive discussions, we opted for the brasserie and as operators, we expect synergies for the hotel business. We are increasingly putting our focus on the private customer business and the connection to golfing can really help us to further expand our footprint in the region. Villa Stokkum offers private persons fantastic possibilities for celebrations and parties, due to the history, too. The 120-year-old fire bell, which is absolutely one-of-a-kind, hangs in the old water tower that was, of course, required for a cigar factory from the 19th century. We had the bell restored and bridal couples can now ″ring in″ their married life with us in a fitting way in the truest sense of the word.
Thank you very much Mr. Krieger for the nice conversation and for placing your trust in the REINHOLD KELLER Group!
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A NEW BUILDING?