Last updated: 06:00 PM ET, Thu March 12 2015

The Austria Collection Highlights the Country’s Best Hotels

Hotel & Resort | James Ruggia | March 12, 2015

The Austria Collection Highlights the Country’s Best Hotels

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

The newly unveiled Austria Collection recognizes hotels that the Austrian Tourist Office (ATO) considers to reflect “true Austrian hospitality.” It makes sense that certain properties represent essential national qualities, much as flag carriers try to. For obvious reasons, tourist offices try to stay neutral when it comes to endorsing one partner over another, but the ATO invited what they call “a highly select group of hotels” to be featured in the 23-property collection.

“Each hotel provides a guest experience that is authentically Austrian and destination specific,” said Michael Gigl, the ATO’s region manager USA & Australia. “It is not about one style or hotel type, but about a quality of service and ambience we are truly proud of.”

All of the hotels were invited to participate in the program and were chosen with two specific markets in mind: the U.S. and Austria. It’s a combination of markets that the ATO must see as complimentary. “There’s a lot of overlap between the two markets,” said Gigl.

The collection features properties all over Austria and doesn’t fall into any easily identifiable patterns. “We didn’t want one style or type of hotel,” said Gigl. “Each property has some defining aspect that connects it to its location. They’re not even all luxury properties necessarily.” 

The properties can be found in such rural locations as Duernstein along the Danube, Seefeld in Tirol, the Arlberg region and Schwarzenberg in the Bregenzerwald, but also in Innsbruck, Vienna and Salzburg. The latter two cities are enjoying a surge in American interest right now with increases in hotel nights from the U.S. of 14 percent (to a total of 748,000) and 10 percent respectively.

“Our two most prominent city destinations are currently the strongest engines on the market” said Gigl, “we are excited to carry such strong momentum into 2015, which could be a banner year given the strengthening economy and strong Dollar exchange. “ Some 632,000 Americans visited Austria last year, a 9 percent bump over 2013 that is also reflected in the extra 123,000 hotel nights that U.S. travelers spent there. That’s now three consecutive years of growth for Austria out of the U.S. Austria set its own record for overall arrivals with 37.5 visitors, an increase of 1.9 percent over 2013, though overall hotel nights decreased 0.6 percent.

The types of hotel used don’t fall easily into any one category. You get extremely modern properties such as Innsbruck’s aDLERS Design Hotel and you also get a suite within the Schoenbrunn palace (managed by Austria Trend Hotels). There is a luxury castle towering above Salzburg and a former shelter for travelers turned five-star-hotel in the Arlberg region that was run by the world’s oldest charitable order.

As for Vienna and Salzburg, they should continue to do well in the U.S. market this year as two events are expected to draw visitors in 2015. The 150th Anniversary of Vienna’s Ringstrasse Boulevard will be highlighted by special exhibitions and events. In Salzburg, they’re readying the 50 year anniversary of The Sound of Music. The event will be celebrated in Salzburg by a special exhibition at the Salzburg Marionette Theater, a Sound of Music Choir Festival in June, and a special Sound of Music Gala Event in October.  

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