Style: European elegance with alpine nuances
Scene: Wealthy and healthy
Seen in the lobby: From fur coats to ski gear
Back in the old days of steam trains and bustles, well-heeled Europeans would head for the hills for a dose of rest and relaxation in a sanitarium, trunks piled high on the platform and parasols held oh so daintily overhead. Fast forward to 2013 and this trend continues, albeit under the banner of wellness.
The Alpenresort Schwarz is one of the best wellness resorts in Austria and is the perfect place to end a ski holiday, or in fact any holiday, in Innsbruck. The property has been a guesthouse since 1694, and was the first place in the area to have running water and heating. New buildings, or 'Obstgartls' have been added, but are all linked by hallways so effective movement between them is seamless. The Resort, that has been in the Family Pirktl for three generations, ticks all the boxes you would expect of a wellness and spa resort, and then some.
There is a range of accommodation to suit everyone, from families to Royal families, with the crème de la crème the Royal Garden Suite and Royal Mountain Suite. The Royal Garden Suite is a split-level 270 square metre apartment sleeps six with a private spa area, your own sauna, roof terrace with incredible views and of course, a butler. The Head Butler here is Elizabeth, and she will ensure everything about your stay is perfect.
One of the key features in the wellness aspect at Alpenresort Schwarz is the super-sized Sun Welly Spa - 4000 square metres of pampering and pleasure with the occasional dollop - in the new Fitness Centre - of pain. The spa has five saunas, one Turkish hammam, two private spas - including the indulgent Garden Room Suite - and a relaxation room with numerous waterbeds. There is also a Mind Oasis room for meditation or relaxing, that has hanging heated pod seats in orange leather around a fountain pool with a large crystal in the centre that glows in various colours. Being European, everyone here goes nude in the sauna - certainly a shock for my teenage son who was caught unawares.
There are 14 massage rooms and nine rooms for beauty treatments, with a menu overflowing with options. I choose a treatment they assure me will loosen muscles tight from skiing, and sink into what feels like a water bed before being coated with an enriching mud containing plenty of nutrients from local plants. I melt into a warm, entwined oblivion, and emerge languidly, in a state of bliss. The next day, I am massaged with marmot oil, further loosening legs and sending me into that semi-catatonic state once again.
We float for a long time in the warm water, eyes taking in the snowy mountains through a steamy curtain and ears hypnotized by magical sounds.
The word spa actually comes from the Latin 'sanus per aquam', which means health via water, and it is very evident here just how good water is for your health. Water World is unlike any thing I have seen before, with seven heated indoor/outdoor pools. Upon entering there are many separate poolside decks with daybeds, with the centrepiece a lap pool, a grotto with waterfall and another pool jutting out off it. This one has a cord that when pulled, opens a sliding door so you can swim outside. There are sunken massage chairs at one end and I morph into one, then watch mesmerised, as a woman in a bikini gets out and rubs snow all over herself before jumping back in. 'Good for circulation' she says. We leave her to it and make the cold and bold dash to the adjoining whirlpool, and after par boiling for a while, do the hurried walk-but-not run to another pool. This one is called the Sole Pool and is a salt water liquid sound pool. It comes as a bit of a surprise when we go underwater and hear soothing slightly whale-like sounds. We float for a long time in the warm water, eyes taking in the snowy mountains through a steamy curtain and ears hypnotized by magical sounds. Total relaxation is achieved.
Another element at Alpenresort Schwarz, and one that is extremely popular, is a private clinic that specialises in cosmetic surgery. Run by Dr Kurt Ohler, you can book in for a variety of nips and tucks, breast implants, plastic surgery, aesthetic cosmetics and reconstructive surgery as well as learning about therapies that could improve quality of life. People, mostly women, come from all over the world to see Dr Ohler, and while they are being looked after in the clinic, their families are having a wonderful time in the Resort. Should liposuction ever be on my wish list, I can't think of a better place to have it.
All that fresh mountain air and the beautiful winter alpine landscape really helps rejuvenate, and there are plenty of outdoor activities that get you out and about in the great outdoors. We take a sleigh ride and clip-clop Amish style through rural vistas coated in white and he points out places of interest, such as the 27-hole Resort golf course, tennis courts and nearby peaks. We finish up at the Stöttlalm hut, where we have a lunch of Tyrolean favourites and some local ales, before strolling back to the resort.
We try sledding, driven up through snowy trails in the mountains to a mountain hut, where we pick up our fancy wooden sledges and yahoo down a trail four kilometres long. We steer with our feet, racing each other down the trail, laughing with joy until we come to a stop, faces flushed, at the bottom. Who knew sledging could be so enjoyable? Guests can also go on cross country skiing, snowshoeing or hiking adventures, or can go on a ski tour with a guide to one of the nearby ski resorts, such as Kühtai, Hochoetz or Axamer Lizum.
The wellness aspect of the resort is carried through to the restaurant, which is in the oldest part of the Resort. Like an Aladdin's Cave, it has many alcoves and separate rooms in which to sit and the wine cellar has over 600 wines lining its walls. The restaurant has been awarded two 'Toques' by Gault Millau, and the five-course a la carte dinners are exceptional. All meals are included in the room rate, as well as snacks, fresh fruit and non-alcoholic drinks. There are many healthy options, and the chefs use local produce as much as possible.
On our final night, a local trio serenade restaurant guests with a veritable Top 40 of Tyrolean hits, and, with great gusto, most guests, including us, join in. We are the only Australians there but that matters not one iota, and we raise our voices in a flood of gibberish, a little piece of Austria entering into our hearts with every note.
Alpenresort Schwarz, Obermieming 141, A-6414 Mieming, Austria
Stay in the Royal Garden Suite with your own spa, sauna and butler.
|Most Indulgent Moment:
Book a Private Spa Suite for an afternoon and indulge in a treatment for two and champagne.
Take home some of the Alpienne Range of oils and creams, all made from hand-picked alpine flora. The Marmot Oil is particularly good.
|The Little Things:
Our server at breakfast and dinner left little notes, in English, for us. A nice touch!
Children are very well looked after with a fabulous kids club, a petting zoo, special spa treatments and all kinds of outdoor activities. A new Kids Water World is opening at the end of April 2013 with a 92 metre waterslide and all kinds of fun aquatic delights.
Smart casual is acceptable but bling it up for dinner
|Dent in the platinum:
|Luxury Hotels Link:
Helen Hayes 3/4/13