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Traditional Vienna goes brand crazy in luxury facelift


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21:07, Sep 06 2013

é??ç¸?raditional Vienna goes brand crazy in luxury facelift

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Always the epitome of elegance and culture, the Austrian capital was long set on tradition.

Grand hotels like the famous Sacher, Bristol and Imperial dated back to the AustroHungarian empire and on the limited luxury shopping mile the Kohlmarkt internationally recognisable brand names jostled for space with local businesses.

But walk through the city centre now and sleek window abercrombie and fitch roma displays boast the latest Miu Miu handbag or Vivienne Westwood fashion.

A new bloc called the Golden <a href="http://www.photo2video.co.uk/truereligion/">true religion sale</a> Quarter houses a threestorey Vuitton shop as well as Roberto Cavalli and Mulberry, and will soon welcome the first Yves Saint Laurent store in Austria.

Three fivestar hotels including a Ritz Carlton and a Kempinski have also opened their doors in the last nine months. A Four Seasons, a Park Hyatt and a third topranked hotel are to follow by next year.

"There is hardly a brand that isn't present in Vienna. there is no reason to go anywhere else anymore for highend shopping," Helmut Schramm, head of the true religion sale Vienna Economic Chamber's fashion division, told AFP.

The growing number of highspending tourists from Russia, Asia and the Gulf including Saudi Arabia, UAE and Qatar certainly contributed to this trend.

"For them, it's very much about prestige, about brands. So we're working in that direction," said Vienna Tourist Board director Norbert Kettner.

Those most often seen toting large Chanel or Gucci shopping bags around the city centre are indeed Asian couples or Arab families.

Chinese tourists are the second biggest spenders in the Austrian capital, dropping an average 623 euros ($833) per day, just behind the Thai visitors, according to Tourist Board figures.

But locals are also rejoicing in the opportunity to buy the latest designs from Milan or Paris right here at home.

"Salespeople in the shops say they have the feeling Austrians were only waiting for the chance to buy colourful fashion," Daniela Steurer from Signa Holding, the group behind the Golden Quarter luxury bloc, told AFP.

With some 77,600 millionaires, according to Liechtensteinbased investment firm Valluga, Austria has plenty of wealthy locals ugg italia able to splurge.

The timing of this luxury drive may seem odd, so soon after the financial crisis and amid continuing austerity.

But "the superrich are totally unfazed by the global crisis," Kettner told AFP.

If anything, the surprising thing is that a luxury boom did not occur sooner in a city decked out with grand palaces and elegant cafes, where waltzing at a ball is hollister france magasin still a popular pastime.

"Vienna was always a bit of a Sleeping Beauty," said Paul Dutschmann, marketing chief at the recently opened Palais Hansen Kempinski, which boasts the city's most expensive suite at 15,000 euros per night.

"Vienna really only started growing in the last 1020 years," thanks in part to the opening up of the former Soviet bloc and a boom <a href="http://www.cai-catanzaro.it/ugg/">ugg italia</a> in Asian travel.

Even with the latest offerings, the Austrian capital pales in comparison with other European cities, with just 19 fivestar hotels. Prague, a smaller city, has 42 and Barcelona 24, noted Kettner.

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