Who will go to the cool sauna? Hotels in Germany prepare for winter – DW – 16.09.2022

Spa hotel in Neuruppin Resort Mark Brandenburg hot water is needed everywhere. The hotel has a spa and thermal complex with several pools, some heated to a “pleasant 32 degrees”. In light of the current energy crisis and skyrocketing prices, this is becoming a real problem. “Our electricity and heating costs are skyrocketing,” says director Martin Wenzel. “And since we can’t offset the rising costs from our guests, we’re at risk of loss.”

Industry under pressure

Many German entrepreneurs working in the tourism and entertainment sector suffer from high prices. Patrick Rothkopf, chairman of the Federal Committee for Energy, Environment and Sustainability of the German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA), says that “in the hospitality industry, rising energy costs are increasingly leading to existential difficulties.” The industry is especially sensitive to the increase in prices for electricity, fuel oil and gas. In addition, among restaurateurs and hoteliers, there is a growing fear of supply and supply issues. “I expect politicians to do everything they can to contain the strain on our business,” Rothkopf said.

Today, hoteliers, restaurateurs, and their guests can breathe a sigh of relief, as the federal government has yet to set specific cost-saving requirements for the industry, other than a mandatory 10 p.m. While new energy saving rules that came into effect in early September set a temperature ceiling of 19 degrees Celsius for heating public buildings such as museums, this does not apply to hotels and restaurants. Even commercial pools, unlike private pools, can continue to be heated by electricity or gas.

The impact of the energy crisis on tourism is clear: in Hamburg, the famous Alster fountain, the Neuschwanstein castle near Munich were turned off two months ahead of schedule, as well as Cologne Cathedral are no longer illuminated in the evening. Even the Reichstag building in Berlin was left without illumination. The communal services of Rostock canceled this year the traditional week of lightduring which light installations could be seen throughout the city. And representatives of the ski tourism industry in Austria and Switzerland also said that in winter their range of services will be reduced due to energy conservation measures.

Vacation will rise in price

The German Tourism Association is confident that vacationers will have to reckon with the increase in costs. “The increase in prices will also affect tourist offers and the average bill of catering,” – says Huberta Sasse (Huberta Sasse), a spokeswoman for the association. Businesses must cover their costs, so there is no other way, she stressed. Now there is a search for a middle ground between price increases and cost-cutting measures. There are simple technical solutions that can be quickly implemented, for example in the control and optimization of heating and hot water. Moreover, in recent years, a lot has already been done to improve energy efficiency and a lot of money has been invested.

Tobias Warnecke, Managing Director of the German Hotel Association (IHA), agrees: “Hotels are investing heavily in energy efficiency, improving operational efficiency, adjusting prices and optimizing their offerings as much as possible.” In addition to rising energy costs, the situation is exacerbated by rising food purchase prices, as well as rising labor costs. In some cases, the owners are forced to reduce the opening hours of their restaurants or serve only hotel guests in them. At the same time, “the complete closure of a restaurant in a hotel is a rarity,” Varneke stressed.

Stress test

Savings measures will have to be implemented first of all by enterprises in the health tourism and services sector, since they are the ones who will feel the energy crisis the most. Many are extremely worried, laments Lutz Hertel of the German Wellness Industry Association, especially since peak seasonstill ahead. Now the owners are thinking about how to reduce energy costs so that they do not have to close at all. The most popular solutions are to limit the running time and lower the temperature. “But who will go to a cool sauna?” Hertel throws up his hands. “And who’s going to wait half a day to get in for a time-limited spa treatment?”

Sauna in German Erding
Photo: Andreas Gebert/dpa/picture alliance

In Neuruppin, Martin Wenzel saves wherever he can. The hotel’s outdoor lighting will be switched off at 10 pm, sauna hours will be optimized, the temperature in one of the outdoor pools will be lowered by a couple of degrees, and the other will operate with cold water. Wenzel seeks at all costs to avoid closing even part of the complex. Otherwise, according to him, there is a threat of a decrease in the number of bookings. “Most of all, we are worried that soon thermal and spa complexes may be completely banned from operation,” he says. As well as stop the supply of district heating. Then the capacity of the complex’s own geothermal heating system will not be enough to heat all the water.

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