Vienna: Old world traditions updated

Hotel Leadership

Markus Lueck is at the helm of the Palais Hanson Kempinski Hotel in Vienna. He was born in Tier, Germany and raised in Oxford, UK. Holding a degree in hotel management from Ecike Gitekuere de Lausanne, Switzerland, Lueck brings over 17 years of experience in the industry to this Vienna property.

His professional career started in 1999 at the Dorint Hotels and Resorts in Turkey and Morocco. In 2002 he joined the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai for three years as the food and beverage manager. His next positions included Food & Beverage Director at the Park Hyatt in Hamburg, Resident Manager for Grand Hotel Kempinski in Geneva and Resident Manager for Kempinski Grand Hotel des Bains in St.Moritz, Switzerland. In 2008 he became the Manager for the Kempinski Adlon in Berlin 2008. Prior to his association with Palais Hanson Lueck was responsible for opening the Kempinski Hotel Gold Coast City, Accra, Ghana.

A Palace

The Palais is located in the very elegant 1st district of Vienna on Ringstrasse Boulevard. Surrounded by embassies, consulates, law firms, investment and banking firms as well as architect and designer showrooms, this is one very classy neighborhood.

The building itself is in the beautiful Renaissance Revival-style that dates back to 1869-1873(originally built for the world exposition). Designed by Theophil Edvard von Hansen and Heinrich Forster it is evidence of a Viennese education combined with years of experience in Athens.

From Then to Now

In 2010 Palais Hansen Immobiliengeselschaft joined with the Kempinski Group to restore and remodel the 19th century building, developing it into an up-market hotel property. The contemporary Vienna architect Boris Podrecca and the Austrian architecture firm Atelier Hayde Architekten developed the new project. The interiors were designed by Jean-Claude Laville who morphed the historical architecture into a contemporary experience.

The Hanson Greek influence continues to be evident in the hotels monumental columns, the ballroom’s foyer, the 19th century window frames and the wrought cast-iron banisters on the staircases creating an ambiance that is so sophisticated – it suggests the perfect setting for a Ralph Lauren Black Label TV adv.

Kempinski guests are also likely to be gourmets and they are very impressed with the culinary efforts of the hotels’ Executive Chef, Philipp Vogel (1 Michelin star, 15 points Gault-Millau). Vogel studied with the noted chef Dieter Muller and was trained at the Michelin starred Borsen Restaurant in Cologne with Erhard Schafer.

He is committed to quality fresh ingredients. Vogel even recommends steak tartare because he knows his suppliers, who are located close to Vienna, raise their beef without steroids. He is sure that children are willing to participate in new food experiences – if the quality and presentation is attractive. Price never stops Vogel from buying the very best for his Kempinski guests. His signature dishes include poached organic veal filet and braised Austrian free-range veal with Oriental spice, cabbage and mushroom. His menu also features raw or baked char with radishes and wasabi.

Have a Ball or Two

The Viennese ball is a tradition that has endured for four centuries. Opening ceremonies present debutants to society and ends with midnight music and dancing. Ball etiquette includes Damenspenden, a gift presented to the ladies who are required to wear long evening gowns or formal traditional Austrian dress; men wear tuxedos and tails. Over 60,000 international visitors support the Viennese Ball season.

Start the New Year by celebrating at The Hofburg Silvesterball at the Royal Palace ( ). The event features fancy dresses, over-the-top decorated state rooms, dancing from the waltz to jazz with artists from the Vienna State Opera and Voksoper Vienna and culinary treats. The event starts with presentation of debutantes to the public quadrilles and the grand ball follows.

For business and academic elite, the WU Ball, sponsored by the Vienna University of Economics and Business has tickets available. Prefer a military setting? Reserve the Ball der Offiziere where guests wear military uniforms and dance until the Zapfenstreich ends the evening ( Zapfenstreich (Grand Tattoo) is a military ceremony and the most important traditional act executed by the German Federal Armed Forces and the Austrian Armed Forces. It is performed only during national celebrations and solemn public commemorations to honor distinguished persons present at the event.

Crash Course in the Waltz

Want to go the Ball but cannot dance? Not a problem. Take a waltz lesson at the Tranzschule Kraml 3, Mariahilfer Strasse 8. Located on a major shopping street, finding the entrance to the school is a challenge. The building appears to be abandoned, and the winding chipped marble staircase reminded me of clips from very scary movies. I was on the verge of abandoning my search for the school – but persevered until I found a door with a bell – that looked like there may be a heartbeat beyond. When the door was opened by a charming dance teacher – I was unprepared for the attractive dance studio hiding beyond the doorway and the professional studio space that is available for short-term “tourist” classes.

Two Left Feet

The private class was a whirlwind of swirls and twirls that left me dizzy and breathless and convinced that I was not waltz material. However, for visitors who plan to dance their way through Vienna Balls, classes are a luxurious necessity.

For Porcelains. Feine Dinge

Located on a small shopping street (Strobachgasse 2 Werkstaff 2132 Mistelbach), Feine Dinge is a bright and charming studio where heirloom porcelains are handmade to the quality standards expected in Limoges and Meissen. Every handcrafted piece is museum quality. The ceramics have a delicacy that belies the fact that they are dishwasher safe. Available in a delicious array of pastels, colors can also be tailored to meet interior designer and customer preferred palettes. Think of minimal design, high functionality, and an artist’s interpretation of what an elegant table top should present. Pick-up service for 4 – 24 that includes plates, cups, pots, and other table-top pieces that can be used today and shared with future generations. For more information, click here.

Seeing the City

The Kempinski is conveniently located in Vienna and near transit options (public and private limos / taxis). For budget conscious travelers a Vienna sightseeing pass is helpful and convenient. The 2, 3 and 6 day passes offer unlimited opportunities for hop on/off busses and include admission to museums, palaces, the zoo and lines are skipped.

For additional information, click here.

Current executives include: Peter Knoll, General Manager; Anton Pozeg, Executive Chef; Marcel Ribis, Sommelier; and Daniel Wukovits, Head Concierge.

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