It was not just one, but several innovations American Sallie Zimmerhackel took with her to Denmark in the middle of the 50s. She actually came to Denmark to be a teacher at the American Embassy school in Copenhagen, but then she met the Dane, Oscar Wittrup, who had been in America and was inspired by the motels he had encountered along his way. Together they decided to establish something similar in Denmark.
Oscar found the location in Albertslund and even though it was a bare field quite a way from Copenhagen, Sallie could see the potential. And so this was where it should be. They were not the first ones in Denmark to do so, but were to be just after the BP Motel in Roskilde which no longer exist. Therefore, today Wittrup Motel is Denmark’s oldest, existing motel.
Besides the innovation of the motel, a snack bar was also established with food and beverages all with inspiration from the USA . Sallie was the first person ever to serve a cheese-burger in Denmark. Many people in Albertslund and environs have told how very special it was to come to the newly established, American-inspired snack bar.
Famous race drivers from Roskilde Ring
Many American soldiers on leave and holiday from the bases in Western Germany stayed at the motel in homely surroundings. At the same time, Roskilde Ring had also just opened a racing track which attracted drivers from around the world. Many of these famous drivers found their way to Wittrup Motel. Probably because of the international style.
In the middle of the 1960's the regular customers were no longer American soldiers but but commercial travellers and craftsmen. Many became regular customers in connection with large construction projects in Copenhagen and in the area around Albertslund. For example, plenty of craftsmen stayed at the motel during construction of IKEA, City 2, Scala in Copenhagen, the construction of Høje Taastrup and, since then, the Øresund Bridge and the Metro.
The night porter took over
Sallie was the driving force through 15 years until the end of the 1960s when she died. A couple of years passed with inheritance disputes, but it all ended with the managing director, Karl Nielsen and his wife Olga, purchasing the motel. Karl had started working at the motel as a night porter and had worked his way up to managing director.
Karl and Olga carried out several modernizations, e.g. establishment of a banqueting room for 40 people and gradually, the original character changed. The motel had to keep up with the times and this was also the case after 1983 when Karl Nielsen died his daughter Inger ran the place for her mother. She did so together with her husband, Svend.
They took over ownership in 1998 when Olga died. At the same time, they took over the house which Olga and Karl had built for themselves in 1973; a house which today has been renovated into even more motel rooms.
Third generation - “old-fashioned” modernisation
In 1963 and 1967, Inger and Sven had their sons Claus and Henrik. Many years later, they ended up joining the operation of the motel and restaurant. Henrik was an educated chef and took over the restaurant in 2000 and Claus became the administrator in 2001.
In a seamless transition, the generational succession to the two brothers happened. In 2013, they came up with the idea to take the motel and restaurant back to the 1950s. It was a project that accelerated in earnest when heading towards the 60th anniversary in 2015.