I was introduced to skiing at the very tender age of 2 years by my parents back in the late 1970s, whether I enjoyed it at the time I really cannot remember, but I am glad that they did throw me in at the deep end. After this every year they brought my siblings and I to the alps to ski in the winter and hike in the summer. Part of this family history of skiing involved coming back many times to Obergurgl in the winter where my parents chose to stay at the 4 star superior hotel Edelweiss & Gurgl every time. I have such fond memories of skiing as I grew up, with Austria playing a very large roll in that history; from the hotels, mountain huts, the Alpine cuisine to the funny round spiral bread rolls – strange what one remembers from one’s childhood. So when the opportunity arose to visit once again Edelweiss & Gurgl after about 40 years then of course I had to. What made the visit even more pertinent was that sadly I lost my mother earlier that year, she had fallen in love with Austria from the beginning of their Alpine adventures and as a result Austria still holds a very special place in the rest the family’s hearts. Back in the late 70s the Edelweiss & Gurgl was run by Erich and Brunhilde Scheiber – the third generation of family running the hotel. These days the hotel is now in the hands of the fourth generation, Lukas and Tanja Scheiber. Family run hotels are something that is particular to Austria, with hotels staying in families from generation to generation creating hotels that have a very different quality and feel to the big corporate hotels; and the Edelweiss & Gurgl is no exception.
At a height of 1930 metres, the hotel is certainly situated at high altitude. In the summer of 2019 the hotel received a huge facelift with much of the exterior and interior being updated and rebuilt. From the outside the hotel still retains its classic Alpine style but with modern design features and colours that bring it up to date. I particularly liked the lobby area that then lead into the bar and lounge, first impressions are important and this part of the hotel certainly hits the spot. As the heart of the hotel it retains it classic Austrian style mixed with modern design notes. Sometimes the lighting is overlooked in hotels, but this was bang on target and sets the atmosphere perfectly. With comfy seating dotted throughout, from the lobby all the way through to the back of the lounge and the various bar alcoves one can always find a cubbyhole to settle in for a hot chocolate or cheeky cocktail. This is a space that one can certainly while away the hours.
Our suite was quite extraordinary as well; with great use of textiles, timber and natural materials, we felt right at home. The bedroom with south facing balcony was cosy and luxurious just as an Alpine nest should be, the bathroom was huge with fabulous natural light coming from the floor to ceiling windows which led out to the second west facing balcony that was also accessible from the lounge. Skiing usually means travelling with a lot of equipment on top of the normal accoutrements and sometimes hotels do not have enough storage for all of this plus one’s empty luggage; which is a shame when the highly designed space then becomes cluttered with one’s effects but not here, there is so much storage space that one can keep the beautiful interior design looking as it should. Tanja Scheiber obviously has a very good eye for interior design because this face-lift really does stand the hotel apart, holidays are about relaxing the mind and soul and the new design of this hotel certainly achieves this.
When it comes to cuisine one must experience the Fondue restaurant. A round room with a striking glass dome roof sitting above wooden laser printed vintage photos of Obergurgl from back in the day. The central copper fireplace orb is quite a beautiful design piece and each table has its own highly industrial black overhead extractor fan, a fantastic piece of engineering that eliminated the smoke from the oil which can often infiltrate one’s hair and clothes! The round tables are perfect for friends and families to huddle around and while away the evening. We cooked our meats in beef consommé, browned off in the oil and then dipped the various breads in the delicious cheese mix. This experience is certainly not to be missed, but we can also recommend the traditional à la carte restaurant with its three rooms: Gurglstube, Ramolstube and Jägerstube. Even when tired it is difficult to head straight to bed without dropping by the bar where the spirited smiling faces of the likes of Maxi and Raphael are ready to make your next cocktail or favourite tipple; you may only go for one, but be wary these guys will have you drinking another and another… and another, suffice to say you will have a good evening.
When it comes to health, the Edelweiss & Gurgl has a great offering in their spa and fitness area. The spacious sauna and steam rooms will help sweat it all out and detox one’s body. We both experienced the new house special Tyrolean Mountain Massage, an 80 minute treatment that starts with a shower followed by a full body stone pine scrub which exfoliates the skin within an inch of its life. Once the detritus is showered off, the rest of the treatment consists of a good deep massage to relax the muscles and pamper the skin, I have to say my skin has never felt so clean and smooth! In the winter and spring most people will be here to ski, the hotel is perfectly placed with ski in/ski out facilities directly from the ski/boot room which in turn leads straight out to the lifts and the ski school meeting place.
Now the question is do I remember any of the hotel from 40 years ago? I am sure that the hotel has seen many changes over the years, but I do get a feeling in some of the spaces; the dining room feels familiar and the lobby gives me a impression of ‘having been there before’. Something certainly has not changed at the Edelweiss & Gurgl though, the atmosphere is the same: the sense of family, the sense of feeling welcome and warm, a place that one is happy to frequent again and again. I am sure that my mum would approve and for me that is everything.
Edelweiss & Gurgl