The words on the Hotel Albrun website in Binn VS are clear. “It is with a heavy heart that we have decided to close the hotel at the end of winter 2023,” writes owner Mario Inderschmitten (36). “The constant lack of employees and the worsening price situation in the catering industry make it impossible for us to have a future in Binntal.”
In the high season in July and August eight employees normally work in the company. Things don’t look good for the summer though. Six positions are still vacant. “We have been looking for service personnel for six months. We also need room help and a kitchen help, »says Inderschmitten.
He himself is in the kitchen. The trained chef and pastry chef was a member of the Swiss national culinary team and has 15 Gault Millau points. “I’m alone in the kitchen, it’s really tough,” he says. His wife Laetitia (42) serves the guests in the restaurant and takes care of the hotel with eleven rooms.
“Binn is very remote”
But why can’t Inderschmitten find any staff? “Binn is very remote, that’s definitely a factor,” he says. The whole Corona story contributes to this. “Many people have probably noticed during the lockdown how pleasant it is to have evenings and weekends off. They won’t come back.”
In addition, Inderschmitten is very worried about the rising prices. “Everything has become more expensive since the outbreak of the Ukraine war,” he says. He cannot pass on all price increases to customers. Otherwise they would not come.
After long discussions, he and his wife came to the conclusion that the traditional house should be closed. “At some point you just have to make a decision,” says Inderschmitten. “But giving up a family business is anything but easy. We took it over from my father almost nine years ago. It’s made even worse by the fact that operations are going very well,” he says.
“Have greatly reduced the offer”
With a heavy heart, he decided to adjust the offer. “We have greatly reduced the à la carte offer,” says Inderschmitten. Instead of the previous 15 to 20 dishes, there are still five to six on the menu. And a menu for guests who have booked half board.
The chef offers regional specialties such as cheese slices or Valais platters. But also modern dishes that he created himself. “For example, I associate meat with dessert dishes,” he explains. For example a saddle of beef with sweet elements of a Black Forest cake. “Unfortunately I had to remove it from the menu. That makes me sad.” “You can do that for a while with reduced operations. But at some point you lose joy.”
“We want to stay in Valais”
That’s why the Hotel Albrun in Binn should be over after the winter season. And then? “That’s still open,” says Inderschmitten. One possibility is to sell the family-owned hotel. What is clear: “We want to stay in Valais. And start something new further down the valley. Better now than in ten years.”
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