Tuesday, May 19, 2015

24 Hours at the Wiesergut, Hinterglemm

Normally I am the one who always (and I mean always!) plans trips weeks ahead and makes sure everything is in correct order a few days before arrival. This time it was a complete opposite action: While driving from Munich back to Innsbruck my colleague Lukas and me came to the idea to test another luxe hotel in very last minute so to say. After calling one of our cooperation partners - the Public Relations Agency called "Stromberger PR", with which we are planning some test stays, they did everything to arrange a spontaneous test stay within 2 hours. After amazingly fast 60 minutes we got a positive feedback and immediately started driving to Hinterglemm, a place where I haven't been before - and I have been to nearly everywhere in Austria. So after 1 hour and 20 minutes from the motorway exit Kufstein, we arrived in the dreamy yet lifeless looking valley of Saalbach-Hinterglemm. Never would either me or my colleague have thought that there is a five-star luxury resort with the look of a Aman Resort. 
After entering the door of the Wiesergut, we were welcomed from a nice and very kind lady offering us the typical Wiesergut welcome bread with a glass of a "Wiesergut Spritzer" - a sparkling wine with fresh grape juice. We had a sit in the lounge area and the receptionist was doing all the paperworks for us. A few minutes later we were already accompanied to our room and received a small and welcoming tour through the property. Honestly, we felt welcome from the first minute we arrived until we left the wonderful Wiesergut. In fact the check-in was like coming to a friend's countryside residence. The most amazing part of check-in was that the very kind lady already answered my questions before I even asked them - really! First I wanted to request a late check out and secondly I wanted to know the opening hours of the spa. During our tour she told me that due to our late check-in, we were able to keep the room as long as we wanted to on the next day - isn't that the best kind of luxury? 

Upon opening the floor-to-ceiling door of our Gutshof Suite we immediately recognized the fresh smell of the room - which is due to the fact that the resort is operating since two years only. Our suite was very spacious with an open living- and bedroom as well as a walk-in wardrobe and an open bathroom with walk-in shower, double sinks and window overlooking the balcony and the green mountains. The bathroom products were by Susanne Kaufmann - an Austrian version of Aveda - a mix of local herbs put together to high quality products. As a welcome of the house we received a nice handwritten letter together with a bottle of water and fresh fruits. A very comfortable sofa and a modern and good looking Samsung TV are some of the ultra luxe amenities our suite had to offer, but by far the best of our room was the ultra heavenly bed with the linen sheets and the fluffy blanket. During the night we slept with open window and could hear simply nothing - make sure to do the same, as the air is amazingly fresh and clean (you are in one of the most remote valleys in the real heart of the Alps!).
Soon after we settled in the suite and took lots of pictures for the blog, we started exploring the spa. The spa is connected with the main building via an underground tunnel which is lovely when it is cold outside and you can comfortably walk there in your bathrobes - like we did. When we arrived at the spa we had to experience: There are no opening hours (!!), meaning the pool is accessible for hotel guests 24 hours - as long as you can live with the fact that the lights are not turned on! WOW, there is nothing I love more than unlimited opening hours for hotel pools! Last time we had a great time at the Stock Resort where we took a midnight swim. So there we were standing, flashed by the amazing and wonderfully designed spa of the Wiesergut, offering a long stainless steel infinity pool (where we always have been the only guests - cool!) on the ground floor, as well as a sleek relaxation area, panorama sauna, steam bath, another relaxation room and power showers with Aesop amenities (unique in Austria - love them by the way!) on the first floor. The second floor of the spa is occupied by a private spa suite, which we couldn't see during our stay, but this should be a reason to come again ;-).
Having arrived at 6pm, the time to spend at the spa was pretty short, but we managed to swim at least 30 minutes. Totally hungry we changed clothes in our suite and went down to the restaurant. In fact an airy restaurant area with lots of seating space and spaces between the tables. The owner Mr. Kröll describes this space offer as a kind of luxury and we fully agree! Space was not the only thing that caught our both breaths: the food was AMAZING. I never, in any kind expected to get such an amazing food there. The level of the served dishes was very high, reminding me to my experience at the Döllerer's Genießerrestaurant which occupies the fourth place in whole Austria. Well, the ingredients were not as extraordinary as at this mentioned michelin restaurant, but the veal fillet was really as good and soft as at the Döllerer. While I thought, that the starters and main course remain the highlight, I was completely wrong: The dessert was the best I had for months! A light chocolate soufflé and a chocolate mousse from the finest. (I am not that kind of chocolate mousse lover but this one was out-of-this-world!).

Followed by this amazing dinner we had some Gin Tonics - nearly all they have - which have been created by one of the restaurant staff members (who were very nice and welcoming as well). There we also had the chance to chat with the owner and visionary Mr. Kröll. In fact it was a lovely evening in one of Austria's best hotels.

Sleeping in hotel beds is always an adventure, but sleeping in beds like at the Wiesergut is something different... these sheets... I will love them forever! What else could make us happy? Well, a breakfast would be perfect! Buffet? No, a la carte of course. Questioning ourselves why this hotel is not named Aman, the first course is already served. In Austria we say: "Pictures tell more than thousand words!" - the quality was again excellent, the service perfect and the egg in a glass with salmon caviar and sour cream was definitely the best egg meal I have ever tried. Other lovely dishes to choose from were served on a trolley - in style of "the best of a la carte".
At check-out we were given a glass of housemate cherry jam and although I do not like cherry jam, this jam tastes wonderful and I still can't await until we return to live the amazing "Wiesergut-Experience" again. I will miss this place.

Normally, it is pretty tough to convince us from a hotel in this location. Generally we always find something to make better, but this time I have to say that I couldn't find a thing. It was a perfect getaway in a perfect hideaway. My expectations have been exceeded and therefore we can highly recommend this place. Absolutely fair 10 points out of ten and another top Austrian luxury hotel can call itself: "Travel Executive's Hideaway Number 1" - well done ;-).
During our Press Trip, which was organized by the lovely and outrageous team of Stromberger PR Munich, we were guests of Mr. Kröll - the owner of the Wiesergut. All expenses were covered by the hotel. We would be very pleased to come again to the Wiesergut!

Friday, May 8, 2015

24 Hours at the Sacher Salzburg

When you are thinking of famous cakes are you also thinking of luxury hotels? Well, if the cake is a delicacy from Austria and called "Original Sachertorte" then you might be thinking of Hotel Sacher. Actually the original "Hotel Sacher" (where the cake comes from) is situated in Vienna - the beautiful Austrian capital. Only a few non-Austrians know that there is another Hotel Sacher (the sister property of the Hotel Sacher in Vienna) in the wonderful city Salzburg. Yes, exactly! SALZBURG - where the movie The Sound of Music was filmed. So what is the best place to stay in the center of this picturesque city? For us there is no doubt, it is the Sacher Salzburg, directly on the river Salzach, floating right between this high end luxury property and the ancient old town where already Mozart used to live in his first minutes. Alright, driving into the city is a small odyssey - many streets go one-way only and the old town is an all-pedestrian area. 

When we drove along the entrance of the Sacher Salzburg, we were greeted by a bellman with uniform in typical Sacher colors - a kind of Bordeaux red. He accompanied us to the Porter desk (this is one of the most unusual front desks we have seen yet) where we were welcomed with a smile and a typical "Grüß Gott und willkommen im Sacher!" - literally he could have said: "Welcome to the best hotel of Salzburg!" Puh, now that was the moment when we began to fall in love with the old-school perfection and the ancient style of this old grand hotel. The airy Lobby was flooded with daylight due to the high ceiling going up towards the fourth floor. It reminded me a bit to the Four Seasons Milano - they have a covered courtyard as well. Soon after doing the paperwork, a kind lady showed us to our spacious and very modern Deluxe Room - I guess it was one. Opening the doors of a hotel room always is like unveiling a surprise. I was so flashed of the modern and fresh look of our room, not yet recognized we have one of the best views in Austria. Two small Sacher cakes in form of a square and fresh fruits were waiting in our room as a welcome of the house.

This spacious room offered a very comfortable double bed with two separate blankets, a seating area with sofa, a spacious working desk with very chic mirror wall, balcony with river views and a super cool electronic fire place with a pretty small tv (which could have been an inch bigger ;-) ).  The gray-brown design of the room met exactly my tastes of interior design and I have to admit that the bathroom looks super luxe as well, reminding me of my stay at the top-favourite Corinthia London. I did not expect to find such a big marble bathroom, offering a walk-in shower, bath tub with speed filling, upscale chocolate toiletries by Sacher Spa (not branded ones but of high quality), separate toilet and bidet area as well as double sinks and an en-mirror tv with many channels. We had absolutely no issues during our stay - the air conditioning worked properly, the rooms are completely soundproofed, the beds heavenly and the water pressure in the bathroom excellent and went warm extremely fast. Also the towels were new and never looked used. A nice touch would have been a bottle of water at turn-down service. Everything inside the room did not only look elegant, the furniture was also comfortable and luxurious.

After we settled in the room and enjoyed the breath-taking view, the Sales Manager waited for us to show us around the property. We were visiting some newly renovated suites and the food outlets. The wonderful winter garden and the elegant Sacher Bar are lovely places to relax and read a book or take a break from sightseeing while sipping a whiskey or one of their signature cocktails. At the end of the tour we had coffee and an original "Sachertorte" in the famous Café Sacher. As many Austrian sweet dishes, also the Sacher is heavy but well worth the calories. In fact the Sacher Salzburg is a traditional property with mostly modern rooms. There are also rooms which are not yet renovated (facing the street and the Theatre), so try to get a modern room facing the castle and the old town or treat yourself with one of their upscale luxury suites - they are really worth the surcharge. We have not been dining at the hotel so we cannot rate the service at their Gourmet Restaurant. 

Before we headed back to the hotel in the early afternoon, we had dinner at a local Restaurant which cuisine is very innovative and creative but due to the location far from the center not worth mentioning. At the next morning we were ready to explore breakfast. While the breakfast room is not large, the buffet had everything we wished to find. From truffle ham, cheese, Austrian sparkling wine, original Sacher cake and three more cakes, fresh bread and nice fruit selection to hot dishes to order, like scrambled eggs and omelettes with everything you want. Unfortunately the cappuccino was not as strong and good as in Italy - we expected it to be better due to the reputation of the Café Sacher. Also the glasses for orange juice were really small, sipping at most two times until the glass was empty. Absolutely happy, we started discovering the old town, went along the Getreidegasse towards the Dome and afterwards we climbed up the castle hill and took the funicular back into town. The location of the Sacher Salzburg is extremely good, only needing to walk 3-5 minutes to be at Mozart's birth place - literally the center of Salzburg.

The Sacher Salzburg has always been the best place to stay in Salzburg and after the expensive renovation it will remain the number one, and now be our favorite place to stay in Salzburg city. Forget the Hotel Goldener Hirsch (we don't like this hotel due to the very old and come down rooms) and spend a little more money to have an unforgettable experience at the Sacher!
We were guests of the Hotel Sacher during our trip to Salzburg. A very special thanks to the Sales Manager Ms. Stotter for being so welcoming. However this review expresses our personal opinion and has not been influenced.