Tradition „en vogue“
When the power of innovation and classic ideals meet
Oberlech on the Arlberg – 365 days a year this place simply is the perfect destination for all those looking for a time-out from their day-to-day lives. A time to enjoy nature, spa facilities, and culinary highlights. For more than 60 years the Lucian family has been welcoming guests from all over the world to this dream-destination at 1,750 metres above sea level. It all started with a small parlour, the “Burgstüble”, which, over time, has grown into a Four-Star-Superior refuge. Over time “Die Burg” has seen a number of adaptations and modernizations while always remaining true to its traditional values.The third generation at the head of the business is just as committed to this principle as the older generation and thus Christian Lucian and his partner, Patricia Lorenz, continue the success story of Hotel Burg with their “Tradition ‘en vogue’” concept.
“The Lucian family has always been an innovative company.”
L.L. / From your perspective, how would you describe the Burg’s past, present, and future?
P.L. / The Lucian family has always been an innovative company. It started with grandma Helga and grandpa Fridolin Lucian and the construction of the three-kilometre tunnel underneath the village, and continued with Elisabeth and Gerhard Lucian who, together with their team, made the Burg “the place to be”, who built a biomass heating plant, and created many culinary highlights on top of that. And now our heads are full of ideas, too.
C.L. / The Burg has always been a meeting place. We have a restaurant, an Ice Bar, and our self-service area and seeing as we’re right at the centre of the ski resort, everyone passes by the Burg on their way down to Lech. I think it’s simply amazing that we can embrace every guest with the wide range of options we offer. The two of us and our staff have so much fun here because it’s all so varied. That’s how it has always been and that’s how it always will be.
“The Burg is a symbol for Lech and Lech is a symbol for the Burg.”
L.L. / In today’s world one can never stay still. What changes are dear to your heart and what traditions do you wish to hold on to?
P.L. / I would say we are people who value tradition and who prefer the traditional Austrian greeting “Grüß Gott” to a simple “Hi”. We aren’t trendsetters who need to follow every whim of fashion. But still, we want to adapt some things to the zeitgeist in line with our new orientation here and there. One area, however, where we will never change a thing is our service and politeness, after the “old” Austrian fashion. The guest is king, and they can, of course, ask for a different side with their meal if that’s what they want. Keeping with tradition is not the same as stagnation, it’s more about passing on classic virtues. Another thing that is very dear to me is that I feel all the skilled staff working in our industry needs to be held in much higher regard, just like they used to! As of September of this year, we have decided to keep the place open throughout autumn, too, because we want to be a year-round employer for our staff.
C.L. / Change is never easy, especially for our house. And as the young generation in charge, you always worry you might be a little too quick about it and scare off the guests with the constant novelties. After all, at the end of the day the guests have to like it as much as we do. At the moment, however, our focus is more on our staff because the staff situation in the industry is precarious. It is hard to find good staff and that’s why we’ve made a few internal changes and created an HR department that will support us in managing our staff and work as a first point of contact for the staff and in case there are problems. Next year we will invest in a new staff house but there are other projects on the to-do list as well, like the renovation of the rooms and bathrooms in the hotel.
“Good design isn’t about short-lived trends, it stands above the zeitgeist.”
L.L. / In a company like the Burg there are many things one can change, depending on individual tastes and preferences. Where do you find inspiration?
P.L. / Both of us are very down-to-earth. It is important to us that the Burg stays how it is: tradition with a modern air. And the Austrian flair can’t get lost in the process. We find this kind of inspiration everywhere and we like to travel and take a good look around, too.
C.L. / When it comes to renovations, we like to make sure the materials and designs will be durable. Good design isn’t about short-lived trends, it stands above the zeitgeist. That’s the principle we applied when we redesigned the spa area: natural rock and old wood – high-quality materials in connection with classic design have turned into something timeless that our guest will continue to enjoy for many years to come.
“There is only one, golden rule: everything that happens in Lech, stays in Lech.”
L.L. / The pictures on the new summer brochure make it clear that your brand is now all about the motto “tradition ‘en vogue’”. What is the idea behind this concept?
P.L. / We want to preserve the Burg as it is – typically Austrian! If you go into the mountains, it’s likely you’re there to see and experience Austria and its special flair. With us you can experience that special Austrian comfort, even if that means overindulging occasionally. We purposefully didn’t build a five-star house that’s all about peace and quiet, we created a place where life is celebrated.
C.L. / The Burg is a symbol for Lech and Lech is a symbol for the Burg. The place has grown to be what it is today through excellent cuisine, family friendly service, and tradition. It’s a place you can always come back to – no matter if it’s summer, autumn, or winter – and just enjoy the best days. And that is true for the Burg as well. The slightly fresher, more zeitgeisty brand is supposed to help us draw in a younger target group, too, and not lose sight of them. We have a good mix here – and everyone can follow their interests. That goes for the athlete who l ikes to have breakfast at 7 am and head out for a run afterwards, or the night owl who doesn’t go to bed until 4 am. You will not find rigid processes here at the Burg. We want everyone to be exactly who they want to be!
L.L. / The Burg has always been all about zeitgeist. Do you think the new concept will be adapted quickly and become a typical Burg-thing? What is your role in all this?
P.L. / Yes, we do think so. Most of our guests are entre-preneurs who experience plenty of pressure at work and certainly don’t need it during their leisure time. Therefore, you will not find any fixed rules here. Except for this one, golden rule: everything that happens in Lech, stays in Lech.
C.L. / Most definitely. Nowadays people talk less and less to each other. Conversations take place on social media platforms even though people crave personal contact, especially here in the region around Arlberg. That means we might be having a conversation with a guest while an acquaintance of theirs walks past – so you invite them to sit down and have a drink with you. That’s how exchange works! And that doesn’t mean I’m trying to take up the role of getting people to talk to one another. Especially since most regulars know each other anyway. Many of our guests are regulars. But that does not mean that new guests or people who are just here for a short trip need to worry about stepping over our threshold – everyone is welcome to indulge in the comforts of Austrian hospitality.
“At the end of the day the guests have to like it as much as we do.”
If Lech were a wine …
C.L. / it would be a lovely French red wine that only gets better with age.
The Burg is a hub for …
P.L. / Young and old, all those coming to us as connoisseurs.
For us, work-life balance means …
P.L. / our work – the transition is fluent!
This is what I admire about Patricia:
C.L. / Her openness and honesty with everyone.
This is what I admire about Christian:
P.L. / His calm and considerate way of elegantly dealing with any situation.
We are thankful to …
P.L. / I am thankful to my mother who made me who I am today and to Christian’s father who led me through a difficult situation and made many things possible.
C.L. / I am thankful to the generations before me and everything they created – not just for the Burg but for all of Oberlech.
L.L. / The Burg’s long-standing culinary history features one particularly famous actor: the beef tartar. What’s the origin story of this legendary delicacy here?
C.L. / The beef tartar became a part of the Burg when my father Gerhard was chef de cuisine here. So, that would have been at the beginning of the 80s. At the time my older uncle Hugo was service manager and the two of them got into a huge fight about how the beef tartar wasn’t seasoned enough. And my father reacted like any young chef de cuisine would: he remained stubborn and told my uncle to “make his tartar himself!” – and since then the tartar is prepared directly at the guests’ table. A type of preparation that is only rarely offered these days.
“It is more a matter of course that we want to work with what nature gives us.”
L.L. / How would you describe the Burg’s culinary style?
P.L. / Varied. Our guests will find hearty meals as well as light and fresh dishes on our menu. In the evening our guests can choose from four main dishes and three starters from the constantly changing à-la-carte menu – there’s something on there for everyone and it never gets boring.
C.L. / We like to find inspiration for our cuisine at other hotels while we’re away on holidays. A little while ago we were in France and found a few interesting dishes that might work with the Burg’s style, too. So, after our return we experimented a bit with our long-time chef de cuisine Sebastian Daeche in order to best hit our target group’s tastes. The kind of challenge that’s a lot of fun. Especially since our chef de cuisine is a top chef who learned the trade in traditional Austrian houses but also knows his French cuisine. And, of course, the Burg can’t just serve ‘en vogue’ cuisine but traditional Viennese schnitzel and Tafelspitz (prime boiled beef) as well as Kaiserschmarren (a fluffy type of pancake) and Fritattensuppe (a hearty broth with traditional strips of crepe) must always have their spot on the menu. Most dishes will change periodically – also with the change of the seasons and tastes – but these classics will always be there. Evergreens that simply are a part of the Burg, of Lech, and Austrian tradition.
“I would say we are gourmets who like to try everything.”
L.L. / Tell us, what are your favourite dishes?
P.L. / Both of us really like to eat (and drink) a lot of everything (*laughs). I would say we are gourmets who like to try everything.
C.L. / One thing that always works – at any time during the day – is pasta Bolognese. Or simple things like a slice of dark bread, butter from Kriegeralpe and freshly picked mountain chives always makes my mouth water.
L.L. / A lot of passion goes into producing your own cheese and cold cuts. Is that an essential for being successful in the industry these days?
C.L. / I couldn’t tell you whether that’s generally important. Nowadays we see a lot of this hypocritical regionality that’s spread everywhere. To us it isn’t all that important that the guests know exactly where the products and the ingredients for the dishes come from. It is more a matter of course that we want to work with what nature gives us. My father laid the cornerstone for the “Burg’s regional concept” when he did not just use the meat of animals he himself slaughtered for his cuisine, but also, as an official farmer, turned fresh cows milk into tasty cheese and delicious butter. Or, let’s look at the wine: a topic that is always important here. Especially since it is an absolute passion of mine. Back when I was in tourism school I first learned about wine and trained to be a junior sommelier. Then I was influenced by our long-standing sommelier Hermann Lankmaier and my father. Today we offer nine vintages from our own production. And soon we will also be able to serve herb oils with mountain herbs picked here during the summer. In the past the “only” thing we did in that direction was to serve my grandmother’s famous herbal tea which uses a secret mixture of herbs that only grow here in Oberlech.
L.L. / You are the new power couple at the head of the business and you need work as a team. Where are your strengths and your weaknesses?
P.L. / We are like yin and yang. I’m in charge of marketing while Christian is good with numbers. I like to be the fresh breeze who brings an air of modernity to these old walls while Christian is a bit more down-to-earth. You simply need both to be successful.
C.L. / I completely agree with Patricia. Working as a couple in the hotel industry only brings advantages. Starting with the understanding for the working hours and including similar interests that concern the business. Private and business matters are mixed here and there is always something to talk about.
“You simply need both to be successful.”
It all started in 1961 when Helga and Fridolin Lucian opened the “Burgstüble”. Back then nobody knew this little skiing hut with a woollen curtain for a door would turn into one of the most beautiful residences on the sunshine plateau. True to the motto “progress in mind, service at heart”, an innovative spirit and hospitality are the main characteristics of the Lucian family’s company philosophy. Together with their team they have been ensuring their guests’ relaxation and wellbeing for more than six decades.