Beaches and Mountains: Schloss Fuschl Hotel Salzburg

Trip Report Index


After an amazing stay at the InterContinental Berchtesgaden, I was quite looking forward to trying the Schloss Fuschl hotel (a Starwood Luxury Collection property), which is located about 20 minutes from Salzburg, Austria. I had booked our two night stay using “free nights” from Starwood’s second quarter promotion, whereby one could earn one free resort night after every three Starwood stays.

The hotel retailed for 550 Euros per night, so I was quite looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about, given that it’s about triple the price of the InterContinental we stayed at the night before.

After a one hour drive from Berchtesgaden we made it to the hotel, which is located down in a valley right on Fuschlsee, a very nice lake.

The hotel is stunning from the outside, given that it’s a several hundred year old hunting lodge which was transformed into a hotel. While the InterContinental was modern, this hotel was much more classic. Generally I prefer modern, though it was clear that this hotel was also well maintained.


Hotel exterior


Hotel exterior


Hotel exterior


Hotel exterior

At the entrance the bellman helped us with our bags and parked our car. Valet parking is complimentary at the hotel, which is a big plus.


Hotel entrance

The lobby in the hotel is small though nicely appointed. It was rather busy as there are only two agents working the “front desk,” though within a few minutes we were helped.


Lobby

The agent that helped us was efficient and professional, though in no way “warm.” She informed us that as a Starwood Platinum we had “of course received a room upgrade,” and gave us our key. The keys are magnetic, though they attach them to a big keychain to make them look more “classic.” It’s nice in theory, though in practice it’s a pain to lug around.


Key

We took the stairs down to the first floor where our room was located.


Stairs


Hallway

When we made it to our room it seemed a whole lot like we were assigned a standard room. After a few minutes I decided to go to the front desk and just ask if a further room upgrade might be available. If they said they didn’t have it available I wouldn’t have held it against them, though it certainly can’t hurt to ask.

I went to the front desk and after waiting for a few minutes was helped by the other agent. I just asked if they might have any better rooms available for upgrade on account of my Platinum status. After typing in the computer for a few seconds he responded with “we have already upgraded you.” I said “well it seems like a standard room, what kind of an upgrade is it?” He explained it was a deluxe room, so I asked him if there was maybe a nicer room available, since Starwood Platinum entitles one to the best available room, up to a standard suite.

I would have dropped it if he said “no, nothing else is available,” though instead he responded with “well since you’re on a free stay we have the discretion of how far we want to upgrade you.” Aw, hell no.

He wanted to go down that road, so I was ready to play. For those of you not familiar with how loyalty programs work, there is no such thing as a “free” stay. Starwood Preferred Guest (the loyalty program) pays the hotel for every award stay above marginal cost, and if the hotel has high occupancy that night they pay them close to the flexible rate for an award stay. So given that the hotel was fairly full, the hotel was probably making more off of us than most guests — not what I call a “free” stay as far as the hotel is concerned by any stretch of the imagination. It’s like telling a business traveler that their stay is “free” because their company is paying for it.

After explaining to the agent that Starwood’s terms and conditions don’t distinguish between “free” and revenue stays he simply gave me a blank look, so I left and did what any reasonably intelligent person would do in the situation — tweeted @SPGInsider.

15 minutes later I had a call in our room from the manager on duty, saying that she “heard on the Twitter that [I] am not satisifed with [my] room.” I explained the situation, and within five minutes she assigned us a junior suite instead. God bless Twitter…

While the junior suite was on the “junior” side, it was still very nice.

It featured a king sized bed and then down a couple of steps a sofa, chair with ottoman, and table.


Junior suite


Bed


TV


Sitting area


Junior suite from other side

The bathroom featured a shower, tub, double sinks, and toilet.


Bathroom


Toilet

On the whole the room was nicely decorated. It was “classic” yet well maintained with modern technology.

One of the cool things about the hotel is that minibar soft drinks were free, which included water, soda, and juice.


Minibar drinks


Minibar

The room featured views of Fuschlsee. Not quite as scenic as Berchtesgaden, though it was still fairly nice.


View from room

The second day a fruit and chocolate plate along with a card from the GM was left in our room. I’m not sure if this was a standard Platinum amenity or if it was on account of me being a member of “the Twitter.”


Fruit/chocolate plate

There were a few other nice touches, like at night during turndown service they left Mozart chocolates.


Turndown service

While the hotel’s facilities were nice, I really just didn’t feel comfortable staying here. We were the youngest people staying here probably by over 40 years. I’m perfectly fine with that, other than the fact that it was nothing but “upper society” retired German folks. In other words, you were scoffed at if you wore anything short of slacks and a polo shirt in public.

So while I like elegant and luxury hotels, I don’t like ones that you have to dress up to enjoy. It takes some of the fun out of it, in my opinion. And I don’t hold that against the other guests, because clearly this hotel was designed for them, and that’s totally fine. But it’s not my “style” of hotel, much like Andaz hotels might not be their style.

The hotel did feature a nice spa/pool area, with a decent sized indoor pool, sauna, and even an outdoor hot tub.


Spa


Pool

At the same time I was mildly entertained by the sign at the entrance.


No street clothes!

Then there’s the actual lake, which is beautiful, and apparently they have boats you can rent, though whenever we went down there everything was empty. The weather wasn’t nice for most of our stay, which may have something to do with it.


Fuschlsee

Other hotel activities included watching the automatic lawnmower do it’s thang…


Hey, it’s kinda cool

Salzburg is an awesome city that’s about 20 minutes from the hotel, but I found parking in the city to be an absolute nightmare, so if I were to return to visit the city I would want to stay in the city center.

One other area I quite enjoyed was the town also located on Fuschlsee, just a couple of minutes from the hotel. It was called Fuschl am See, and featured some pretty “quaint” restaurants and shopping. The hotel food was way overpriced, so we ate there both days instead.


Fuschl am See


Fuschl am See


Restaurant


Ice cream

To sum it up, the hotel has a target demographic, and obviously I’m not part of it. Even for their target demographic I can’t see how the hotel is worth the money ($700USD+/night), but then again based on the cars I saw at the hotel I doubt money is much of an issue.

The rooms were nice. The service was okay at best. Everything was very formal.

I’d return to the InterContinental Berchtesgaden in a heartbeat, though this place, not so much. But if you’re part of their target demographic (and money isn’t an issue), I’m sure you’ll have a nice stay.

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Comments

  1. I hate that while you are asking for whatever their rule states, the agent acts like he is doing you a big favor. Come on, even if it was a pure “free” stay, if your rule says upgrade to best available, I am entitled for it. I am not begging you to just do your job

  2. Nice report, Ben. Thoughts… I can easily appreciate the differences in taste. Personally, I’d prefer the old-school charm of the Saltzberg hotel. Clearly, the front desk staff need a little “Attitude Check,” demographic differences or not. Lastly, your great pix from the Berchtesgaden hotel suggest a serious need for some grounds maintenance. Do they ever mow or cut the weeds? -C.

  3. > “The rooms were nice. The service was okay at best. Everything was very formal.” ….

    that’s Germany all over … what were you expecting ?

  4. I wonder if your reviews was tainted by the attitude/upgrade issue?

    Overall, it looks like a nice hotel. Expensive? Maybe, but there is something about the architecture and decor I like…

  5. But yeah, it was really lame of the second desk agent to say that. That’s something you should never say, he should have just lied.

  6. It’s a pretty setting but we weren’t all that impressed with our visit either. The upgrade attitude is very typical of small European hotels (not just Germany).

  7. Do you think your position as a travel blogger helps get issues resolved when you send a tweet? I don’t have a twitter account, but lets say I signed up for one and a week later found myself in the same situation as you…If I send a tweet as some random person with zero followers, would I get the same response? I’m just really curious…I mean, it sounds like it sure can’t hurt, but I just wonder if they accommodate everyone that quickly?

  8. You write that the “hotel food was way overpriced”. The restaurant has won a great many awards and apparently does what it does very well. As you later acknowledge, this is simply a hotel aimed at a different kind of (preferably paying and at least moderately loaded) customer.

    Worth remembering when redeeming points that ending up in a place where you can’t afford or don’t feel comfortable paying the going rate for “extras” isn’t a good recipe for an enjoyable holiday.

  9. @ robert — True, it’s definitely somewhat characteristic of Germany, but I didn’t feel the same way at all in Berchtesgaden. I agree it’s more common in Germany than the US, but by no means are all German hotels that way.

    @ Andy Bluebear — It certainly started my stay on a sour note and probably contributed to me feeling uncomfortable from the beginning (clear they don’t care about SPG guests at this place). But more generally the place just isn’t really my style. I prefer modern over classic.

    @ Andrew — Unfortunately I have no clue. I suspect they might respond to someone with lots of Twitter followers before they respond to someone with few, but I’ve had friends with only a dozen followers get great responses too. Keep in mind that all Tweets “at” them show when you search for them, so they want to be sure they have as “clean” of a timeline as possible. So I’ve always had good experiences and that might have to do with the fact that I’m fairly active on Twitter, but I’ve seen others get good responses too with hardly any followers.

    @ IMH — Your right, and that wasn’t a fair statement by me. The food certainly isn’t overpriced, it just fits in with everything else at the hotel. And that’s a ridiculous statement by me, because it’s the same as people complaining they have to pay for internet at a luxury hotel. I was willing to pay to eat there, but the whole setting was just too formal/uncomfortable after a two week trip with hardly any clothing left.

  10. I get a laugh out of how effective tweeting SPG insider gets you premium treatment.

    Like Andrew states, I can bet it works for you due to your position as a travel blogger with good following, and that is perfectly fine!

    I actually thank you because you are making them follow thier own rules. I dont think it is unreasonable to ask for your platinum benefits.

    You are giving them an exercise on social media, how to follow their frequent guest hotel program and how on-line reviews can significantly affect a hotel’s reputation.

    Next time, if I am in a similar situation, I will tweet, email, facebook and skype SPG and see if I have the same luck as you, I will let you know!

  11. Starwood is not good in giving any promised benefits regarding upgrades to Platinums. Glad you forced them to do it via social media but it still leaves a sour taste.

    Just one clarification here though, the hotel is not in Germany, it is in Austria.

  12. How the heck do you accumulate so many points and miles with those programs? It is like you never run out of miles or points.

    Anyway, I know exactly what you mean. I worked for AA for many years and as a perk we used to get into the fanciest hotels inexpensebly (Crillon, George V, etc.)

    But I felt out of place most of the time and opted to stay in the not so uber-posh places.

  13. When you say: “God bless Twitter…”…do you mean “God bless the SPG agents on Twitter know I am a travel blogger and if they don’t make me happy I will give a bad review”?

  14. @ Mile Jorge – You say: “I actually thank you because you are making them follow thier own rules. I dont think it is unreasonable to ask for your platinum benefits.” You are aware that Lucky isn’t your run-of-the-mill Platinum SPG member. He is a travel blogger. Translation: That might impact treatment. Wink, wink.

  15. Ben, Next time you’re in the area try the Hotel Goldener Hirsch. It’s right in the middle of Salzburg and every room is unique. It’s also one of Starwood’s Luxury Collection and the staff is extremely nice.

  16. Realizing that this is a very old blog post, I still have to comment….

    “Aw, hell no.”

    I’m guessing that the ensuing smackdown took place in German? Even as someone still learning the language, I would have LOVED to have been eine Fliege on the wall for that.

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