Stefanie Fleischhaker, aged 30, is the director of the small, private four star hotel Rosenvilla in the city of Salzburg, Austria. We noticed two outstanding characteristics about the place: the hotel pays attention to detail, such as displaying handcrafted elements, and the young, charismatic manager impressively incorporates social aspects and a deep connection to the local community into the daily business. After our stay at the intimate, family run hotel, we felt the urge to learn more about the establishment and its owner:
You come from a family that is rooted in a tradition of gastronomy and the hotel industry (the family has been running hotels/restaurants in Salzburg and Vienna for decades) Can you tell us about it?
My family has always been working in gastronomy and I grew up living in a restaurant and being part of it. We used to play soccer with the cooking team in their lunch break, I learned how to write my name from our service ladies and we always had lunch and dinner together. It was like a huge family!
How come you are in charge of the hotel Rosenvilla and what did you adopt from your parents?
At the age of 21 I was put in charge of our Hotel Rosenvilla in Salzburg. I had been working in the hotel for a few years already while at the same time attending school and university, so I already knew a lot about the hotel. But of course it was totally different to be in charge of it of all a sudden! I think I adopted the discipline from my parents and also the love for this kind of work. I could not imagine doing anything else!
Your father Klaus Fleischhaker was one of the most prestigious chefs in Austria. How did this affect you and what is your personal relationship with food?
I LOVE food in all kinds of forms, but unfortunately I am a lousy cook compared to him. In our hotels we care very much about regional and seasonal products and we always try to support small and local farmers.
There are people from around the world staying at your house, enjoying your individual and indeed unique breakfast, as well as locals who flock in in the morning to escape established culinary options. Could you name some of your homemade breakfast favorites and explain the philosophy of your food supply?
As mentioned above, the quality of the products is the most important thing, as well as the regionality. Lots of products are homemade, like our jams, cakes and granolas. We also provide things like warm granola with compote, rice and soymilk and seasonal fruits, especially for people who are not allowed to eat dairy products.
What inspires you to create all those little extras and new combinations of edibles?
It’s fun and we always try something new!
We believe, you also provide social support through your hotel. One room, for instance, has been occupied non-stop since 2015. Who is living there and why?
We are glad to be hosting Adeeb since 2015. He is from Syria and came as a refugee in 2014. After being granted asylum in 2015, he was looking for a place to live, but it was not easy to find something reasonable in Salzburg. We had already been in contact to people from Syria at that time and tried to help in different ways. So we decided to host him for a little while. Just as important as having a job and a cheap place to live, is to be in contact with local people, get to know each other, make friends and feel a little bit like at home. He is already working as a pharmacist, his German is excellent and he became a very good friend of our family.
Austria's political landscape is experiencing an ongoing shift to the right. Is this, in your opinion, something that guests who travel to Salzburg know and talk about?
Not so far!
What is it like to work and live in Salzburg, a city which is famous for classical music, above all Mozart and the summer Festival (every year, the Salzburg Festival transforms Salzburg into one giant stage), hence, a seasonal place?
We often hear this sentence: “You are living in a wonderful and blessed city”. And I think that people are right. We have a wonderful city and a beautiful countryside. During the festival season the atmosphere in town is very special. There is some kind of positive tension and excitement! So many famous artists, musicians and guests enjoy these few weeks in the summer and visit the operas and concerts. Every year it is a very special time for all of us!
The little concept store you set up at your reception also has a social connotation. All the various products, ranging from cosmetics and food to accessories, are of good quality and handmade by friends and family of yours. Would you agree that you use your privilege of running a hotel as a platform to share with others and thereby support them?
Yes, of course! This way I can help them and I have exceptional things to sell! WIN-WIN!
What do you get yourself as a souvenir when abroad?
I collect funny postcards from everywhere I go.
What are your future plans and dreams regarding the Rosenvilla?
I am living my dream already - I am lucky to have a job I love with great colleagues at my side. I hope that one day I will be able to combine my work at the hotel with a family of my own.