PAZNAUN PEOPLE: HANS VON DER THANNEN, HOTELIER AT TROFANA

He’s turned the Trofana Guesthouse into a five star hotel and runs more than one award-winning gourmet restaurant under one roof. Trisanna meets the hotelier who loves the midday hour and the song “Ischgl, du mein Traum.” We asked him: “If Ischgl were an animal, what would it be?” The answer from von der Thannen: “A tiger!”

Name
Hans von der Thannen

Age
68, born in Egg in Bregenzerwald/Vorarlberg

Family status
Married to Margot since 1969
Daughters Karin (born 1970) and Nadine (born 1978), son Alexander (born 1971)

Place of residence
Ischgl

Job
Hotelier and restaurateur

Did you always dream of becoming an hotelier?
After completing my culinary studies in Bregenz and several years travelling and learning, including in Switzerland, in Arlberg and in Paznaun, the urge to work for myself was already there from an early age. Together with my wife Margot, born here in Ischgl, I was able to make this wish come true exactly 40 years ago on 3 December, 1977, with the Trofana Guesthouse. It has got steadily better and better ever since then. We currently have five businesses, although the businesses in Ischgl are run by family members together with our department heads.

But the Trofana Royal is clearly the flagship?
Yes, the Trofana Royal is Austria’s only 5 star superior hotel, with a culinary offering crowned by 5 Gault Millau stars across two restaurants – the Paznauner Stube has three stars, Sieberer’s Heimatbühne has two. Martin Sieberer runs the kitchen in both.

What’s so special about your job, or what is its greatest challenge?
It’s like the circus. Either you like it or you don’t.

What does the “Leader of the Year 2014” award for your life’s work mean to you?
Of course you’re happy to be given an award like that. It’s the result of many years of working hard to offer our loyal guests the best possible quality. And naturally, that’s only possible with an experienced, faithful team. I was just as happy, though, to be appointed as Kommerzialrat (distinguished councillor of commerce) in 2011 – the second such award in Ischgl after Erwin Aloys, the tourism pioneer.

Can you describe a typical guest at the Trofana Royal?
Due to our bonus system, we have very many regular guests. A very mixed clientele of skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts, as well as hikers and bikers, although our excellent wellness centre with over 2500 square metres also plays an important role. Gourmets naturally also feel very much at home in our two award-winning restaurants.

What do you make of the impact of climate change on tourism?
We are certainly in a favourable position here in Ischgl due to our altitude and north-facing exposure. We also have perfect snow coverage on the slopes in our entire ski area. Nevertheless, we should certainly not underestimate this phenomenon.

Will summer tourism also play a bigger role in Ischgl in the future?
In contrast to the winter, in the summer we have competition from all around the world. We naturally very much hope that the number of summer guests will increase. In support of this, our five star hotel and restaurant are also open in the summer. A very positive side effect is that we can employ our regular staff throughout the year. We have therefore invested greatly in the past few years in staff accommodation.

What’s your favourite meal?
Paznauner lamb and Galtür veal.

Cooked by Martin Sieberer?
Of course.

Your favourite spot in Paznaun?
Fimba (above Ischgl)

And in the wider world?
My house in Port d’ Antratz on Mallorca

What’s a typical Paznaun characteristic?
Reserved. You have to be open with people, then they open up too.Zurückhaltend. Man muss auf die Leute zugehen, dann öffnen sie sich auch.

If Ischgl were an animal, what would it be?
A tiger

With what drink should you toast to a successful season?
With a good glass of wine or champagne

What’s your favourite colour in winter?
Blue (the sky) and white (the slopes)

Describe the Silvretta Arena in one word?
One of the best ski regions in the world.

Your favourite language during the season?
German

Where can you find a moment of peace?
Hunting for marmots in Fimba, and on Mallorca.

Your favourite song with a connection to Paznaun?
Ischgl, du mein Traum (Ischgl, my dream)

The most important accessory in winter?
A scarf

Your favourite time of day?
Lunchtime

The most important change in the last few decades?
My retirement from operational business activities – and with it, the gradual handover to my children.