SEPP & MARTINA KRÖLL
REINVENTING THE PAST
The Wiesergut was a long time coming, but, in a way, it was always there. Josef (Sepp) and Martina Kröll knew they’d someday take over the land in the valley of Hinterglemm owned by Sepp’s family. And for a long time, the couple—parents of three small children—slowly gathered ideas for what they’d ultimately do with the ancient ...
“This love of detail is so important to me—that someone made something with love. We’ve been in hotels where the heart was missing, the soul was missing, and it just was no good. There has to be something more.”
... plot. The Krölls did some of this inspirational homework in places like the Maldives, Mauritius, Spain, and Sicily. But a lot more of it happened right here at home, by seeking out the more hidden traditional treasures in Austria’s Salzburgerland. This is a place where mountain folk still make things by hand and people smile when they say “Gruess Gott” (the usual Austrian greeting).
Two generations ago, Sepp’s great-grandmother Gertraud was the first to transform the old property into a guesthouse with a working farm. His parents ran it as a farm and a 100-bed, 3-star family hotel. Now 40, Sepp grew up absorbing this legacy, first by simply living with it, then by undertaking formal training in gastronomy and farming by working with local masters through Austria’s apprenticeship system. Fast forward a few years: Sepp, already operating a successful high-end mountainside restaurant called Wieseralm, met Martina at a wedding. Not long after, Martina married into his business, so to speak, and the two then slowly began forming their vision. By the time they took over the property from Sepp’s parents about two years ago, the couple was ready to move forward. They’d already found the perfect creative partner: Monika Gogl of Gogl + Partner Architects in Innsbruck. “She understood what we wanted right away,” says Martina.
Moving through the completely rebuilt hotel today, one immediately senses that the Krölls and Gogl got everything right. The spaces flow together in a careful and very effective choreography. Every piece in the hotel, from the steel door handles to the one-of-a-kind metal sinks, is customized. The couple even did a “sun study,” which is why garden suites have higher ceilings on one side to maximize light and the rooftop is covered with green plants. For all the spatial savvy, the hotel still feels like it reflects the best of a very traditional culture. “Our earthiness isn’t pompous; it’s more like how things used to be. We use the handmade straw stars [for decoration] that are so typically Austrian…,” explains Martina. “... and we make our own straw angels,” adds Sepp, finishing her thought. “We’re going back to the land. We want the traditional.”