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In conversation with Thomas Holzleithner

— The passion for travelling

“My grandmother has awakened my passion for travelling. In the 20’s and 30’s she lived in the then very hip Amsterdam and worked for a big industrialist who owned a tobacco plantation in South America. As a child I soaked in all of her stories. Colourful worlds of faraway countries, splendid celebrations, beautiful people and elegant dresses came to life. My curiosity for foreign countries and other societies is based on these inner images”.

— After graduating from high school, he spent two years in France. At the age of 21 he began his career in a small, newly founded travel agency. Then everything happened in quick succession. In the 11 years that Thomas Holzleithner worked for the company, it grew into one of the largest privately owned travel companies in Austria. He built up a network of branches from Vienna to Innsbruck, developed a franchise concept and was able to win 40 franchise offices and he even set up one of the first travel agency call centres in Austria. Finally, the company also entered the tour operator industry and was a true pioneer in the all-inclusive hotel business.

“That were extremely exciting times. I experienced the complete development of the company and was also in charge of it. I did pretty much everything that can be done in this industry”.

— At the age of 31 he wanted to do something really new and above all something of his own.

“I consciously decided to go in a completely different direction than the entire travel industry at the time. Away from mass tourism, away from all-inclusive offers and towards very individual and unusual hotels. The basic idea behind Lifestylehotels was driven by the desire to present special hotels in a special way, to tell their individual stories and thus introduce them to an open-minded audience”.

The timing was perfect, the first Design Hotels appeared at the beginning of the 2000s. In Austria, but also internationally, Lifestylehotels was a pioneer. Only the Design HotelsTM brand, the undisputed pioneers in this field, offered some kind of orientation.

“But it was always important to us to design our own path and to give our brand its own identity”.

— Choosing a hotel to join the ranks of Lifestylehotels is still a question of intuition.

“Ultimately we have to like the hotel a lot. Of course there are certain criteria that have to be met. The hospitality concept is very important. It must be unique and reflect the spirit of the times. The best thing for us is when the host’s vision is clearly visible. And when the hotel owner implements it with a keen sense of design, aesthetics and a deep understanding of what people need in a hotel. Then we have found the perfect hotel and the perfect hotelier”.

For Thomas Holzleithner personally it is particularly important to be able to take something new with him on his travels.

“That can be very different things: How the food is arranged, the furnishings or the design of the hotel, the cutlery. I want to take an impression with me that leaves something positive behind. Something I hadn’t known before. What’s important to me personally is that a hotel is exciting. The host must be ready to dare something new and give me something I’ve not yet seen”.


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