why vigilius exists
why vigilius exists

why vigilius exists

Ulrich Ladurner


Ever since my childhood I have known the “Vigiljoch”. I can remember well the mountain hotel Vigiljoch that was then in operation and I found it to be something very special. I was never in the hotel, but I know that I always had a great respect for the place. What went on in there anyway? As a child it was all so very mysterious. I was convinced that only people from far, far away could live here.

As a teenager, I looked at the hotel with different eyes. In my rebellious years it was clear to me that only the petty bourgeois visited the place. However, a high school girl named Barbara, who worked in the summer as a waitress at the hotel, awakened my interest. I was perhaps not a little infatuated with her.

As a young man, I confronted and dealt with this place in yet another new way: I looked around and determined that the inner life of the hotel was absolutely uninteresting. Yet the outside context had true power; I was fascinated by the surrounding nature and the view.

Since then, many years have passed. Seven years ago I learned that the mountain hotel Vigiljoch was to be sold. My rational brain said, “not interesting”, for I couldn’t do anything with it from a business point of view.

But my emotional side said something else and the entire idea would not leave me alone. Six months later I signed the purchase deed and became the owner of an old, dilapidated, in some way unappetizing yet still thoroughly fascinating structure positioned on a unique site.

During the next year nothing happened. It was clear to me that I was new in the field of tourism and that I could make some mistakes due to my lack of experience. Nevertheless I also saw this inexperience as being my big chance for setting up something truly innovative. Something unmistakably unique, this was the idea. I was convinced that this could be done only in connection with the fascinating context of Vigiljoch. From the very beginning, the place in itself provided the standard for our efforts. My very first words spoken to Matteo Thun, our architect were: “You will not be able to make anything more beautiful than what this place already is.” These words began an intensive period of mutual planning. Matteo Thun did not interpret these words as being a challenge, rather he was prepared from the very beginning to approach the creative process with the necessary humility. He accepted his task with thorough conscientiousness. During the following discussions, what was to be built was never in the foreground. The central topic was always the guest: what should he feel, experience, see ... and with all his senses recognize. Soon we had our first sketches.

Matteo Thun planned every last detail of the vigilius mountain resort. It was a thrilling time in which I concentrated entirely on this construction. Naturally this also brought a heavy burden, with many sleepless nights in addition to the pressure of not exploding our financial budget. This also entailed the continual tapping into energy reserves in order to mediate problems.

Then, finally, the successful opening of the vigilius mountain resort took place, thus beginning the next continuing stage of work: market positioning, dealing with staff, management, routines, and the guests – a completely new experience for me as a businessman from an entirely different field. I soon recognized the danger of falling into customary touristic habits. The work of convincing others to search for self-autonomy and the courage to be different continued, always with the goal before us that our entire team should be able to identify with the special features of vigilius mountain resort. There was no room for hierarchies. This resulted in having several new directors during these initial years, for it happened that individual interests were at times placed in the foreground; I did not want that this successful project should suffer from this and risk going under.

Finally I arrived at the conclusion that I would need to take care of this responsibility myself. Meanwhile, we have recruited people on the vigilius team who are ready to take on our common vision. We revised how to share the work load as well as the responsibilities and defined our mission as such: arrive, let go, be happy, live. These four “extremely simple words” do not come from me, rather from the vigilius team. I was very impressed with this suggestion, for these words express the fundamentals for a positive approach to life; moreover, they are timeless. They could have been formulated over 100 years ago. That is important, for the vigilius mountain resort wants neither to follow trends nor cause them.

40 people from 10 nations and every continent work at vigilius mountain resort. The cooperation functions without conflict, for which the corporate identity no doubt plays a deciding role. Decisive, however, is the mountain. The mountain is the one upon whom we are all dependent – and at the same time the one who binds us together.

The kindness and amiability of the entire staff certainly belongs to the philosophy of the vigilius mountain resort. Everyone lives this in their own particular way – that has less to do with perfectionism than with a spontaneous authenticity. That is exactly what it is that we want: a natural hospitality for guests.

Why does vigilius exist? Why did I realize this project? I admit that I am even today not able to answer this question rationally.


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