Some places that we travel to leave us with a gift. The gift of serenity, calm or maybe it’s the sights, sounds and smells of nature and the great outdoors. There’s such a place high in the Italian Dolomite Mountain surrounded by beautiful peaked mountains, rich valleys filled with farmlands and miles of vineyards and apple orchards. This resort the Castel Frasburg, Relais and Chateaux and their gift is an Alpine Mountain high of restoration and inner peace
Castel Frasburg was built in 1620 as a noble’s hunting lodge. 400 years later, it is still a place for the privileged class who go each year hunting instead for a place of refuge, fresh air, good food and pampering. This resort is exclusive by design and is the smallest five star resort in the area with only 20 accommodations.
The cinematic views are absolutely gorgeous over the Etsch Valley, including the Merano Basin across to the surreal views of the Ötztal Alps and the majestic Dolomite Mountains. In the valley, paddocks of grazing animals are next to the geometric shapes of vineyards, apple orchards and the beautiful nature.
Around the property is a like being lost in an enchanted forest. Well-groomed gardens of fragrant roses, trellises covered in wisteria hydrangeas, and century old trees invite one to wander and explore the grounds. A lovely canopied day bed sits in a garden under trees waiting for a couple to laze for a bit in conversation or to read a book.
Other couples bask in the golden Mediterranean sun on chaise lounges strewn across the green grass lawn while others refresh themselves in the heated pool. Above there is a tower with ornately carved wood trim and is a perfect high point to take in postcard-esque views. Castel Frasburg has a palatable feeling of positive energy about it partly from nature around the property but also from the hotels focus on wellness and a deeper type of harmonic travel experience.
The design of Castel Frasburg is similar to the many of the Swiss chalet style architecture that is common in this region. It is beautiful with turret adorned rooftop, ivy-covered white stucco surfaces, rust brown shutters and embellished trim and touches. Indoors the first impression is from the sweet pungent fragrance of fresh cut lilies that you’ll see and smell throughout the common areas. The old world elegance the sense of style is obvious with lovely centuries old heirlooms, objects d’art, oil painted portraits, and the black and white checkerboard tiled floors. It is a regal yet contemporary environment with plenty of spaces to chat with other guests, have a cocktail or relax with a book.
The staff could not be more friendly and welcoming with the ladies dressed in traditional South Tyrolean attire that adds to the ambiance of the experience. Guests are greeted with a lovely welcome of champagne and canapes and an invitation to decompose at the glass loggia and terrace. This is no accident as it sets the tone and an inspiring first impression with the service food and most of all the sublime views of the mountains and valley.
The location borders Austria to the north and northeast, Switzerland to the northwest and is known for the Italian alps and the prodigious Dolomite mountains, the valleys crisscrossing with farmlands and in the distance, the peaks of toe Ötztal Alps. Nature’s gravitas is undeniable throughout this region were the warming wind of the Mediterranean meet the crisp fresh air of the Alps. In addition to the convergence of climates, it is also a convergence of cultures where the people in the region are as much Swiss, German and Austrian as they are Italian. This mix or peoples is reflected not only in the outward appearance of the people but in the food, customs and culture.
In the center of it all is the town of Merano is exactly the type of place where you’d love to spend an afternoon or two strolling through the cobble stone streets past centuries old beautiful Swiss architecture buildings and an imposing stain glassed church in the center of town. There are lovely shoppes to browse and café’s with front row seats for people watching. A little river cuts through the town with crisp water from the mountains and locals jump in to cool off during warmer months. This beautiful little town in the mountains is a just a few minutes’ drive from the hotel or even better to take an electric bike from the hotel to explore the town and surrounding sights and sounds followed by a ride through the vineyards and apple orchards of the area.
Beyond its outward beauty, Merano has been known for centuries as a therapeutic city where weary bodies go for healing. The uber fresh alpine air, stunning Dolomite mountains as well as he thermal waters and therapeutic facilities to heal worn out bodies.
There are only 20 accommodations at Castel Frasburg so the resort is very exclusive. Each room has a lovely and welcoming decor with natural pine wood paneling and cushy arm chairs in sun lit sitting areas. The beds are uber comfortable with fluffy down comforters. Guests indulge in the stunning views over the valley from the outdoor deck with sitting area and those afore mentioned stunning panoramic views.
The larger suites have high ceilings with hand-carved or smith-forged furniture as well as a lavish red marble bathroom with walk in shower. The highest category is the Suite Royale with rooftop terraces giving an even more spectacular view over the valley, grand in size and details and bathrooms with an infrared sauna as well as a bathtub and sweeping views of the valley.
The accommodating and setting are only part of Castel Frasburg’s enchanting spell. The Micheline starred gourmet dining experience at Castel Frasburg is beyond reproach. Everything is perfect from the romantic setting overlooking the twinkling lights of the Murano valley, to the service, wine paring and of course, the haute cuisine served with exceptional variety, presentation and taste. The fare is referred to as Alpine Mediterranean which has influences from the regions to the north and south.
The degustation dining experiences is an evening of sensations for the palate. The setting is over a candlelit table as the highly trained staff goes through the menu created by their culinary virtuoso and executive chef Egon Heis. The cuisine is based on the local Tyrol dishes and local ingredients with a wine pairing options with numerous vintages from the region as well as options from afar found in their expansive wine cellar. The parade of dishes are as beautiful to the eye as they are to the nose and palate and with the first fork full your thought is surely that it must be a crime to destroy the fine gourmet art of the presentation. The concern is quickly forgotten as the medley of flavors plays on the tongue and is then washed away with the exceptional wine paring. The menu varies frequently based on what can be sourced locally as well as the chef’s whims and inspirations. Expect a masterful menu with dishes such as whitefish tartare with kohlrabi and wild herbs, Forrest Soil created from rice, shiitake mushrooms and Jerusalem artichoke, and a main course of rabbit ravioli and a venison fillet with red cabbage.
Breakfast at Castel Frasburg is of legend as well with a cornucopia of fresh local cheeses, meats, salmon and all types of goodies from the buffet as well as a gourmet cooked meal. Its easy to understand why it was voted as on of Vanity Fair’s Top 10 most delicious breakfasts in Italy.
There so much to do in the area that you don’t have to go very far to enjoy the gifts of the stay. The woods just beyond the resort have lovely hiking trails that ends at a stunning 400 foot Fragsburger Waterfall that cuts through the mountain rock and deposits into a clear pool below. For those who love outdoors and hiking, this is an ideal place to explore and become immersed in the stunning natural environment. Beyond that, bike riding, hikes, visits to crystal clear glacier lakes; the entire area is abundant with ways to enjoy the outdoors.
Back at the resort, there are plenty of ways to heal and restore oneself both mentally and physically. Many guests will come to the resort for the restorative benefits of the spa and of the yoga classes. The hotel has a special gift in its muse and yoga instructor, and hotel advisor, Belle Fleur. She is full of bright energy and is the resident spiritual leader of the hotel and is always about the resort making sure the guests needs are met but also provide the vibe, feeling, and soul of the stay. Belle Fleur leads the yoga services and has an ordained talent in providing services that relax and rejuvenate the body as well as the spirit.
The Yoga Sanitarium is a three sided cottage with open wall that overlooks the beauty of the valley and mountains in the distance. Belle Fleur leads the various types of yoga rituals classes focus on stretching and breathing and meditation. Often she’ll include the Sound Bath Relaxation therapy where she’ll incorporate ethereal sound bowls which hum sound and vibration and then incorporates her own voice though song as guests drift off to another level of being; only to return with the sound of her gong signifying the classes end. Many guests return often for the yoga classes as well as the numerous several day retreats that happen each year.
The focus on a healing holiday extends into the services provided by the Castellum Natura Spa which uses products prepared by their Castellum spa team from local handpicked natural ingredients and applied in a wide range of treatments by a caring and professional staff. One of the treatments not to miss is the Apollo peel and back massage which leave the body free of tension and the skin restored. The spa also has several types of head and dry sauna for additional stress relief.
Castel Frasburg healing services includes the one of a kind services of resident alchemist. Renate De Mario Gamper is a healer and you’ll instantly pick up on her “super powers” and spiritual energy with the first interaction. She comes from a family of healers from the area who learned to heal themselves with what they had the grew in the area. A walk through the woods with her and she’ll point the various plants growing as a walking encyclopedia of knowledge in terms of what to eat for skin issues, high blood pressure or to strengthen the immune system. It is truly fascinating to see this master herbalist and natural healer in her element preserving these ancient and valuable traditions of the region.
Back at the spa, these herbs and plants go into various healing remedies. One treatment that most will cherish is a bath thine traditional larch wooden tub on a private outdoor terrace overlooking the valley. The bath is filed with various minerals s as well as red rose petals for the start of one of their signature relaxation rituals.
Castel Frasburg is nourishment for the soul. A beguiling retreat into nature, with pampering and experiences to long cherish until your inevitable return.