23 December 2021
On the way to becoming the best children's hotel in Europe
The plans are gigantic: The multiple award-winning Baby & Kinder Bio-Resort ULRICHSHOF in Zettisch in the middle of the Bavarian Forest wants to take another step towards becoming the best children’s hotel in Europe with even more offers and services. For more than three years, the Brandl family has been planning the next big steps for the further development of the hotel. If everything goes according to plan, the work will be completed by the end of 2023.
Photo: His heart beats for construction sites: The passion of
Ulrich N. Brandl’s passion is developing and buildingn
The first construction phase started on 8 November 2021 with the extension of the existing lobby, the new hotel entrance with the “Ulrichsplatz” and the new multi-storey car park with the outdoor play area above. The hotel will be open again for holiday guests from 25 December, and no construction work will take place over the turn of the year. “From 10 January 2022, we will face the challenge of running the hotel with extensive construction work at the same time,” reports junior manager Nikolaus Brandl. The lobby, the arrival area as well as the parking garage and the outdoor sports area will then be completed by the end of 2022. From January to probably October 2022, the demolition, earthworks and structural work for the new buildings Bergschloss (with 32 suites) and the Spiel-KISTE with the “Sky Restaurant” (project name) will take place. From the middle of next year until probably the end of 2023, the interior work of the new buildings will follow. “So now is the best time to take a family holiday at the ULRICHSHOF, because what child doesn’t enjoy watching cranes, excavators or trucks,” laughs the junior boss, pointing out that almost all offers and services will also be available during the construction period. The previous attractions of the play barn will be moved to the underground car park and to another large hall on the site. Only the bumper cars will not be available again until May 2023.
The investment sum in the final expansion stage amounts to more than 21 million euros. “The biggest hurdle was to find a banking partner with real tourism expertise who would support our project and assess the given factors accordingly. In Oberbank, our new house bank, we have found this expert financing partner and are looking forward to the cooperation,” reports Benjamin Brandl. “The municipality and the district administration also see the great advantage for the region and are fully behind our project.” But even here there have been setbacks in between. “Unfortunately, the official channels are now very long,” regrets senior boss Ulrich N. Brandl. The visionary lives and loves construction. In 1992, the master farmer founded the ULRICHSHOF with nine holiday flats out of his parents’ farm. Over the past 30 years, the hotel has grown continuously, and now more than 250 employees take care of up to 101 young families who spend their holidays in the 4-star superior house. When asked what drives him to keep creating something new, the owner answers with a broad smile: “It’s a mixture of above-average creative will, fearlessness and certainly a pinch of madness.”
Regional service providers
The large-scale project combines numerous trades, such as master builder, steel construction, glass construction, timber construction, dry construction, heating/air conditioning/ventilation/sanitation (HVAC), electrical engineering (ELT), building management system (BMS) and interior finishing. All contracts are awarded exclusively to regional companies, for example Fuhr- und Tiefbau Pongratz from Neukirchen beim Heiligen Blut, Müller Baumeisterbetrieb from Döbersing, Penzkofer Holzbau from Eschlkam, MSG Naturenergie from Mauth, Weikl Energie + Technik from Bodenmais, Remus Regeltechnik from Bayerbach, Mühlbauer Stahl + Metallbau from Furth im Wald, Zimmerei und Kranverleih Mühlbauer from Runding, Gerüstbau Reznik from Cham, Schreinerei Aschenbrenner from Grafenwiesen, Raumausstattung Geiger from Arrach and Malerei Lecker from Furth im Wald were involved in the construction.
Own man & machine power
At the ULRICHSHOF, six permanently employed construction workers operate the hotel’s own construction vehicles: “We have two wheel loaders with 7.5 and 16 tonnes, two excavators with 6.5 and 22 tonnes, a 7.5 tonne truck, a sweeper and lots of small construction equipment,” the senior boss proudly lists. “Soon we will also add a 32-tonne roll-off tipper.” During the current closure, the ULRICHSHOF employees are nevertheless well occupied. “From training courses, stocktaking and a proper basic cleaning to helping out on the construction site – there is something for everyone,” Nikolaus Brandl reports. Hotel specialist Fares actually works at the reception, but currently he works on the construction site every day. He likes the variety and especially the cooperation with colleagues from other departments. “Normally, you only greet each other briefly during day-to-day operations or exchange information when problems are being solved. But on the construction site I really got to know and appreciate many colleagues when working together. Shoveling bricks together or dismantling the balconies have created new friendships and I’m very happy about that.”
There's a rattle in the play box
When the ULRICHSHOF was founded 30 years ago, the Brandl family converted the machine hall into a play barn without further ado, using the simplest of means. At that time, they had no idea that it was one of the first of its kind ever and what a central importance it would have for the further development of the ULRICHSHOF. “For us, it was always our declared goal to offer children a play Eldorado of the special kind, regardless of the weather. That’s why the play barn has been constantly expanded and equipped with new attractions. But when you increase the quality so continuously, at some point the time comes to fundamentally rethink without losing sight of the core of such an essential offer,” reports the owner. The result is the “Spiel-KISTE”, which will be newly created in the next two years. Six times larger than before and equipped with many new, but also tried and tested play offers. The icing on the cake will certainly be the spacious loft architecture. A cafeteria for parents with the best view of the different play levels and the completely new “sky restaurant” on top will take the indoor play experience in the ULRICHSHOF to the next level.
Design that enchants
Various hotel projects have already been successfully realised in the past with the architecture firm Werner Bauer from Cham. The extensive planning for the conversion and new building already started in 2018. Michaela Lankes, member of the management at the ULRICHSHOF, took over the entire interior design and continues the ULRICHSHOF design nominated at the “World Architecture Festival”. “My goal was the wow effect! Many people think of Dirndl and country house style when they think of holidays in the Bavarian Forest. But the ULRICHSHOF is just different, here guests are enchanted: trees grow out of the walls and ceilings and the reception desk is an aquarium where fish seem to fly in the sky. When you enter the new lobby, especially the little holidaymakers won’t be able to get out of their amazement.” However, Michaela Lankes does not only attach great importance to the visible, but also to the invisible: “The feeling of happiness plays a very important role. We create a magical place for our guests, big and small, where they feel safe and where you can feel the joy.”
Investment in the future
With these extensive investments, the ULRICHSHOF is reaching for another star: “A 5-star classification is the next step and a logical consequence of increasing quality and an ever more extensive offer,” Nikolaus Brandl is convinced. “Nevertheless, it is an essential milestone, because the guest service is noticeably raised to a level that can only be found in the international luxury hotel industry. The entire ULRICHSHOF team has already dedicated itself to absolutely top-class guest service and a 5th star is then the reward for such dedication in the end.”
Due to the new building, all departments will be increased as well as completely new positions – such as carriage attendant, porter and bellboy – will be advertised. “Of course, speculative applications are always very welcome. Everyone finds their vocation at the ULRICHSHOF, whether advertised or not,” says Nikolaus Brandl. He and his brother Benjamin are especially happy about the new, two-storey team house. On a floor space of 920 m², 15 flats with a gallery of 60 m² each are being built, as well as a 150 m² community room and various games facilities such as billiards on an area of more than 100 m². It is obvious that the well-being of the ULRICHSHOF team has top priority, because even the catering will be available free of charge in the future team house.