A wellness holiday resort should not just be a purpose built hub that takes you away from everyday life, but one which allows you to relax yet still appreciate the home’s cultural offerings. SPA-HOTEL Jagdhof in Neustift in the Austrian Tyrol has a special bond with its Alpine homeland and I went along in a bid to absorb every drop of it.
Stepping inside the emerald and red coloured building that is SPA-HOTEL Jagdhof, you could easily be mistaken for thinking you had gone back in time. From the reception staff to the owners, almost everyone working here is clad in traditional clothing. The outfit called ‘dirndl’ originated as the uniform for Austrian servants in the 19th century and was a more hardy form of the pretty dress donned by locals nowadays. Many of Austria’s females working in the hospitality industry in Austria and Bavaria wear the dirndl which is usually made up of a bodice, blouse, full skirt and apron and, to my mind, a rather charming formality.
If the dirndl doesn’t make everyone feel at home, then the love in the form of bright red plump cushions pumped into heart shapes, coupled with the jolly atmosphere, most certainly will. Even my duvet was cleverly shaped into a heart. Try creating that one at home!
Talking of which, this 5-star Relais & Châteaux SPA-Hotel feels very much like a home than a hotel. Located smack in the heart of the Tyrol and surrounded by the majestic Stubai mountains, the Jagdhof began life as a small café in 1977 run by Leo and Margot Pfurtscheller. Today 39 years later – and taken over by their son and daughter-in-law Armin and Christina – it remains very much a family affair. I got a real cosy feel as I sipped my welcome drink and took a tour of the place. The wood panelled ceilings, walls adorned with decorative antiques, fine fabric covers placed over furniture dotted here and there, and a huge open fire gave off the right ambience for a hotel that promises total relaxation. Such is the laid back and welcoming atmosphere that it came as no surprise that the 70-bedroomed hotel has a huge proportion of repeat guests – some have been returning, requesting the same room, for more than 20 years.
As for food, every meal is a delight. The gourmet breakfast, consisting of milk products from Tyrolean farmers, cereals and breads from local mills and my go-to-breakfast staple – eggs prepared a-la-minute – is served until 11am. This suited me just fine. I like to earn my food so as not to feel guilty about over indulging. Luckily I was able to squeeze in a couple of fitness classes offered to guests first thing in the morning. The daily newsletter ‘Jagdhöfler am Morgen’ informed me of when the classes were on as well as giving me useful news of the day and hiking options. Instructor Julia Hoch teaches aqua, yoga, Pilates and back-strengthening classes and she definitely put me through some serious paces each time I turned up.
Those wishing to workout in nature’s gym al fresco can take full advantage of the guided hikes and Nordic walking tours offered free of charge to guests on a weekly basis. With the complimentary Stubai Super Card in summer, you not only get access to the cable cars but also heavily discounted entry to a number of tourist hotspots. But I naturally gravitated towards the hiking. I especially enjoyed my guide, Stachi’s, enthusiasm for walking more miles on a weekly basis than I can count on my fingers. That and his absolute determination to explain points of interest in broken English – because sadly I speak no German – guaranteed a thoroughly pleasurable way to spend a few hours in the hills.
It’s not only the Jagdhof’s most spectacular location that fascinates, but also the quiet hidden places which often turn out on closer inspection to be natural gems. Hidden in the Stubai Valley are many of these oases, but with Stachi by your side, you will be sure to discover some of them; as a local he has done a tremendous job hunting them out over the years.
Each day after I had my outdoor activities fix, I sought refuge at the hotel’s jSPA with its wonderful Vitality World and heavenly Spa Chalet. There are no less than 20 saunas and steam rooms, invigorating ice and water explorations, an Aqua Meditation Room, Tepidarium, Laconium, Cisterna, Finnish Sauna, Amethyst Steam Grotto, Salt Inhalation Grotto, Herbal Steam Room – with so much to choose from, I was like a kid in a sweet shop. Add to that the all-important relaxation areas, both indoor and out complete with swinging hammock loungers, and I was able to while away the afternoon in a state of complete bliss. However, the real show-stopper for me was the REN signature treatment in the private Spa Suite in the Spa Chalet. Much like celebs Kate Moss, Uma Thurman and Sting – all big fans of the iconic British brand REN – for a few hours I too felt like a star.
The two-hour pampering session began with a relaxing glass of Champagne by the infinity pool for half an hour before my therapist went to work scrubbing my entire body with a Moroccan sugar exfoliating treatment. The soothing rhythm of my therapist’s hands made me so relaxed I had to be gently woken to detoxify in the steam cabin in preparation for the ensuing massage. It was the full body works using a combination of Japanese acupressure and Swedish massage. And just when I began to dread the end of the treatment, a head massage and a facial took me to another plane. An utter bonus!
The rural Alpine lifestyle characterises the Stubai kitchen. Aromas of cheese, tender fried young veal and spicy Alpine herbs waft through the Hubertus Stube Restaurant on a daily basis. Meal times here are really lavish and you can easily spend the whole evening polishing off every last morsel of the five-course dinner. I tried to save myself from raiding the complimentary afternoon tea and cake buffet to be able to savour all five. The extensive salad buffet which follows the starter and the soup is a meal in itself – with so much choice, it’s easy to forget there’s still more food to come. But saving yourself for the mains is well worth it. Expect to devour creative dishes like fillet of Iberico pork, grilled turbot or fillet and lamb. Gluten and lactose free dishes are also available upon request.
For me dining is always a special occasion but if you really want to ramp it up a gear then dinner in the gondola on the terrace is a must. The former cable car, made from reclaimed wood has been lovingly restored to a snug Tyrolean parlour with coffered ceiling and elegant carvings where it is tradition to try the hotel’s classic fondue. Culinary delights, in every sense of the word, are guaranteed and don’t get better than this.
For more information on SPA-HOTEL Jagdhof, Neustift, Austria visit here.
Tags: 5-star Relais & Châteaux, Austrian Tyrol, dirndl, gluten free, hiking, Hubertus Stube Restaurant, Japanese acupressure, lactose free, Leo and Margot Pfurtscheller, Neustift, Pilates and back-strengthening, REN treatments, spa hotel, SPA-HOTEL Jagdhof, Stubai mountains, Stubai Super Card, Swedish massage, travelblogger, walking
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