Charmehotel Friedrich – saunas and amazement
This is an article by Tania Tavernese, who spent the summer with her son Ruben at Charmehotel Friedrich.
Most people come to South Tyrol for hiking or skiing. This is also the case with many guests of the Charme Hotel Friedrich. But not with us. My son Ruben and I stayed here for just one night at the end of our summer holiday to split the long journey home into two shorter stages from central Italy. Such rather unplanned and spontaneous overnight stays are always a mini-adventure. The day before we leave, or even on the way, we look up roughly where we would like to stop. And then we contact hotels, B&Bs or other accommodations in the area and ask who spontaneously has a room available for us. We like to do this often, also as a last little breather before the start of the new school year. And sometimes as a little icing on the cake on our vacation.
It's exciting to exit the highway onto the smaller roads beyond at some point on our long drive north. And then finally getting to know new, unknown areas and cities whose names we have read hundreds of times on the motorway signs.
This time we turn right just before Bolzano in the direction of Welschnofen im Eggental. We have to go through a few curves and roundabouts and then we go along a winding road between mountain slopes. In addition, the Eggentaler Bach ripples towards us, sometimes very steeply and quite filled up by its stony bed from the rains of the last few days. We're going the other way. Always up. It gets steeper and steeper. And right at the top, after a few curves, which our small car can only manage in first gear, the Charme Hotel Friedrich is enthroned in front of us.
"But that was really lucky and should probably be like that"
The car is allowed on its covered parking space and we are greeted very friendly and on first name terms by the landlady Katja Rechenmacher Fäckl. "But that was really lucky and should probably be like that," she says. Because normally there are no free rooms in the "Friedrich" so spontaneously.
Most guests plan their vacations well in advance. They come to ski or hike and sometimes reserve the room for the next stay when they leave. About half of the people currently present are regulars. But the others also feel at home here after a short time. The staff at the Friedrich makes it really easy to feel comfortable. It's all very beautiful and also luxurious. But dealing with each other is humane and unpretentious. Almost everything is on first-name terms and everyone greets everyone immediately.
Well, we really did Glück and belong here now for a day. Many thanks to the Fäckl family! And when I write "happiness", I really mean happiness. Because the last, exceptionally spontaneously free room turns out to be the favorite suite of the lady of the house. It is on the top floor and has a corner balcony with a great view of the entire valley and the two local mountains, Catinaccio and Latemar, which, however, were wrapped in thick clouds when we arrived.
Sun, clouds and the infinity pool
We only arrived here in the late afternoon. The sky is overcast and of course it's much cooler up here in the mountains than this morning in Umbria, where we started. But while we enjoy the merende, the typical Italian afternoon snack, as a little refreshment, the clouds clear and the sun comes out a little more.
Now, of course, there's nothing stopping us from jumping into the pool, which looks as if it merges directly into the wooded hillside next door. A so-called infinity pool. A strange feeling at first. In the second, it feels extraordinarily liberating to be frolicking in the water right next to the abyss. We are excited. The water does not contain any annoying chlorine, is very slightly salty and does not sting your eyes at all. Ruben swims and dives around in it. For once, I leave my goggles on to swim and enjoy the last bit of sunshine and the view before I have a look at the panorama sauna.
I have to say that even someone who is not particularly fond of saunas like me faints here. The panorama sauna is housed in a large cube at the highest point of the building and through the huge window - what am I saying - the one wall that is almost entirely made of glass, offers an unobstructed view over the pool, the local mountains and the entire valley below with the village Welschnofen ... saunas and amazement, so to speak, are the order of the day here.
Here in the SPA area of the Charme Hotel Friedrich, Ruben could easily stand it for a few days. Sunbathe, swim, chat in the bubbles at the edge of the pool, read comfortably in the relaxation rooms with the beautiful view and the super comfortable lounge chairs. And one or the other extensive massage. You have to take the time and leisure to do that. However, not many guests do that.
In general, Katja, who also comes from a family of hoteliers, observes that vacationing has changed significantly in the last 25-30 years. Holidaymakers used to come for several weeks at a time. That was long enough for idleness and boredom to arise. Today, people bring the pressure to perform with them on vacation. It's possible, for example, that someone will lie by the pool with a bad conscience and say: "I'm not allowed to tell you at home that I didn't go on a tour in this weather". Guests also treat themselves to a massage to knead their aching muscles from physical exertion, rather than as real relaxation for body and soul. Swimming and saunas are usually only an addition to an active holiday, instead of being an end in itself.
The next morning the weather is glorious. I do a bit of gymnastics on the balcony while Ruben stays in bed and enjoys the view from there. "We're finally seeing the mountains in summer," says Ruben, "we've wanted to do that for a long time!". That's right, we're more familiar with the mountains in winter and full of snow. But now we are very impressed by the beauty of this area.
It is understandable that everything is so touristically developed. The then “Haus Friedrich” has existed since the early 1970s. When son Christof took over with his wife Katja, the house was renovated. There wasn't much room to make fundamental changes. But all that is left of the former hotel is the kitchen. And the front door of the Fäckls, which used to be the front door to the Hotel Friedrich.
In the kitchen, in which he grew up, so to speak, Christof Fäckl now manages with never-ending enthusiasm. Every day there is salty or sweet Merende, the small snack between 15 p.m. and 17 p.m. And in the evening a 5-course menu. Each guest can choose the composition in advance from vegetarian and other dishes. Only what is planned is prepared, so that as little food as possible has to be thrown away.
There is also a small list of classics. My son chooses spaghetti Bolognese and Kaiserschmarrn from this. I ticked the menu for a sequence of colorful salad over a goat's cheese creation, a soup (which I still dream of - I don't like the soups - still dreaming!) and canellone (with mushroom filling to lick your fingers) and I'm worried if I'll get all of it will create. But this concern is unfounded, because the individual courses turn out to be really small but so well coordinated fine bites that you are wonderfully full at the end without overeating.
Even at breakfast, there is no longer an overloaded buffet as it used to be. This also helps avoid wasting food.
Sustainability in small and big things
In general, I notice the sustainability thinking in the house in many small things. For example the ecological toilet paper and facial tissues. Doesn't look quite as nice as bright white. But it is just as soft, because despite more expensive environmentally friendly products, comfort is not compromised. There were also “only” two towels for each guest. One medium small and one medium large, instead of an excess of three huge terry towels per person, as is usual in many hotels.
Friedrich is currently working on various ideas for creative forms of communication between guests and room service. This should in turn help to save resources. And light pollution from Christmas lights is also set to be reduced this year. And not just at the hotel, but throughout the village. Katja Fäckl sits there once a week on the local political committee and is committed to sustainability and culture. As a little break from work in the hotel.
In the morning we have a coffee together on the Mediterranean planted terrace. We both have children of the same age and, in addition to questions about the hotel, we have a lot to tell each other. But soon we both have to move on. Me on the freeway and she on her computer.
I call Ruben out of the pool and go out on the balcony one last time to say goodbye. Actually, I could just look at the panorama here for whole days. When we arrived, the two local mountains were shrouded in clouds, but a few hours later the rocky flanks of the Rosengarten shine in the light of the evening sun. At night there was a big bright full moon right in the gap between the peaks and in the morning there were still fine clouds in the valley, which were slowly dissolved by the morning sun.
In the early evening, when only the last rays of sun flashed over the mountains, the whole valley was suddenly filled with droplet-fine air and there was the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen. Double and perfect and it started right below the "Friedrich" in the valley. And as is well known, where a rainbow begins, there is a pot of gold or simply to find "luck". So now you know. You have to go to Eggental to find happiness.