Tradition and luxury in Tyrol with Inghams
We ascended the mountain by cable car floating through
fluffy clouds until we arrived at the top station. Fresh air, the sound of cow-bells, glorious
scenery. As I savoured the views I had a
sudden urge to burst into song, but, for the sake of my companions,
refrained. Where else but the Austrian
Tyrol - where the hills are very much alive.
Austria is perhaps best known for winter skiing holidays but
the summer is also a fantastic time to visit. Courtesy of top UK operator Inghams, we were staying at a new addition
to their 2017 programme, the 5-star Jagdhof Spa Hotel and at the start of our
first days walking high up in the mountains of the Stubai valley.
Mountains a dewy lush green and carpeted with a wonderful
array of spring flowers against a backdrop of pine forests. As our small group descended the mountain path
– buttocks, thighs and calves working overtime – we could have been walking
through a carefully designed Alpine garden at the Chelsea Flower Show such was
the variation and vibrant colours of summer flora. Our charming local guide,
Eustachius, having spent most of his life running up and down the mountains, further
added to the experience pointing out various species of trees – spruce, larch,
pine - and identifying the peaks that make up the wonderful Stubai mountain
range. With 80 glaciers and over 100
peaks above 3,000m there is plenty of jaw-dropping scenery and walking/cycling
opportunities for both the super fit as well as the not-so-fit. After a lunch stop in a local mountain
restaurant we headed back to our hotel keen to make use of the exceptional spa
facilities to soothe our aching bodies.
A member of Relais & Chateaux, the Jagdhof Spa Hotel is
in the village of Neustift just 20km from Innsbruck, capital of the Tyrol. Family
run since 1977, with emphasis on personal service, gourmet food and spa
facilities, the hotel is built in traditional Alpine style with warm wooden
interiors and a pleasing mix of cosy furnishings and antique pieces. The rooms
and suites are all individually styled, many with large balconies overlooking
the gardens, river and mountains. The ever-helpful staff wear traditional Austrian
dress, the women particularly resplendent in their colourful dirndls - still
worn by many locals in South Tyrol and much in evidence when walking around the
area and Innsbruck.
Unusually for a hotel of its size, 70 rooms/suites, the spa
and relaxation facilities are particularly extensive with ample space and
facilities to cater for all their guests. No towels on beds at sunrise needed here. The Jagdhof Spa is reputed to be the best in
Austria and the quality and range of treatments offered are impressive. My
anti-aging facial worked wonders leaving my skin with a glow not seen for quite
some years. With a staggering 20 saunas and steam rooms, tepidarium, indoor and
outdoor pool, three themed relaxation rooms with individual booths, family
daybeds as well as a panoramic tea bar lounge (with even more relaxation beds,
both inside and outside), no guest would ever have a problem finding somewhere to
lie down. Getting up and leaving this heavenly relaxing cocoon, however, is another
matter. This spa is superb.
Like most European spas guests in the ‘wet’ areas wander
around naked, but for the more retiring types amongst you there is also an area
where bathing suits are allowed. For anyone with extra cash to splash or
perhaps wishing to put some va va voom into their romance a private couples spa
suite complete with two massage tables should do the trick.
‘Gourmet’ is a word often over-used and undeserved. Not so at the Jagdhof. The recipient of many awards, including three
Michelin stars, the hotel’s kitchen serves delicious food with the emphasis on
local produce including meat from their own farm. With a large quality buffet available at breakfast
and dinner, 5-course evening meals offering three choices for each course,
there is plenty of variety and something for every palate, including special
diets. A mouthwatering snapshot of a few
dishes to tempt your taste-buds include: Parmesan cheese soup with roasted king
prawn; Swordfish carpaccio with fennel, orange emulsion and pomegranate; Classic
prime beef with roasted potatoes, spinach, apple horseradish and chive sauce; Pumpkin
parfait on cherry compote and strudel leaves. And then there was the cheeseboard. A stunning choice of perfectly ripe local
cheeses accompanied by home-made chutneys and fruit. The hotel’s fine wine
cellar houses around 20,000 bottles of over 1,000 different wines and whilst I
didn’t try all of them I can report that the wine I did enjoy each evening was
excellent. The Jagdhof is a genuine gourmet delight for foodies and wine-buffs,
but unless you intend to make use of the hotel’s tennis courts or run up and
down the mountains more than I did, I suggest you pack some loose clothing!
In between all the eating and languishing in the spa it’s
definitely worth exploring the area as there are many activities on offer and much
to see, with a good choice of excursions offered by Inghams. Approximately 40 minutes drive from the hotel
Schloss Tratzberg is a 500 year old Tyrolean castle which sits atop a massive
rock ledge with commanding views of the valley. The castle has been owned by
the same family for 300 years and is home to the current Count Ulrich Goess-Enzenberg
who was on hand to show us around his ancestral home. He is rightly proud of the preservation of the
priceless antiquities, all of which have been used by his predecessors and displayed
in a series of rooms rather than in cabinets, including original fabrics and
tapestries. Each room is brought to life with an engaging audio commentary - living
history very well presented and definitely worth a visit.
For more information about the Austrian Tyrol visit www.visittirol.co.uk
The Jagdhof offer a complimentary Stubai card during the
summer months that covers all transport on the buses and mountain railways.
They also provide mountain guides such as the lovely Eustachius, who took us on
two different mountains. Plans for a hair-raising descent on the Mieders summer
toboggan run – a real highlight by all accounts – was unfortunately cancelled due
to rather damp conditions. Next time. Another hair-rising activity – and we were just spectators – was the Olympic
ski jump in Innsbruck watching potential future Olympians picking up speeds of
95 klm as they hurtled down the run. Just looking down the slope was enough to set
off a vertigo attack. Children start training between the ages of 6 – 9 years
old, apparently any later is too late, so no hope for Silver Traveller
participation this time. Phhew.
Innsbruck, the capitol of Tyrol, is not to be missed and I
would recommend a full day here. With a wide range of summer and winter
activities, a backdrop of natural beauty, old world charm and ambience, this
beautiful small city has a lot to offer.
The compact old town, Altstadt, with its mixture of Gothic and Baroque buildings,
churches and museums, is flat and easy to get around on foot or by electric
tram and a great place to while away a few hours people watching in one of the
many cafes. Apfelstrudel anyone?
One of the city’s most famous landmarks, the Golden Roof
building, was completed in 1500 to mark the wedding of Emperor Maximilian I and
decorated with 2,657 fire-gilded copper tiles and is now the Registry Office
for civil marriages. It was wonderful
watching wedding parties in their traditional dress gathered outside the
building as I sipped my coffee whilst listening to a brass band playing in the
square. Very atmospheric. A short walk away is the Hofkirche, a
mausoleum built to commemorate the same Maximilian by his grandson to house 28
large bronze statues – the heaviest weighs 2 tonnes – that his grandfather had
commissioned before his death to ensure a fitting memorial. Having made such
advance plans one would have expected his final requirements were detailed to
the last letter. However – and for those
of you yet to put pen to paper let this be a warning – his instructions were
unclear and with nowhere to put the said statues his grandson built the church
to house them. Surrounded by the statues there is a stunning decorative, but
empty, sarcophagus as Maximilian’s remains are buried elsewhere due to the lack
of clarity. Best laid plans and all that. The church also houses the tomb of
Andreas Hofer, Tyrol’s national hero who led the locals in their battle for
Another must-see is the Innsbruck Panoramic Painting
depicting the famous battle between Napoleonic troops and Tyrolean rebels, led
by Andreas Hofer, in 1809. The battle is
immortalized in the giant painting of 1000sq meters displayed in the Kaiserjager
Museum, built on the site of the famous battle and just outside the city
centre. Specifically designed to give a 360 degree view, the painting is so
realistic you almost feel you are part of the battle. Painted over 200 years
ago by a 27 year old artist and four assistants, unbelievably in only three
months, the painting is an exceptional piece of historical artwork.
From the old town you can travel by funicular railway to the
Nordkette cable car system to whisk you up to the towering mountain peaks above
Innsbruck. New stations designed by world-renowned architect, Zaha Hadid,
beautifully reflect the Alpine glaciers of the city and on the way up you can
hop off to visit the Alpine Zoo, home to mountain animals. The views of the city and surrounding
mountains are spectacular and a great spot to enjoy some lunch at the 2,256m
Hafelekar restaurant serving local specialities such as weiner schnitzel,
cheese and spinach dumplings washed down with local beer. A great finale to our trip.
For more information about Innsbruck visit www.innsbruck.info
The Jagdhof Spa Hotel more than ticks all the boxes for a very
special, memorable, stay. Such luxury doesn’t come cheap, but you only live
once and with an inclusive package from specialists Inghams – 80 years in the
business and still counting – a stay at this superb hotel becomes more
affordable and is highly recommended.
Julie Andrews, herself a Silver Traveller, would love it.
The Jagdhof and the Austrian Tyrol, perfect for Silver Travellers
who appreciate the finer things in life.
Inghams is offering a seven night holiday on a half board
basis at the five-star Jagdhof
Spa Hotel in Neustift, Austria, from £1,439 per person, based on
two sharing. Price includes return flights from London Gatwick to
Innsbruck, private airport transfers, guided walks, hot and cold buffet
breakfasts, afternoon cake and five-course evening meals. The package is valid
for travel in August and September 2017.
To book call 01483 371211 or visit www.inghams.co.uk/lakes-mountains-holidays.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Inghams