The song “The Hills Are Alive,” sung by actress Julie Andrews against a stunning backdrop of the Alps in the classic movie “The Sound of Music,” could be the theme song for the Stanglwirt Bio and Wellness Hotel in Austria’s Tyrolian Alps.
This alpine paradise is tucked away in a tiny village with views of the Wilder Kaiser Mountains and just nine miles from the world-class ski resort, Kitzbühl. The exuberance of the service staff and their Tyrolian hospitality, combined with their Family von Trapp-style uniforms, contributed to an overall memorable and wunderbar vacation, even if sounds a little cliché.
During a weekend visit there recently, I experienced awe-inspiring alpine landscapes, the biggest breakfast buffet I’ve even seen, a daily schedule of sports and leisure activities, wholesome meals prepared with the hotel’s organic farm ingredients, and folksy dinner entertainment. Not only that, the hotel has one of Europe’s largest spa complexes whose services directory is 50 pages long.
Visitors can fly in and out of the revamped and expanded Munich Airport, whose cutting-edge food court and brewery alone are worth a layover. Stanglwirt offers car service to and from the airport, a 90-minute drive. Upon arriving at the hotel I was welcomed with a glass of sparkling rosé, then escorted to my sprawling mountain-view suite in time to see the spectacular sunset from one of my many panoramic windows.
The hotel first opened as an inn in 1609. Back then, it had just a few rooms. Today, it encompasses 30 acres with 171 rooms and suites. It has been owned and operated by the Hauser family since 1722.
Some of Stanglwirt’s main attractions are a Lipizzaner stud farm (riding lessons are, of course, offered); a tennis school, golf course, and ski school; a hunting lodge designed to resemble a luxurious chalet; an alpine dairy hut where a farmer makes cheese using milk from the hotel’s dairy cows; a cow shed where dinner guests can peer into the cow’s stalls; and a fully staffed sports and medical fitness centre. There is also a petting zoo for kids.
As of this year, Stanglwirt boasts one of Europe’s largest indoor/outdoor “rock well-being” environments. This spectacular and expansive complex is entirely devoted to rocks and water. Guests can get lost among the caves, grottos, indoor and outdoor pools, a lake, waterfalls, relaxation areas, steam rooms, and saunas. Kids can do the same in their own Water World area. A mountain spring provides all the necessary water and is heated using geothermal energy and solar power.
Something for Everyone
During my two-day stay I enjoyed spa treatments like the signature Hollywood Facial and a massage, then tried the daily bathing ritual which takes guests on a guided tour of all the different water and sauna locations. All along the rim of the facility, with picture windows facing the Alps, are relaxation rooms with oversized lounge chairs and sofas.
My second day was reserved for fitness, which included an exhausting two-hour workout with Bjorn, the hotel’s enthusiastic fitness instructor. I took advantage of the mild, sunny weather to attend a beginner’s golf session on the green. Later I took a beginner tennis lesson. Stanglwirt’s six indoor and eight outdoor tennis courts make it one of Europe’s most popular tennis schools, managed by PBI (Peter Burwash International).
Hikes, bike rides, aquafit classes, pilates, stretching, guest tennis tournaments, and other sports activities are offered on a daily basis, free of charge. There wasn’t enough time to do it all, but I did make time for a cooking lesson with one of the chefs. After an extensive tour of the hotel’s kitchens and prep areas, I donned an apron and hat and helped prepare a traditional Austrian dessert called Kaiserschmarren which is like a fluffy pancake baked in a skillet, cut into pieces, and topped with powdered sugar. It’s the ultimate Austrian comfort food.
There are several side trips worth scheduling if you go. I opted for a tour of the Riedel wine glass factory in nearby Kufstein. Family-owned since 1756, Riedel produces the highest quality glasses and decanters for wine and spirits. My guide was a charming French lady whose passion for wine was clearly in her DNA. Not only can you see the glass blowers and furnaces—and feel the heat—but afterward you can visit the café and retail shop and see the dozens of different varietal shaped glasses and decanters produced by Riedel.
Whether you’re an avid winter sports enthusiast or prefer the outdoors in summer and fall, Stanglwirt offers something for everyone. It’s a destination in itself, and guests return year after year to enjoy the feeling of being part of a big family.
Isabelle Kellogg is a writer and public relations consultant in the luxury sector, with a passion for diamonds, jewelry, watches, and other luxury products, including travel.