From the outside the Jägerwirt inn in Scheffau looks like many other mountain huts in Austria. Antlers on the facade tell stories from a time when the Jägerwirt was a meeting point for hunters. You'll even spot a deer head in the Jägerwirt's modern logo!
„We consciously weave in the inn's history,“ says Martin Schipflinger (36). The former advertising professional grew up in nearby Kitzbühel, his partner Andreas Salvenmoser (35) is right from Scheffau am Wilden Kaiser. „We've always known that we wanted to honor our heritage and run a typical Tirolean inn." They've had their Jägerwirt for over six years.
Antlers also dominate the dining room. In the hallways black and white photos tell stories from the lives of Tirolean mountain farmers. "Why would I put up photos of half-naked guys?" asks Martin, and laughs at the cliché. "We've never wanted to narrow our clientele to a certain type of guest," he explains. They are of course gayfriendly, but not a gay hotel.
On this particular afternoon three mountaineers in outdoor gear are sitting in the dining room. The women by the window are talking in a Tirolean accent. Later, three gay travelers join the party as well as a German wife and husband with their children.
Photos of famous guests line one corner of the room and in the middle of regional celebrities, Tina Turner's face stands out. „We don't make a big deal about it“, reassures Martin. „We're very informal with all our guests.“ When Uli Hoeneß talked to him about soccer, Martin patted the president of FC Bayern Munich on the shoulder and admitted: „That's something I know nothing about. But we're happy you're here!“
While Martin takes care of marketing, guest service, and sales, Andi's works his magic as chef de cuisine. He was an apprentice at the five-star Hotel Kaiserhof in Ellmau and is a trained sommelier. He curates an entirely Austrian wine list, which is printed on a 15 liter bottle - another lovely detail at Jägerwirt inn.
Andi and Martin met through a chat in 2000. "We were both surprised to find a young, cute gay guy in the neighboring village," laughs Martin. In 2015 they sealed their love in a civil union. Instead of a traditional wedding ring the two wear matching tattoos on their arms "Tutto solo perche ti amo" Everything, just because I love you. "This song by the Toten Hosen has somehow followed us from the beginning," explains Andi. The lyric is in Italian because it's their favorite language and Martin's grandmother hails from South Tirol.
For their reception, Martin and Andi had a theme in mind: "Now we'll really indulge in all the 'gay' chlichés." They had a pink stretch-limousine and cheesy live music. The guests were asked to dress in traditional Tirolean folkwear with pink accessories. 140 guests attended their "Pink Party" and the mayor later called it the "celebration of the year."
Andi and Martin say they've never felt discrimination as a gay couple. Not from the neighbours, not from the community, and definitely not from their parents. Andi's mother Resi wrote in the Pink Party guest book: "We're so happy with our boys. They live their life without compromise. For us parents there really isn't anything more beautiful than that."
Andi's philosophy in the kitchen is all about traditional dishes. "We cook like Tiroleans." And most of the ingredients come from the region: game from local hunters, lamb from his godmother's farm, tilsiter cheese from nearby organic diary Danzl. The latter gives Andi's veal cordon bleu a hearty note. "There's neither a deep-frier nor flavor enhancers," promises Andi. A lot of his prodcts are home-made, like the rye bread, and every Sunday Andi prepares his signature organic roast pork.
A table at Jägerwirt is hard to get. The four guest rooms - ronovated in swiss pine - are also usually booked. Andi and Martin only take three weeks of vacation a year (little by Austrian standards) to be there for their guests. Is it this dedication, or maybe their caring service and unique style that draws in the crowds?
"We always try to put ourselves in our guests' shoes: do they have a wish we can fulfill? And we spend time with them, talk to the people, explain our daily menu." Martin thinks empathy is an important virtue. "But that's not stereotypically gay to me" he says. "Empathy is just the tenet of hospitality."