Austria Haus in Vail celebrates 20 years
If you’ve ever been to Vail Village, you’ve seen Austria Haus. A European-inspired hotel and club, the building is located directly across the street from the parking structure and boasts bright yellow and red window shutters, planter boxes and traditional brick siding — all part of the effort to keep the Austrian feel in the hotel and club.
Having opened in 1998, Austria Haus just celebrated its 20th anniversary on Dec. 19.
Originally part of the Sonnenalp, Austria Haus was among the first fractional ownership properties in the valley — essentially a high-end timeshare.
“This was a new concept and the town was a little unsure how it would all unfold,” said Laura Warren, general manager of the Austria Haus Condominium Association. “And it was one of the first projects before the (major redevelopment projects in the early 2000s).”
Warren noted that the Austria Haus could have even been considered a guinea pig for the town, spurring several other businesses to take up a similar business model.
Twenty years later, the hotel and club are still merrily rolling along, and they’re enjoying the same success that they always have.
Twenty-one percent of current property owners have been owners since the beginning, and 58 percent have owned for 10 years or more.
“The Austria Haus is unique in part because of the relationship our owners and guests have with our staff,” Warren said. “It makes it a special place for all of us. We’ve enjoyed welcoming our owners to their home in the mountains for 20 years.”
Warren noted that she and her staff make the effort to really get to know the owners and guests, becoming like a second family to them. Warren remembers watching children of owners grow up before her eyes. Jean Mitchell, a member of the sales team since the beginning, noted that on occasion, children of owners grow up and become owners themselves.
“I love it here,” said Myung-hi Cody, an owner from New York. “You never feel lonely because the staff is so friendly, and they all seem so happy to work here.”
Sherry and Jim Conrad, owners from Austin share similar sentiments.
“We love it because it’s the best deal in town, you can’t beat the view and the people make it feel like you’re back home,” Sherry said. “You walk in and get hugs, it’s such a friendly atmosphere.”
Another draw to the property has been its location. Just off of the Solaris plaza, Austria Haus is located within walking distance of restaurants like La Tour, Alpenrose and the new Posh Joint, as well as art galleries, retail shopping, bowling and ice skating at Bol and the CineBistro movie theater.
“We’ve seen so much change in 20 years,” Warren said. “We’ve seen the town change and grow and we’re so happy to still be a part of it.”
Jim Conrad also noted that he has the opportunity to “park it and leave it” in regards to being so close to everything that driving isn’t necessary.
In addition to being close to shopping, dining and spas, the mountain is just outside the door. When it’s not providing skiing or other activities, Vail Mountain makes for a stunning view off the backside of the building.
As the name implies, the hotel and club take inspiration from Austrian structures, keeping a cozy, European feel to their architecture and decor. However, Warren noted that the staff isn’t afraid to make updates as necessary (such as the newly installed stainless steel appliances) without sacrificing the atmosphere.
Despite being (as several guests and staff members described it) the “best-kept secret in Vail,” Austria Haus is prepared to continue offering top-notch service and lodging for visitors for years to come.
While it will be postmaster Elizabeth Turner’s first busy season in Avon, it’s far from her first holiday-shipping crunch.