“Landgut A. Borsig”: a model for the future?
When Michael Stober shows his guests at the estate “Landgut A. Borsig” photographs from earlier days, they start murmuring. The visitors examine the pictures of dilapidated buildings, piles of garbage and trees growing through roofs with incredulous expressions. Today, just ten years later, the pictures are the only way to guess at the amounts of stone that Michael Stober and his wife Tanja Getto had to move in order to get the 10,000 square metres of floor space back into usable condition. But the couple not only had to move rubble and stone: brainwork and contacts were also indispensable. After all, their goal was to continue to operate the estate according to the principles of the Borsig family. So Stober concentrated on the core themes of nutrition, meetings and accommodation. At the time, the Borsig family purchased the manor in order to supply their employees in nearby Berlin with food.
“The character of this place is clearly defined by its history,” says Michael Stober today. However, it took years before the entire significance of the place became evident. The “Kreisauer Circle”, a group of German dissidents, already met at the former model agricultural operation; the guest house has welcomed visitors since 1875. “For the most part, we are the ones who have rediscovered the history of Groß Behnitz,” says Stober with evident pride.
Borsig’s philosophy reborn
But the philosophy of the Borsigs not only provided the new owners - the couple Getto and Stober – inspiration for the new utilisation concept; it also served as the model for its implementation. “The Borsigs were pioneers of their era – with regard to social welfare as well as technical matters,” says Stober, who is familiar with every nook and cranny of the estate. “Over 100 years ago the cow barns were air conditioned using natural methods, the fields were irrigated mechanically and biological waste was transported to the pigpen fully automatically,” says the engineer, enthusiastically describing the technical sophistication of his predecessors.
Subscribing to that tradition, today the “Landgut A. Borsig” estate is one of Europe’s leading conference hotels; however, thanks to its versatility it also fulfils the needs of wedding parties and birthday celebrations as well as those of private travellers. For example, at meetings guests can enjoy bright, lovingly restored conference rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology that can accommodate up to 700 people. On the other hand, wedding parties benefit from the estate’s own registry office and ceremonies that can be held right by the lakeside, from historical festive halls and outstanding catering. Those who visit the estate in search of relaxation or inspiration will regain their inner balance thanks to imposing architecture, beautiful hotel rooms and intact natural surroundings.
A leader with regard to eco-friendliness
To protect Nature, Michael Stober has not only made the “Landgut A. Borsig” estate Brandenburg’s first organically certified hotel, but also the most sustainable private hotel in Germany. To that end, the former general contractor who used to specialise in renovations of older buildings exploited the knowledge he amassed in the course of renovating several thousand apartments and made the hotel an exemplary eco-friendly operation. “All of the toilets are flushed with rain water, the huge tanks we use for that purpose are buried underground right here,” say Michael Stober, pointing at the courtyard paving stones laid in a historically authentic pattern. At the same time, that water reservoir also serves as an emergency reserve for the fire brigade.
Stober also thought up another speciality for the showers, which of course use fresh tap water: “We utilise a processor-controlled water pressure system which makes it possible to set the water pressure precisely for each and every water tap. In combination with state-of-the-art aerators, we have the best water-conserving showers that are technically possible today,” he explains, “and of course they ensure the ultimate in showering comfort!” The hotel director attaches special importance to that statement: after all, sustainability at “Landgut A. Borsig” is put into practice “quite naturally”, not with finger-wagging and preaching.
The foods at “Restaurant Seeterrassen” are predominately from the region and “organic” for the most part: breakfast, for example, where all ingredients down to the very last organic egg can be traced back to their origins. “Besides regional and organic ingredients, we also place a strong emphasis on fair trade,” says Stober, who has switched his establishment over to products from fair trade sources or from the region – everything from shampoo to coffee.
Mattresses made of coconut fibre
Of course, guests at “Landgut A. Borsig” sleep on organic mattresses: they are manufactured by the “Cocomat” company out of sustainable materials such as coconut fibre, natural rubber, organic cotton, algae, wood and goose feathers. Even the carpeting made of corn could be eaten if one were so inclined. In areas where Stober had parquet flooring installed, guests can admire the shapes of the trees, because in order to avoid wood cutting scrap the parquet was calculated with a computer programme that takes the natural shape of the trees into account and incorporates it in an ideal fashion. “The parquet is a real eye-catcher,” says the pleased owner, commenting on the over 105 double rooms and 23 suites.
The large photovoltaic generating plant on the roof of the green hotel, which just opened in 2012, currently produces more electricity than the estate consumes, and half of the wood that is burned in the wood chip system used for indoor heating and warm water grows back again in the estate’s own forest. “We operate practically without producing any carbon dioxide thanks to those natural measures running in the background,” says Stober.
Sustainability - a reason for a visit?
Incidentally, the components of the green hotel would be completely recyclable in the event of demolition (for which there are currently no plans). Only one year after it opened, the establishment was selected as one of the Top 15 German conference hotels by “Certified Conference Hotel” and received the “Certified Green Hotel” designation, earning a score of 733 out of a maximum of 765 points, thus confirming that it is the “most sustainable private hotel in Germany”. For Michael Stober, the sustainable philosophy of his hotel is a matter of course, not merely an end in itself: “I am proceeding on the assumption that in future more and more hoteliers will devote attention to protecting the climate and natural resources and making sustainable holidays possible.”
So - by Groß Behnitzer Lake amidst the Havelland countryside - Tanja Getto and Michael Stober have realised their future model for a holiday and conference destination that is ecologically sensible, but nevertheless enjoyable. “Increasingly more companies and private individualssubscribetothatphilosophy,” observes Tanja Getto, who is responsible for the conference and event business. “Up to one quarter of our guests come to “Landgut A. Borsig” explicitly because of its sustainability – and those numbers are growing.” Undoubtedly, that is a record that would also have been gratifying for the Borsig family.
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