Longing for a place where relaxation, romance and nature conspire to recharge your very being? Consider a soul-mending escape to the award-winning Preidlhof Hotel & Spa.
The first hints of autumn are always a sight to behold. So when we began driving up a mountainside to Preidlhof Hotel & Spa and found ourselves surrounded by vineyards and orchards teasing the colors of fall, we had to stop. Not indulging in the first chance to admire the changing foliage would have been unforgivable.
Our walk led us past a creek reflecting the early evening sun. The babbling water shimmered as if a million diamonds danced on the surface. Further up the slope, we spotted palm trees standing like stewards over the fruitful landscape. Beyond their carefree sway, a crenelated castle keep caught our eye against a distant snow-capped mountain peak.
We discovered later it was but one of the many medieval wonders in this corner of heaven. This came as no surprise. Among the many things South Tyrol has impressed on us is that a king would have to be stark-raving mad not to covet such a land deeply held in a lush Mediterranean dream.
Dolce Vita by Design
Returning to our car we continued winding up the mountain until rounding a final bend where Preidlhof’s elegant marquee welcomed us. One of the top 5-star hotels in Italy, Preidlhof is a family-owned, adults-only spa resort sitting on the lush Sonnenberg mountain in Naturns. The resort basks in 315 days of sunshine each year be-gifting couples an Eden-like setting for wellness and romance.
Walking in, the hotel’s opulent interior instantly enamored us. A linear fireplace softly lit the reception area complemented by ambient lighting casting lavender and sapphire hues all around.
Past the reception area, contemporary furniture and decor contributed to the hotel’s sleekness. In our experience, many resorts can overplay the “modern look” creating a cold, sterile vibe. However, we found Preidlhof an exception. The hotel’s state-of-the-art design masterfully conjures a romantic and relaxing mood.
After checking in, we were invited to enjoy a drink and an aperitif on the hotel’s restaurant terrace. Unwinding with a glass of wine suited us just fine after spending the day in Brixen at its annual Bread & Strudel Market.
We sat above the leafy peaks of an apple orchard next to an olive tree with a massive, contorted trunk. Even its twisted form appeared relaxed here under the setting Tyrolean sun.
We sipped the wine and mountain views for a while before the “Best Butler in the World”, Davide, graced us with his presence. He kindly gave us a brief tour of the hotel.
As he led us to our room, we inhaled sweet fragrances seemingly emanating from every nook and cranny. Just walking the hallways of Preidlhof is an engagement in aromatherapy.
Our room wowed us as much as the lobby and lounge. Its colorful accents and floor-to-ceiling windows made the room feel spacious and lively. Stylish lighting elements adorned the walls making one want to lounge with a glass in hand.
On the terrace, a plush daybed waited for us to slip under a blanket and count the mountain crests beyond the valley floor. Above it was a warming lamp. Ah, romance made easy. We couldn’t wait to spend a candle-lit night sleeping under the stars.
After situating ourselves, a long shower under tranquil blue lights with dual raindrop showerheads was too enticing to pass up. Next, we donned evening attire to dine in the hotel’s acclaimed restaurant….and perhaps enjoy another glass of wine or two while looking over a weekly resort program left conveniently in our room.
Dining at Preidlhof
Prior to arriving at Preidlhof, we read up on its restaurant. Gault Millau, a rating system used by fine food aficionados, awarded it two toques while Michelin awarded one star. Naturally, our expectations for culinary wizardry were quite high. Preidlhof did not disappoint.
During our stay each dining experience was impeccable. From dish presentation to timing, service, size and flavor, the hotel’s restaurant ranks among the best we’ve visited in South Tyrol. Every evening was a feast. We enjoyed 7-course gourmet dinners with a recommended wine paired perfectly with the night’s menu.
Whenever possible we try the local wine when eating out. On our first night, we ordered a bottle of Müller Thurgau, a delightfully complex white from Castel Juval. Castel Juval is a winery located on a mountain just west of Preidlhof. Its name comes from the castle that legendary mountaineer, Reinhold Messner, calls home.
We didn’t finish the bottle at dinner but found it chilling at our table the following night. A pleasant surprise. Considerate touches such as this were common throughout our stay.
Preidlhof supports local South Tyrolean farmers and producers by incorporating their finest offerings in each dish. We could taste the love for the land in every bite. So much of what we ate was delightful, but the venison braised in Lagrein with cranberries, pumpkin risotto with glazed chestnuts, potato cream soup and carrot cream soup stood out as our favorites.
The desserts that brought the evening’s dining experience to a close were divine. Creatively prepared and presented, they intermingled sweet flavors in alluring ways without overwhelming richness.
The dining staff made our evenings even more satisfying. Matthias, the hotel’s sommelier, ensured our wine selections met expectations each night. His lighthearted demeanor was a constant joy. At one point he saw us snapping pictures of our dinner fare. He stopped by our table and jokingly threatened us with a copyright violation. He was certain Preidlhof copyrights each dish!
Matthias also astutely explained the difference between Lagrein and Vernatsch (also called Schiava): “When you reach the mountain hut after a long hike and want to make the hike down, order Vernatsch. If you choose Lagrein, you better hope there’s a cable car to bring you back.” Wine wisdom none should ignore.
The Spa Tower of Preidlhof
The following morning we enjoyed a delicious gourmet breakfast buffet. Practically every fruit, bread, pastry, Alpine cheese, homemade jam and honey one could fancy was for the tempting. Chefs were also on hand to make fresh egg dishes on the spot in an open show kitchen. Clearly, the toughest decisions guests face each day are at this buffet. We would have lingered longer to savor more of the morning spread if we didn’t have a tour scheduled of Preidlhof’s celebrated Spa Tower with Michael, the saunameister.
Michael warmly met us with a big smile. His passion for wellness was immediately evident. He led us up through each of the Spa Tower’s six floors and explained how its saunas, relaxation rooms, lounge areas, jacuzzis and pools inspire unique ways to enliven your well-being.
We came away impressed by Preidlhof’s keen sense for thoughtful design. No matter where guests spend their time they are intimately immersed in nature. From floor-to-ceiling windows offering peaceful panoramic views to fragrant woods, oils, fruits and herbs to terraces where pure Alpine air nourishes your senses and the sun washes away worry, Preidlhof has taken every measure to imbue the elemental wonders of Earth to mend your mind, body and soul.
Wellness Any Way You Wish
The number of possibilities to rest and rejuvenate in Preidlhof’s Spa Tower was dazzling. We were anxious to slip into the spa robes provided and begin.
As recommended by Michael, we began on the first floor in the Wine Sauna. It offers a highly-aromatic experience that emulates sitting in a bricked-wall wine cellar. Crimson lighting, soft as velvet, and the sweet scent of wine washed over us as we sat in silence. With a temperature of 70° C (158° F) and a humidity level of 35%, the sauna nicely balanced comfort with heat.
After 20 minutes or so we left the Wine Sauna and rinsed in a nearby shower before moving to the Steam Bath room.
In the center of the room, a salt crystal emanated light into the misty room, creating a trippy ambiance. We half expected to look through the billowing haze and see Jim Morrison sitting across from us. Turkish-influenced, the Steam Bath infuses brine with steam to promote healthier breathing.
Next, we opted to take a break from the heat and relax in Preidlhof’s latest addition to the Spa Tower — the Deep Sea Relaxation Room. Designed by Daniel Lathan, a pioneer in audio and light, and touted as the future of relaxation, the room offers two programs. It was unlike anything we have ever experienced.
We selected the deep sea experience first and laid back on two beanbag loungers. Soon thousands of LED lights flashed in infinite waves all around us. Calming sounds, melodies and vibrations swirled in symphonic unison pulling us deep into a journey where the mind was our guide. The sensory immersion was stunning.
After roughly 15 minutes the experience finished. We quickly checked to see if anyone was waiting outside to use the room next. We were in luck. The second program, “Nebula”, was even more fascinating. Instead of the depths of the ocean, it took us across space and time to the far reaches of the cosmos.
Relax. Recharge. Repeat
Swimming across oceans and deep space travel made us a bit hungry and thirsty so we wandered over to the Spa Tower’s Vitamin Lounge for some refreshments. We snacked on a handful of fruits, nuts, speck and cheese and washed them down with a couple of glasses of herb-infused water. The Vitamin Lounge is another thoughtful touch for guests that we appreciated.
At the other end of the Vitamin Lounge is the Salt Lounge. Since it was nearby and empty we decided to take a seat. Our timing must have been just right because on other visits the room was full. We laid back on large loungers inhaling the fine mist from the glowing salt walls. Built-in infrared lamps lasered radiant heat over our spinal cords. The warmth summoned soothing sensations making it clear why the room is so popular.
Fully reinvigorated, we marched to the rooftop for a dip in the Spa Tower’s infinity sky pool. An autumn breeze put a slight chill in the air. We didn’t waste any time making a splash. The warm salty water of the pool wrapped around us like a blanket. A lovely reprieve from the mountain’s frosty breath.
We waded to the pool’s edge and in stillness admired the Ortler Alps beyond the vast expanse of Val Venosta / Vinschgau Valley. The Ortler range is the highest in South Tyrol and was likely once the stomping grounds of Ötzi, Bolzano’s most celebrated resident.
With such stunning views, not coming up here under a moonlit night would be an insult to the annals of romance. We promised ourselves to return to the sky pool later that evening.
After rinsing away the salt water and slipping back into our robes again we laid down on a rooftop bed for a while before continuing our sauna adventure in the Olive Sauna. This was, without a doubt, our favorite sauna experience. The smell upon entering it is one of the most pleasing aromas one could ever encounter. The warm richness of olive wood was heavenly. And at a temperature of 60° C (140° F) with a humidity level of 40% it was perfectly tuned to allow long sessions of gazing over apple orchards and the land’s other Mediterranean blessings.
Once the Olive Sauna thoroughly worked its meditative magic we ducked into an adjacent shower zone for another rinse. If you like long showers, you’ll want to linger here. We stood under a raindrop shower head where warm water was not its only gift. Lavish scents of mango and eucalyptus also rained down. The freshness was exhilarating. We wondered how to bring such an aromatic treasure into our home.
Next, we thought a seat in one of the Spa Tower’s relaxation rooms was due. The cozy Fire Lounge revealed more dreamlike views, but we let the dancing fireplace flames hold our gaze until nodding off.
Our fire-induced nap was brief. The promise of a gourmet lunch buffet was a persistent alarm clock. Funny how delectable cuisine tends to do that. We went back to our room to change even though Preidlhof allows guests to enjoy a casual lunch in their spa robes if they wish.
With lunch and our Spa Tower adventure behind us, our next stop was the Preidlhof Med-Spa & Beauty Center. An award-winning wellness refuge, the number of treatments, massages and therapies available is remarkable and a touch overwhelming. We asked for help to decide what to partake in as a couple.
Claudia Köllemann, Preidlhof’s Spa Director, suggested their Welch precious stone massage for two. We didn’t have previous experience with a stone massage so took her recommendation.
The Welch precious stone massage is a unique spa treatment that brings together the benefits of classical massage with the natural healing properties of oils and gemstones.
We entered a room softly lit by candlelight. The masseuses, Annemarie and Walter, quietly gave instructions and politely left until we were lying face down on two massage tables.
Our massages began with gentle and graceful movements, working up from our feet and legs to our back and eventually over our torso and neck. Soothing oils caressed our skin allowing the polished gemstones to gently sail the contours of our bodies. Tranquil sensations of warmth and cold massaged one muscle end to the other. Pacifying tensions one by one. Seemingly floating around our tables, the masseuses’ silent, ritualistic manners subdued our busy minds. We both fell into a deep state of relaxation under the spell of songs by Enya and Laura McKennitt.
The Pools of Preidlhof
We left the Med-Spa & Beauty Center and were tempted to embark on a hike through the surrounding vineyards and orchards. Instead, we opted to explore the immaculate gardens and pools of the property. As you’ll find, once at Preidlhof, it’s hard to leave.
The resort’s 6 pools and 5 jacuzzis, beautifully interwoven under palm, cypress, lemon, olive trees and fragrant flowers, make lounging a wellness treatment of its own. Even better, the pools are spread out nicely. We never felt crowded in any of them.
We found the main waterfall feature especially divine. It hides a hidden pool area that can only be accessed by passing under a stone arch. Wading through to this pool was like finding a private lagoon.
Next to the waterfall, we also noticed a chance for another sweat in a sauna.
The Schwarzbrenner Sauna is tucked into the stone walls of the waterfall. Whereas the Spa Tower saunas are sleek and elegant, the Schwarzbrenner is warmly rustic.
Its cozy 60° C (140° F) temperature made it easy for us to sit for an extended time without needing a cool-off. The sauna’s convenient location was perfect for a quick warm-up while darting between pools.
Preidlhof’s Best-Kept Secret
After our final sauna experience, we ventured to the resort’s indoor pool environment called “The 50th”. Walking in was like discovering Preidlhof’s best-kept secret.
We had the whole area to ourselves. Colorful ambient lighting, linear fireplaces and vintage imagery gave the room a fun, eclectic vibe.
We waded in to relax under the dancing flames and watch the shadows ripple endlessly over the walls. Next, we plopped down on bed-sized swings and swayed carefree.
Across from the pool, futuristic relaxation pods built into the wall invited more rest. We couldn’t resist.
Inside was entrancing. The acoustics of the pod amplified the sound of the water gently splashing the pool’s edge. We wished we had brought a book with us to read. These futuristic nooks are where imagination can run wild.
Preidlhof Med-Spa & Beauty Center Experience
Ensuring a healthy whole body and mind connection to nature is important to us. In fact, much of our passion for South Tyrol is due to all it offers in that respect. So when we learned of Preidlhof’s holistic health evaluation offering we were curious.
The next morning we returned to the Med-Spa & Beauty Center. We met with resident health expert, Dr. Alexander Angerer, for a Heart Rate Variability (HRV) session. Using the latest in holistic diagnosis technology and software, he attached a measurement device to each wrist and instructed us to lie down on an examination bed and relax. And within five or so minutes we were reviewing results on a computer screen. He walked through conceptualizations of the findings, which measured our heart rate variability, nervous system health, energy efficiency and more.
After he was sure we understood the report, he gave guidance on how to reduce daily stress levels, as well as optimize our body’s ability to improve our overall well-being. The 30-minute session was quite eye-opening for both of us.
Our morning continued in Preidlhof’s Med Spa & Beauty Center with facial treatments. Each session was individually tailored. One to reduce the signs of premature aging in men by applying specialized Spanish botanical extracts, and the other to induce deep regeneration of the skin through the 5 elements of nature, biorhythmic stimulation and a clay facial mask. We found both treatments sublime and recommend them if you’re interested in beauty care in addition to wellness.
A Night Under the Stars
In the afternoon, we left Preidlhof for the first time since arriving. Hiking up to Castle Juval had been on our wishlist ever since discovering it was a part of the Messner Mountain Museum. The hike was exhausting, but the historic haunt at the mountain’s summit combined with sweeping valley views made the adventure well worth it.
Returning in the late afternoon the soulfulness of the indoor pool area caught our fancy again. We dropped in for a dip before enjoying our final 7-course dinner with a couple of glasses of Vernatsch from Rebhof Kastelbell, another local gem from the Val Venosta / Vinschgau Valley.
By the time we savored the last bites of dessert, yawns began to steal away the evening. The day had thoroughly worn us out
We headed back to our room, lit a candle on the balcony and fell onto the daybed to sip wine until drifting away. A perfect romantic end to a stay we will never forget.
Tips for Your Stay at Preidlhof
The following are our top tips for enjoying your time at Preidlhof:
- Engage with other guests in the evening. Many of the guests will be German-speaking, but we found many knew English well enough to have an enjoyable conversation.
- The wine recommendations are well-paired with the menu each night. You can’t go wrong with them, but if you desire something in particular be sure to ask Preidlhof’s sommelier, Matthias. He is a wealth of knowledge.
- Look for the “Südtirol” logo next to the food in the buffet. This designates the item as a local specialty. Be sure to try all the cheeses and bread. You’ll find new favorites.
- Much of the Spa Tower is a nudist zone. Such areas will be designated by signage indicating “F.K.K. and “Zona nudista”. If nakedness bothers you, visit the Spa Tower early in the day or late in the evening when it is least busy. Areas, where you are required to wear a spa kilt (provided by Preidlhof), are designated by “Textile Bereich” and “zona con costume”. Don’t worry about being nude in front of strangers. This is one of the most non-judgmental places you could ever visit.
- To reap the full wellness benefits of a sauna experience, plan to spend at least 2 hours in the Spa Tower.
- The Infinity Sky Pool also has sitting areas where you can lay back and turn on jacuzzi jets. At night there is nothing more relaxing.
- The Spa Tower and pools are amazing, but plan time for the PREIDL Med-Spa & Beauty Center. The number of treatments available is remarkable. Ask for guidance if you’re not sure what sounds most appealing.
- Ask for a tour of Preidlhof’s wine cellar. It’s a rustic gem with vintages going back decades. Preidlhof goes through 12,000 bottles each year!
- Make time to participate in a sauna infusion experience in the Event Sauna. We missed this with our schedule and regret not partaking in this unique ritual.
- If the weather allows it, spend a night under the stars on the daybed on your room’s terrace.
- Unless you’re scheduling time with a trainer for a specific session, skip the workout area located below the spa tower. If you’re pining for a vigorous workout, get outside. Go for a hike in the mountains or check out one of the hotel’s mountain bikes to spin around the vineyards and orchards of Naturns. A large trail map by the garage entrance identifies several routes you can take.
- When it comes to breakfast and dinner, Preidlhof seats you at the same table each day. During lunch, you can wear your spa robes, but in the evening plan to dress up as if you’re heading out.
For more information on how to get to South Tyrol, travel guides, planning checklists, saving money on your adventure and more, access our South Tyrol Travel Resources & Hiking Guides.
Thank you Preidlhof and your amazing staff for hosting us during the lovely autumn season in Naturns!