Looking like the boss of a start up, Rudolf Tucek is an atypical hotelier in a country known for its ancestral tradition of hoteliers. Standing at the helm of the hotel management group Vienna International since 2004, after serving on its management board in the '90s, he encouraged the launch of brands adapted to identified niches: Andels, Angelo and Cube. Autonomous today with respect to the Verkhersbüro Group, it already owns forty hotels, four of which are under development.
Backed by two powerful Austrian investment funds, Amber and Bocca, Vienna International is rising up higher and higher in the circle of European groups. The group was born twenty years ago at the initiative of the Verkhersbüro AG, Austrian's number-one tourism group, with a mission to complement its “sister company” Austria Trends: constituting a network of independent hotels through management contracts to accommodate guests from the group's tourism branch. Vienna International began establishing itself with the Czech Republic and Poland, and progressively Germany, Switzerland, Croatia, Russia, Romania, Slovakia and more recently France joined in as well. At the same time Austria, which is no longer the privileged hunting ground of Austria Trends, entered the development area. Today, 37 hotels are under management contracts and 4 others are in the pipeline, for nearly 7,500 rooms. With 2,400 employees, in 2009, Vienna International should surpass the benchmark of 2 million guests, resulting in turnover of around €156 million.With its new projects, the benchmark of 8,000 rooms will be largely surpassed and Vienna International may begin to claim its status as a “global company”. Through its locations and different brands, no niche is unknown to it: leisure, business, seminars, relaxation and sports activities. The seedlings of networks that include just a few units for the time being are expected to spread out to countries in Central Europe where the group has, until now, succeeded in being backed by partners that have not been affected by the crisis. The renewal of the still modest pipeline will confirm whether or not this is still the case.The group first grew interested in classic upscale hotels; 5 of its properties are Leading Hotels of the World and one belongs to the new label Leading Spa of the World. The circle of countries for implantation is growing as opportunities for takeover arise. In 2006, Vienna International arrived in France taking over two management contracts, one next to the other, for leisure hotels in the new hotel zone of Disneyland resort, which had disappointed their first operators. Mövenpick gave it the management of its Dream Castle Hotel and Holiday Inn that of its Magic Circus Hotel. Its first steps in Russia date to October 2008 with the takeover of the Liner Airporthotel in Ekaterinburg. A year later the Vienna group celebrated the opening of the Angelo Airporthotel near the first one, on Ekaterinburg-Koltsovo.While remaining on the upscale niche, Vienna International felt the need to stick with the different segments that are prized by international travel agents while taking advantage of opportunities for converting buildings into hotels.In 2006, the first Angelo property opened, illustrating this move to adapt to the market. “For a few years, the design hotel concept has been gaining popularity on an international level, and it was necessary to take this into consideration in order to grow the portfolio of Vienna International,” ex-plains Rudolf Tucek during the inauguration of the Angelo in Munich, just two years after the brand's launch in Prague. This “full service” concept is characterized by a contemporary and minimalist approach that maximizes its use of the latest technologies in rooms and common areas. Color tonalities play on contrast and warmth, mixing deep black, coral red, a palette of yellows and whites, associated with furniture that is resolutely design.Backed by a renewed partnership with the real estate promoter UBM and the investment fund Warimpex, Vienna International develops the concept throughout its area of predilection. After Prague and Pilsen in the Czech Republic, Munich in Bavaria, the brand is making its appearance at the airport in Bucharest in Romania and very recently in Ekaterinenbourg in Russia. For potential investors, the interest of the development in Munich is to demonstrate the pertinence of converting an office building into a design hotel. Next year a new 203room hotel will open under this brand in Katowice, Poland.Warimpex has also been an efficient partner for supporting the development of a second niche brand: Andel's. This new brand with its contemporary profile was also born in Prague, at the heart of the new business area, Andel City, which gave the hotel its name. A tandem of British architects Jestico & Whiles created the hotel concept for business travelers and meetings. Contrasting colors continues act as an important signature for the brand, as does the importance given to bright lights in the common areas. The futurist approach breaks away from the buildings that house the hotel, generally old buildings, or even retired factories. As for the hotel in Berlin, which opened last March, the vast impersonal complex, located in the Eastern part of the city, had been abandoned for years. Built in the form of a fortified castle with its tall tower and lower wings, today it houses a very contemporary 600-key hotel that is the brand's flagship. The concept places customer comfort and basic needs on the same level. The common areas have no solid partitions so as to confer a sense of space and there is a strong notion of contrast in the choice of materials and “stimulating” colors. In Berlin, where the hotel includes 16 meeting rooms, Andel's demonstrates its adaptation to the business meeting market. In the same spirit, the 5th property with 280 rooms opened just a few weeks ago in a 150year old former weaving mill in the old town of Lodz, an industrial city in Poland. Transformed by the Polish-Austrian architecture firm OP Architekten, in association with the British designers that created Andel’s design concept, the red brick building welcomes businessmen seduced by a resolutely modern approach. The partner Warimpex provides solid backing for these projects and appears determined to accompany the brand in its development in Central Europe. “We have the firm conviction that the two complementary brands, Angelo and Andel's, have all it takes to make their way in secondary cities in Central and Eastern Europe and find themselves among the leading brands in these countries,” said Franz Jurkowitsch, CEO of Warimpex, recently.At the beginning of this new millennium, Rudolf Tucek dedicated a great deal of time to defining a new leisure hotel concept adapted to a new “fun” alpine approach. The first Cube was inaugurated in February 2004 in Nassfeld-Hermagor in the Austrian Alps. There again, Vienna International surprised alpine architecture by imposing its contemporary style. Within an immense Cube of cement, glass and steel, spaces are very open, with suspended rails and long curving ramps accessible by foot or bicycle. A blend of youth hostel, vacation club, budget hotel, Cube lends itself to conviviality within its “community” of guests, gathered around the fire, at the bar, coffee-shop or Grill. Rooms are private or shared and can accommodate one to four guests, without compromising comfort or equipment: separate bathrooms, wifi and flat screen.Life in the hotel, in winter and summer revolves around fun sports activities. All forms of sliding and biking as well as hiking are encouraged by large storage spaces for equipment. Hermits beware, however, because this hotel is alive 24/7 in a joyous and festive ambiance.In December 2005, the concept was exported to Savognin in Switzerland and in July 2007, the third unit opened in Biberwier-Lermoos in the Austrian Tyrol. While it follows Vienna International's philosophy of new ideas that rock the hotel world, Cube is its own enterprise that lives its own experience and is 25% owned by Vienna International.With its new projects, the benchmark of 8,000 rooms will be largely surpassed and Vienna International may begin to claim its status as a “global company”. Through its locations and different brands, no niche is unknown to it: leisure, business, seminars, relaxation and sports activities. The seedlings of networks that include just a few units for the time being are expected to spread out to countries in Central Europe where the group has, until now, succeeded in being backed by partners that have not been affected by the crisis. The renewal of the still modest pipeline will confirm whether or not this is still the case.
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