Bavaria growing in popularity as a holiday travel destination


NEW YORK—With 35.4 million guests and 90.8 million overnight stays tallied in 2016 for the largest of Germany’s 16 federal states, Bavaria has been continuing its tourism momentum, paving a profitable path for hoteliers as the country’s premier travel destination, officially flagging the region with the slogan “Traditionally Different.”

According to the Bavarian State Office for Statistics, the number of guest arrivals in the first half of 2017 (latest figures available) increased by 4.1% over 2016 to 16.6 million, with overnight stays climbing by 2% to 41.6 million, with both increasing in all regions of Bavaria.

Leading the group is Upper Bavaria, with a total of 7.5 million guest arrivals and 16.9 million overnight stays.

According to Bavaria’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Ilse Aigner, 2016 “was the fifth record year in a row for Bavaria tourism. Already after the first half of 2017, we can proudly announce that Bavaria is well on the way to further expanding its position as the strongest German holiday region. Not only the Bavarians themselves, but also national and international guests value the Free State as a holiday destination.”

Data shows the largest increase—24.2%—of travelers coming to Bavaria was driven by Chinese visitors. Nearby Austria, with more than 387,000 visitors to Bavaria in the first half of 2017, accounted for an 8.3% increase over the same time in the previous year. This was followed by the Swiss, whose 328,000 visitors represent a 5.7% increase.

Many of the visitors are interested in hotels that cater to a healthful lifestyle. One such property is the Siebenquell GesundZeitResort (Seven Source Health Time Resort), a 124-key hotel and resort complex in Weissenstadt, Upper Franconia, Bavaria, which has a distinct focus on wellness. It features a full-service spa, indoor and outdoor pools, hot springs and a health club.

Its location within three miles of Waldstein Castle and Schuessel Observation Platform, as well as relative proximity to Ochsenkopfschanze (ski slope/stadium), Fichtelgebirgs Museum, Greifvogelpark Falknerei Katharinenberg (a falconry park) and the Grassemann Open Air Museum, has given it a raft of revenue generators frequented by tourists.

One of the region’s most buzzed about hotel brands is Sightsleeping Hotels. The brand, founded 10 years ago, is akin to the soft brands currently in favor as portfolio growth vehicles, particularly by U.S. hotel chains. There is a distinct difference, however; while soft brands in the U.S. are largely independent lifestyle/boutique properties major franchisors bring under a particular collection, Sightsleeping hotels are a registered brand of Bayern Tourismus Marketing GmbH, which, as its name indicates, markets the region as a tourist destination.

The decision to include a particular property in Sightsleeping Hotels is made by a jury of art, design and tourism experts, as well as journalists, and the brand is aimed specifically at attracting visitors who want to experience Bavaria’s art and culture.

The brand’s eclectic motto, “Sleeping with an eye for art,” sets the tone for the collection, and only properties where sightseeing begins in the hotel are selected.

“With the Sightsleeping Hotels, we offer our guests…inspiring and special places of retreat in Bavaria. The traditional dividing line between historic and contemporary hotel buildings does not exist,” explained Sightsleeping Theme Manager Veronika Holz. “Sightsleeping represents a particularly intense form of travel where the hotel experience plays a key role, created by and for creatives.”

While the selection process is tight, the candidate range is wide. A property could be a castle or a property with modern design and architecture. What each must do, however, is create an aesthetic level that attracts the so-called creative set. On-premises paintings, prints, drawings, sculptures, etc.—i.e., something worth seeing—are a plus. Very often, the hotels have their own cultural offerings and present events such as concerts, author readings or theater performances, according to the marketing group.

Property selection is made once a year and there are just under four-dozen properties. According to Martin Spantig, managing director of Bayern Tourismus Marketing GmbH, “It is important that we filter out hotels that really have a chance on the market of culturally interested travelers.”

In Germany alone that is approximately eight million persons, he added.

“We look for extraordinary hotels that qualify as Sightsleeping ones, hotels that represent an inspiring retreat for guests interested in culture and design. They might be castles, palaces, designer hotels or even personal residences. These are hotels that spark a special feeling as soon as you awaken, a feeling comparable to the moment when you stand in front of a painting by your favorite artist for the first time,” said Spantig.

Among those that made it to the brand in 2017 were Romantik Alpenhotel Waxenstein, The Hollerhöfe guesthouse complex and Kloster Seeon.

The Romantik Alpenhotel Waxenstein in Grainau, Upper Bavaria, is near Zugspitze Mountain and combines the ambiance of a Bavarian country house with French accents that include contemporary works by well-known Parisian artists. It also showcases gourmet dining at its restaurant, Henri-Philippe.

The Hollerhöfe complex in Waldeck, halfway between Bayreuth and

Weiden, features a main country house and three restored, historic village houses with names that reflect traditional village life: Schreiberhaus (Scribe’s Cottage); Kanzlei (Chancellery); and Schusterhaus (Cobbler’s Cottage).

On the “authentic” side, the property incorporates local elderberries on its menus and even embraces such cultural events as “elderflower weeks,” relaxation seminars and a celebration of the potato harvest.

Kloster Seeon is just north of Lake Chiemsee in the foothills of the Alps in Upper Bavaria. The former Benedictine Abbey of Seeon now has guests sleeping where monks once lived. The property is on a lake and each room has a view either onto the Baroque courtyard or across the abbey lake that is accessible via a small bridge. Stucco rooms, secluded courtyards and gardens highlight the property.

Among other hotels gaining notice is The Lovelace. Considered a “pop-up hotel,” the recently opened 36-key property is set to occupy a former executive office building in downtown Munich until 2019. Also newly making the Munich scene is Roomers, a 281-key property on Landsberger Strasse. The Roomers brand is part of the Gekko Group, a collection of real estate, hotels, restaurants, bars and event spaces, and led by Alex Urseanu and Micky Rosen.

And coming later to the city this year via local family-owned firm Jost Hurler Beteiligungs und Verwaltungs GmBH & Co. KG will be a 274-key Andaz, a first for the Hyatt brand in Germany. The hotel will be part of a mixed-use project featuring retail, entertainment and apartments located in the city center’s Schwabinger Tor district. HB