Terror Attack spurs Vienna’s Talent for Hospitality Andreas Augustin

Terror Attack spurs Vienna’s Talent for Hospitality

( words)

Unimpressed by a mad gunman, Viennese hoteliers offered unlimited hospitality during terrible hours of fear. 

Top: Opera House and Hotel Bristol in Vienna 

After an IS sympathizer shot four people in downtown Vienna, Austria, on Monday 2 November 2020 evening before the police could neutralize him, there was panic in the streets. But the Viennese hotel scene immediately demonstrated humanity. A short report from the capital of Austria.

Hotel managers and staff on duty did what they do best: they played host.

It was a perfect evening. The temperatures were exceptionally high for this 2. November. Over 20 ° during the day. Only a few hours to go. From midnight, the federal government had issued a new lockdown for one month. Corona! So let"s go out – one more time. Celebrate. Once again theaters, concerts, opera, restaurants, bars, meet friends.

Around 8 p.m., a 20-year-old Austrian with North Macedonian roots set off. He had no such things in mind. No theatres, concerts, meeting friends. Instead he was heavyly armed and headed for the inner city where he opened fire on passers-by and guests in bars, restaurants and in the streets. Random. As a result, four people were killed and over 20 injured before the police could shoot the cowardly murderer.

Many fled to hotels in panic. There they were welcomed with open arms. Hospitium Gaudium Maximum Est is not just the motto of The Most Famous Hotels in the World!

Suddenly the hotel halls were flooded by fleeing passers-by. Restaurant guests and residents alike could not leave the premises. Bars barricaded themselves, switched off all lights and urged their guests to the rear, only away from windows and doors. For hours it could not be clearly confirmed whether it was a lone perpetrator or whether a second shooter was hiding.

"All employees and guests are doing well - and yes, we offered free overnight stays to everyone who was looking for protection. For my team and me, this is a human imperative and not the time to make a profit. So everyone is doing well, even if the events in the vicinity of the hotel naturally left their mark on people. But we'll take care of that now." says Florian Wille, General Manager of the luxury hotel Palais Hansen Kempinski, close to the crime scene.

Above: Hotel Sacher - detail from a painting by Manfred Markowsky

At the famous Hotel Sacher the restaurant was full. Everybody celebrated the last opportunity to enjoy traditional Viennes cuisine before the lockdown closes their favourite restaurant: "It goes without saying that we have offered all of our restaurant guests an overnight stay, which everyone has gratefully accepted." reports Alexandra Winkler, owner of the Hotel Sacher Wien.

On the other side of the street, opposite the Opera House, the legendary Hotel Bristol was busy at the time: "We gave shelter to our restaurant and bar guests and the employees stayed as well - everyone is doing fine." says Simone Dulies, General Manager, Hotel Bristol

"A warning was given that a terrorist attack was taking place in the 1st district and that we should avoid public transport and go home as soon as possible!"

Wolfgang Kremslehner, manager and owner of the Hotel Regina, recalls the evening from a personal perspective: "We were at the Vienna English Theater . We saw an excellent play by Graham Greene, "Travels with my Aunt". At 10 p.m. a warning was given that a terrorist attack was taking place in the 1st district and that we should avoid public transport and go home as soon as possible. We did that and it was no problem. The employees at our Hotel Regina were all on duty and stayed for the night, we had a few additional guests due to this attack."

One of the oldest hotels of Vienna, Hotel Wandl, is enjoying unprecedented popularity since that evening. It not only offered free drinks at the bar all night, but also rooms for the refugees and an incomparable view of the dome of St. Peter's Church. The camera team of the Austrian television broadcaster ORF used this secure backdrop this night for its live broadcast.

Some sense of beauty during dire times. That's Vienna, after all.

Our thoughts and prayers go with the victims and their families. We didn't just lose four innocent people. We also saw a young man who could grow up to be a murderer in the middle of our society. That's not Vienna! It's unforgivable, we have to talk.

yours - as always

Andreas Augustin

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