If you ever sought refuge from the agitations of modern life, the Chalet am Reschensee in Val Venosta provides the idyllic getaway. This authentic hunting lodge invites you to revel in the ways of old Tyrol.
The Chalet am Reschensee lies tucked within a pine-perfumed forest above the rippling splendor of South Tyrol’s grandest lake. The family hunting lodge for one of the region’s most respected wine growers, the chalet overlooks Lake Reschen (Lago di Resia), which is home to the submerged village of Curon (Graun) and its famous flood-defiant 14th-century bell tower.
Like the tower itself, the Chalet am Reschensee is a treasure suspended in time — a rustic remnant of a simpler era gone by, but one we long to know again. Fortunately for all of us, the Doná family makes rustling up such enchantment possible by offering the chalet throughout the year.
In this post, we show you what it’s like to stay here and highlight the adventures that await when venturing away from the lodge.
A Mountainside Escape in Val Venosta
The Chalet am Reschensee is a perfect escape for couples wishing to reconnect with each other in the midst of soul-stirring scenery. Its easy-to-reach perch above Lake Reschen is an ideal base for exploring much of Val Venosta.
A broad basin in the far west of South Tyrol, Val Venosta (also known as Vinschgau) is a lavish gift of nature and history. In the last Ice Age, glaciers hollowed out the valley leaving behind an Alpine landscape that now teems with enthralling contrasts. Here, apple, apricot and pear orchards fearlessly huddle up next to mountains and vineyards appear ready to brave the summits.
Not only does Val Venosta hold the region’s largest lake, but it also boasts South Tyrol’s tallest mountain: King Ortler. This noble of the upper world soars to a height of nearly 13,000 ft (3,905 m), nearly 2,000 ft higher than the tallest peak in the Dolomites. Its vast white crown gleams endlessly against the sky, captivating all who enter the valley.
However, nature is not the only force to dramatically emblazon the land. For thousands of years, Val Vensota was a coveted passageway between northern and southern Europe. Some of humanity’s most consequential actors have treaded beneath its mountain peaks. Today, the cultural marks of Celtic invaders, Germanic tribes, Roman legions and medieval crusaders can still be seen throughout the valley.
Experience Wellness in the Wilderness
The setting of Chalet am Reschensee offers a sense of solitude without ever seeming too remote. It stands amid innumerable evergreens whose boughs gently sway whenever the lake whispers.
Between the trees blazes silvery summits that tumble into mossy-hued slopes eventually giving way to the polished jade of Lake Reschen. Behind the chalet, climbs Monte di Curon which unfurls into an empire of peaks known as the Ötztal Alps — a titanic Tyrolean mountain range that held one of history’s greatest discoveries in its icy grip for more than 5,000 years.
The entrancing scenery all around practically impels you to adopt the pacifying pace of nature. Strolling around the chalet it will feel as if the surrounding wilderness is conspiring to serve your wellbeing. And indeed it is.
Amid such calming views, you can deeply inhale mountain air that is delightfully pure and bracing. Each breath seemingly becomes more vivifying than the last.
Relax Amid Handcrafted Beauty
The Chalet am Reschensee’s postcard setting comes alive inside. Handcrafted timber cladding adorns the interior filling the chalet with the kind of warmth that inspires carefree mornings over coffee where mountain gazing is the only priority.
The gorgeous wood of the chalet is of the same forests that furnished planks and firewood for conquesting Roman legions 2,000 years ago as they marched the Via Claudia Augusta (now known as the Reschen Pass). This ancient roadway moved an untold number of souls, some noted by history most forever buried in its dustbin. It stretched from the shores of Venice, passing beneath the Chalet am Reschensee, all the way to the Danube River in Bavaria.
Traditional Tyrolean decor and furnishings enrich each room with a folksy frill. These embellishments wondrously conjure the spirit of old Tyrol — so much so that you can be forgiven if you fear an accordion player garbed in lederhosen might spring out of a closet at any moment.
Hung on the walls next to the old-world decor is a multitude of magnificent trophy mounts. When admiring these antlered prizes, one can almost hear tales of stag hunts being told with rousing campfire drama.
The Chalet am Resenchee’s vintage vibe goes well beyond ornamental. In the parlor room, sits a massive antique ceramic-tiled wood stove known as “Kachelofen”. Such stoves were once common throughout northern Europe and heat living spaces far better than open fireplaces. We fed this stove in the evenings and never once woke up to a chilly lodge.
The timbered bedroom boasts a plush large double bed facing a window to the Alpine wonders outside. The view made it tempting for us to stay under the covers each sunrise, but we enjoyed using the chalet’s adorable kitchen too much to let the morning slip away without making breakfast.
After our morning kitchen routine, we took advantage of a soothing soak in the chalet’s shower before setting upon the day’s adventures. Given the old character of the lodge, one might think its bathroom lacks modern comfort, but that was not at all the case. It pleasantly made our stay feel like home-away-from-home.
What to Do While at the Chalet am Reschensee
If you are longing for a weekend getaway cooped up in a cozy cabin, the Chalet am Reschensee certainly will satisfy your desire for romantic seclusion. But we assume, that like us, most staying at the chalet will want to consume the sights of Val Venosta.
Enjoy Lake Reschen
Lake Reschen (also known as Lago di Resia and Reschensee) is a recreational treasure covering 2.5 square miles (6.6 sq km). A stay near the lake is not complete without admiring the 14th-century bell tower of Curon we mentioned earlier. This haunting spectacle stands just minutes away from the Chalet am Reschensee.
A wonderful way to experience Lake Reschen and its sunken steeple, from multiple vantage points, is by walking or biking its 9-mile loop (15 km). The lakeside promenade bombards you with stunning mountain scenery in every direction from the mighty peak of Ortler on the southern horizon to Klopaierspitze thundering above the village of Reschen to Piz Lad and Elferspitze gripping the border with Switzerland.
If you stay at the Chalet am Reschensee in the summer you can, of course, partake in water sports such as kayaking, windsurfing and kitesurfing. Those wanting a less rigorous activity can simply take a boat tour or rent a pedal boat to leisurely explore Lake Reschen.
In the winter, you can actually rent skates and glide right up to the foot of the bell tower. In addition, you can hit the slopes above the shoreline. A number of ski resorts dot the Reschen Pass.
Discover Cultural Gems
If you arrive at the Chalet am Reschensee by passing through Val Venosta from its entrance northwest of Merano, you will undoubtedly see a wealth of historic marvels beautifying the valley. Many of these attractions lie only 30-40 minutes away from the chalet.
We recommend venturing out to stroll the tiny town of Glurns (Glorenza), one of a few places in the world still entirely enclosed by medieval walls. Its stone fortifications date back more than 500 years. The walls appear to have done a fine job keeping modern ways from creeping into the town. We actually encountered cows being herded through its cobblestone alleys the same as they have for hundreds of years.
The Marienberg Abbey (Abbey of Monte Maria) is also a must-visit. It beams white from a mountainside above the village of Burgeis (Burgusio). Founded more than 900 years ago, it is Europe’s highest abbey looming at a punishing height of 4,400+ ft (1,350 m). Fortunately, a road now leads to its entrance saving today’s visitors from a trek of penance.
Not far from the Marienberg Abbey, above the town of Schluderns (Sluderno) on a mountain expanse called the Sonnenberg, looms another historic sight not to be missed. The Churburg Castle (Castel Coira) is a 13th-century stronghold that is utterly breathtaking to behold from outside and within. Its interior dazzles with medieval artistry and furnishings. In fact, the castle’s armory possesses the world’s largest private collection of medieval weaponry. We consider the guided tour to be one of the best in South Tyrol.
Hit the Trails
In addition to hiking around Lake Reschen, there is a bounty of trails commanding exploration near Chalet am Reschensee. These hiking paths will carry you through towering larch forests, around ripening orchards and vineyards and past pastoral scenes of meadows and farms — all set against an Alpine amphitheater where the mountains stage a jaw-dropping performance no matter the hour or season.
Running directly above Chalet am Reschensee is the Vinschger Höhenweg (Alta Via della Val Venosta). This hiking trail stretches more than 60 miles (100+ km) sweeping over virtually every manner of landscape riveting Val Venosta.
A hike we wholly intend to undertake again is across the Berkwaal Irrigation Channel. Similar in character to the “waalweg” hikes near Lana, the Berkwaal trail astonished us with its beauty. It sets off by the Churburg Castle and curls up the Sonnenberg into a forested side valley called Matschertal (Val di Mazia). Once in the forest, you begin trekking alongside an ancient irrigation channel that continuously summons snowmelt from the summits to the valley below.
Booking a Stay at the Chalet am Reschensee
Whether you are embarking on a multi-day vacation in South Tyrol or are looking for a brief getaway near Austria or Switzerland, the Chalet am Reschensee offers an affordable way to relish an authentic Tyrolean experience. The Doná family goes above and beyond with their hospitality to ensure guests have a wonderful time while at their chalet. They were always available to answer questions and offer helpful suggestions such as nearby grocery markets, as well as their favorite restaurants and activities by the lake.
A night for two people runs €280. The chalet is also equipped with a two-person bunk bed making it great for family holidays in addition to a couple’s romantic escape. For each additional person, it is €25 per day. Dogs are also welcome for a small fee.
A word for those addicted to their screens. Do not come to the Chalet am Reschensee expecting to surf the internet. It is not available. But do you know what is? An axe. Instead of “unwinding” with mindnumbing thumb scrolls and screen taps, we suggest stepping outside and giving your arms a workout. Trust us. Nothing will recharge your soul quite like splitting wood in the middle of an ancient forest in the Alps.