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Plateau Pioneer
Kathrin Ebenhoch

von Kathrin Ebenhoch

May 08, 2024

Plateau Pioneer

Plateau Pionier Bio Hotel Leutascherhof - Family Wandl

Eveline and Christian Wandl's BIO Hotel Leutascherhof can truly be proud to bear the name Plateau Pioneer. There are few businesses where the concept of the environment and sustainability is as firmly rooted in the hotel and family history as it is here. "It's not the icing on the cake, but the principle of our daily actions," says host Christian Wandl with conviction. It was, therefore, a matter of course for him to play a leading role in the Plateau Pioneers group, which was founded in 2022. "Because there has long been no alternative to the new path of sustainable tourism in the region for us." For this commitment, the Leutascherhof was awarded the Austrian Ecolabel and the EU Ecolabel for businesses in June 2023

There has long been no alternative for us to the new path of sustainable tourism in the region

CHRISTIAN WANDL

CHRISTIAN WANDL

Christian's parents, Margit and Otto Wandl, bought the Leutascherhof, built in 1918, in 1993. The farm has always been an inn and for a long time also housed Leutasch's public swimming pool. Those days are long gone. Although they successfully run a four-star hotel, the Wandl family decided against a huge wellness area with a pool. Their Wohlfühlalm offers natural saunas, a relaxation room, infrared cabin, and steam bath, but guests are invited to swim and splash around in the nearby public Alpenbad Leutasch. After all, why create something that already exists in the region and works perfectly? This is just one example of how the Leutascherhof is thinking ahead for the entire region. The concept of hiring out equipment is also practiced consistently - there is a hire backpack in every room, and rain jackets, mountain boots, hiking poles, and children's climbing frames are also available at reception.

The vision of organic valley Leutasch

Margit and Otto were already pursuing the goal of making a difference in the region and have always had a vision of the Leutasch Valley as an organic valley. As head chef, Otto only used food from local producers wherever possible to offer his guests good quality. In 2008, this was no longer enough, and an additional criterion had to be found. "The quality of many bought-in products had deteriorated, and a lot of things were now only determined by price," recalls Christian. "My father told me at the start of the summer season: 'either we switch to 100% organic, or I'll stop'." As father Otto always has a plan up his sleeve before he says anything, the changeover went very quickly. Four months and countless hours of work later, the Leutascherhof became a certified organic hotel on 1 October 2008; since then, nothing on the plate has come from anything other than organic farming. Because of this consistency, the decision is sometimes made not to use regional products. "But fortunately, this is becoming increasingly rare, and regional organic production is becoming more and more comprehensive." A convinced individual decision can often make a big difference.

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Experience becomes commitment

This experience drives Wandl: Not only to get involved with the Plateau Pioneers and thus be a role model for as many businesses as possible on Tyrol's high plateau, but also to take on honorary positions in which he can make a difference and change things. For many years, he has been a passionate board member of the Seefeld Tourism Association and chairman of the Karwendel Nature Park and the Austrian Organic Farmers. Six years ago, he launched a special project with the nature park: the trees of life. "Every guest can choose whether their room should be cleaned or not via a wooden woodpecker on the door. If the room is not cleaned, three euros go into the tree of life pot." Three euros are also donated to the pot when certain organic wines are sold. The money has been used to buy around 150 deadwood trees over the past five years, which will now be allowed to stand for another 30 years and thus do an important service for biodiversity. "It sounds absurd at first, but they are incredibly important for woodpeckers, owls, and many other animals in our forests," explains Wandl. In 2023, the money will be used to support the Karwendel volunteer team, which carries out important conservation and maintenance work in the nature park.

Fahne der Plateau Pioniere beim Leutascher Hof

The CO2 imprint as an objective key

Does everything that is happening at the Leutascherhof sound pretty impressive? "No, because there's a lot more to it," Wandl admits frankly. The businessman, who is fascinated by quality seals, had his first shocking aha moment in 2010 when he had his CO2 footprint determined after two years at the organic hotel. The result was 26 kilograms per overnight stay. "To get an idea, I put 26 packs of flour on a table," he says. "And then thought about our 22,000 overnight stays per year." His conclusion was immediate: "It doesn't work like that." Many small CO2 reduction projects followed. One of the most exciting - the sustainable staff clothing from Peggy Lukac Design Berlin. "Inspired by the apron dresses of old peasant women, we had dresses similar to dirndls made for our service team from old tablecloths and bed linen." Each piece is unique, some with a 60-year-old fabric history.

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Taking bold steps for the future

Courageous steps like this always inspire exciting conversations with staff and guests about sustainability and the future. And so in 2022, many small projects later, the hotel is at 6.8kg CO2/overnight stay. An impressive reduction, but still not enough for Wandl and his wife Eveline. "For the 1.5 degree path, we have to reduce by another two thirds; that will be a real challenge." Like the other Plateau pioneers, the Wandl family wants to achieve the reduction through real savings in the business, controlled by specific key figures. The Wandls are aware that it will be a tough journey. "That's why it's important that we pioneers push each other and ideally get 50 to 60 other businesses on board."

The Leutascherhof is already taking the next steps: Replacing fossil fuels with organic alternatives, making more intensive use of public mobility, and incentivizing guests to travel by public transport. In addition, a biodiverse garden is currently being created as it once was for the region. "It doesn't look very pretty at the moment, but that's part of it," says Wandl, proudly pointing to small deadwood trunks, stony humus from which countless wildflowers sprout, and a small natural pond. The feeling triggered by this sight can be summarized as follows: The future will be different, but good!

Therefore, it is important that we, as pioneers, push each other and ideally bring onboard another 50 to 60 businesses.

CHRISTIAN WANDL

CHRISTIAN WANDL

BIO Hotel Leutascherhof - Plateau pioneers of the Seefeld region - Tyrol's high plateau

You can find the facts in compact form in the fact sheet. Further information about the Plateau Pioneers can be found here.

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