Autumn’s first kiss. When you see it your heart sings a bit. The promise of the season lifts spirits. So when we began the drive up the mountainside to Preidlhof Hotel & Spa and found ourselves surrounded by vineyards and orchards hinting the colors of fall, we couldn’t help pulling over to wander a bit among its beauty.
We crossed a creek shimmering in the early evening’s golden light and admired the rays dancing between seemingly endless rows of flowers. Further up we spotted palm trees towering like guardians over the fruitful landscape. A crenelated castle keep pointed toward a distant mountain with snow still clinging to its peak. One of many medieval wonders in this corner of heaven. No surprise really. A king would have to be mad not to covet such a land deeply held in a Mediterranean dream.
Mastery in Renewal & Romance
Once back in our car we continued winding upward until rounding a final corner 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 nestled on a lush slope on Sonnenberg mountain in Naturns, South Tyrol. It basks in 315 days of sunshine each year begifting couples an Eden-like setting for wellness and romance.
Walking in, the hotel’s modern, opulent interior was instantly enamoring. A linear fireplace softly lit the reception area. Ambient lighting cast lavender and sapphire hues over the check-in counter.
Beyond the reception area, contemporary furniture and decor complemented the hotel’s sleekness. Many resorts overplay the “modern look” creating a cold, sterile vibe. However, Preidlhof is an exception. The first impression we had was every inch of the hotel masterfully uses state-of-the-art design to conjure a romantic mood and elevate your well-being.
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 looked relaxed here under the South Tyrolean sun.
Dolce Vita in Design & Essence
We sipped the wine and mountain views for awhile 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 abounding from every nook and cranny. Just walking the hallways of Preidlhof is an engagement in aromatherapy.
Our room enchanted as much as the lobby and lounge. The decor and lighting evoked a romantic aesthetic. Artful accents of pink and lavender brightened the room. 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 shower heads 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.
Splendor at the Table
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 novel 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.
A Tower of Rest & Rejuvenation
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 is 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.
Wine’s Calming Grace Goes Beyond the Glass
The amount of possibilities to rest and rejuvenate in Preidlhof’s Spa Tower was dazzling. We were anxious to slip into the spa robes and sandals provided and begin.
As recommended by Michael, we began on the first floor in the Wine Sauna. It offers a one-of-a-kind experience that emulates sitting in a bricked-wall wine cellar. Crimson lighting, soft as velvet, and enticing aromas 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.
Infinite Illuminations for the Mind
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 illuminated 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.
Views that Revitalize
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 anytime 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 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 awhile 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 bestowed more dreamlike views, but we let the hypnotic dance of fireplace flames hold our gaze until sleep took over.
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 rooms to change even though Preidlhof allows guests to enjoy a casual lunch in their spa robes.
Precious Stone Massages Under Candlelight
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.
When the massage ended more than an hour later leaving wasn’t easy. Breaking our state of relaxation seemed like a sin. Preidlhof had already won our hearts. Now it had won our minds.
Wandering the Waters of Preidlhof
We left the Med-Spa & Beauty Center and were tempted to embark on a hike through the vineyards and orchards nearby, but decided to explore the immaculate gardens and pools of the property. As you’ll find, once at Preidlhof it’s hard to leave. The 6 pools and 5 jacuzzis beautifully interwoven under palm, cypress, lemon, olive trees and fragrant flowers make lounging a wellness treatment of its own.
The waterscapes of Preidlhof radiate intimacy without ever feeling crowded. We thought the waterfall feature was especially beautiful as it reveals a hidden pool area through an arch. Next to this we 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.
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. Eclectic lighting mingled with vintage imagery cultivating a captivating ambiance.
We sat in the pool under linear fireplaces stretching over the water and plopped down on bed-sized swings. Across from the pool, futuristic relaxation pods built into the wall invited a moment of rest. We couldn’t resist. Inside was entrancing with the pool’s rippling water resonating around us.
Expert Attention to Health & Beauty
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 health evaluation offering using a holistic approach 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 using specialized Spanish botanical extracts, and the other to induce deep regeneration of the skin through the 5 elements of nature, biorythmic 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 South Tyrolean Stars
Splashing from pool to pool and taking in the radiance of the sun soaked up the rest of our morning.
In the afternoon, we left Preidlhof for the first time since arriving. Hiking up to Castle Juval had been on our wish list 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 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 watch thousands of stars perform their flickering theater in the sky. A perfect romantic end to a stay we will never forget.
Thank you Preidlhof and your amazing staff for hosting us during the lovely autumn season in Naturns!
Tips for Your Stay
For tips on how to maximize your time at Preidlhof, check out our Preidlhof Tips page.
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