Franz Staffler is no ordinary entrepreneur. Although engaged in all his family’s ventures—from agriculture to sustainable energy—the tirelessly curious Staffler is most passionate about people, and so his focus is drawn to the root of the family business: hotels. His appreciation of a worthy challenge and love of creatively revitalizing the old and mixing it with the new can be seen in both of his properties, Parkhotel Laurin and Hotel Greif. The latter has been in the family business since 1816, beginning as nothing but a few small rooms then known as Zum Schwarzen Greif, or “The Black Griffin Inn.”
Joined by Viennese architect Boris Podrecca, Staffler conceived a new design in the 1990s that carefully preserved much of the original structure’s integrity, including the foundation walls, wood portal entrance, and main staircase. “I put my own hands on every facet of the design, conceiving a space to be physically experienced and enjoyed,” says the blue-eyed, often nattily dressed Staffler, whose boyish charm and boundless energy belie his 60 years.
“You have to start with the point of view of the guest: I walk through the door, where do I put my shoes? My glasses? My luggage? Where is the light? Practically and emotionally, you have to approach the design from this point of view.” Staffler's appreciation for his native landscape was fostered by his travels in the late 1960s and early 1970s. From France to South Africa and Afghanistan, Staffler has brought back a deep cultural appreciation, which is evident in Hotel Greif and the surrounding market place in Bolzano. Hotel Greif is now a focal point of local creative activity, from live concerts and performances to visual art exhibitions.