A New Hotel for Las Vegas: The Austrian

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Replica of the Eiffeltower at the Paris Hotel Casino in Las Vegas

My favorite hotels in Vegas are the ones that represent a specific city. That includes the Paris and the Venetian. What’s better than comparing the real deal to the Vegas version? I love the idea of considering how to find the ultimate distinctive traits of Venice or Paris to include in the Vegas version. What makes Venice/Paris so special and how can it be replicated in Vegas?

But why stop at Venice or Paris? Why not an Austrian-themed hotel and casino on the Strip? No, not the Sound-of-Music version, but a more realistic Austria that still appeals to Americans and tourists from across the globe. What would it include?

Well, obviously mountains, castles, and beer would be prominent features, but the challenge is to differentiate it from a possible Swiss or Bavarian theme. This hotel/casino would be truly Austrian. So Viennese elements would have to come into play. Viennese coffee houses and Heurigen – wine taverns – would be part of the choices for restaurants. To fit with the Austria theme, additional restaurants and bars would be based on Austrian bakeries, ski huts (think Apres Ski parties; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apr%C3%A8s-ski) with snow and all, bratwurst road stands, and beer tents with live bands and of course servers in dirndl and lederhosen. So many Austrian delicacies would make it easy to offer plenty of restaurants and a large buffet.

The design of the building and interior of rooms could be based on the palace of Schoenbrunn (http://www.schoenbrunn.at/en.html). The hotel pool could be modeled after the water features of the Hellbrunner Wasserpiele (http://www.hellbrunn.at/ ). Instead of gondola rides as offered at the Venetian, this hotel would offer horse-drawn carriage rides (Fiaker) through a park and slides into a salt mine or ice cave. The big show for the hotel/casino would be the Lippizaner Stallions (“White Horse Ballet” http://www.srs.at/  ) and/or folklore dancers and Schuhplattler and/or the Wiener Saengerknaben (http://www.wienersaengerknaben.at/). And then there is always the possibility of organizing a large ball to promote the Viennese Waltz.

Austrian culture would offer plenty of material to create a newly themed hotel/casino on the Strip in Vegas. And I am sure it would be successful – who would not love a little bit of Austria?!?

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View at the Venetian in Las Vegas

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Coffeehouses and McDonald’s

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Cake Vitrine at McDonald’s in Wels

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Interior of Austrian Coffeehouse in Wels

Why I do not love coffee is a mystery since coffee and coffeehouses are a central part of Austrian food culture. Long before coffee and coffee varieties became more popular in the U.S. (mostly it seems because of Starbucks), Austrians have already appreciated a long afternoon coffee break and a variety of coffees. There is of course the famous Verlaengerte but also Milchkaffee, Einspaenner, Turkish Coffee, grosser Brauner, and the Italian options of Cappuccino and Espresso, and more.

In high school, we would often head to the coffeehouse after class and hang out all afternoon. Adults also value their “Kaffeerunde”, a group of people that meet regularly at the same coffeehouse to chat. Often those groups become important social networks and support groups; it is not uncommon to invite your group of those friends to your kids’ weddings and of course to your own birthday dinners with family. Some are even part of more than one group.

A lot of time is spent in coffeehouses, and even though Starbucks exists in some towns, I doubt that the company is seriously affecting local Austrian coffeehouses, some of which have existed under the same name and in the same location for decades and sometimes centuries. For example, Café Tomaselli in Salzburg is listed as Austria’s oldest “Viennese coffee house.” “The Tomaselli continues to be a stylish representative of a 300-year-old Austrian coffee-house tradition” (http://www.salzburg.info/en/shopping/long-_established_shops/cafes_and_confectionary/cafe_tomaselli ).

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Tea and Cakes at McDonald’s in Austria

Even McDonald’s has adjusted to the local food culture and in Austria offers a special station with homemade pastries and freshly ground coffee and hot tea with “fancy,” cloth tea bags – everything served with China dishes and “real” metal spoons. One can even pick up a whole cake or pie at McDonald’s if ordered the day before. I enjoy the coffee house feature of Austrian McDonald’s and was much more inclined to stop at a McDonald’s in Austria than I ever am in the U.S.

[Side note: The locals’ nickname for McDonald’s is “Macky” [spelling based on sound].

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Empty China Tea Cup at McDonald’s