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Dietmar Mueller-Elmau impressed 2015 at G7 summit Angela Merkel and Barack Obama. An interview on politics, Silicon Valley, employer branding and the refugee crisis.

Dietmar Mueller-Elmau is the grandson of Elmau founder Johannes Müller. In 1997 he leased his Ms. Heidrun Schloss Elmau, to use proceeds from the sale of the globally successful softwareCompany To renovate Fidelio and redefine it as a cultural hideaway. In 2015, the G7 summit with Angela Merkel and Barack Obama took place here, which made Mueller-Elmau also make international headlines.

Mr. Mueller-Elmau, how did it happen to hold the G7 summit 2015 with Barack Obama and Angela Merkel at Schloss Elmau?

For me, G7 is the most important political one Meeting-Format of western World and it is important to find the best place for it. The Success also depends on the quality of hospitality.

That's why I always wanted Elmau to be the venue for the G7 summit. After all, our valley is also well-shaded due to its special location. We also have a decades-long tradition of political symposia here.

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But for a long time the house did not fulfill the necessary conditions. Only when the 2005 castle burnt down, I could realize my vision of the ideal location.

How long did it take you to realize the new possibilities?

Of course, such a big fire is a shock, after all, two thirds of the original building had to be demolished. And in the first 15 minutes the panic was of course great, finally the fire broke out in the morning around 5 clock and we had to make sure that all the guests were evacuated.

But then I had a lot fast the vision in Head, as it should be: For example, with regard to the G7 and the equal treatment of state presidents, it was important that all suites of the retreat were the same size. It is often said that there is also an opportunity in failure and that was definitely the case in this case. One could also say that Elmau rose again like a phoenix from the ashes.

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So you have tailored the new building directly to the G7 summit?

You cant say it like that. We already reopened in 2007 and shortly afterwards with the Planning of the new retreat started. The commitment for the G7 summit only came in 2014 and came as a complete surprise, even to me.

How exactly has the award of the G7 summit expired?

The Federal Republic came to me to hold a conference, but once nobody told me what it was and I was not particularly interested in it. I have always rejected the inquiries, which came almost every day.

You refused?

Well, Schloss Elmau is not a congress hotel and therefore I did not necessarily have a political conference here.

It was only when the Chancellor's chief of protocol looked at Elmau and we were talking about the plans for the retreat that I got an inkling that the G7 summit was at stake. The final decision for Schloss Elmau I found out more by accident in 2014, when the decision was announced at the federal press conference. By then I had almost forgotten about it.

What building requirements did you have to fulfill?

One must distinguish: Firstly, the rebuilding after the fire had to fulfill the requirements of the monument. For example, we kept the proportions of the original building, but the number of rooms halved in order to offer our guests larger rooms and to offer more possibilities for retreats. We had to wait however also very long on the building permit.

The requirements of the G7 summit were comparatively harmless compared to the monument protection requirements, which of course also had to do with the location of the hotel: For example, the windows needed bulletproof glass, but this would be possible to install Problem been with the static. The problem was then solved by installing mobile glass screens.

You have been accused of destroying the environment ...

That's nonsense. For example, there was a helicopter landing field, for which an already existing hiking park temporarily tarred thereafter was again built back. The press has also exaggerated a lot.

Since you planned the conversion long before G7 - how was this funded?

On the one hand through equity, friends and guests. After the fire, of course, the Insurance paid. And finally, we have a relationship of trust here with the local district savings bank that I have built up over the years. Nowadays, when contacts are constantly changing, it definitely pays off to think long-term with banks.

How did the hotel get to the foreign citizens?

Barack Obama was beside himself with excitement. They could also move about freely here and in a relaxed atmosphere, for example over Climate protection or discuss immigration policy.

Have you specially trained your employees?

No, we just did what we always do. Sometimes small symbols help, for example the Thai soup in the menu, which signals cosmopolitanism, in order to create a pleasant atmosphere.

How hard is it to find good employees at the level of Schloss Elmau?

It is not always easy. For me, Germany's long-term competitiveness depends on internationalization.

I have one in the 90's IT-Corporate 1998 was also one of the initiators of the greencard. At that time, I learned that international teams, with their vast array of expertise, are bringing great competitive advantages to a business - a principle that today, in particular, benefits the American IT companies in Silicon Valley.

In principle, I therefore found the welcome culture in autumn 2015 an important signal for worldliness in order to make German employers abroad attractive.

You are therefore in favor of the current refugee policy?

In the long term, we need a controlled access of qualified specialists. We have to become more self-interested and act in an interest-oriented manner: in Germany one likes to be as morally as everyone else, but to accept asylum seekers only aggravates racism. We have to get people to work, because nothing creates as much respect as work.

At the same time, however, our education system must also become more international, eg English as the language of instruction at vocational schools. We hired refugees ourselves and found it absurd that they could be perfected in such a short time German should learn.

What did your experience look like?

mixed. We hired a total of ten refugees and theirs too Vocational Training invested, although not yet clear is whether they stay. Not all were involved; some stopped working the moment their asylum application was approved.

It was clear to us from the outset: Who does not give its maximum, flies again. In the 90 years, Elmau also stopped refugees during the Balkan war 30 and integrated them well.

What do you say to critics who think there are enough unemployed people in Germany?

The problem in Germany is that the value of work is no longer recognized - I notice this again and again, especially in the hotel business: Germany is becoming more and more a low-price country and the little people in particular do not get any for their work recognition and Esteem more.

In order for people to recognize the value, we should double prices and salaries. Good service needs to be worthwhile again.

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