Episode 1: The Boutique Biohotel Gitschberg
For our e-mobile trip from Munich to South Tyrol, KIA had provided us with the “Car of the Year” in Europe, the EV6. We were eager to find out whether we would share the consistently positive assessments of other media after our e-trip. Although the low average consumption of the Korean electric car of less than 20 KW is praised everywhere and the range indicator showed 453 kilometers at the start, we played it safe and took a sip from the “fast-charging bottle” there shortly before Garmisch. After all, we wanted to reach our destination in a relaxed manner without stopping at Austrian or Italian rest stops.
And so we arrived comfortably and stress-free at our destination in Pustertal, the Boutique Biohotel Gitschberg in the village of Meransen. This upscale destination is located on a meadow with mountain views and is a 5-minute walk from the Gitschberg gondola lift. What immediately catches the eye at first sight is the large photovoltaic system that extends below the hotel. A visible symbol of the sustainability aspirations of its operators.
Charging with homemade green electricity
As befits the planning of an e-mobile trip, we had previously inquired about a charging option at the hotel. In fact, we were offered one, which to our surprise turned out to be perfect. Surprising because we had experienced not only once, as non-Tesla drivers, to find only an exclusive “destination charger” for vehicles of the American brand at the destination. If you were lucky, there was also a second charging point for other makes. Hotel Gitschberg also has these two options, namely a wallbox for other e-cars in addition to the Tesla charger. The special feature: no special charging card, no separate app or activation is required to access the self-produced green electricity. Simply plug in the cable and the charging process begins. A great service.
A second special feature is the charging current, which at 22 KW is relatively high for a hotel. So anyone who wants to quickly give their electric car a significant range before a day trip, for example during breakfast, will be well served here.
After being greeted by the extremely friendly staff in the room, the first path immediately leads to the balcony to enjoy the impressive mountain panorama. With the view into the closer environment the guest becomes only correctly conscious, how harmoniously the bio hotel Gitschberg inserts itself on 1400 meters into the forest and meadow landscape at the foot of the mountain of the same name. It is architecturally reminiscent of the rustic barns and hay barns of the surrounding alpine region.
Directly below the balcony we discovered house guests swimming in and relaxing at the recently inaugurated panoramic mountain pool, which also extends into the interior of the building. With this oasis of relaxation, the hotelier family Peintner fulfilled a long-cherished dream. The sustainably heated pool is filled with invigorating mountain spring water and gives the impression of swimming towards the mountain world. The framing scented garden, inspired by traditional farm gardens, also offers holistic sensory pleasures.
In the rooms of the organic hotel with intimate boutique character, there is a wonderful smell of larch, oak and spruce and the energy-efficient architecture and natural materials provide a cozy atmosphere. And all this without any rustic ornaments…
Natural materials create a cozy atmosphere in the rooms
All areas of the hotel are bright, open, inviting and cozy. The large panoramic windows bring the impressive nature inside. The strikingly shaped reception desk made of solid Swiss stone pine wood and the glass wine cube that complements the adjoining bar are also special eye-catchers. Those who want to indulge in the evening atmosphere outdoors can, for example, have a glass of organic wine served in the chillout lounge with fireplace.
We were particularly impressed by the house’s corporate design concept. An implied mountain silhouette, for example, can be found as a design element on walls, textiles and other objects. Imaginative, light and unobtrusive. When we asked the head of the house, Barbara Peintner, which interior design firm was responsible for the house concept, we were surprised to receive “she herself” as the answer. After all, she had worked in a tourism marketing agency. However, this only insufficiently explains her distinct feeling for shapes, colors and materials…
Certified climate hotel
In close connection with nature, the Gitschberg was the first existing destination in South Tyrol to be converted into a “KlimaHotel® and awarded the seal of quality in 2013. The quality predicate of the KlimaHaus® Agency South Tyrol is based on the three main criteria for sustainability “nature” (ecology), life (socio-cultural factors) and transparency (economy). It is only logical that the KlimaHotel® specifications were also taken into account during the project planning phases of various conversion and expansion steps in recent years. The house was planned, built and extended as an energy-saving and certified KlimaHaus B. The compact construction with optimized energy efficiency is the result of the KlimaHotel®. The compact design with optimized thermal insulation and the best possible orientation of the building towards the sun contribute to energy efficiency. Special windows hardly let any heat out, and thermal bridges are avoided as far as possible. The hotelier family also paid attention to sustainability and climate protection when selecting the building and equipment materials.
This includes the lowest possible CO2 emissions in delivery, the avoidance of potentially polluting materials as well as the use of natural textiles such as wool or felt. In addition, naturally treated larch, stone pine, spruce and oak wood as well as chemical-free paints and insulation materials were used.
For us as children of the mountains and nature, the sustainability concept of the house was simply a logical consequence of our personal attitude and developmentBarbara and Horst Peintner, hotel owners
Green electricity is produced with the help of a photovoltaic system of around 200 m2 and 18.8 kWp in power. An expansion is already being planned. The optimized building services also ensure that energy consumption is reduced to a minimum. Two seepage shafts ensure optimal recirculation of rainwater, while an additional tank filled with seepage water is used for irrigation of the entire hotel complex.
Delicacies from the organic kitchen
The next logical step towards sustainability was taken in 2022, when the Gitschberg was finally certified as a Boutique Biohotel. A very conscious decision, but one that involved no small amount of effort. For example, new supplier relationships had to be established with Alpine, preferably regional or even local (organic) businesses.
Genuine, colorful and full of flavor – and completely in keeping with the seasons, that best describes the motto of the BioNaturkuchl of the Gitschberg. But since it’s about more than just the use of natural, organic foods, recipes with sustainable standards, a healthy, streamlined menu line and day-fresh preparation are equally central elements of the kitchen.
Regional organic dishes celebrated with dignity
On the plates, the motto “less is more” prevails. Thus, there are no overloaded giant portions in the menus, but sufficiently large “appetizers” and dishes of the best quality. The always friendly and courteous service rounds off the culinary experience in the Gitschberg. Deliciously nourished, full but not over-satiated, guests like to head to the terrace with a drink after their meal and enjoy the magnificent view of numerous mountains. From the Ötztal and Zillertal Alps, the panorama extends over the Pustertal Dolomites, Plan de Corones, Peitlerkofel, Plose and Geisler peaks all the way down to Sassolungo and Sassopiatto, the Sciliar and the Catinaccio massif.
Fenilia SPA – nature experience inside
The “Fenilia” spa offers bubbling spring power, wide views of the peaks and treatments in the tradition of alpine naturopathy. The treatments are holistically structured, were individually developed for the Gitschberg and are based on the natural active ingredients of the Alps in the form of herbs, oils and energizing gemstones. The care products used for face and body also come from controlled organic cultivation and sustainable wild collection. Fenilia Saunas – Hot-cold vitality completely in the sign of hay, forest and meadows, so the generous Fenilia sauna landscape provides for well-being. An infrared sauna, a steam room as well as the bio hay sauna with mountain view complement the Finnish panorama sauna in the garden area of the hotel. The hay lounge is also unique. With over 2,000 kg of hand-mown mountain hay, it not only presents itself as a wonderfully fragrant gem, but much more as a particularly powerful place for deep relaxation.
In the outdoor area, the evening crackling in the fire circle in front of the pool area brings a special mood. Natural materials play an essential role throughout the garden – all loungers and outdoor furniture are designed and made especially for the Boutique Biohotel by a local carpenter in solid larch wood. Planted are alpine plants and herbs, mosses, old fruit trees and shrubs for guests to snack on. A very special place in the panoramic scented garden are the three thematic herb circles.
Activities in the surroundings
Anyone approaching South Tyrol’s episcopal city of Bressanone and looking northward toward the main ridge of the Alps will see the expansive plateau of Meransen from afar. Accessible from Mühlbach by cable car or via the panoramic road, the tranquil and village-like village lies at the apex of South Tyrol’s Pustertal and Eisacktal valleys. Over 280 days of sunshine a year make Meransen one of the sunniest places in South Tyrol. The alpine pasture and ski region on the Gitschberg is a popular vacation destination in summer and winter. If you are looking for a change from the mountain idyll, it is not far to the cities of Bressanone (18 km), Brunico (32 km), Vipiteno (37 km) or Bolzano (59 km).
The entrance to hikes and mountain tours of varying length and difficulty begins directly in front of the hotel. For bikers it goes sporty-comfortable over hilly terrain and along the various trails. Those who have not brought their own bikes can rent e-mountain bikes for their tours at the hotel.
In addition to the extensive hiking, biking and leisure program of the Almenregion, Gitschberg guests can book a weekly guided mountain tour as well as Alpine forest bathing with hostess Barbara Peintner. A special advantage for all summer guests is the free guest card AlmencardPLUS with a variety of inclusive services: free use of the Gitschberg mountain railroad, Jochtal mountain railroad, the Mühlbach-Meransen cable car or the bus connection from Mühlbach to the Rodenecker-Lüsner Alm. Free travel on all public transport throughout South Tyrol, free admission to around 90 museums South Tyrol-wide, alpine pasture aperitif on Gitschberg, farmyard hike in Pfunderertal, mountain lake tours, nature and herb hikes, pub experience or sunrise hike. But also guided e-bike tours, llama trekking and culinary highlights such as vineyard and organic farm tours at Santerhof or cheese dairy tours are included.
The Gitschberg Jochtal ski area offers 15 lifts and 55 kilometers of slopes with guaranteed snow from the beginning of December until Easter. The modern 8-person cable car to the ski area starts only 300 meters from the Biohotel.
And other than that…
What began 45 years ago as a small guesthouse of a farm has gradually developed into an oasis of well-being that invites its guests on sustainable journeys of discovery. The extremely pleasant atmosphere of the Biohotel is certainly helped by the fact that it is not one of the “bed castles” that are also common in the Alpine region. The house with its only 38 rooms & suites conveys in contrast to these an almost family impression, to which not least the owners Barbara and Horst Peintner contribute. On the one hand, directly in dealing with their guests, but on the other hand, they have also succeeded in forming their employees into a team that supports and “lives” the sustainability concept of the house. And who take on the role of host as a matter of course. This special “spirit” is one of the special features of the “Gitschberg”, along with the many amenities it has to offer.
By the way: the relaxed excursions with the EV 6 rounded off the positive impressions of our Gitschberg stay.
We will report more about our experiences with the Korean “Stromer” in the next episodes of our South Tyrol report.
Text: Peter Grett
Lead and last picture Kia: Anett Tobies
Exterior facade and e-bike garage: Peter Grett,
all others: Hotel Gitschberg