A 400-year-old property on the Baltic Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein once served a family of counts as a befitting country seat.
But the noble estate fell into disrepair and was up for sale in 2005. The Hamburg entrepreneur Jan Henric Buettner, who had made a lot of money with venture capital in California, grabbed it after his return from the States. Büttner had known the town and Weissenhaus Castle since childhood and had the idea of converting the old farmstead with its dilapidated buildings into a special five-star hotel – a Herculean task for several years.
The castle has long since awakened from its slumber. Since July 2014, guests have been staying in the main building and the outbuildings.
But in contrast to the elite Grand Hotel Heiligendamm in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, which is hermetically sealed off from onlookers, the 75-hectare site is still accessible to everyone. That Weissenhaus Grand Village Resort & Spa presents itself as dignified, not snobby, wants to be a country hotel with a maritime touch. The furnishings in the rooms are reminiscent of summer houses that could be found in the New England states on the American east coast.
“30 percent of our guests come for a short break from Hamburg, which is only 100 kilometers away,” says Gerald Henningsen, who doesn’t call himself hotel manager or general manager, but “host”. As his target group, he has his sights set on individual travelers who otherwise travel to Kampen. “But in contrast to Sylt, the guest has to deal with himself here”. Because in Weissenhaus there are no distractions such as boutiques, social catwalks, and expensive bars for the discerning public.
So far there are only 62 rooms in Weissenhaus. Another house with 50 rooms is to be added in the future. 150 employees take care of guests and grounds, a pampering factor like in an Asian resort. But the service is still lacking, as critical visitors write on rating portals. Henningsen responds to all complaints and has an open ear. His goal: he wants to make Weissenhaus a destination with “sovereign nonchalance”.
Note: The article first appeared in July 2015 under the title “Millionaire pimps village into a luxury resort”