Located 1,000 metres above sea level, the TSS (Tourismus Schulen Semmering) is probably the AEHT’s ’highest’ hotel and tourism school. And there is no doubt at all that it is an establishment of the very highest standing in terms of professionalism and skill, where the word 'guest' is used in its most literal sense.
The school has almost as many students as there are inhabitants in the village of Semmering; thus those studying at the school almost always come from outside the village, and sometimes from a great distance away.
The 16 delegations taking part in this 16th version of Christmas in Europe realised how lucky they were to be part of this privileged community and to share with them these few splendid days. The participants will also have taken away with them some very powerful and very symbolic images.
For example, the image of those elegant students on monoskis carrying the national flags of the countries represented down the illuminated slopes of the Zauberberg – ski-slopes well known to the participants in the Women’s World Cup slalom and giant slalom contest.
Or again the image of the magnificently decorated "Festsaal" of the Panhans hotel, full of history and now occupied by the exhibition stands, just like a sweet box full of beautiful and tasty candies.
What can we say about the parade with fanfare and ‘Krampusses’ in the pretty ski-resort of Semmering, so beloved of the Viennese?
What everyone will remember above all is the warm atmosphere, the refined gastronomic meals served each day by students who are both well-trained and smiling. They will also remember all the generous and spontaneous ingredients of conviviality put together by the astonishingly efficient organising team.
Our dear friend Otto Kimmelman made a dream come true, a dream he first had ten years ago in Budapest. With the excellent Semmering choir well known to all Christmas in Europe participants, he constantly communicated to all around him the recipe for ‘Happy Christmas’ consisting of a lively spirit and a sense of sharing. It was only natural that he should bring to his own town the excellent atmosphere with which he had enlivened so many previous editions up and down Europe.
The director Jürgen Kürner, Anna Posch, Thomas Gasteiner and an admirable team of teachers and students took their lead from him and succeeded admirably in making Austria a precise synonym of Hospitality. And, as if to surpass even themselves, and for the first time in 12 years, Snow made its first appearance at Christmas in Europe!
At the foot of the Zauberberg haben wir uns alle verzaubern lassen und danken vom Herzen! (we allowed ourselves to be enchanted, and thank you with all our hearts!)