While in Berlin for the Berlinale and for the FAWCO conference, Becky T and I had the opportunity to interview and photograph the women who own the Intermezzo Frauen Hotel, Berlin. Upon the recommendation of Adele R, we have frequented this establishment for several years while attending film festivals and other conferences. Owner Sabine Stolz shares the birth of a dream and what it is like to see her dream materialized as a female proprietor in the heart of Berlin.
KP: How long have you been a business woman?
SS: Before we (myself and two other partners) opened the hotel in April 1999, we were all working other jobs. We had worked long enough for other bosses and decided it was time to be our own boss.
KP: How did you get into the hotel business?
SS: I was on vacation in Lisbon, Portugal and stayed in a small pension located in the center of the city. I was impressed with the bed and breakfast concept: centrally located, very simple and very inexpensive. These three ideas were attractive.
KP: Why were you interested in owning "a women-only" establishment?
SS: We wanted to find an angle or a niche that was just a little bit different or attractive. We had other ideas other than a women-only establishment but working with women and children was so natural for us. This concept was something we all felt very comfortable building upon and so we did.
KP: What were your first steps?
SS: We needed to find a bank where we could receive a line of credit to purchase or lease a hotel. In our first attempt, we (all three of us women) approached the bank with our idea but failed desperately. The door with that bank was slammed shut. We were devastated! We knew we needed professional advice so we sought a financial advisor who specifically handled hotel dealings and pitched him our concept. He took our concept and packaged it for presentation and pursued the bank contacts. He helped us get the loan that we needed. It was at this point, we realized that our first step to owning our own business was in motion.
KP: What is the most difficult issue with this particular business?
SS: I would say the initial financial pressure and the steady process of paying off the loan. In three more years we will have the loan paid off and will be able to start making money. This will be a happy day for us.
KP: What is the most enjoyable aspect?
SS: Oh! The nicest aspect about our business is coming in contact with such a wide variety of women and children who choose to stay in our hotel. It is very interesting and a special part of job that we all enjoy.
KP: What changes (if any) have you seen in the area where your business is located since you became the owner?
SS: Here directly in front of us we see very little foot traffic. This is a quiet place to live so there has not been much change. And we have experienced very little change to the direct area. However, the Potsdamer Platz (which is just a ten minute walk) has changed drastically. The streets were lengthened and renamed and the Wilhelmstrasse, which is in front of the British Embassy was turned into a cul-de-sac. This was a disadvantage for the shops. The area will also change when the Leipziger Platz is renovated. But, the city is still undecided with the plans for reconstruction so the finished date is still open.
KP: What is it like for women owning a business in Berlin?
SS: I feel like a little fish in the pond as an independent business woman here in Berlin and not the power of a big business woman. However, I honestly believe that we are all in the same boat in that we always have to fight to keep our business afloat and running smoothly. We take this task very seriously and this perspective is the same everywhere.
I am still happy with the decision to open our hotel. Our work load changes from week to week. But, it is exciting and sometimes very funny. It means a lot to me to be self-employed and independent. I would have a hard time going back to work for someone else. The harmony that is a product of both inside and outside of our business is an advantage and it makes me happy.
Intermezzo Hotel für Frauen
Tel. 030- 22489096