Walter, the Ganis maker
Senior boss, father, calming influence, mentor, grandpa – Walter could be described by many names and almost everyone who has ever been a guest at the Ganischgerhof knows the kind head of the family in some form or has met him somewhere in the Ganis World. Whether at breakfast with his wife Leni in the hotel, at the cash desk at the Ganischgeralm or on the sunny terrace with the latest edition of the daily newspaper and a cappucino.
It would be impossible to imagine the history of the Ganischger without the visionary and businessman – together with Leni, the two of them laid the foundations for today’s Ganis World and created the livelihood for themselves and their children. Nowadays, Walter has left the management of the company to his 4 sons. However, he supports them at all times , has an open ear and a few joking words for everyone, and helps at the cash desk at the Ganischgeralm.
Every day at half past eight, no matter whether it’s summer or winter, Walter walks in at Platzl, greets everyone kindly and sits down – all the waiters already know by heart what the senior boss likes to drink. Today, too, Walter is sitting at Platzl with a creamy cappuccino while telling us a little about his life.
“I was born in Nova Ponente on 6 March 1942, being the first of three children. Our father died quite early, when I was only 16 years old, so we had to help out at home where help was needed. We lived with our mother in the former Gasthof Schönwald – that’s the former name of the Ganischgerhof – and managed the restaurant and the adjoining farm. I enjoyed working on the farm, especially as a little boy, when I loved herding the cows. In the hotel, which had 27 beds at the time, I had to serve the guests – but that wasn’t exactly my favourite job, especially because I had never learned it. That’s why I was more of an errand boy on the farm, fetching newspapers, doing the shopping, etc. and doing all kinds of work on the farm.
I went to school in Bolzano, at the Marco Polo commercial school. I wasn’t particularly diligent, I only did the most necessary things, but that was always enough – and I was even good.
In my youth we often went skiing at the village lift in Nova Ponente – skiing is still one of my favourite activities. In winter I always enjoy my few runs before I go to the Ganischgeralm to work. When I was 18, I worked for the first time as a ski instructor in Nova Ponente. After that I even went to Cervinia in the Aosta Valley for a winter season to work as a ski instructor.
Here, winter tourism only started in the 70s. I can still remember how we initially had many ski clubs and youth groups staying at the hotel, who then took to the slopes in Obereggen. The first lift, the Oberholz lift, was built there in 1970 and soon after the first hotels were built in Obereggen, such as the Sporthotel directly at the valley station.
We rebuilt the Ganischgerhof on a large scale for the first time in 1970 – at that time you could already see how tourism was picking up. Within a few years you got almost double the money for a room than a few years before.
Ah yes, what still took place in 1970 was the wedding of Leni and me! And then our four rascals were born one after the other – the last one, Georg, in 1979.
And in 1976 we rebuilt the Ganischgeralm for the first time – the opening was the following winter, on 8 December 1977. In the past, the hut has always had service and even had an inn licence. I inherited it from my grandmother. In winter I was always at the Ganischgeralm and in summer I worked in the hotel, as the hut was always leased out in summer.
In the following years, we repeatedly made smaller and larger renovations to the hotel, the swimming pool and a garage were added and new rooms and the bar were built instead of the old stable. When you enter the lounge in the Ganischgerhof today, you can still see the vaulted stone walls from the original cowshed, which we left as they were! At that time we moved the actual farm site and in 1980 Leni and I put up our private house there.
Actually, we wanted to expand the hotel in the 80s – a nice project, with 2 tennis courts behind the house! I still have the plans at home. But then interest rates rose rapidly by almost 25% and a bed stop was decided, then everything was cancelled.
In 2000 we did the last big renovation at the Ganischgerhof – but that will soon be made up for 😉
I have been able to learn a lot from the various building works and renovations at the hotel, the Ganischgeralm, the Gardoné and my own house – after all, I have been actively involved in the community for a total of 30 years since 1974, 26 of which as building assessor. And today we still go on an excursion with the former committee almost every two years, like in 2021, when we were in Naples for 4 days!
Even as a child I always liked to go on holiday, back then I was allowed to go to the colony. With Leni I often went away, for a while we always went to Gran Canaria in November, after the summer season – I think almost 14 times! That was always nice…” 😉
Did Walter ever imagine that the small Hotel Schönwald would one day become the starting point for the current Ganis World?
“No, I didn’t think of that at all! But I always tried new things, was perhaps often one step ahead and often took risks. But it always went well, the business grew and then one thing led to another. I am proud of my sons – I am lucky that they are carrying on my work. I know all kinds of gastronomic businesses where the descendants were simply not interested and didn’t carry on the whole thing.
You have to keep in mind that working in the hospitality industry doesn’t allow for that much free time, you have to like what you’re doing! I’m glad that my wife has always supported me there – she doesn’t know any different, she also comes from a hospitality background and has the same mindset as me.”
But what interests us most is how Walter still manages to be in such good condition at the age of 80! He just laughs and says:
“I have been working all the time! I always worked, I was always on the road, I never stopped! But all my life I have always been in the best company and Leni has looked after me well – she has held the reins!
Now I want to retire, enjoy the years and travel with my wife. But the most important thing is to stay healthy anyway!”
And that, dear Walter, is what we wish you with all our hearts! All the best!