Tag Archives: winter

Experience the extraordinary – the Oeschberghof in the southern Black Forrest

Extraordinary it is indeed, this jewel in the German Black Forrest. Build on its so-called 5 columns Living, Spa, Golf, Business and Event, this hotel offers something unique for any vacation wishes. No matter if you are looking for an active and sporty get-away, or just relaxation, or a surrounding, which makes creative reflection on a new business strategy possible – the Oeschberghof has it all!

It has been more than 7 years, since I first experienced the Oeschberghof myself; it was a nice gift from my mother for my birthday. She had been there before on a business trip and wanted to share the pleasant discovery with me. Nice treat, right?

Since 2008 I have become a regular visitor myself. I have given away birthday gifts to spend here, suggested the hotel for short honeymoons and brought along my best friend.

She calls this place “her own little oasis”, and is coming all the way from Italy to enjoy it.

I was contemplating for a long time, if I should actually take the Oeschberghof up in my portfolio and on my page, truly, because it is such a jewel, I didn’t want to share it with more than just my closest friends for the time being.

But now, I do believe it is time, as there is no comparable place for wellness and relax I have found in Europe so far.

Not even a one and a half hours drive from Zurich, the Oeschberghof lays close to Donaueschingen, the home of the Danube river well. It is fairly isolated though, which makes it perfect of course for the golf lovers who can currently play on 3×9 holes courses. The driving range offers 40 exercising spots, 10 of which are covered, as well as pitching and chipping surfaces and 2 putting greens to improve the short plays. There is also a 3-hole academy for beginners and the NGO association “Golffreunde Öschberghof” aims at making Golf accessible to children and youngsters to experience nature and develop concentration skills and stamina. Currently there are more than 100 young talents active.

The own Oeschberghof Golf Academy is one of 6 competitive golf-sports bases in Baden Württemberg. Even during winter time, the PGA Academy offers training possibilities in the indoor golf center or via the organized golf training trips. In case you are planning to obtain your “Platzerlaubnis” (licence to play on German courses), you can get it in only 5 days.

By 2017 there will be 2 additional 9 hole tracks and the driving range will also go through some enlargement and optimization by then.

Besides the golfing experience, there are two soccer fields available, not only frequented by amateurs. I have seen that the teams of FC Schalke 04, Werder Bremen, VfB Stuttgart and Eintracht Frankfurt have conducted their training camps here over the last years.

But golfing and soccer are definitely not the only reason you would come here. As secluded from noise, traffic and large crowds, the area around the Oeschberhof is also perfect for bike tours, hikes or simply enjoying nature.

However, personally once I have entered the main building area I will rarely leave it again. Why? – Two major reasons: the Spa and the Cuisine!

The spa of the hotel Oeschberghof is best described as 2500 square meters of “arrival, strengthening, relaxation and toning.” It deserves the name Dynamic Spa, developed together with the European Wellness Institute to strengthen body, mind and soul. This includes a large variety of treatments with la prairie, Horst Kirchberger or Ligne St. Barth products, as well as peelings, baths, wraps or massages. I have been pampered with Lomo-Lomi-Nui, Aroma, Hamam and Abhyanga massages so far and I couldn’t decide which the better, as they are all fantastic. Of course it is also the therapist that makes them special and I am strongly recommending Mrs. Lohr, as she has been my first choice over the last two years. All staff is excellent, but taste and needs are individual and therefore I guess you need to find your favorite therapist as well.

The beauty treatments are also very exquisite, and I was so glad to see that some of the staff have been there for years, specifically Ms. Zimmermann and Mrs. Lohr. This to me is a rather positive sign of a good working environment, which translates into the excellent service provided towards the customers.

Besides the spa treatments the wellness area also provides a 25×12.5m indoor swimming pool with Grander water, a sauna choice of 60 and 90 degrees, a steam bath, a laconium, Kneipp foot baths, holistic shower experiences as well as a snow iglu and a blockhouse sauna on the roof of the building.

There is also a Spa suite/ ladies spa including an infrared 50 degrees sauna, a sole steam bath and a Hamam with a own Hamam whirl bath.

From 12 am to 6pm you can help yourself at the Vital Bar with a choice of salads, deserts and snacks as well as drinks and coffee. One can relax on waterbeds, heat beds and hot stone loungers.

The gym offers a good choice of treadmills, cross trainers, bike ergometers and a power plate besides the kinesiswall. Courses like Aqua Fitness, Yoga etc. are being conducted daily, either in the dedicated course room on the sports terrace or the swimming pool area.

As I have come to know, there will be lots of changes and enlargements in the spa and fitness area starting in May 2016. The resort will stay open though and you might want to check for the variety of alternative offers. By the way, I can spill some of the new beans: there will be an infinity pool after the conversion.

The cuisine at the Öschberghof deserves a real thumbs up. Start with an aperitif at the Fair-Way bar or the Cheminée lounge before you have decided to dine at either the hotel restaurant, the restaurant Hexenweiher or the Övent hut.

The choice is between the romantic hotel restaurant, overlooking the golf course, serving a variety of fish, meat or vegetarian dishes, then the dolce vita experience at the Italian style Hexenweiher or the charming and naturalistic location of the Övent hut with a large outdoor deck and an interior that reminds me of a traditional hunter’s hut with lots of style. The Övent hut is also available to be booked for festivities and offers special events like “Weisswurst Breakfast”, Cigar nights, wine tastings, torch hikes etc.

Next to the main restaurant you will find an elegant vinoteque, some of the wine bottles on display are from 1955, the choice is immense either way. The two sommeliers can help you select the right wine from more than 450 local and international top quality wines.

After dinner, if you do like to enjoy an Absackerl (nightcap) accompanied by a cigar, the fireplace lounge is your place. More than 50 different cigars and cigarillos are available in the walk in humidor.

Concerning accommodation, the hotel offers 73 rooms, either in the main house or for pet lovers in the Dependance (the building is separately located between Golf course, parking and hotel). The rooms are 32 up to 48 square meters large. Rooms can also be connected for up to 6 persons with 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.

Most of the rooms have a balcony or a terrace and are equipped with high standard bathrooms, LCD flat screens including cable and Sky TV as well as bathrobes and the most comfortable slippers I have ever used in a hotel. Wi-Fi is available for free in the whole hotel.

In case you do not bring your pet and want to use the wellness in winter, I am recommending you book a room in the main house. This way, you won’t have to walk between the houses with your slippers and bathrobe when it’s chilly outside.

For business events the Oeschberghof offers a decent amount of 9 rooms varying in size between16 square meters up to 282 square meters. One room even has an access for cars to be driven in, in case you are planning to present your prototype or similar. A team of over 5 people is supporting business events, it seems like there are no limits to what you can get. This includes modern technology, full and all day service and high quality catering.

I still hurt a bit to give away this secret bijou… All in all, should you choose to visit the Oeschberghof assure you that you will have an unforgettable stay! I hope you will cherish it just as much as I do…

White Turfing in St. Moritz

My first exposure to St. Moritz was extra special due to an annual event started in 1907: the White Turf.  While St. Moritz is well know for skiing, bobsleds, shopping and celebrities it also hosts a unique, exclusive, top-class (with lots of fur and jewels) event with exciting horse-racing, gourmet catering, live music, and exhibitions all of which takes place on a frozen lake surrounded by stunningly beautiful, snow-capped mountains.

The best location to stay if you want to experience all of within walking distance (no taxi needed) is the La Margna Hotel. A traditional superior hotel with excellent views of the mountains and the lake, the La Margna is well-managed by the young and attentive manager, Nina Stockburger, and offers a uniquely pleasant and peaceful environment, despite the proximity to the main train station on the south-facing slope of the hotel.

The La Margna was built in 1907 (the same year that the White Turf started) in typical Graubünden style and has preserved its charm to this day. The nostalgia is especially felt in the heart of the building, the unchanged hotel lobby in the Jugendstil, with its original cast-iron chandeliers.

Some might find the room furnishing quite old, the bathrooms rather simple and antique, but it is very clean and the room service provided a really touching surprise.  As part of the turn down service, the towels were exchanged, a little chocolate placed on the pillows, and the foot towel put in front of the bed (with a nighttime wish and morning greeting).  But the touching surprise was the lovely set-up of the pajamas on the bed that was simple, thoughtful and heartwarming.
Highlights:

  • The staff, including manager Nina Stockburger were attentive, very friendly and extremely professional.
  • The original Hotel Lobby and Bar was delightful with impressive arched ceiling and granite pillars, original chandeliers and forged iron fireplace
  • The proximity was close to the lake, St. Moritz town, and train station
  • Dinner at the in house Stüvetta restaurant, offering traditional Engadin specialties, fondue and Mediterranean dishes
  • Breakfast choices including Gipfeli that were better than an original French croissant

The only downside is that the La Margna will be closed at the end of the 13/14 season and will reopen in 2015 as the Grace St. Moritz. On completion of renovations the hotel will comprise 36 rooms and suites plus several serviced apartments. It will have three restaurants – the premier restaurant being an all-new internationally branded fine dining experience. There will also be a classic Swiss restaurant specializing in local cuisine and a more casual restaurant offering all-day dining, plus a new martini and cigar bar.

We can only hope that the future hotel manager and staff will be as good as the current ones.

Axalp – runaway from the city

If you manage to survive the ride up from Brienz to Axalp, without knocking yourself out in one of the hairpin curves and hitting a cow or a hiker, you will be greeted by an open view of beautiful scenery.

The Chalet Alphüsli is setback from the main road leading up to the ski lifts. In winter, the house is basically on the slopes themselves. The owner, Sven Sonderegger from Basel is offering a newly built wooden chalet, ideal for families or friends wanting to spend some quiet time skiing (it is a small resort, one chairlift and three t-bow lifts, ideal for beginners and families) or hiking along the Schnitzerlweg to the Hinterburgseeli.

The chalet is modern, combining steel and wood, open and light. It is not overloaded, which makes the rather small inside comfortable. It offers 6 beds in two rooms on the second floor (one double room and a room furnished with a 4 person bunk bed) with the only drawback being space enough for luggage.

The living area and kitchen are open and surrounded by windows on three sides. There is a Swedish stove with a glass window including wood for your use and a door that opens to a stone patio and bbq area. In the corner a circular staircase leads directly from the living room upstairs to the bedrooms and the bathroom. The bathroom has a bathtub and a nice simple washing stand made out of wood. In the small entrance area, you can hang clothes, place boots and there is the door to a second separate little toilette.

The kitchen is equipped with all the basics (cups, plates, pans, etc.) and even includes a dishwasher, Nespresso coffee machine, Fondue and Raclette tools. Make sure you bring your own dishwashing liquid, sponge and kitchen towels with you.

For the evenings or rainy days you will find games, Sat-TV, WiFi access, Mac Mini, Blu-ray Player and some DVDs to watch.

One word of caution if you want to relax in the fall is to be sure that the Swiss Air Force is not conducting their annual air force live fire event in October. If so, you may be in for some loud training runs. Between 8:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:30 you will be surrounded by the ear battering noise of F/A-18s and Tiger Jets, that make you feel that the end of the world is near, especially when caught right in the rear-fired boiler at the lake Hinterburgseeli. Luckily for those seeking silence, the Swiss Air force is celebrating its centennial in 2014 and the live fire event will be held in Payerne on 30.-31.08. and 6.-7.09. So, in case you planned to go close to Payerne, cancel that, and go to Axalp.

Lots of love from the …liebes Rot-Flüh

The …liebes Rot-Flüh 5-star hotel, not even 3 hours away from Zürich, located by the small Haldensee, offers plenty for a romantic, relaxing weekend get-away. The wellness and spa area of the …liebes Rot-Flüh is 3000m², including different sauna, Turkish steam bath, outdoor swimming pool, relaxation area with waterbeds, Ayurveda temples, as well as an indoor pool provides enough variety for a whole weekend.

Shut the world out for some time…

The 101 rooms and suites are either very traditional Tyrolese with floor carpets, wood and colourful curtains, kitschy but high quality decoration or modern, wooden floor rooms, glass walls and classy arrangements. The rooms ranging from double comfort, double bio, comfort suite, nobel and rural suite, Cinderella junior or luxury suite, Spa luxury and Penthouse suite are either in the main house or in the attached houses, some of them offering space for up to 12 people. You will find bathrobes, slippers and even a spa bag for your things to back when going to the wellness area. You can also test Samina beds and accessories in certain rooms. When asked for Samina pillows, they were provided at no additional costs. Great service.

The spa is one of my favorite spots in the …liebes Rot Flüh. With an area over 700 m² and a wonderful water garden, the offer of massages, beauty treatments, and Hawaiian or Ayurveda rituals you will have a though choice to make. Definitely a different style than the opulent exterior and interior of the hotel, with clear lines, water, slate stone, canopy beds and water wall…

The 4 restaurants offering traditional and international cuisine are all worth visiting. The breakfast is served in the panoramic breakfast room, overlooking the Haldensee and the surrounding mountains. The oldest son of the family Huber, Christoph heads the restaurants and bars and will always make sure you have everything you need. Breakfast is incredible, fresh fruit, local cheeses, breads you can only dream of, eggs, pancakes, sausages, cold cuts, muesli… anything your heart longs for. The coffee is not ideal, but the Cappuccino at the Loch Ness Restaurant in the house will definitely make up for it. You will not want to eat any lunch after the delicious and wonderfully prepared breakfast. Even though you might skip lunch at the Loch Ness (so strange but actually pretty nice, you can have lunch in your bath robe), which includes either a soup, salad buffet or a fantastic roast beef, the Austrian afternoon coffee culture and the choices of fantastically looking cakes won’t help walking away from it.

Dinner is served at either of the three restaurants Via Mala, La Cascata Nobile or the Loch Ness. The La Cascata is rather classy, the food exceptionally good, and the selection of wines is vast. The Via Mala invites you to dive into tradition and past, a main room, beer garden like, small cosy side rooms, all in their special, lovely decorated style. It feels like you are walking into a small Tyrolese village. Also here, the food is exceptional, the Wiener Schnitzel probably even better than the one at Figlmüller in Vienna.

…the Wiener Schnitzel probably even better than the one at Figlmüller in Vienna

You will find yourself sitting at dinner, when all of a sudden the room darkens, lightning and thunderstorm noise fills the air, the waterfall from the first floor turns into a wild river… it is really something you need to experience.

After dinner the cigar and whiskey lounge invites for a smooth fade out of the day, the only downside of it is though, that the doors to the cigar lounge are open, which means the smoke doesn’t stop from going into other rooms as well.

Last but not least… you might be a little shocked by the pink outside of the hotel, amazed by the kitsch and old, and not at all shabby feel (walls painted, colors, decoration) but it is definitely very special and it will grow on you by the time you experienced everything.

Highlights: Service and friendliness or staff and Huber sons Christoph and Alexander, nails done by Rita, massage by Denis, food in all restaurants, surrounding and location for great cross country skiing, skiing and walks…

Romantic get-away in the water castle Hagenwil

If you are into castles, history and romantic sleep overs, then you might like the Water Castle Hagenwil, one of Switzerland’s best-preserved water castles.

The castle is bedded into a landscape with rolling hills in the village of Hagenwil close to Amriswil and Arbon as well as Lake Constance. It is indeed very well preserved, some of the castle parts over 800 years old, offering the possibility to spend a romantic night, visit the castle festival showing Romeo+Juliette, getting married or just have dinner at the restaurant.

The a la Carte menu includes unconventional dishes, mostly regional and seasonal, and wine from the own win yards. If you book a romantic overnight, you will be served a candle light dinner at the grandma’s parlor, all private and beautifully decorated with fresh roses petals right next to your room, with a four-poster bed and a modern bathroom attached.

Breakfast is served at the Biedermeier-parlor of the castle restaurant until 12:00 o’clock, so lots of time to sleep in; except in case you don’t get woken up by the ducks and birds in the water ditch around the castle.

The lady and lord of the castle live in it and also run it and will pay great attention to details to accommodate their guests. The service is lovely, very attentive and discrete, not even bothered by all the steps they need to walk from the restaurant to the private quarters during the candle light dinner. The area is lovely, animals and birds are being kept around the castle, the pheasant is also a specialty on the menu. You will always remember the castle, once you’ve stayed there, promise.