Traditional Vienna goes brand crazy in luxury facelift

Traditional Vienna goes brand crazy in luxury facelift

VIENNA - Half a dozen new five-star hotels, flagship stores for Louis Vuitton, Prada and Emporio Armani: Vienna is undergoing a luxury facelift that is delighting Arab, Asian and Russian tourists, as well as locals.

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 Austro-Hungarian 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 displays boast the latest Miu Miu handbag or Vivienne Westwood fashion.

A new bloc called the Golden Quarter houses a three-storey Vuitton shop as well as Roberto Cavalli and Mulberry, and will soon welcome the first Yves Saint Laurent store in Austria.

Three five-star 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 top-ranked 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 high-end shopping," Helmut Schramm, head of the Vienna Economic Chamber's fashion division, told AFP.

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

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