Renate Lewerken and her husband have established themselves with their business in Havelberg for many years now.
From wooden toys to their own hotel
ArtHotel Kiebitzberg is located between Altmark and Prignitz in picturesque Havelberg. Renate Lewerken tells the story of this unusual building and the family business, which combines a joinery, a shipyard and a hotel.
People looking for something exceptional go to the restaurant at the "ArtHotel". "What we offer here is certainly a bit extraordinary; a symbiosis of fine dining, culture and art. Our goal from the very beginning was to serve truly outstanding dishes!" Renate Lewerken has been managing the hotel for 10 years now. Their restaurant stands out, they have just been included in the "Slow Food Genussführer" guide. The kitchen works with regional and seasonal ingredients, they have their own vegetable patch, the meat and fish come from local partners. It is important to Renate Lewerken to offer quality, for example the Wagyu cattle: the animals graze on the Havel meadows just twelve kilometres away and are slaughtered in the region.
It all began in the early 1980s: Renate and Andreas Lewerken met, fell in love and got married soon. Andreas Lewerken was a master carpenter and started his own business in 1985, which was not easy in the GDR. He started to make wooden toys, his wife joined the business later. They registered a brand name for the toys: Kiebitzberg (lapwing mountain), their property's field name. "The mountain is only as high as a lapwing," we always say. My husband comes from Thuringia; it was strange to him that mountains can be so flat." After reunification, wooden toys were no longer in demand, the toys the West offered were more tempting at first. But this was no reason for the Lewerkens to give up. They built a "real carpentry workshop" in Havelberg, where furniture and fittings were made. When the shipyard in the town went bankrupt for the third time in 1998, her husband talked to the mayor. "We shouldn't hope too much that someone from outside will come and save the shipyard. Someone from here has to do it," he said. Without further ado, the Lewerkens bought the trust site and led the yard successfully into the future. That was 20 years ago. The first passenger ships with solar electric drive are currently being built here. After the carpentry workshop and the shipyard, Andreas Lewerken got involved in another area. Havelberg needs a prestigious hotel, he said. A design hotel was elaborately and lovingly created out of a run-down property. "The hotel now is the quintessence of what we are: design, craftsmanship and passion as the host", says Renate Lewerken, "our show house". They have taken art, culture and fine dining as the theme for their hotel: Many cultural events take place here and only originals hang on the walls. New artists can present themselves in exhibitions time and again.
Havelberg's location exactly between the Havel and the Elbe, between Altmark and Prignitz, between Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg is something special. Renate Lewerken believes that this is a bit of a problem and an opportunity at the same time. "A strong piece of the Altmark in the cradle of the Prignitz", is their slogan for this. For them Havelberg still belongs to Prignitz and Brandenburg. The Elbe, without a bridge 40 km in both directions, cuts off the area more than others. "This can be an obstacle, for example: if you want to take the ferry home after a concert. But it also makes the area special; as due to this remoteness a large nature reserve has developed here, which our guests enjoy exploring. The Lewerkens have embarked on a special path in life with their business. What is their motivation to continue on this every day? "Because I love what I do. And it's the place where I've been put and I want to make something out of it." Renate Lewerken quotes from the Threepenny Opera: "Ay, race for happiness, but don't you race too fast. When all chase after happiness – happiness comes in last!" Happiness is not permanent and there is no claim to it. You create it every day all over again. Like when we spend a part of our lives here as a team and with our guests and partners and have a good time. And even if it's a bit more difficult one day: if my team and I then survive this day together and all our guests are satisfied, that's a special kind of happiness. And we stand there and say to ourselves, "We did it!"