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Johannes Eckelmann is a thoroughbred hotelier. 22 years ago, the qualified business economist came into the hotel business by chance more than anything, but since then he has been enthusiastic about his profession, has opened one hotel after the other or has helped other hotel operators to achieve additional revenue and customer satisfaction with his knowledge of the industry. He currently runs seven of his own hotels in Bavaria’s capital city, and others are in the pipeline. The non-native Munich resident bubbles over with ideas, and likes to take the reins when his concepts are being implemented. He has the support of well-known specialist hotel planners and experts when doing this, who accompany him with know-how and optimum product solutions. Häfele, the internationally operating company for hardware technology and electronic access control systems, has been one of these partners for many years.
Spending the night in the "Buddy" hotel in Munich is like staying at an old friend’s: There may not be a lot of space, but things are uncomplicated, always in the thick of the action, cosy and original. In order to make this hotel concept thrive, Johannes Eckelmann put his faith in his entrepreneurial instinct, state-of-the-art technology and innovative products. The successful hotelier is also enthusiastic about "More life per square metre", a topic to which Häfele has been devoted – most recently at BAU 2017 in Munich with the presentation of a micro-apartment known as "MicroApart 20/30". Because when it is well planned and equipped with many space-saving furniture items, architectural downsizing brings additional quality and comfortable added value. That which is currently topical for urban living has been reality for hoteliers such as Johannes Eckelmann for several years. In the hard-fought hotel market, particularly in the expensive top locations of major cities, the secret of financial success lies in concentrating on essentials and making efficient use of space. It is hardly surprising that there was good chemistry between the two companies, right from the very beginning. "Because I get quality from Häfele and benefit from competence in the project area that is not available from any competitor", says Eckelmann. "Häfele is simply in a different league."
When Eckelmann took over four floors of a business building at the Karlsplatz (Stachus) in Munich and converted and upgraded it to create his "Buddy" city hotel, he was taking a courageous step: Instead of the average of 15 square metres, a normal double room in the "Buddy" has just 9.7. If you add a proportional share of the public areas and traffic areas to this, the result is 20 square metres of gross area per double room. This is about 30 % less than usual. "Buddy is currently Germany’s most area-optimised, efficient and economical concept", says Eckelmann. And he has the statistics to prove it: "100 Euros per room on average, with utilization of 92%". In spite of the rooms being small, the Buddy has everything that the guests need. There are three different room concepts for two to four persons, and many features that are normally only found in 4-5 star hotels are a pleasant surprise: The compact niche double bed has a moving head section which does not only increase the sleeping and living comfort for the guests, but also provides the housekeeping staff with ergonomic assistance when they are making the beds. Raindance shower in the bathroom, coffee machine, air conditioning system, black-out system, tablet with high-speed WLAN and exclusive Munich tips from the Buddy crew and free, fresh breakfast snacks make the stay all the more appetising for the young, technically-oriented guest.
Many architectural hardware items and furniture fittings from the Häfele product range can be found in the 75 rooms of the Buddy – if you can find them. Because the many parts that make the innovative hotel so practical and functional do their work inconspicuously and out of sight. "The best fitting is the one that you can’t see and which is still able to do its job in a high-quality way", says Johannes Eckelmann.
There is even room for a mini-sofa and a table in the Buddy room thanks to Häfele: The latter can be folded out of the wall as and when required using stable fittings, and disappears just as quickly and intuitively into its niche after use. "Häfele supplies me with slim but heavy-duty fittings which disappear completely into the furniture and therefore support the clear architectural lines of our interior designs", explains the hotelier. The demands made of the furniture fittings and architectural hardware in a hotel such as "Buddy" are not exactly straightforward. "With a room measuring just 9.7 square metres the movement radius isn’t very great. It’s easy to bump into something here and there, or you put a heavy suitcase onto the nearest free surface without thinking about it. Our equipment therefore needs a certain amount of robustness. The folding tables in "Buddy" are therefore designed to withstand a weight of 100 kilograms. A fitting has to be capable of doing this first. Häfele provides me with fittings that are project-compatible and long-lasting in an uncomplicated way in accordance with the motto: "Find, install and forget."
Making efficient use of space is just one part of the successful Buddy business model. In the second stage, Eckelmann threw popular but expensive hotel clichés such as the classic reception overboard, since the modern hotel guest generation is already used to the autonomous check-in and appreciates a time-saving procedure – which has long since been the case at the airport and is now also happening in the hotel. Why waste valuable time standing at reception when an exciting city is waiting to be discovered?
The Buddy was the first hotel in Germany to integrate self check-in terminals, in which Dialock, the electronic, transponder-assisted access control and identification system from Häfele, plays a major part. Together with hetras, Häfele’s hotel management software partner, the fitting specialist from Nagold developed an extremely user-friendly check-in concept. All you need to do is enter your name on the touch screen embedded in the terminal, and the guests’ booking data appears. Now a signature needs to be provided on the electronic pad, and the Dialock identification card with the room number, departure date and WiFi code printed on it lands in the output tray. When the stay comes to an end, the guest leaves and no check-out is required. It couldn’t be quicker and easier!
A few hundred metres further on the motto is "It’s showtime" when a traveller enters the lobby of the "Cocoon Hauptbahnhof".
"With this third Cocoon in Munich we have now established a small hotel chain. But anyone who has stayed in one Cocoon doesn’t necessarily know what the other two are like. The challenge lies in always making specific qualities recognisable, but still coming up with new surprises. In this way, the hotelier wraps the Cocoon welcome feeling in a constantly changing ambience. At the Hotel Hauptbahnhof the topic of "The Alps" runs through the entire building like a common theme: "We want to slow down the guest and invite him to a relaxing excursion on sun-kissed mountain meadows. Come in and recover with us like you would in an Alpine chalet. But with more comfort".
In order to make the mountain feeling as authentic as possible, Johannes Eckelmann and his planning team a 2hotelconcept from Vienna have gone to considerable lengths: Original rocking chairs made from recyclable skis are used next to design classics, using the hotel lift is like travelling on a ski lift, and an original cable car is ready for use as a workstation in the lobby. Eckelmann has even turned decommissioned large cable cars into room-in-room bathrooms in some of the guest rooms.
The rooms in Cocoon Hauptbahnhof start at single rooms with an area of 14 square metres and vary up to the 40 square metre "chalet" with gallery for families or small groups. Here too the planners made use of Häfele’s 360° comprehensive project solutions to increase the multi-functional nature of the interior solutions. Guests from all over the world enjoy the original interior architecture and the high level of quality. The sturdy suitcase racks make cabinets superfluous, and you can work comfortably in the so-called "Cocoon Cabin" with mini-sofa and robust folding table (with Häfele fittings, of course). With their glass panels facing the rooms, the designer bathrooms are generously wide and convey Alpine freshness in the consistently maintained "Hill Farmer Look". The large lounge and restaurant area, which is designed in the same style, and a winter garden add a public meeting area and working zone to the private living area.
Johannes Eckelmann also thinks that is vital for the guests in his hotels to always find the latest state of technology. This starts at the hotel entrance doors and continues at the check-in and in the guest rooms. Both in the Buddy hotel and the Cocoon hotels, Eckelmann therefore decided on the innovative complete hotel room doors which Häfele developed together with partners. All mechanical and electronic components are optimally coordinated and can be configured if required. This provides security and cost-efficiency during planning, installation and operation. "With Häfele I get the products that I need to implement my ideas from a single source and with an excellent advice service. Product introduction, advice, ordering and delivery – all of these steps work and the quality is reliable and consistently high", summarises Johannes Eckelmann. "We are currently planning to build a new hotel in the inner city of Munich", reveals the entrepreneur, and adds: "Here too Häfele will certainly be a partner again".
There is even room for a mini-sofa and a table in the Buddy room thanks to Häfele: The latter can be folded out of the wall using stable fittings, and disappears just as quickly and intuitively into its niche after use.
The doors can be opened touchlessly with the key card on the basis of the Dialock transponder technology.
Light atmosphere with Loox: The bed appears to float, the LED reading lights are integrated in the bed canopy.
A courageous experiment: Instead of the average of 15 square metres, a normal double room in the "Buddy" has just 9.7.
All mechanical and electronic components of the innovative complete hotel room doors which Häfele has developed in collaboration with partners are optimally coordinated and configurable.
The Buddy was the first hotel in Germany to integrate self check-in terminals, in which Dialock, the electronic, transponder-assisted access control and identification system from Häfele, plays a major part
The Dialock identification card also opens the gate to the underground car park.
The Hotel Buddy was integrated in an existing business building at the Karlsplatz (Stachus) in Munich.