Interview with René Föger, Familien Landhotel Stern
Behind each green pearl, there are people who inspire with their efforts and personality. In 2005, René Föger took over the Familien Landhotel Stern, which has been sustainable since 1907. With his modern perspectives, sustainable projects and his authentic warmth, René Föger is a great example, how green tourism is successful – especially for family vacations.
René, what makes your hotel unique? What is the most fascinating about it?
STERN is a century old traditional house, a house with history, a house from and for generations, a house with a soul. Since 1907, our family welcomes guests from near and far, young and old in the STERN walls.
Over generations, the STERN spirit was built and also today – more than 100 years later – lived. STERN is a place where one can feel ‘huamelig’ (Tyrollean for ‘to feel at home’), where one enjoys yummy foods in a social round and has a comfy atmosphere.
The big challenge was to keep the traditions and the spirit of the house, but combine it with the modern expectations of the 21st century.
Our motto “I schaug auf Di – Du schaugsch auf mi” (I look for you – You look for me) reflects the attitude of the previous generations, but also encloses modern, spirit of age ideas of sustainability, service and quality.
What does sustainability mean to you? What does it entail, in your opinion?
Sustainability is a comprehensive topic, alone from its definition with the pillars of ecology, economy, social and communication. In our house it is set as our company’s philosophy, which means that each decision is also viewed sustainably. It encloses every corporate activity and each contact with people (guests, deliverers, employees, partners, local communities…)
What does your hotel due concerning sustainability?
Every 2 years, we do a climate assessment. This highlights all areas of the hotel and shows us directly, which result past or future measures have.
The climate assessment 2013 showed an average CO2 usage of 7.59 kg CO2 per night – an obvious reduction of 30% since the year 2010 and an absolute top peak in the worldwide hotel business. The value corresponds to a A+++. This value was achieved through an intensive examination with energy (wood chips for heating, heat recovery, eco-energy, LED systems…), waste (waste concept, separation, avoidance of dangerous substances…) and especially with the purchase of local groceries (partially organic) and other products (recycled papers, own larch cosmetics line…).
As of 2012, STERN is climate-neutral, meaning that all CO2 that is produced in the house and calculated with the assessment, are compensated through the support of climate protection projects. Thereby, we support an international climate protection project of reforestation in Ethiopia and pay in a regional climate fund that has the goal to revive regional larch meadows and lost windfall grasslands.
What kind of guests come to visit? What is their feedback, especially concerning the sustainable angle of the hotel?
STERN is a house for generations. Families with children love to come to us, but also older people, who want to enjoy the limitless possibilities of the mountains.
All STERN guests unite the love for people and nature, the passion for details and ideas, as well as the ability to be happy. And in this, there is a lot of sustainability!
You have also welcomed bloggers as well – How do you see the relevance of bloggers in today’s media world?
Blogger can carry on emotions and tell stories much better and more unconventional. Together with photos and accompanied by all online channels, they bring across a much stronger picture. Bloggers speak to a new generation that are, for a sustainable and young house like STERN, very interesting.
Is sustainable tourism important for the region around the sun plateau Mieming? What is being done?
Very much so! Sun plateau Mieming is one of the few regions of Tyrol that have kept their authenticity and naturalness and this is lived in the whole region. When one thinks globally, then Austria is surely an exemplary country concerning sustainability and environment. Anyhow, there are so many more things that can be done and this must happen – since the Alps are one of the biggest losers of environmental change.
What has to be done in your opinion? What needs to change?
Sustainability has to happen and be lived in the small scale with each individual and on the large scale in UN conferences, state rulers and economic corporations. This is the only way where we can assume that the next generations will also be able to enjoy earth. Unfortunately, we are far away from that – especially in the large scale. And that is why a lot must happen in the small scale: constant dripping wears the stone.
Why do you personally think, is green travel important?
All areas are included in sustainability and one can be sure that the green travel happens in accordance with nature, the people and the social situation of the society in the vacation destination.
I do not want that as a “guest”, people in their home are pressured to do something that does not fit to them or maybe even humiliates them and brings the country into a wrong direction. The best thing is, when guest and host are at eye level.
And the worst is, when “fake worlds” are created for tourist or when locals are presented like in “cages”.
What delights you the most in eco-friendly travel and why?
That one is in friendly contact with people and nature. That is the way it should be!
What is your favorite travel destination and why?
With my family, I love to travel to places far away from mass tourism and we prefer small, lovely accommodations who are true hosts.
Thank you dear René for the interview. Dear reader, pack your family and book a stay at Familien Landhotel Stern.