25 years ago, at the age of only 27, Innegrit Volkhardt took over from her father Falk Volkhardt as hotel manager of the legendary 5-star hotel on Munich’s Promenadeplatz, in whose guest books there is hardly a name that does not appear. Muhammad Ali, Klaus Kinski, Romy Schneider, the Dalai Lama, Thomas Mann, Gracia Patricia, Bruce Springsteen, Woody Allen, Bill Clinton, Queen Elizabeth and Pope Benedict are just a few. Every year, she and her staff of 700 host the Munich Security Conference – a challenge that puts the house with its 345 rooms into a state of emergency for three days. And catapults the Bayerischer Hof into all the world’s media. Following her grandfather’s advice, Innegrit Volkhardt does not live in the hotel, but on the family estate in Starnberg. This distance is important to her, because it is the only way the grande dame of the world-famous luxury hotel can switch off. The best way for her to do this is to take care of her animal family members, the four donkeys and two cats, every morning. As Innegrit Volkhardt points out, she simply can’t do without animals. A minimum distance that gives the hotelier the strength for the almost 24-hour mammoth job. A conversation about the chances of repeating this success, how she experiences personalities and reacts to the changes in the hotel industry.
Innegrit Volkhardt now manages the second highest-turnover hotel in Germany. She is the fourth generation to head the Bayerischer Hof in Munich.
Recently, a lot of work has been done again. The Palaishalle was completely renovated by the internationally renowned interior designer, art collector and antique dealer Axel Vervoordt from Belgium. In addition to the Palaishalle, Axel Vervoordt is currently involved in another project in the building: a further 29 rooms, junior suites and a penthouse suite have been created, which occupies the entire eighth floor and covers 350 square metres including the terrace. “Customers’ demands have risen steadily in recent years,” Volkhardt says. When she took over the hotel, it had 442 rooms. Now there are only 345, but in all conceivable variations and sizes. It is the balancing act between tradition and modernity that is existential for a hotel like the Bayerischer Hof. “You think carefully about what you want to modernise,” says Volkhardt. But it is clear to her that there have to be changes in order to survive in the present. So far, she’s succeeded well: In recent years, the Bayerischer Hof was the hotel with the highest turnover in Germany, followed by the Berlin hotels Estrel and the Adlon. Besides the Bayerischer Hof, the Hotel Zur Tenne in Kitzbühel and a wine shop in Munich also belong to the family business Gebrüder Volkhardt KG.
But even around an icon like Munich’s oldest Grand Hotel, the hotel landscape is in a state of upheaval: increasingly, private accommodation is being booked via providers such as Airbnb, hotel chains are stamping hotels out of the ground and so-called design hotels are gaining momentum. Especially the three- and four-star category is facing major changes, experts believe. These could have significantly fewer employees in the future, with voice robots taking over a large part of the tasks. The impersonal replaces the personal – conceivable?
Unthinkable! So the Bayerische Hof takes the opposite approach and sends a clear signal with its commitment to service. This is what guests expect from a luxury hotel. The people who stay here want to have their wishes fulfilled. This is also why the hotel has the largest concierge desk in Germany. There is hardly anything that this desk cannot provide. So even a hotel manageress sometimes can’t get tickets for a sold-out concert. Then the concierge sometimes steps in to get hold of some via his network. “That usually only takes a few minutes,” says Volkhardt. She doesn’t allow herself time off too often anyway. She takes it on a few days a year. Mostly at Christmas and on her birthday. For a family hotel, it is important that the head is personally there for the guests. The company will remain in family hands in the future. In the meantime, it has four partners. Innegrit Volkhardt, her sister and both of her daughters recently received shares. It is not yet clear whether they will lead the hotel into the future as shareholders or operationally. However, some time will pass until this happens. And we enjoy it on the roof terrace of the Hotel Bayerischer Hof with a view of the north tower of the Frauenkirche.
Read also our article, the interview with General Manager Dominik G. Reiner about the Hotel Mandarin Oriental Munich.
You need a car in Munich? Check the availability.
Source: GO Sixt #46