Tourism: Sleep like on Mars – Bavaria

Since the beginning of August, a white rocket with the lettering “Auerbase – Gate to Mars” on a plateau in the industrial area of ​​Saass near Auerbach in the Upper Palatinate has been marking a construction project that is dividing the 9,000 inhabitants of the small town.

Gerald Stelzer, entrepreneur and main initiator of the project, wants to create nothing less than a “different world” in the form of a themed hotel in Auerbach. A hotel is to be built on 60,000 square meters that will simulate life on Mars through a six meter deep crater. In the fictional base station “Auerbase”, guests could soon get to know life on the red planet. The project is expected to cost around 30 million euros.

Entrepreneur Stelzer already has precise ideas about what his guests could experience in Auerbach in the future for around 150 euros per night. Already the entrance to the hotel should be an experience. “The guests first walk through a tube, the Hyperloop. This simulates the journey of an astronaut in a rocket to another planet with sounds, light effects and smells.” The main building of the hotel represents the base station on Mars. Instead of ordinary hotel rooms, the “Auerbase” has space for about 200 beds in sleeping capsules. Instead of towels, the guests should be blow-dried and instead of a kitchen, meals would be prepared in a laboratory. Even hazmat suits could be worn by the would-be Martians. “Playing the future” is what Stelzer calls the vision of his themed hotel. The Auerbase Hotel should also have a scientific focus. “We’re working with start-ups on this and thinking about what life on Mars could look like one day.”

On the other hand, the project is “an absolute mistake” for Frank Horchheimer, who is a resident of the industrial area on which the controversial hotel is to be built. Together with other people from Auerbach, he founded the “Stop the Mars Hotel” initiative. The members of the group criticize the unusual project in an open letter to Mayor Joachim Neuß and the Auerbach city council. Above all, they find the high space requirement and the idea of ​​a “red desert” “no longer up to date” it in the letter. In times of climate change with increasing global warming, intelligent and sustainable construction is required, not senseless wasting of space with an enormous crater in which nothing should grow. The red sand, which is supposed to represent the optics of Mars in the hotel’s crater, would not absorb heat and could not store water. The project destroys nature, contributes to global warming and is simply no longer up to date. “A crater on Mars is to be created with vegetation typical of Mars – meaning no vegetation,” the citizens are annoyed and appeal to the city. “The municipality also has a responsibility here.”

The “Marshotel” is said to have about 200 beds – the guests should be able to sleep in sleeping capsules.

(Photo: Gerald Stelzer)

The second mayor of Auerbach, Norbert Gradl, finds the excitement about the construction project “unfounded”. Although he can understand the skepticism of the citizens, a hotel with a Martian landscape is actually “unusual”. However, he points out that the area on the industrial estate will be built on in the future anyway – whether by a hotel or another industrial company makes no difference. The city could have already sold the area to a logistics center, but decided against it. A hotel is the more sensible alternative. The “Auerbase” could also be a “huge opportunity” for the city, the risk is “manageable”.

The topic “hotel” is nothing new in Auerbach. Efforts have been made to create overnight accommodation in the city for a long time. “So far there are only a few guest rooms in the city, but no real hotel,” says Horchheimer. However, the “Auerbase” does not solve this problem. “Auerbach needs a hotel. But an affordable one,” criticizes Horchheimer. An overnight stay in the themed hotel will cost around 150 euros per person. Entrepreneur Stelzer is aware that the “Auerbase” will not solve the city’s hotel problem. He doesn’t see the “Auerbase” as an ordinary hotel, but rather as a kind of experience stay.

The initiative against the hotel wants to collect signatures

The hotelier has experience with unusual hotels. He already runs the Fronfest Hotel in Amberg, which is also a themed hotel. According to the motto “Rest in prison”, guests can spend the night there in converted prison cells. The entrepreneur came up with the idea for the “Auerbase” while touring the site. The area in the Saass commercial area is perfect for the project. “There is hardly any light pollution there, so the place is well suited for building a crater, from which you have a good view of the sky,” explains the entrepreneur. He finds the allegations of the initiative unfounded. “The outdoor area will remain completely green and that the industrial area will be developed is not a surprise.”

So far there is no official planning application for the hotel. The city only reserved part of the site for the project. By the end of next year, those responsible have to check whether the project can be realized, Gradl explains the further procedure. If those responsible determine the feasibility of the project, the construction of the hotel should be completed by 2026.

The current 50 Auerbach citizens of the “Stop the Mars Hotel Initiative” hope that it won’t come to that in the first place. They want to collect signatures against the project and have presented their arguments to the deputy mayor and the city council. Horchheimer and the other members of the initiative want to prevent the hotel “by exhausting all democratic, political and legal possibilities” – if necessary with a citizens’ initiative. However, Gradl does not hope that there will be a referendum. The means of a referendum should only be used in very small doses. Instead, people should trust the city council to make decisions in the interests of all citizens. It remains to be seen whether the white rocket in the industrial area will remain the symbol of an unusual idea or will soon point the way to the first Mars hotel.

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