What’s the apogee of the lodge world? The centuries-old Resort Magnificos alongside the Italian coast? The costly minimalism of the five-star tropical resort, or maybe the storied grandes dames of Europe’s capitals? Possibly, although, there’s a place on the high for the country luxurious of Austria’s family-owned ski-and-spa inns.

They’ve advanced over the generations, utilizing their success to not launch chains or reward shareholders, however to reinvest in continuous growth and innovation, till each minute element has been thought of and improved.

On the Stanglwirt, for instance, a 500-year-old Tyrolean lodge that has been run by 10 generations of the identical household, even the lifts have been given rustic wooden panelling, plus little carved nook cabinets containing a bottle of schnapps and glasses for passengers to refresh themselves. These locations are twee past perception, but magnificent of their devotion to Gemütlichkeit.

The Forsthofgut, which I visited this month, is a basic of the style. Within the hamlet of Hütten, exterior Leogang within the Salzburgerland, it began out in 1617 as a farm and forestry enterprise, offering lodging for lumberjacks. The present homeowners, the Schmuck household, purchased it in 1905 — we at the moment are on the fifth technology — and, in 1960, opened two rooms of the farmhouse to vacationers. In 1980, they added a couple of extra, then in 1990 opened a brand new constructing beside the unique home, creating a correct lodge for the primary time. By 1992, brochures boasted of the prospect to swim in a pond exterior, and in 1997 the farm’s final cow was offered as hospitality turned the only real focus.

The Forsthoftgut’s previous chalet, in-built 1617 and renovated in 1980
The chalet within the early twentieth century

The Schmuck household, with Christoph, the Forsthofgut’s supervisor, second from proper

In the present day, the lodge has 105 bedrooms — a modest sufficient whole that new arrivals are welcomed by their title on a blackboard by the doorway — but it surely sprawls throughout the foot of the Asitz mountain, in a succession of buildings, conventional and trendy, set round a lake, a number of swimming pools and scorching tubs, a ski piste snaking by way of the center.

Some €60mn has been spent since Christoph Schmuck, now 38, took over from his father in 2006, together with a €10mn spa growth unveiled final yr, to create a type of Alpine fantasy land. Past the eating places and spa is a miniature farm for youngsters that includes Lilliputian chalets; past which are stables and a driving college, added this yr, and off to at least one aspect a wildlife enclosure for purple and fallow deer (which guests can feed as soon as per week). Room keys include a fold-out map, however new visitors are nonetheless prone to get misplaced.

GM101213_22X Travel map Leogang

I took an early flight from London Metropolis to Salzburg, solely an hour’s drive away, and went straight out snowboarding. By the point I acquired again, it was Strudelzeit (cake time). All bookings include what the lodge calls “three-quarter” board: breakfast, dinner and afternoon desserts. After a slab of apple strudel, I hit the spa. Snow was falling, steam rising from the outside infinity pool as I swam out into the darkness.

Later, I lolled in one other pool, at 42C, then watched bathers climb out and decrease themselves by way of the opening reduce within the icy floor of the adjoining lake. In all, the spa covers 5,700 sq. metres, with some household areas (together with an extended water slide) and others reserved for adults, plus rest rooms the place individuals doze or learn on daybeds, searching at snow-covered timber and peaks.

The Asitz
One of many deer within the Forsthofgut’s reserve

The services is likely to be cutting-edge however the tone is low-key, largely as a result of it’s so family-focused: in addition to the water slides, there are rooms with artwork and craft actions (and 12 hours of childcare per day is included within the room fee). {Couples} in spa robes cradle tiny infants; older kids workforce as much as roam the lodge.

The Schmuck household, too, are a continuing presence, their images prominently displayed (even disconcertingly popping up on a display screen set into the breakfast buffet). “I grew up operating across the lodge,” says Christoph Schmuck. “I used to get into hassle with my mom for consuming the sugar from the tables within the restaurant.” In the present day he employs 250 workers.

If the lodge has advanced from humble beginnings, so too has the ski space. For nearly 30 years, Leogang was the poor relation to the village of Saalbach, on the opposite aspect of the Asitz, which opened its first ski raise in 1945 (to not point out the internationally well-known Kitzbühel, 28km to the west, which put in a gondola raise in 1929).

Leogang didn’t get a raise till the winter of 1971-72 and, even then, it had an inauspicious begin. Poor snow meant the raise, which solely went midway up the mountain, operated for simply 14 days all season, so the financial institution refused to lend funds for an extension. In the long run, the raise firm founders went from home to accommodate asking for assist; 11 individuals agreed and by 1974 the raise had lastly been prolonged to the highest, making a reference to Saalbach.

The summit of the Asitz, with the Leogang valley past © Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn

Extra growth and connections adopted, the village names being appended to the ski space model title till, by 2015, it had grown into the lower than snappy Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn. In reality, it’s additionally attainable to ski into the Zell am See space, that means there are 347km of slopes on provide (trumping even Kitzbühel, which has 233km).

Slightly than being run by a distant publicly listed group, as is frequent in France and the US, the Skicircus lifts stay within the palms of 5 native firms. Meaning income are reinvested and the lifts are as quick and trendy as anyplace, lots of them large chair lifts with covers and heated seats.

Maybe aware of its mouthful of a reputation, the ski space additionally manufacturers itself the “Dwelling of Lässig” — a phrase with no direct translation however which implies cool, enjoyable and laid-back. Although dreamt up by the advertising division, it describes the realm fairly effectively: the snowboarding is usually under the tree line, fairly than up amongst glaciers and rocky summits, greater than half the runs are simple blues, and you’re by no means removed from one of many 60 cosy mountain huts.

One of many Forsthofgut’s saunas, with a view over the ski slope

The Schmucks are usually not the one native household to have ridden the transformation. Sepp Altenberger turned a ski teacher after the second world warfare, later opening a guesthouse for purchasers which has grown into the Krallerhof, Leogang’s different five-star lodge, nonetheless run by the household and with an unlimited new spa.

Simply up the hill, farmland owned by Huwi Oberlader’s household since 1782 is now Priesteregg, a hamlet of 18 chalets that look historical however are in truth newly constructed, luxuriously appointed and include a close-by spa and restaurant, Huwi’s Alm. On the high of the Asitz, the meals stall the place the Oberlader household used to serve grilled rooster has advanced into the Mountain Membership Hendl Fischerei, a sensible restaurant and après-ski bar, serving oysters and champagne (and grilled rooster nonetheless), with a DJ within the afternoon.

“In the intervening time, there’s a very good technology within the inns, the cable automobile firm and the ski college, who need to transfer ahead quick,” says Christoph Schmuck. Collaboration is frequent, even amongst rivals, he says — a number of of the inns, for instance, have come collectively to construct workers lodging. “The cash we make, we reinvest — we imagine in a superb future for our village.”

The 25-metre lap pool beside the piste

The residing space of one of many backyard loft suites

Again on the Forsthofgut, after a day exploring the mountain, I ate a six-course dinner (included within the room fee), a lot of it sourced from the close by farm the lodge acquired in 2017. There are additionally Japanese, fine-dining and conventional Austrian eating places.

If something, although, it’s the breakfast buffet that’s most emblematic of the whimsical maximalism of such a Austrian lodge. A big room is stuffed with infinite alternative: three forms of recent melon, a dozen cheeses accompanied by six home made marmalades (cherry and sweetbriar, pear and fervour fruit, apricot and marzipan, and so forth), 4 forms of butter, 5 forms of honey, plus a recent honeycomb. A aspect room is filled with pastries and breads, together with the Forsthofgut “home bread” made with apples, carrots and pumpkin seeds.

Plates laden, visitors can sit and browse the Forsthofgut Morning Put up, which lists scores of actions for adults and kids, from yoga to group walks and HIIT exercises, all included. For some, the tyranny of such alternative may start to tug, but it surely does make you suppose that maybe different inns aren’t actually making an attempt.

Three extra family-owned Austrian Alpine retreats

The Stanglwirt

Stanglwirt, Going am Wilden Kaiser Located on the foot of the dramatic Wilder Kaiser massif, and some minutes’ drive from the pistes of the SkiWelt space, the Stanglwirt was first licensed as an inn in 1609. Its fame grew after visits by Bing Crosby and Clark Gable within the Nineteen Fifties, and due to the novelty of a window in its restaurant that appeared straight right into a cowshed. It nonetheless operates as a dairy farm and a stud for Lipizzaner horses but additionally as a lavish lodge with huge spa services and tennis and golf faculties, a kids’s’ “water world” and its personal fishing grounds. “My credo just isn’t ‘both/or’ however ‘each/and’,” says proprietor Balthasar Hauser. Doubles from about €450, together with breakfast; stanglwirt.com

Das Edelweiss, Grossarl Opened in 1979, the Hettegger household’s guesthouse has advanced right into a 145-room resort proper beside the pistes of the Grossarl-Dorfgastein ski space. Three generations on, 14 family members now work on the lodge, which underwent a significant renovation in 2018-19 and now gives a 7,000 sq m spa {that a} extends over 5 flooring, plus a penthouse suite with a non-public pool on the terrace. Doubles from €360 half-board; edelweiss-grossarl.com


Trattlerhof, Dangerous Kleinkirchheim Within the house resort of ski legend Franz Klammer, the Trattlerhof was licensed in 1642 and has been within the palms of the Forstnig household since 1884. In the present day, it’s a snug four-star with 60 rooms, a connoisseur restaurant and its personal cake (the Trattlers Hoftorte), which it has been serving for greater than a century. There’s a 1,000 sq m spa too, although lovers can even need to go to the village’s two mineral-rich thermal spas, the Römerbad and the St Kathrein. Doubles from about €180 half-board; trattlerhof.at

Das Edelweiss, Grossarl


Tom Robbins was a visitor of the Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn (saalbach.com), SalzburgerLand Tourism (salzburgerland.com) and British Airways CityFlyer (ba.com). BA flies twice-weekly from London Metropolis to Salzburg, from £120 return. Naturhotel Forsthofgut (forsthofgut.at) has doubles from €550 per night time, three-quarter board


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *