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History of the Singer family Singer Sporthotel & SPA Tyrol Berwang Austria

Once upon a time…

History of the Singer family, their hotel and the mountain lifts

This is the extraordinary story of an extraordinary family of hoteliers in the third-generation and part-owners of the Bergbahnen Berwang lifts.

History of the Singer family Singer Sporthotel & SPA Tyrol Berwang Austria

1926 – 1945

The Singer family’s passion for the hotel industry began many generations ago. In 1926, Florian Singer’s grandparents – 22-year-old Hans Singer Jr. and wife Irma – moved to the mountain village of Berwang to build a ‘modern Alpine hotel’. The 30-room establishment rapidly attracted guests, especially from Europe’s German-speaking areas.

Fast-forward to 1931, and Irma and Hans Singer’s third child Günter comes into the world. He was the only Singer child born in the hotel itself, in what today is known as room 104. Maybe it was fate, because many years later, Günter took over the running of the hotel.

In 1932, the young couple made a brave decision: since there were more guests than available beds, they constructed another, smaller, building next to the hotel which added 20 rooms to their facilities.

Sadly, however, history intervened: on seizing power in 1933, the National Socialists introduced a tax of 1,000 Reichsmark for Germans travelling to Austria, so the German guests stopped coming. In desperation, Hans Singer and a few other hoteliers travelled to Holland where they persuaded travel agencies to recommend the beauty of Tyrol to their customers. Nonetheless, the Second World War put an end to this source of guests, and the Hotel Singer was used as a rest home for the Luftwaffe until the end of the war.

History of the Singer family Singer Sporthotel & SPA Tyrol Berwang Austria

1947 – 1966

It was only when the French occupying forces withdrew in June 1947 that the hotel could once more open its doors to guests. In 1950, funds provided by the Marshall Plan allowed the two hotel buildings to be linked by the new hotel lobby and reception. More modification and construction work followed, including a new bowling alley and refurbished dining room.

1956 saw the dawn of another success story: Hans Singer embarked on an equal partnership with Berwang’s council to build the Sonnenlift next to the Hotel Singer. The Höniglift and Hochalmlift followed soon afterwards.

In 1957 Günter Singer – who was all of 26-years-old at the time – returned from travelling abroad. He had spent a few years working in several first-class hotels, gaining valuable experience that came in useful when he joined his parents’ business. When Hans and Irma separated, Günter and his mother ran the hotel together, while Hans Singer held on to the lift shares.

History of the Singer family Singer Sporthotel & SPA Tyrol Berwang Austria

1967 – 1990

Thanks to Günter Singer’s bold approach, hard work, chance and the steadfast support of his wife Gerti, he was able to make many of his dreams come true during these years. He integrated the two hotel buildings into one, and installed its first passenger lift. He and Gerti transformed the ‘modern Alpine hotel’, and it became a supremely comfortable establishment bursting with elegance and Tyrolean style. It was also they who placed such importance on the personal touch, thus laying the foundations for supreme standards of service quality. During this period, Günter Singer added another à la carte restaurant as well as the Singer Stub’n dance hall. Overnight, the latter became the meeting place in Berwang, offering live music, delicious food and a 5pm tea dance.

In 1978, the dream of replacing the existing roof with a traditional Tyrolean pitched roof was finally realised, profoundly affecting the building’s appearance. This project also included the addition of a fourth floor of rooms. In 1980, a new restaurant – today’s Restaurant 1928 – and the Zirbenstube were added to the Singer Stub’n.

In 1982, the hotel installed its first little SPA with a Jacuzzi, sauna, gym and sunbeds. 1984 brought about a brand-new hotel kitchen, the extension to the wine cellar and a new laundry room. The following year, the Singer Sporthotel & SPA became a member of the Relais & Châteaux hotel association. In 1986, large apartments and suites, all finished in the local pine wood, were built over the kitchen. New staff accommodation with underground car parking was built in 1988 and, in 1990, the hotel’s impressive entrance hall with its magnificent staircase and hand-forged chandelier was added. Included were also a new reception desk, offices and the Gallery and Fireplace Lounges. Then, in 1982, during this exciting time for the hotel, Florian Singer was born. However, this was also a period of great sadness as Irma passed away in 1985. She was followed in 1987 by Hans Singer, who had become a welcome visitor at the hotel following the birth of his grandson Florian.

History of the Singer family Singer Sporthotel & SPA Tyrol Berwang Austria

1990 – 2004

Hans Singer’s lift shares were divided among his three children: Hans and Günter Singer each received a 25% share of the Sonnenlift and the Hochalmlift, while their sister Sabine Petersen was given the Muldenlift and Höniglift shares. Together with Berwang’s council, Hans and Günter Singer set about renovating the two one-man chairlifts, and the modernised Sonnalmbahn was opened in 1993. Berwang’s first snow cannon had already been commissioned in 1991, which was also when the family purchased the adjacent Chalet Singer in readiness of future growth.

History of the Singer family Singer Sporthotel & SPA Tyrol Berwang Austria

2005 – today

2005 was defined by the most significant development since 1928: the Sporthotel Singer became the Singer Sporthotel & SPA with a 1,800sqm, self-contained, three-storey SPA building set in a 10,000sqm Alpine Relaxation Garden.

In subsequent years, we embarked on a comprehensive programme of refurbishment to achieve a modern yet traditional look and feel to our rooms and suites. In addition, we refurbished the terrace and added the Gallery & Fireplace Lounge as well as the Zirbenstube. 2005, however, was entirely given over to building work. It was also the year in which Florian Singer met his wife-to-be Christina. She came to the hotel as a receptionist, and then became an assistant to the hotel’s management. The couple married in 2013 and daughter Leonie arrived in June 2017. Christina gradually assumed her mother-in-law Gerti’s responsibilities and now takes special care of the hotel’s appearance as well as overseeing recruitment. The ‘specialist for details’ and her husband Florian work tirelessly, running and growing the family business. In 2012, the Tiroler Stube gourmet restaurant was awarded a toque by the renowned Gault&Millau guide – the only restaurant in the Tyrolean Zugspitz Arena to have been thus honoured.

The lifts have also been subject to key changes in recent years:

  • 2002: takeover of the Mulden- und Hönigliftgesellschaft
  • 2006: merger with Bichlbacher Bergbahnen
  • 2007: construction of the Almkopfbahn
  • 2009: construction of the child-friendly Egghof Sunjet

In addition, the slopes, snow-making facilities and lifts have been continuously improved.

Sadly, the family had to mourn the death of Günter Singer in 2015 who, on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 2011, had been given the freedom of the municipality of Berwang.

In 2016, the major lift operators were successfully merged and now operate under the company name of Bergbahnen Berwang. The Singer family continue to own almost 50% of this business.

2017 was not just the year of the fourth Singer generation’s birth, it also saw the launch of the ambitious ‘2017-2019’ project: a major extension including technical and logistical improvements as well as a new outdoor bar, the S-Lounge. Every room in the hotel is being modernised and redecorated, the SPA area extended, and the staff accommodation enlarged.

The Singer family’s visionary spirit is sure to bring even more changes and developments to the hotel, the lifts, and to Berwang itself. Christina, Gerti, Leonie and Florian Singer are looking forward to the challenge!