Better than ever: Changes are coming in 2023

Peter Inselkammer & Heiko Buchta stand side by side in Bavarian costume in the Platzl Hotel Munich.

In 2023, the emphasis is very much on renewal and modernisation at the Platzl Hotel. New suites, new bathrooms and a new spa area are gradually taking shape. We spoke to owner Peter Inselkammer and hotel manager Heiko Buchta about challenges and expectations. Both of them told us about the exciting changes that guests can start looking forward to.

There’s a lot going on in the Platzl establishments in 2023 – it will be a year of building and restoration. What structural changes are taking place?

Heiko Buchta: In 2023, we will be working on two large-scale projects simultaneously. One of them involves alterations to the upper part of the Pfistermühle building, creating thirteen new suites. At the same time, we will be progressively renovating the bathrooms in the PLATZL HOTEL. Both projects have already got off to a good start. In May work will start on the renovation of our spa area, bringing it up to the same high quality standard as our new suites.

Peter Inselkammer: And those are only the visible changes! It goes without saying that there will be ongoing maintenance work in different parts of our buildings, work that our guests never see being carried out. As well as this, the new construction work requires a certain amount of preparation, sometimes entailing further renovations.

You have taken on a significant workload for 2023 – why this year and why so much at once?  

Peter Inselkammer: Due to two years of pandemic, a backlog of work has built up. Some of the ideas and projects that we are implementing now have been in the planning for some time. Tackling these projects in their entirety was a challenge we were happy to postpone for a while during normal business operations. But now the time is right.

Heiko Buchta: We are also talking about large-scale investments here that need to be well thought out. It wasn’t possible to plan projects like these during the last two years, but now we can. A premium product like this is an excellent prospect for the current market: the demand is there, and that means we need to take action. Although we have taken on a lot for this year, it will mean a big step forward for us and I am sure that everything will go to plan. I have every confidence in our staff and the service providers we have on board, and I am sure we will continue to work together well.

Is the idea simply to make everything fresher and newer, or are you also undertaking a strategic development of the Platzl establishments, maybe as a response to changing customer needs?

Peter Inselkammer: It makes complete sense, and is also in the interest of our business, for us to continue developing and to use a variety of modernisation measures to maintain or raise our level of quality. A hotel is a living entity, constantly in use and therefore ripe for modernisation after a certain amount of time has passed.  Materials age, fixtures and fittings start to show signs of wear and tear. For this reason alone, projects like the ones we are undertaking this year are essential.

Heiko Buchta: Our reconstruction and renovation projects in 2023 also make use of potential that we have not yet fully exploited. Our new suites derived from the idea that the beautiful, historic building housing the Pfistermühle should get more of the attention it deserves, revealing new ways of using it. Through this, we are creating an unmistakable premium product that will also appeal to new target groups.

How do you feel about the changes Platzl is undergoing, being as it is a building with a long history that has already passed through the hands of several generations? Do you ever look back with a touch of nostalgia? 

Peter Inselkammer: That’s just the passage of time: things change, and it’s important that they do. At the end of the day, we have to think commercially to keep the family business up and running, which means letting go of some things that are past their prime. And of course our concept for the renovation work makes sure the traditional aspects of this listed building are preserved. Maybe that’s when a bit of nostalgia will come into play, while the alterations are being carried out. However, I believe this is outweighed by the pleasure in creating something beautiful, thereby breathing new life into the building for the future. It’s a little bit like when Cinderella is transformed into a princess.

It's no easy undertaking to plan, manage and realise several large-scale projects like this all at the same time. How long did the preparatory phase take and what challenges had to be and will have to be overcome?

Heiko Buchta: The greatest challenge was and is having to intervene in the hotel’s ongoing processes and structures, and the need to ensure that hotel operations are not disrupted. Our guests should still be able to enjoy a pleasant stay with us and, as far as possible, not be aware that building work is being carried out. We are, of course, sorry that we have to temporarily close our spa for renovation, but we hope our guests will understand and will look forward all the more to our new wellness highlights.

Peter Inselkammer: One of my biggest challenges was to collect the 200 signatures we needed for planning permission [laughs ironically]. It took about 10 months just to complete the plans that allowed the building permit to be issued. For a good year and a half, we had a team of twelve working on our modernisation project. We had everyone from stress analysts and preservationists, engineers and fire prevention officers to electricians. Renovation work always involves a huge amount of organisation. We have to coordinate which rooms cannot be occupied at certain times while ensuring that the work can keep moving forwards and be completed within the optimum time frame.

Heiko Buchta: There are also several other factors to consider. For one thing, until now, the building has also included staff apartments. We wanted to compensate for their loss, so we started renting alternative flats for our staff two years ago. As well as this, it’s now been three years since the city office of the “Armbrustschützenzelt” beer tent moved out of our building and into office space in the Platzlgassen. Storage space was cleared, staff changing rooms were relocated. Even though the building work is only just starting, we took these initial steps very early on. This gave us a great opportunity to ensure our new office spaces are really up-to-date. Staff changing rooms were designed to be more efficient and were fitted out in the style of our corporate brand.   

How do you manage to shield guests and staff from the renovation work – so that they see and hear as little as possible?

Heiko Buchta: One major advantage is that we are working on the suites in a part of the building that is not yet accessible to guests. This means we can work almost completely independently from the rest of the building. As well as this, we are proceeding in stages. To renovate the bathrooms, we work on groups of rooms so that only certain parts of the hotel are affected, and none of the guests have to walk through a building site. We are also taking advantage of our low seasons to get as much done as we can. This allows us to accommodate our guests in rooms that are as far from our building sites as possible.

Is it important to you to work with companies and tradespeople from the local region when awarding building contracts?

Heiko Buchta: Yes, that’s important to us. There are several areas in which we have been working with regional partners for many years, partners we specifically targeted and who are now working with us on the renovation. One example is the Graf company based in the Bavarian Forest region, who are in charge of the interior construction. Others include the Munich-based electrical engineering firm Kuhn and the engineering firm SPB, located directly next to the Viktualien Food Market.

Peter Inselkammer: For many years, we have been part of an excellent network of businesses in and around Munich. This has given us a good starting point for our upcoming projects, because, nowadays, you need to find partners that are willing and able to realise this sort of project in the first place. Our long-term strategy in matters of regional sustainability has now paid off.

To what extent will the renovations also improve sustainable building factors such as energy efficiency and emissions?

Peter Inselkammer: We have always been motivated to think more sustainably here in the Platzl establishments. Listed buildings such as ours are subject to various restrictions when it comes to modernisation. However, we can achieve a significant improvement in the building’s energy footprint through the optimised insulation of the roof and windows.  

Heiko Buchta: We already do a lot for environmental sustainability. It goes without saying that we have already implemented measures such as water conservation, LED lighting and the use of sustainable materials. And the new suites will, of course, be connected to our district cooling network for energy-efficient air-conditioning.

What feels greater at the moment: the stress of ensuring all the building work progresses as planned or the anticipation of the time when the Platzl Hotel will shine in new splendour?

Peter Inselkammer: There’s no denying that I’m slightly tense at the moment since we’re only just getting started. There are sure to be a few more challenges ahead. But I’m sure the pleasant anticipation will be all the greater as soon as we see the first results.

Heiko Buchta: I sense a mood of upcoming change, positive tension and a feeling of satisfaction that these important developments are finally going ahead. In the planning team, we are mentally 18 months ahead of everyone else. In our mind’s eye, we can already see a lot of things that are now gradually taking shape. That’s what I’m really looking forward to. And, above all, I am happy for our future guests, who will be able to experience a wonderful stay with us that is anything but ordinary.