Heart & soul & tradition

Family Binder - Family Pfluger

Mountain hut to alpine hotel

At the beginning of the twenties tourism in Zillertal was starting to become popular.

Max Binder, the founder of the family business, was bent on following his ideal. A project the whole family was involved in, as is the case today. He acquired a piece of land and in 1926 began building the first "Gerlosstein hut".


Heavy transport

and perseverance

The construction of a mountain hut in those times was very difficult. Wood from the forest was felled and chopped to size by hand. Building materials and furnishings were carried up from the valley on the villager's backs. Everyone had to help. Including the seven children: Gerlinde, Erich, Ewald, Helmut, Irmgard, Gertrude and Wilfried.

The cooking stove for example was painstakingly heaved up the mountain on two logs by four strong men.

Some time later Max Binder was able to afford pack animals called 'Mulli´s'.  Especially bred donkeys and horses which were strong and enduring. Alas their efforts had their pitfalls. These animals were sometimes stubborn, or worse still, lost their footing.

Summer - high season in Zillertal

Water supply from our own spring

In the following summers more and more guests came as well as locals, to enjoy the fresh mountain air or to hike. Or just enjoy the wonderful views of the Ziller Valley. The Gerlosstein hut was only open in summer, winter tourism developed later.

Initially water supply was a problem:  back then water catchment was expensive. So in winter snow was melted, in summer water was carried from the spring. This cost alot of time and energy, and was mainly the job of the children. Years later Max and Maria Binder laid a wooden pipe from the spring to the hut. We still get our water from this spring.


Development hut - hotel

from bed of hay to swiss pine box spring bed

Owing to the commitment of the entire family & the business thriving, in 1928 some renovations and extensions were undertaken.

Starting with just 5 beds, increasing to 15 – 30, and later to 50. When necessary guests slept on matresses laid out on the floor of the hut.

Today there are 22 rooms and 5 suites - a total of 110 comfortable beds.

Winter - ski tourism

Self-trodden slopes and ski races

Pistes used to be trodden by foot or on skiis. One ski after the other, step by step until a track was made. Then finally one could ski down. Over time came the first slope grooming equipment. Heavy rollers, which several men had to roll down the piste.

In that same year the first ski race took place here in Gerlosstein, with approx. 20-30 participants. Later FIS (International Ski Association) races were held, with up to 150 racers.

The great depression and thousand mark ban

Unemployment & poverty

The depression at the beginning of the thirties didn't stop at Zillertal. People had to save, there was no money. Visits to mountain huts and guesthouses were no longer possible.

Then in May 1933 when the german reich government brought in the thousand mark fee, tourism collapsed completely (every german citizen had to pay a 1000 reichsmark fee to cross the border into Austria).

It was difficult for Maria Binder, nee Pumpernick, to feed her family. Her husband and many other men from the region were called up for war.

They didn't return until 20 years later. If at all, and some badly injured.

By the way: veterans and returnees erected the summit cross on top of the Gerlossteinwand as thanks to god. Since then a traditional summit mass takes place annually in summer.

End of the war - economic recovery

Cable car construction - economic recovery

Not until the end of the fifties did the economy begin to recover. Wilfried Binder was able to convince funders to help him realise his dream of building a cable car. That was the attraction in Zillertal. A pioneer of his time! Not until many years later were further cable cars and lifts erected. The Gerlosstein cable car made further renovations and updates possible. In 1960 Wilfried and his wife Herma Binder made the Gerlosstein hut into an alpine guesthouse. During the day the cable car transported guests, at night building materials. There was no road at that time, it was built in the late seventies. The alpine guesthouse was very comfortably furnished for its time. Some rooms had baths and toilets, others shared showers and WCs. A total of 18 rooms with approx. 100 beds. Today a bathroom is standard, shared showers or WC´s unimaginable.

In the ski area times were moving too and the first T-bar lift to the Arbiskogel was soon replaced by a chairlift. The Sonnalm chairlift was built and a T-bar up to the Larchkopf. Today there is a toboggan run, snowtubing slope and conveyor belts for beginners.


Maximilian - Wilfried - Rupert - Christina

Towards the end of the sixties the lift restaurant - 'Sonnenstüber Arbiskogel' originated. Then the 4-star Hotel "Dörflwirt" in the seventies. In 1992 the third generation, Rupert und Gerda Binder, took over and in the "Dörflwirt" Stefan and Patricia Binder. 2002 Rupert and Gerda, together with their three daughters: Christina, Sonja und Magdalena, converted the mountain guesthouse into a hotel.

2018 the business was passed on to the fourth generation: Christina & Martin Pfluger.

And the history of the Hotel Dörflwirt continues, in the year 2017 the fourth generation took over too, by Stefan´s son Maximilian.

The Sonnenstüber Arbiskogel, as well as the oldest rooms in the hotel have been preserved in their original state. A piece of history which has many stories to tell.

2020 brought the greatest challenge for the Binder & Pfluger families. Corona. Now we can safely say, we survived.

Each generation has its challenges ;-) hopefully there are many more to come.

In 2026 we will celebrate our centenary anniversary.

Thank you for your attention!

Families Binder & Pfluger