The host, Sieglinde Kögl-Plenk and juniorhost Nathalie Kögl are the dynamic duo behind the hotel "Bergheimat" - a traditional house in the beautiful Mühlbach am Hochkönig. We had the pleasure of talking to the likeable mother-daughter team about the challenges of a generational business, about lived regionalism and the happiness of being able to do what one likes to do best.
"For me it was soon clear that I wanted to continue the family business," says Nathalie and smiles. We meet the 27-year-old junior landlady together with her mother, pleasure landlady Sieglinde, in Bergheimat high above Mühlbach. Behind the house, the majestic Hochkönig Massif rises up, inside there is cosiness and a family atmosphere. No wonder that the Bergheimat has actually been in family ownership for generations - four to be exact.
Fresh wind in the fourth generation
In 2019 the popular house celebrates its 70th anniversary. "Originally it was the delivery house of the neighboring farmer," says Sieglinde. "At some point, my grandparents settled down here. And so the history of the Bergheimat took its course. We even had one of the first swimming pools in the region. And to this day there is always something to do - recently, for example, we renovated the winter garden." Her daughter Nathalie is on hand to help with all these things. "For me it is something very special that I am allowed to run the hotel together with mom", says Nathalie. "Mama involves me in everything. This connection is very beautiful. It goes right through us. We complement each other perfectly and have grown really close together. Since 2017, junior landlady Nathalie and pleasure landlady Sieglinde have been jointly managing the fortunes of Bergheimat. "We are a well-rehearsed team of girls with a lot of female power," laughs Nathalie.
Mother and daughter, but also business people
"With Nathalie, a fresh wind has come into our house," says Sieglinde and gives her daughter a proud look. "We are mother and daughter, but also business people. Nathalie has looked at many other businesses, has been in season and occasionally in England. Now she is back again, and I am very happy about that. Nathalie has also worked in another family business to get to know its philosophy. "When I was back home, it occurred to me: At home it is simply most beautiful", Nathalie smiles and strokes her Dalmatian - the youngest family member - over the head. "Whether it's mom and me or our long-time employees - we all pull together, everyone is there for each other. And the guests feel that too. I once said to my mom that we simply have our favourite guests. And for me that is still the case today," smiles Nathalie. Close contact with the guests is also important to her. "We take personal care of the guests, know them by name and remember them when they come back. I think that's just beautiful."
"Mom is very strong"
Sieglinde has been living this philosophy since she can think. After the hotel management school, the native Mühlbach native spent half a year in Paris, completed several internships and joined the family business in her mid-20s. "I just grew into it," says Sieglinde and looks out the window at the beautiful mountain scenery. "When I was 26 years old, Nathalie came. And a few days later, when I came home from the hospital, I took Nathalie to the reception desk. Nathalie laughs. "Yes, that's why I always say that I grew up at the reception." It was important to Sieglinde to continue to actively support the family business even then, with a small child and three years later with a second daughter. Also because of her parents. "My father already thought very progressive back then. For example, we already had a large bathroom and a separate toilet in our rooms in the 1970s. He always looked ahead. That's what I try to do." And Nathalie adds: "Mum is very strong. Mama has an answer to every question, that's what makes her special. She is an all-round woman. That's beautiful and it inspires me."
Love to be a host
Being a host is obviously in their genes - for generations. Also Sieglindes parents are still gladly in the enterprise until today. "My dad is 87 years old," says Sieglinde and smiles. "But in the evening, both still like to sit down with the guests and tell them something. And my grandfather, he used to play a serenade with the accordion for every guest on departure. Sieglinde himself also enjoys the company of the guests. In the summer, for example, she shows them her home on guided hikes. The next day she prepares syrups or juices from the wild herbs that Sieglinde collects during these hikes.
"Dining convivially" in the Bergheimat
In general, Sieglinde devotes herself to culinary art whenever she has time. "Mom is a hobby wine connoisseur, that's her thing," says Nathalie and laughs. "That's why she started 'social dining' some time ago. All the guests sit together at a long table. There are only regional dishes and Mama explains where the ingredients come from. Then she offers special wine with the meal, which she has personally tried and selected. This is a great atmosphere, I like it very much. This passion is certainly one of the reasons why Bergheimat is also an excellent "Genusswirt" business. And, of course, the first-class quality of the food, which is made from local products. Regionality is a great concern for both of them. "Our egg and dairy farmers have their farm right down the street there," says Nathalie and points out of the window. "We get fresh trout and char from over there, schnapps from the Grünegg farmer from Dienten. We have meat from Pongau game and Pinzgau beef. It is important to us that the ingredients for our cuisine come from the region. For us, regionality is not just a slogan - we live it.
We drink the last sip of Sieglinde's homemade mountain limo, which tastes wonderful, and slowly make our way home. At the end we ask the two landladies what is actually the nicest compliment that their guests can give them. The two look at each other briefly and smile. "The nicest compliment is when the guests book their next vacation when they leave," says Nathalie. And even if her great-grandfather no longer plays the accordion for the guests - you simply have to keep the mountain home in your best memory.