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First person
Paradise at Preidlhof

Lisa Starr made the trip to the South Tyrol to meet Patrizia Bortolin and experience the award-winning Preidlhof resort


Departing the autostrada at Bolzano in the South Tyrol, you begin a series of twists and turns through deep valleys with the Italian Alps rising on either side. The air is crisp and clear and the valley floor is planted with apple trees that have supplanted the grapevines you see further south.

Road signs and business names are in German and churches and buildings have the chalet-inspired design of their northern neighbour, making it easy to forget you’re still in Italy.

Fifteen minutes past Merano you arrive in the sweet town of Naturns and a few turns past the church is the entrance to the Preidlhof luxury resort, where you’re greeted with prosecco and nibbles and a warm Italian welcome.

Nestled among lemon, olive and cypress trees near the 46th parallel north, the micro-climate sees palm trees juxtaposed with snow-covered mountains.

Journey of discovery
Preidlhof’s lotus flower-inspired logo turns out to be an apt metaphor, as the property reveals itself gradually. Spread over three buildings, it has 71 rooms and suites and 5,000sq m of wellness space, including a spa with 14 treatment rooms, six swimming pools, five hydrotherapy pools, a medical spa and a sauna tower with 16 steam, sauna and relaxation spaces.

Preidlhof was opened in 1966 by the Ladurner family, three generations of which are still involved with the resort, but it was the arrival of spa director Patrizia Bortolin in 2019 that sparked the blossoming of the wellness offering.

Twelve transformational wellness retreats were added, offering signature rituals and treatments, fitness and beauty concepts and a wellness VIP lounge, as well as a signature food philosophy and menu.

Already a multi-award-winner, in 2020 the resort was the first in the world to get ISO 17679 certification – the international standard for wellness spa services (www.spabusiness.com/ISO17679).

The stay
Rooms in the Dolce Vita Lodge are modern and well-equipped, with a cafe table and seating area, enticing mini-bar, flat-screen tv and expansive bathroom. But my favourite feature was the large balcony with daybed. I transferred my duvet and slept out there, listening to the quiet sounds of nature and waking with the sun coming over the Dolomites – absolutely wonderful! Fluffy robes, slippers, spa bags and backpacks are also provided for use throughout your stay.

In addition, different bed systems, mattress toppers and pillows are available, and if needed, a relaxation basket with sleep aids can be delivered to your room. Perhaps the feature most helpful to sleep is that the resort turns off the WLAN antennas at night, so you’re not tempted to turn on your devices.

Off to the spa
The walk from the lodge to the spa can be navigated entirely indoors but can be a little confusing, as they’re on different levels and several hallways are involved. However, on the plus side, each transition area has engaging features, such as a ‘wall of love’ with messages written by guests.

The 14-treatment room spa is adjacent to a lovely outdoor relaxation garden with pools and a sauna. The large reception is filled with natural light, offering tea and water and displaying retail options from Comfort Zone, Su-man, Terme di Comano and Lehalani. Bortolin is also busy finalising the development of a signature Preidlhof product line for professional use and to retail at the resort.

The facility showcases the excellence of a Bortolin-created spa and wellness centre and each treatment is a true experience, as delivered by her well-trained team. The menu is augmented with unusual and bespoke services, such as anmo tuina, osteo-balancing and sleep massages and Ayurvedic options. I enjoyed an ancient healing session in which practitioner Martin Kirchler built on TCM and whole-body practices to integrate massage with breathwork and movement.

A zen shiatsu session with Andrea Martinelli used meridian work to gently clear imbalances, while an excellent lifting effect facial definitely worked as advertised. However, the most impactful spa treatment was a ‘glowing flow’ session with healer Stefano Battaglia, who used both conversation and hands-on bodywork to release emotional blocks and correct imbalances, leaving me in joyful tears.

Wellness offerings
For guests who want to enjoy wellness treatments at their own pace, the sauna tower is a wonderful way to while away a few hours. The six-story building provides beautiful views at every level and guests can take advantage of multiple steam and sauna experiences, some clothed and others not, as well as relaxation areas, lockers and showers and an open-air rooftop pool.

The deep-sea room promotes relaxation through a three-dimensional sensory experience lasting 20 minutes, while sauna masters are on hand to provide aufguss experiences at scheduled times and robust and healthy snacks are available throughout the day, along with tea, water and juices.

There are so many nooks and crannies with delightful relaxation elements around the property that it was impossible to discover let alone enjoy them all during the three days of my visit.

Medical options
The goal is to provide every guest with personal, holistic regeneration that harnesses medical, complementary and preventive health approaches.
If you’re hoping to improve your wellness from a quantitative perspective, the Preidl Med Spa awaits, under the direction of Dr Alexander Angerer, a complementary medicine physician. Here you can experience a range of services, from TCM and meridian diagnosis, to DNA tests, acupuncture and aesthetic medicine.

I had a heart rate variability test, which – along with giving readouts on aura, energy and brain frequencies – also determined that my biological age was 44, which I was quite happy about!

Whether you want to address your health and wellness from a data-driven, a sensory or an emotional perspective, Preidlhof has the bases covered. The signature concept, created by Bortolin, aims to balance hedonic (emotional) and eudaimonic (purposeful) wellbeing, as she explains: “Our goal is to promote a lifestyle with a hedonic approach to the present and to savour it, while also bringing a eudaimonic approach to the past and the future, to make them count.”

Heading outdoors
Opportunities for outdoor wellness abound. The valley supplies most of Italy’s apples and guests can enjoy an ‘apple journey’ with neuropsychologist and fitness trainer, Norma Jean Botticelli. This one-on-one experience showcases different apple varieties, which Botticelli uses to encourage guests to slow down and appreciate texture, aroma and taste in the act of mindful eating.

Bortolin – herself a trained transformational wellness coach – also offers a sensorial wellbeing consultation, during which essential oils are used in an associative process to help guests identify potential growth areas in their personal life.

My favourite outdoor experience, however, was the forest bathing walk during which guests are accompanied by 74-year-old local, Irmgard Moosmair, who leads the way from the resort down across the river at the valley floor, pointing out local flora and fauna along the way.

Guests collect botanical samples and make a personalised smoke bath with barks and resins and enjoy a refreshing drink direct from the mountain stream before heading back to Preidlhof. This experience recently won second prize in the Holistic Treatment of the Year Award 2021 from online platform Destination Deluxe.

A daily bulletin details numerous additional hikes, walks, fitness activities and entertainment, but as the property is located adjacent to a nature park, you don’t necessarily need an organised activity to explore the trails and outdoor spaces, it’s just difficult to find the time with so much on offer!

Time to dine
The cuisine is a highlight of any wellness experience and Preidlhof doesn’t disappoint. The restaurant has been awarded three toques from Gault Millau and there are local and regional menu options, some of which use ingredients grown and harvested on-site.

Breakfast and lunch buffets are expansive, while dinner is served a la carte from a wide selection of options and cocktails and wine are available for an extra fee. There are several dining rooms that also spill onto outdoor terraces – weather permitting – and you can elect to dine in a VIP Wellness Lounge at private tables that look out over the delightful countryside.

For a special treat, you can partake of a wellness healing gourmet dinner menu, which changes nightly and offers seven-courses without soy, egg, lactose, added sugars or gluten.

In line with its sustainability policy, which has been developed to preserve and respect the beautiful local environment, much of the food is sourced locally to create zero carbon dining options. In addition to this, the property harnesses solar power to heat the pools while using biodegradable detergents and energy-saving light bulbs. Most of the furniture is made with locally sourced materials and Preidlhof is also a plastic-free environment.

The financials
The spa alone exceeds €1m (£857,200, US$1.3m) per year in revenue, driven by an impressive therapist utilisation rate which Bortolin expects to hit 90 per cent in 2022.

Spa and wellness treatment prices at Preidlhof are quite affordable, driving this volume, as they range from €45 to €250 (£38 – £214, US$51 – US$286).

Room rates vary throughout the year from €196 (£167, US$224) per night in the low season to €277 (£217, US$317) in the high season, with certain suites and penthouses priced somewhat higher.

Themed retreats of four to seven days are priced between €488 and €1,587 (£413 – £1,343, US$551 – US$1,792) – plus the price of the hotel stay – and include an array of spa, fitness and medical treatments.

A newly-launched six-day (minimum stay) menopause retreat costs €1,587 (£1,343, US$1,792) plus accommodation, and includes ancient healing and glowing flow sessions as well as a medical consultation.

The people
A special mention must be given to the excellent staff; at Preidlhof. I was travelling with an elderly cousin and the team sprang into action any time she needed anything.

Although traditional spa treatments can always be personalised with special touches and rituals, Preidlhof is a perfect example of how to step things up to another level by combining the highest standards of hospitality with fun and unusual experiences that are unique to the property. It helps to have a story-book setting, but we know in spa that ultimately it’s the people that make the experience and I, for one, can’t wait to return.

Read more: Lisa Starr talks to Patrizia Bortolin, the award winning visionary who’s injecting new vigour into Preidlhof

Dr Alexander Angerer

Dr Angerer grew up near Preidlhof, in the Vinschgau Valley and says from an early age he was fascinated with the health benefits gained from the water cures and teas made from local herbs and botanicals.

Now, in his role as Preidlhof’s resident medical physician, he establishes evidence-based facts about each patient before using homeopathic remedies and traditional medicine to help to reinstate a balance of their body, mind and spirit.

Current specialities include oral therapy, infusion therapy and magnetic field therapy.

Dr Angerer (left) is Priedlhof’s resident medical physician / photo: ©Preidlhof
The menopause retreat

Preidlhof is one of the first international destination resorts to offer a menopause retreat. This six-day experience comprises a choice of treatments and activities, which include massages and baths, as well as classes, consultations and wellness events.

On arrival, attendees receive a medical wellness evaluation and heart rate variability test, as well as either sleep measurement analysis or acupuncture sessions, depending on their needs.

The retreat includes carefully-planned nutritional meals and six prescribed classes, including yoga nidra, mindful eating and laughter yoga, together with optional transformational dance, sound healing and forest bathing activities.

Retreat attendees say the experience has made a real impact on their state of wellbeing. For example, one attendee said that, after her retreat, her energy levels were back up to the same levels experienced before her menopause began.

Medicinal mineral bathing

Preidlhof has introduced a new medicinal bathing offering, following a five-year project.

Costing €2m (US$2.26m, £1.7m), the new hydrotherapy experience comprises an 80sq m indoor pool and a selection of private whirlpool baths. All are filled with mineral-rich water sourced from a 400-year-old spring located under Naturno’s Reinhold Messner Castle, 5km from the resort.

The upgrade is fitting for Preidlhof, as Naturno is only a 20-minute drive from the famed Italian spa town of Merano that’s home to a host of public bathing facilities powered by its famous healing waters. “This project is the result of an independent, combined community initiative led by the local hospitality industry,” says Patrizia Bortolin.

Bortolin has curated new spa programming, incorporating the medicinal baths with highlights including private bathing experiences in the whirlpools infused with detox or regenerative bath oil blends, inspired by the traditional Merano bathing ritual.

Lisa Starr is a contributing editor at Spa Business | [email protected]

Sleep pods in the spa at Preidlhof Credit: ©Preidlhof
Patrizia Bortolin (second from left) is a master of spa design and delivery. Pictured here with her transformational wellness team, who deliver many unique therapies at Priedlhof Credit: ©Preidlhof
Relaxing in the Sauna Tower Credit: ©Preidlhof
The ‘wall of love’ where guests leave affirmations Credit: ©Preidlhof
The resort offers crisp, clear air, and spectacular views of the italian alps Credit: ©Preidlhof
Ingard Moosmair leads award winning forest bathing walks Credit: ©arminhuber
Healer Stephano Battaglia at work Credit: photo: ©Preidlhof
Resort guests enjoy a choice of six swimming pools Credit: ©Preidlhof
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DIARY

 

02-04 Mar 2024

World Spa & Wellness Conference

Excel exhibition and conference centre , London, United Kingdom
03-05 Mar 2024

IBS New York

Javits Convention Center, New York, United States
+ More diary  
 
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©Cybertrek 2024
Uniting the world of spa & wellness
Get Spa Business and Spa Business insider digital magazines FREE
Sign up here ▸
News   Products   Magazine   Subscribe
First person
Paradise at Preidlhof

Lisa Starr made the trip to the South Tyrol to meet Patrizia Bortolin and experience the award-winning Preidlhof resort


Departing the autostrada at Bolzano in the South Tyrol, you begin a series of twists and turns through deep valleys with the Italian Alps rising on either side. The air is crisp and clear and the valley floor is planted with apple trees that have supplanted the grapevines you see further south.

Road signs and business names are in German and churches and buildings have the chalet-inspired design of their northern neighbour, making it easy to forget you’re still in Italy.

Fifteen minutes past Merano you arrive in the sweet town of Naturns and a few turns past the church is the entrance to the Preidlhof luxury resort, where you’re greeted with prosecco and nibbles and a warm Italian welcome.

Nestled among lemon, olive and cypress trees near the 46th parallel north, the micro-climate sees palm trees juxtaposed with snow-covered mountains.

Journey of discovery
Preidlhof’s lotus flower-inspired logo turns out to be an apt metaphor, as the property reveals itself gradually. Spread over three buildings, it has 71 rooms and suites and 5,000sq m of wellness space, including a spa with 14 treatment rooms, six swimming pools, five hydrotherapy pools, a medical spa and a sauna tower with 16 steam, sauna and relaxation spaces.

Preidlhof was opened in 1966 by the Ladurner family, three generations of which are still involved with the resort, but it was the arrival of spa director Patrizia Bortolin in 2019 that sparked the blossoming of the wellness offering.

Twelve transformational wellness retreats were added, offering signature rituals and treatments, fitness and beauty concepts and a wellness VIP lounge, as well as a signature food philosophy and menu.

Already a multi-award-winner, in 2020 the resort was the first in the world to get ISO 17679 certification – the international standard for wellness spa services (www.spabusiness.com/ISO17679).

The stay
Rooms in the Dolce Vita Lodge are modern and well-equipped, with a cafe table and seating area, enticing mini-bar, flat-screen tv and expansive bathroom. But my favourite feature was the large balcony with daybed. I transferred my duvet and slept out there, listening to the quiet sounds of nature and waking with the sun coming over the Dolomites – absolutely wonderful! Fluffy robes, slippers, spa bags and backpacks are also provided for use throughout your stay.

In addition, different bed systems, mattress toppers and pillows are available, and if needed, a relaxation basket with sleep aids can be delivered to your room. Perhaps the feature most helpful to sleep is that the resort turns off the WLAN antennas at night, so you’re not tempted to turn on your devices.

Off to the spa
The walk from the lodge to the spa can be navigated entirely indoors but can be a little confusing, as they’re on different levels and several hallways are involved. However, on the plus side, each transition area has engaging features, such as a ‘wall of love’ with messages written by guests.

The 14-treatment room spa is adjacent to a lovely outdoor relaxation garden with pools and a sauna. The large reception is filled with natural light, offering tea and water and displaying retail options from Comfort Zone, Su-man, Terme di Comano and Lehalani. Bortolin is also busy finalising the development of a signature Preidlhof product line for professional use and to retail at the resort.

The facility showcases the excellence of a Bortolin-created spa and wellness centre and each treatment is a true experience, as delivered by her well-trained team. The menu is augmented with unusual and bespoke services, such as anmo tuina, osteo-balancing and sleep massages and Ayurvedic options. I enjoyed an ancient healing session in which practitioner Martin Kirchler built on TCM and whole-body practices to integrate massage with breathwork and movement.

A zen shiatsu session with Andrea Martinelli used meridian work to gently clear imbalances, while an excellent lifting effect facial definitely worked as advertised. However, the most impactful spa treatment was a ‘glowing flow’ session with healer Stefano Battaglia, who used both conversation and hands-on bodywork to release emotional blocks and correct imbalances, leaving me in joyful tears.

Wellness offerings
For guests who want to enjoy wellness treatments at their own pace, the sauna tower is a wonderful way to while away a few hours. The six-story building provides beautiful views at every level and guests can take advantage of multiple steam and sauna experiences, some clothed and others not, as well as relaxation areas, lockers and showers and an open-air rooftop pool.

The deep-sea room promotes relaxation through a three-dimensional sensory experience lasting 20 minutes, while sauna masters are on hand to provide aufguss experiences at scheduled times and robust and healthy snacks are available throughout the day, along with tea, water and juices.

There are so many nooks and crannies with delightful relaxation elements around the property that it was impossible to discover let alone enjoy them all during the three days of my visit.

Medical options
The goal is to provide every guest with personal, holistic regeneration that harnesses medical, complementary and preventive health approaches.
If you’re hoping to improve your wellness from a quantitative perspective, the Preidl Med Spa awaits, under the direction of Dr Alexander Angerer, a complementary medicine physician. Here you can experience a range of services, from TCM and meridian diagnosis, to DNA tests, acupuncture and aesthetic medicine.

I had a heart rate variability test, which – along with giving readouts on aura, energy and brain frequencies – also determined that my biological age was 44, which I was quite happy about!

Whether you want to address your health and wellness from a data-driven, a sensory or an emotional perspective, Preidlhof has the bases covered. The signature concept, created by Bortolin, aims to balance hedonic (emotional) and eudaimonic (purposeful) wellbeing, as she explains: “Our goal is to promote a lifestyle with a hedonic approach to the present and to savour it, while also bringing a eudaimonic approach to the past and the future, to make them count.”

Heading outdoors
Opportunities for outdoor wellness abound. The valley supplies most of Italy’s apples and guests can enjoy an ‘apple journey’ with neuropsychologist and fitness trainer, Norma Jean Botticelli. This one-on-one experience showcases different apple varieties, which Botticelli uses to encourage guests to slow down and appreciate texture, aroma and taste in the act of mindful eating.

Bortolin – herself a trained transformational wellness coach – also offers a sensorial wellbeing consultation, during which essential oils are used in an associative process to help guests identify potential growth areas in their personal life.

My favourite outdoor experience, however, was the forest bathing walk during which guests are accompanied by 74-year-old local, Irmgard Moosmair, who leads the way from the resort down across the river at the valley floor, pointing out local flora and fauna along the way.

Guests collect botanical samples and make a personalised smoke bath with barks and resins and enjoy a refreshing drink direct from the mountain stream before heading back to Preidlhof. This experience recently won second prize in the Holistic Treatment of the Year Award 2021 from online platform Destination Deluxe.

A daily bulletin details numerous additional hikes, walks, fitness activities and entertainment, but as the property is located adjacent to a nature park, you don’t necessarily need an organised activity to explore the trails and outdoor spaces, it’s just difficult to find the time with so much on offer!

Time to dine
The cuisine is a highlight of any wellness experience and Preidlhof doesn’t disappoint. The restaurant has been awarded three toques from Gault Millau and there are local and regional menu options, some of which use ingredients grown and harvested on-site.

Breakfast and lunch buffets are expansive, while dinner is served a la carte from a wide selection of options and cocktails and wine are available for an extra fee. There are several dining rooms that also spill onto outdoor terraces – weather permitting – and you can elect to dine in a VIP Wellness Lounge at private tables that look out over the delightful countryside.

For a special treat, you can partake of a wellness healing gourmet dinner menu, which changes nightly and offers seven-courses without soy, egg, lactose, added sugars or gluten.

In line with its sustainability policy, which has been developed to preserve and respect the beautiful local environment, much of the food is sourced locally to create zero carbon dining options. In addition to this, the property harnesses solar power to heat the pools while using biodegradable detergents and energy-saving light bulbs. Most of the furniture is made with locally sourced materials and Preidlhof is also a plastic-free environment.

The financials
The spa alone exceeds €1m (£857,200, US$1.3m) per year in revenue, driven by an impressive therapist utilisation rate which Bortolin expects to hit 90 per cent in 2022.

Spa and wellness treatment prices at Preidlhof are quite affordable, driving this volume, as they range from €45 to €250 (£38 – £214, US$51 – US$286).

Room rates vary throughout the year from €196 (£167, US$224) per night in the low season to €277 (£217, US$317) in the high season, with certain suites and penthouses priced somewhat higher.

Themed retreats of four to seven days are priced between €488 and €1,587 (£413 – £1,343, US$551 – US$1,792) – plus the price of the hotel stay – and include an array of spa, fitness and medical treatments.

A newly-launched six-day (minimum stay) menopause retreat costs €1,587 (£1,343, US$1,792) plus accommodation, and includes ancient healing and glowing flow sessions as well as a medical consultation.

The people
A special mention must be given to the excellent staff; at Preidlhof. I was travelling with an elderly cousin and the team sprang into action any time she needed anything.

Although traditional spa treatments can always be personalised with special touches and rituals, Preidlhof is a perfect example of how to step things up to another level by combining the highest standards of hospitality with fun and unusual experiences that are unique to the property. It helps to have a story-book setting, but we know in spa that ultimately it’s the people that make the experience and I, for one, can’t wait to return.

Read more: Lisa Starr talks to Patrizia Bortolin, the award winning visionary who’s injecting new vigour into Preidlhof

Dr Alexander Angerer

Dr Angerer grew up near Preidlhof, in the Vinschgau Valley and says from an early age he was fascinated with the health benefits gained from the water cures and teas made from local herbs and botanicals.

Now, in his role as Preidlhof’s resident medical physician, he establishes evidence-based facts about each patient before using homeopathic remedies and traditional medicine to help to reinstate a balance of their body, mind and spirit.

Current specialities include oral therapy, infusion therapy and magnetic field therapy.

Dr Angerer (left) is Priedlhof’s resident medical physician / photo: ©Preidlhof
The menopause retreat

Preidlhof is one of the first international destination resorts to offer a menopause retreat. This six-day experience comprises a choice of treatments and activities, which include massages and baths, as well as classes, consultations and wellness events.

On arrival, attendees receive a medical wellness evaluation and heart rate variability test, as well as either sleep measurement analysis or acupuncture sessions, depending on their needs.

The retreat includes carefully-planned nutritional meals and six prescribed classes, including yoga nidra, mindful eating and laughter yoga, together with optional transformational dance, sound healing and forest bathing activities.

Retreat attendees say the experience has made a real impact on their state of wellbeing. For example, one attendee said that, after her retreat, her energy levels were back up to the same levels experienced before her menopause began.

Medicinal mineral bathing

Preidlhof has introduced a new medicinal bathing offering, following a five-year project.

Costing €2m (US$2.26m, £1.7m), the new hydrotherapy experience comprises an 80sq m indoor pool and a selection of private whirlpool baths. All are filled with mineral-rich water sourced from a 400-year-old spring located under Naturno’s Reinhold Messner Castle, 5km from the resort.

The upgrade is fitting for Preidlhof, as Naturno is only a 20-minute drive from the famed Italian spa town of Merano that’s home to a host of public bathing facilities powered by its famous healing waters. “This project is the result of an independent, combined community initiative led by the local hospitality industry,” says Patrizia Bortolin.

Bortolin has curated new spa programming, incorporating the medicinal baths with highlights including private bathing experiences in the whirlpools infused with detox or regenerative bath oil blends, inspired by the traditional Merano bathing ritual.

Lisa Starr is a contributing editor at Spa Business | [email protected]

Sleep pods in the spa at Preidlhof Credit: ©Preidlhof
Patrizia Bortolin (second from left) is a master of spa design and delivery. Pictured here with her transformational wellness team, who deliver many unique therapies at Priedlhof Credit: ©Preidlhof
Relaxing in the Sauna Tower Credit: ©Preidlhof
The ‘wall of love’ where guests leave affirmations Credit: ©Preidlhof
The resort offers crisp, clear air, and spectacular views of the italian alps Credit: ©Preidlhof
Ingard Moosmair leads award winning forest bathing walks Credit: ©arminhuber
Healer Stephano Battaglia at work Credit: photo: ©Preidlhof
Resort guests enjoy a choice of six swimming pools Credit: ©Preidlhof
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02-04 Mar 2024

World Spa & Wellness Conference

Excel exhibition and conference centre , London, United Kingdom
03-05 Mar 2024

IBS New York

Javits Convention Center, New York, United States
+ More diary  
 


ADVERTISE . CONTACT US

Leisure Media
Tel: +44 (0)1462 431385

©Cybertrek 2024

ABOUT LEISURE MEDIA
LEISURE MEDIA MAGAZINES
LEISURE MEDIA HANDBOOKS
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