The “Workshop-Alm” offers an idyllic and inspiring location to work, consult and reflect, as well as a professional, perfectly organised environment.
Where ideas take flight: Workshops at the Durhamer Alm
The Durhamer Alm is the perfect place for a small meeting under the majestic and famous peaks of the foothills of the Alps. In the tranquillity of the Leitzach valley, conversations become more intense and honest, and teams begin to grow closer together. And during the break on the terrace, occasionally a fox drops by.
Only a few kilometres from the Upper Bavarian municipality of Fischbachau and only about an hour’s drive from Munich, the path to the Durhamer Alm first meanders gently past farms, followed by meadows and pastures, up to an altitude of 1,100 metres. The morning sun shines on the wooded slopes of Schwarzberg, Durhamer Berg and Breitenstein, with the last estates disappearing behind a bend. In the valley of the Elbach, dew rests on the grasses, and delicate cobwebs shimmer in the backlight.
Accidental Alm ownership
“The beauty and silence of the area always move me,” says Tanja Eckert, who created the “Workshop-Alm” together with her husband Ullrich. In 2006, while looking for a home in the Munich area, they came across the Durhamer Alm, which dates back to the 18th century, and after their first visit it was already clear: we have to have it and make something special out of it. Although they weren’t yet clear on the economics of the small property, they knew right away that it would be perfect for a business idea.
We have to have it and make something special out of it.
At first, the main goal was to preserve the very dilapidated Alm from decay and occasionally use it privately, which the couple did following its renovation in 2007.
That changed in 2012, as Tanja Eckert recalls: On one hand, she realised it was time for a different professional environment, and on the other hand, she noticed that she was regularly approached about the Alm in both private and professional settings.
An international party service meets an Alm nestled in the Alpine foothills
For many years, Ullrich Eckert was the sole and later the majority shareholder of Lufthansa Party Service. With the company, he provided, for example, VIP catering during the Olympic Games from Barcelona to Beijing. Tanja Eckert was a frequent contact for customers around the world in the international team in charge of planning and organising the Lufthansa Party Service: “We made all requests possible,” she says.
The two of them therefore brought with them the best conditions to create a perfect ambience for working, brainstorming and teambuilding together at the Durhamer Alm.
Workshops in a former cowshed
After years in the catering business, creating something completely new proved to be a positive challenge for Tanja and Ullrich Eckert. However, this time in a much smaller, more personal setting, as the converted seminar room, formerly a cowshed, at Durhamer Alm measures only 36 square metres. Situated there, between the wrought-iron stove and the massive supporting beams that are over 100 years old, is a large, rustic wooden table that seats a maximum of 22 people. In addition, there is a small parlour with a corner bench.
“Of course, it goes without saying that we have modern technology at our Alm,” explains Tanja Eckert. A sound system, Wi-Fi, as well as a projector and screen are available. But beyond that, the overall quiet ambience is ideal for smaller groups at workshops, seminars or coaching sessions.
The Alm inspires creativity
She realises how positively the peace and tranquillity of nature around the Alm impacts people. And it’s not just the babbling brook behind the house, the fir trees swaying in the wind and the squirrels on the terrace. This is also the atmosphere emanating from the flock of sheep that peacefully chews the cud on the 17 hectares of land belonging to the Alm and can be visited during a break.
The rhythm of life changes when the groups come to us.
“The rhythm of life changes when the groups come to us,” says Tanja Eckert. After a short period of time, their stress levels sink, creativity blossoms, conflicts are discussed more calmly and ideas begin to take flight. And she sees her task in creating a suitable framework for the teams, which they can then fill with their topics.
“I love being a hostess, sensing what people need right now and giving them exactly what makes them feel good.” Sometimes it’s just an espresso at the right time, a snack or simply a smile.
Durhamer Alm: Brainstorming in a familiar atmosphere
Because the Alm is small and the distances short, Tanja, Ullrich and their chef Tom take care of the guests. There are no rigid guidelines for breaks or meals, as the daily schedule is flexibly adapted to the needs of the group. But it may well be that Tom asks guests to watch the soup pot by the stove while he goes out the back of the house to gather fresh herbs.
This familiar atmosphere both relaxes and inspires the teams, as Tanja Eckert has regularly observed. It creates space for informal conversations for which there is no time in everyday work routines.
Often the most creative solutions come in the evening on the terrace during a sundowner, she says, when the sun bathes the landscape in warm light, Tom is turning brown trout and legs of lamb on the grill and the sheep are plucking at the grasses behind the tool shed.
Meeting at the Alm, sleeping in Fischbauchau
For groups booking the Durhamer Alm for two or three days, Tanja Eckert also organises accommodation in the surrounding area as well as the shuttle to get there. She has come to learn that many people, after a day’s work at the Alm, also like to have dinner there and linger about.
Especially at dusk, a cosy feeling sets in, the atmosphere becomes more intimate and most people feel almost at home or reminded of their childhood at their grandmother’s place.
“An Alm has such a positive connotation, it’s a wonderful selling point,” she says, and yet the location has to be infused with personality and warmth. The Durhamer Alm offers both: an idyllic and inspiring place for working, consulting and reflecting, as well as a professional, perfectly organised environment for which Tanja and Ullrich Eckert were known for many years at Lufthansa Party Service.
Suitable coaches for professional topics
And in the future? Tanja Eckert wants to make suitable coaches available to her clients, depending on the topic, in order to support teambuilding measures or to work on problems in a more specific way. The Alm is meant to offer the teams a safe space to grow together and at the same time contribute to business success.
In the end, the decision for the Alm was an excellent idea that has not only benefited the guests, but herself as well. In winter, when the moon appears behind the mountains, the ice crystals around the house glitter like diamonds or shooting stars streak across the sky, she says she is as enthusiastic about the Durhamer Alm and the magical atmosphere of the valley as she was on the first day.
More information on the Durhamer Alm can be found here.