Has Gemütlichkeit changed? One reader's point of view and our response.

Gemütlichkeit Changed?

I'll be brutally frank! I felt in the beginning that you found gemütlichkeit in out-of-the-way places and B & Bs (pensions). Recently, your recommended places are more country hotels with steep (compared to previous) prices and better than average dining fare.

Both you and your clientèle's writings tend toward reporting ("this is where I stayed and ate and what it cost") rather than researching (here is where you should go for good value and atmosphere). Sort of sounds like you are on a continuous holiday at our expense and your part of the deal is to report on what you spent our subscription money on.

For this interested traveler who is not rich or on paid expenses, that is no longer good enough.

Name Withheld
Rockwall TX

(Ed. Note: From a subscriber of eight years, this letter gives us some distress. However, we don't agree that Gemütlichkeit no longer seeks out-of-the-way places or that it reports mostly on expensive country hotels.

True, our January issue carried a story on five-star Austrian country hotels. However, the lead article that same month, entitled "Bargain Bavaria," listed 15 hotels in 13 very much out-of-the-way Bavarian villages. The average double room price for those hotels was under $80.

Last month, our main story was on Mayrhofen, which we also consider to be off the beaten-track. Our Editor's Choice hotel there charges less than $50 for a double room.

In the past year we have featured Mayrhofen, Tübingen, Weimar, Sion, the tiny mountain village of Evolène, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Appenzell and Southern Bohemia in the Czech Republic. Hardly household tourism names.

Other story topics in the last year include moderately-priced hotels in Zürich; a dozen less well-known destinations complete with moderately-priced hotel and restaurant recommendations - in Germany, Austria and Switzerland; and our glowing review of a country hotel in Reutte, Austria, which charges about $62 for its best room, a small corner suite.

We agree that gemütlichkeit is not often found in expensive, five-star hotels, but the highest levels of excellence and luxury often are. The Beau Rivage Palace at $270 per night (and up) is a completely different travel experience than the Pension Heim in Seeg (near Füssen) at $80 per night. We appreciate and see value in both and will continue to seek out and report on both types of accommodations as well as those in between.

As to a lack of research, we wish the reader had been with us as we tramped half a day through snowbanks earlier this month on the Saturday before Easter in out-of-the-way Pontresina to visit inexpensive vacation rental apartments.

And finally, our revenue is 90% subscriptions. Postage, printing, insurance, office supplies, office equipment, telephone calls and, of course, travel costs, are all expenses of our business. And, yes, we do sometimes report on what we eat, where we stay and what we spend on these business trips.

April 1998