I was born in the Netherlands and raised in Ethiopia, where my family and I lived from when I was 6 months old until I turned 12. Actually on my 12th birthday, my sister, who was 13 at the time, and I flew without adult supervision from Addis Abeba (Capital of Ethiopia) to Amsterdam. This must be where my sense of permanent adventure comes from.
I finished high school and decided I wanted to do the same things as my dad – become an engineer and travel the world to underdeveloped countries and create jobs and development for them. While going to the Technical School, I found a job as a server in a restaurant in Holland. Did I ever hate Technical School. After two years I had seen enough and decided to leave school and work full-time as a server and just loved it. After about six months my father asked me if I was happy and if I wanted to do this for the rest of my life, or if I wanted to go back to college to get a degree in Hotel Management. I knew then that I wanted to be involved in the hospitality industry for the rest of my life, so I decided to go back to college. I went from a C student to a straight A student at the hotel School. I absolutely loved it.
While going to college I went to France during the summer vacation and managed a Campground with two bars and a restaurant. I had the time of my life. The owner let me do whatever I wanted and we ended up making so much money for him that he actually paid me twice as much as he had agreed to when the job started.
After College, I interned in Germany, near Frankfurt and worked there for two years. My last boss there suggested I go to the US for a semester to study at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. The visa came with a 1 ½ year work permit and I thought that might be a lot of fun. In 1984, on my birthday, I arrived in Manhattan. After the seven week Summer Courses, I had a job offer in Santa Rosa, CA, opening what would be the Sheraton Round Barn Inn. I climbed up the ranks pretty quickly and the company liked what I did so they sponsored me to get a visa for an additional 1 ½ years.
In the meantime I met my wife, who was my administrative assistant. Yes, yes, it was probably harassment, but with noble intentions. We married in 1987. We have one beautiful daughter, Anneke, who was born in 1998.
We lived in Santa Rosa, CA; Foster City, CA; Dallas, TX; Miami, FL and West Long Branch, NJ. I managed large departments in large hotels and ended up as the General Manager at Ocean Place Resort & Spa in Long Branch, NJ, a 250 room hotel on the beach in NJ, after which I moved to manage the Seaview Resort & Spa near Atlantic City in NJ. After 30 years of working in corporate America I decided it was time to make my lifelong dream a reality and strike out on my own.
Andrea and I purchased the Obertal Inn in November of 2010. As I mentioned, it had been a lifelong dream to own my own small Inn where I could turn a hotel into my personal vision of what it ought to be about. Our business is about making people happy.
A long time ago, one of my early mentors asked me “Hans, why are you in the hotel business?” He told me to think about it and tell him when I figured it out. It took me a couple of days, but it hit me when I realized that, in effect, we are doctors. Now before you start laughing, think about what we do. When you make plans to stay with us, you likely have to drive here. You are also likely to just wanting to get away from the daily grind for a bit. After your drive and under the stresses of daily life, I am pretty sure your blood pressure has risen a bit and you are somewhat tense.
We believe, that, once you have stayed with us and slept in our comfortable beds and we have done all the “working” for you and you are ready to drive home, you will feel better than when you arrived here. I guarantee it! (I hope it’s not a copyrighted phrase from the Men’s Wearhouse.) That is why I see us as Doctors.
So, let me invite you to come to Leavenworth and stay with us. I am very confident you will like it as much as the 100’s and 100’s of guests we have taken care of in the past.