Better story Started as a social pedagogue, became a hotel manager

Ina Sonntag, Kartzow Castle

Open, quiet, beautiful!

If you leave Berlin by car, heading west and passing industrial areas, the former Olympic village, allotment gardens and other institutions of the suburbs, then, after a while, you eventually reach the Döberitzer Heide. It does not only sound relaxing and quiet, the extensive forest actually keeps what the name promises. And there, north of Potsdam and not far from Berlin, lies the castle of Kartzow.

Kartzow Castle is a small hotel, run by its owner. From an architectural view, the building resembles a manor house rather than a castle. But Castle, unquestionably, sounds more luxurious. In any case: the estate, situated at the edge of the woods, lives up to its name.

This is also due to the fact that hotel manager Ina Sonntag has renovated and restored the house, which looks back on a turbulent history, with great care. Historical colours have been preserved and the facade has been returned to its original state with great effort.

Digital guest directory iQ Tab in Kartzow Castle
Digital guest directory iQ Tab in Kartzow Castle

Kartzow Castle: Exciting History and Digital Future

Despite all her love and attachment to the history of the house Ina Sonntag never forgets to look to the future. And thus, only recently, each of the twelve rooms and suites has been equipped with an iQ Tab. A tablet that allows guests to easily inform themselves about the hotel’s offers and services and book them directly. Ina Sonntag has never been a fan of the classic guest directory, anyways. For this reason she had been looking for a digital approach to provide information for her guests and, in the meantime, even considered a solution specifically programmed for Kartzow Castle.

Ultimately, however, she chose the iQ Tabs provided by Betterspace. According to Ina Sonntag, those were easy to use and, thanks to the integrated restaurant menu, had already increased sales in the hotel’s restaurant within the first two weeks of use. It also spared her the fight with technology, since all tablets are handed over containing hotel-specific content and a design adapted to the corporate identity of the house – ready for immediate use. “Because the house is so small, I’m trying to create as many unique features as possible.” She definitely succeeded with her new iQ Tabs. Using the tablets, her guests can now not only inform themselves about excursion destinations in the area, but can also book additional services or browse the Internet.

Hotel guest books room service using the digital guest directory iQ Tab
Hotel guest books room service using the digital guest directory iQ Tab

„Actually, I’m a wedding planner“

Before Ina Sonntag bought Kartzow Castle and turned it into a hotel, it had temporarily served as an accommodation for resettlers and, after that, as a children’s home. Lastly, the castle was left empty for eight years, since the building was considered to be too small for a hotel. After Ina Sonntag bought the house in 2006, several weddings were held at Kartzow Castle to help finance the ongoing hotel business. “Actually, I’m a wedding planner”, says Ina Sonntag, smiling, who has planned and organised more than 1,000 weddings since the opening of the castle in 2007.

Ina Sonntag is far away from the cliché of the strict and hard-hitting hotel manager: “Of course, profitability and figures are important. But above all, I want everyone who arrives here to simply feel comfortable. With this in mind, I walk about the house.” And this attitude definitely shows. The hotel smells of the open fire crackling in the fire-place and, in the evening, the manager is often personally there for her guests. “I always want to know where the trend is heading and what moves people. That’s why I often take care of the check-in myself”, says the trained social pedagogue.

Hotel bar in Kartzow Castle
Hotel bar in Kartzow Castle

The fact that she has never received any training in the fields of hotel management or tourism, has advantages and disadvantages for her. “I am most certainly doing things wrong simply because I’m a newcomer to the profession. But guests often tell me that I consider a lot of things a trained hotelier does not pay attention to.”

Each room is unique

An example of this are the individually equipped rooms. At Kartzow Castle, each suite and each room is different from the others. Ina Sonntag also regularly buys new pieces of furniture and exchanges decor to be able to offer something new to regular guests. The individual components are carefully selected. The marble, for example, is purchased from a supplier in nearby Berlin, cabinets and the reception desk are handcrafted by a carpenter from a neighbouring village. “I try to incorporate details you wouldn’t find everywhere.” Because of the size of the house, this is as feasible as it is necessary: Big marketing budgets are not available here, public relations activities are also mostly in the hands of satisfied guests who recommend the house.

At Kartzow Castle everyday problems and big city stress seem to be far, far away. Ina Sonntag currently only worries about two things. One is the old castle, “where you never know what to expect”. And there is a horde of wild boars outside, laying waste to the park belonging to the hotel. This, of course, is anything but desirable – but even the problems and worries seem idyllic, here in Kartzow.

Foreground: former printed guest directory, background: new digital guest directory iQ Tab
Foreground: former printed guest directory, background: new digital guest directory iQ Tab

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