The owners - Winterbauer, our home since 1909
Quick family owner timeline:
- 1909 – 1950 Rupert & Katharina Eschbacher
- 1950 – 1984 Johann & Emma Eschbacher
- 1984 – 2014 Johann & Theresia Eschbacher
- 2014 – now Johann & Isabella Eschbacher
Until 1909 great-grandfather, Rupert Eschbacher, worked as a farm hand on various farms until he was 39 years old. That’s when he decided to look for something on his own. He sold everything he worked so hard for in order to acquire the “wind estate”, as the Winterbauer was called in the land register. The land & farm had passed through several hands in a short amount of time and the previous owners didn’t leave as much as the bare walls behind. Rupert and his young bride, Katharina had nothing but the milk from a cow, borrowed from the “Nössler farm”.
“…Now this Nössler farmer had a good heart and father was allowed to keep the calf from that cow because my father treated it so well. There was plenty of hay.”, writes Johann Eschbacher senior. Rupert was able to sell the excess hay and through that able to gradually increase the livestock - in 1912 they already had 3 cows and 2 calves.
“Grandmother Mrs. Katharina Eschbacher, born in 1888, was already selling their own products as early as 1932, food produced on the farm, such as bacon, bread or even home-distilled schnapps, to passing summer visitors or to skiers in the winter who climbed up…” it reads in the Family chronicle, written by Johann Eschbacher, born in 1922.
The difficult beginnings have paid off in the long run and the entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic has been passed down from generation to generation. The hotel is now in the good hands of the fourth generation of the Eschbacher family - managed by Johann (Hansi). His wife Isabella supports him wherever she can while she and her two sisters run their own 5-star hotel “Das Seekharhaus” in Obertauern. Hansi & Isabella are a modern “power couple” in the truest sense of the word, being hosts is part of their DNA.
To build a home, at this special place shall not be reserved for one family only. It should be open to be shared, and not only that - We strive to elevate the place as a family and with our team to fulfill our goal to offer our guests an unforgettable time with us at home.
With the mantra “Don’t try to make everyone happy, you’re not a Winterbauer pine schnapps”, he still bends himself backwards to devote himself to every wish of his guests. From morning to night, he takes care of everything – in the truest sense of the word. Because as the hotel owner of the Winterbauer, he has several other job titles too: landscape gardener, snow clearer, buyer, manager, architect, visionary, farmer and head chef – and does all of that with a lot of talent and passion.
“Maybe the sun guided me here. Our family hotel Das Seekarhaus is known for its unique location in Obertauern - located higher than the other hotels, gently wrapped by the surrounding mountains, it boasts the longest hours of sunshine in the area. And here too, at the Winterbauer, where our four children are growing up, the location - above the valleys of Altenmarkt and Flachau - is unparalleled and just special.”
“On the farm where I grew up, the Untersulzberg in Radstadt, I could directly see up to the Winterbauer. And back then, I thought to myself: It would be nice to have a small farm and an inn like that one up there. It wasn’t until later that I met my future husband - and my wish was fulfilled.”
Senior boss Hans also knows one or two exciting stories to tell about the Winterbauer’s past. Growing up in modest circumstances, he witnessed the development of the place from an early age and had a significant impact on it. In the 1950s (Hans was born in 1951), the farm was already a popular snack-bar for hikers and skiers. Slowly, rooms were rented out in the summer. In winter it was still too cold since there was no heating yet. As a child, he remembers the wealthy summer visitors from the cities who brought them all kinds of sweets and sometimes even gifts like a school backpack - things the family could not afford at the time.
Sometimes they had to pull up the occasional Mercedes with the horse, when the meadow road, which was not yet asphalted, gave way.
“Back in those days, vacations were taken for several weeks at a time and one became very attached to some guests. As children we would shed some tears while waving goodbye to them at the end of the summer.”, he remembers his favorite guests with a smile.
In 1960, winter sports arrived and the then popular and now legendary “Winterbauer T-bar lift” was opened, one of the first lifts in the area. It was operated until 1997 and then unfortunately discontinued.
In 1970 the old house was completely demolished and a new house was built - with heating and proper water supply. That was the year in which the Winterbauer also officially became an “inn”. There were 14 rooms, 8 with a shower and toilet and the other 6 with a hot water sink only. Each corridor had a bathtub.
In 1988 the next major renovation came to the east tract and the dining room; the breakfast room and the kitchen were enlarged - the Winterbauer became a “3-star hotel” under the management of Johann & Theresia Eschbacher.
Things have also evolved on the farm and in 1998 a new barn was built and the farm system was changed from dairy to suckler cow.
In 2002 a large renovation took place to add a spa area, larger rooms as well as accommodation for the staff. The parking garage and the terrace were added too. In the course of this, the hotel classification was raised by another star - the Hotel Winterbauer 4-star hotel.
In 2014, Johann (Hansi) Eschbacher, took over the family business and re-designed the “face” of the Winterbauer with the construction of the south side of the house in 2016. The renovation included the reception, lounge & bar area and the facade, strongly built with local rocks and wood to integrate nicely in its alpine surroundings. Since then, the place has been renewed, embellished and refined bit by bit with the same ambition the ancestors exhibited. Always with sustainability in mind and with a striving to emphasize the quality of simplicity.