The municipality of Biberwier in Tyrol has 640 inhabitants, many of whom work in the 16 “LaPosch” chalets. In an interview with FOCUS online, boss Dominik Posch talks about the energy transition, regional purchasing and why the chickens have a mini-trampoline in the field.
The Posch couple see themselves as adult whisperers. They want to offer their guests the opportunity to retreat with the 16 luxury chalets – at an altitude of 1000 meters in a small town in Tyrol. Slow down, that’s the goal. But can this place, with its small mountain huts and romantic fireplaces, escape the problems of the world? Inflation, rising energy prices, how will the energy transition succeed? Dominik Posch, host of LaPosch, is convinced of this in an interview with FOCUS online. He takes his time and is always calm.
Mr. Posch, you operate 16 chalets in Austria, which you let to guests. Each chalet has amenities such as its own sauna. Are you also concerned about the rising electricity prices?
Dominik Posch: I currently have a contract with an electricity supplier who guarantees me fixed prices for more than a year. But we also invest in independence, for example in photovoltaic systems. We also heat with wood chips. And we get supplies relatively easily, the forest is not far away.
Don’t you have any pellets?
Posh: Fortunately not. Pellets have become extremely expensive.
And what else do you have planned to become more independent?
Posch: I like doing pioneering work and am currently also involved with wind power. Here in Biberwier the wind is often blowing, so I can imagine small wind turbines here too. These should then have an output of 60 kW. For me it is important that something is moving forward.
The pressure from the energy crisis is at least accelerating the change.
Posch: Exactly, and that’s also a good thing. It’s only because of this pressure that we can become faster and talk more about wind energy, PV systems or even hydrogen as an energy source.
How do you assess the overall situation of the hotel industry in Austria? Does the state support?
Posch: We are currently not receiving any support from the state. That was different in Corona times, there were generous regulations. Due to the sharp rise in gas and electricity prices, I have also heard that some hotels are considering not opening certain areas in winter. This includes energy-intensive ones like wellness.
Do the guests use less energy if you each have their own sauna?
Posch: Our guests have already understood the changing times and are voluntarily energy-conscious. If they use the sauna, they usually turn it off again afterwards. Two chalets have their own pool. If the guests want to swim there, they open the cover beforehand – but close it again after use. In this way, our guests can enjoy their individuality and tranquility with us, and in my opinion it is better in terms of costs than if we had a wellness area that was open from around 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Where do you see the greatest impact of the energy crisis?
Posch: I already mentioned the wellness area. But it can also be expensive for skiers. The lifts need electricity, and if there is little snow, then the snow-making systems have to be put into operation more intensively. These are also dependent on electricity.
Is climate change evident here too?
Posch: Take a look around: the summit next to us is 2400 meters high and still free of snow. But when I think back to the past two winters, I haven’t been able to see climate change more clearly. 2021 wasn’t that snowy, but it was very cold here. And the year before, I’ll call it the Corona winter, it was a dream for snow lovers.
Were you open during the Corona period? With their own chalets, the guests are completely self-sufficient. You don’t see people if you don’t want to.
Posch: That is also our concept, our guests like to be on their own. We tried to change that, but it didn’t work.
What have you done?
Posch: On December 28th, it’s a local custom for a band to go from house to house. We also tried that with the chalets, but the response was poor. We also tried a mulled wine stand once, but also with little interest. Our clientele wants to be on their own, and of course we respect that.
Did you have guests during the Corona period?
Posh: No. We had and still have the opportunity to offer a completely contactless stay. But the authorities told us that if we make an exception here, then others will come who want it too. So unfortunately it didn’t work.
What did you do during that time?
Posch: We have renovated five chalets, renewed the paths to the chalets and much more. We are a year-round company, so such work is always difficult to carry out, but we used this time sensibly.
In view of the competition in the wellness sector, it is always said that standing still is a step backwards.
Posch: Yes, that’s comparable to an arms race, especially in the South Tyrolean area.
Are you actually burdened by the rising interest rates on loans or how do you obtain outside capital?
Posch: We could still secure attractive conditions for the larger projects in good time before interest rates have risen so sharply.
Do you also want to expand further?
Posch: We will certainly continue to shape it, but that is not yet ready for a decision. At the moment I think the 16 chalets are a wonderful size. We have an average of 36 to 38 guests.
How many regulars do you have?
Posch: Around 60 percent. Before switching to adults-only last year, it was 75 percent, but we’re getting closer to that number.
Why did you change the concept?
Posch: We love children, my wife and I have three little ones ourselves. But as hosts, we see ourselves as adult whisperers. We decided on this concept because otherwise we would have had to completely fence off the crystal lake, for example.
How many staff do you have at the facility?
Posch: Around 35.
Sounds like a lot. And don’t you have any staffing problems? Good people are hard to come by in the hotel and catering industry.
Posch: That’s true, but we also do a lot for our employees. We pay well, offer a 5-day work week and have one person who takes care of all HR issues. Therefore, vacancies are quickly filled again (knock on wood). We are also proud that more than half come from one of the neighboring towns. This is not job tourism, but most of our employees also live here.
Do you also apply the concept of regionality to other things such as craftsmen or the food?
Posch: Yes, that is very important to us. Whether carpenter, interior designer or master builder, we like to work with local companies. And we also pay attention to this when it comes to food. The meat is from here, the potatoes come from a farmer ten kilometers away, the cheese from the alpine pasture and the free-range chickens are 300 meters away.
I saw them. There was also a mini-trampoline in the fenced area. Do you know why?
Posch: The explanation is unfortunately very boring, the trampoline is supposed to protect the chickens from the sun.
Don’t the guests miss it if they don’t get everything from you? About the fruit?
Posch: Just offering apples would not be enough with our concept, so we are switching to berries. But a pineapple is not on the offer. We also work with a local fish supplier for fish, salmon is not included.
If I summarize, then you are completely satisfied.
Posh: Yes, that’s me. I have a great wife, a wonderful family and I can honestly say: We’ve been doing this for 13 years now, I haven’t had a day where I said I don’t feel like getting up today.