A New Legacy

Photographs courtesy of Hotel Wiesler, Graz
Translation by Emma Steele

Since its founding in 1909, Hotel Wiesler has always been at the forefront of creative design. In its latest refurbishment, it has again positioned itself in the spotlight for its novel approach to the redefinition of luxury. Situated by the River Mur in the heart of Graz, Hotel Wiesler is located at the center of culture. It is very close to the Kunsthaus art building and a stone’s throw away from Hauptplatz, the main square. From the outset, Hotel Wiesler looks like any well-maintained Jugendstil building. The surprise comes from stepping into the hotel. Exuding an eclectic, laid back atmosphere, the design is a combination of the vintage with the modern. Beckoning to the tired traveller, huge, comfortably retrofitted sofas in the lobby are set against clean white finishes.

Designed from the perspective of a modern traveller rather than the host, the creation of personal experiences is valued over the rules of the industry. The relaxed atmosphere releases guests from the decorum that the luxury of yesteryears dictates. Instead, travellers are encouraged to be at home and to be themselves. We speak to Florian Weltzer, the man behind the transformation of the hotel, to find out more about his ideas and vision.

Hi Florian, please kindly tell us more about yourself and your background.

I am the fourth generation of our family to manage the Weitzer Hotels. My great grandfather bought the then ‘Hotel Florian’ in 1910 from the Reininghaus family, and in doing so laid the cornerstone for Weitzer Hotels. I grew up in the hotel—our family always lived in the hotel and my time there shaped me. But I chose to study economics instead of taking the classic route of qualification in tourism. In 2003, my father decided to fully trust me and handed down the management of Weitzer Hotels. That was the year in which Graz was named European Capital of Culture, which was an added challenge.

As I took a different path with my degree, I see things a bit differently—from the point of view of a modern traveller rather than from a host’s perspective. I travel a lot myself and align my hotels with my needs as a traveller. Our work is developed by personal experiences and does not just follow the rules of the industry. Our concepts have been developed with joy and not due to financial necessity.

We try to always have something new to offer. To me, stagnant is a foreign word.

You are constantly looking for new things to make your guests happy. Where and how do you discover new inspirations?

There are countless sources of inspiration. Nature, on the farm, out on walks, other cultures, markets, flea markets and junk yards, and best of all, far away from home, where no hotelier will expect to find buried treasure. We love to design and will like to arrange our hotels in accordance with our guests’ wishes. We do not copy and paste and we are constantly asking ourselves whether it makes sense to have things as they are. If not, we change it.

Read more in N˚4: Flight.