From small pension to mega resort – the Edelweiss Mountain Resort in Grossarl, Austria

Every year in December or January I like to escape into a land of white, a winter wonderland that lets me unplug from real life and lures me into a world of outdoor sports, crisp, clean air and stunning views. I can’t say I’m the big active holiday type but there is something about working out in the snow, be it in the form of skiing, snowboarding, cross-country-skiing or snow-showing, that just feels like the best work out and it’s kind of addictive. So when an email found me that the Edelweiss Salzburg Mountain resort in Großarl, Austria invited us over for a long weekend I was quick to jump at the opportunity.

I had been to Austrian winter destinations before and they are easily among my favorites in the world. Incredibly luxurious hotels that usually really nail the gap between traditional and modern, epic food and an incredible wealth of things to do. It’s also kind of nice that they speak German in Austria, very handy if you happen to be German as well.

Run by big hearts

I’ve been to many large resort hotels over the past 10 years but what really stood out about the Edelweiss was that despite its size of over 20.000 square meters (thats around 3 football fields), it never fell short of warm and personal yet highly professional treatment from all of the staff I came across. This is no doubt due to the fact that the Edelweiss is privately owned and has been in the hands of the Hettegger family for the past 40 years. At the moment there are 14 family members are working within different aspects of the resort, including 3 generations of the founding family. What once started as a small pension run by the Hetteggers and their 11(!) children is now one of Austria’s finest resorts and a shining example of the country’s hospitality at its best. I saw various members of the Hetteggers daily, as they worked, lunched together or chat with guests, always with big smiles on their faces. No wonder this translates to all the staff who were truly one of a kind.

The wow-factor

It’s only been a month that the Edelweiss presents itself in flying new colors as over the course of 2018  some massive changes and improvements have been made. The resort is continuing in its tradition to seek progress and expansion and therefore has committed to a sum in the double-digit millions that has not only been transforming the lobby and all of the rooms, there will also soon be 2 brand-new heated outdoor pools overlooking both the town and the mountains. Speaking of mountains, in order to realise this mammoth project the Hetteggers had to hire specialists who carved an actual hole inside a mountain for this project to even be possible. And not just any mountain, but the one people in Großarl ski down! Now that’s what you call a mountain resort! Only a 1 minute walk to the ski-lift and you’re in for a ball. If you love skiing and snowboarding, this place does not get better in terms of convenience.

An eye for detail

If you stay in nice hotels as much as I do, you just may develop and eye for the times when a hotel goes out of its way to accommodate their guests and leave them with that warm, fuzzy feeling you hope for when you stay somewhere on holiday. The first thing that struck me was the nice touch, that the room fridge is filled with a small but pleasant mini bar which is complimentary for all new arrivals. Later, when we found the table that was especially allocated to us I was impressed to realise that we had been seated next to another single parent traveling with their child – a thoughtful gesture has the potential to really make someone’s holiday unforgettable!

Kids are a big deal

Something that really makes my blood boil is when hotels do offer kids clubs, but then only accommodate a dark and tiny room to the next generation. Or when the only dishes on the menu specifically for kids are pizza and burgers – so boring and uncreative. The Edelweiss however has one of the best children’s menus I’ve ever seen and every plate we ordered off it was so delicious, I secretly wanted to order the same thing for myself. Most nights there will also be a small buffet for kids food available for those who don’t want to wait, but an order from the actual menu is always possible and included in the half board deal. The breakfast buffet also offered a lot of child-friendly options, and at least 10 different kinds of cereal. Ideal for tiny connoisseurs!

The kids club here is an absolute delight, first and foremost due to the truly wonderful ladies working proper Mary Poppins magic on those little ones and making them love every moment spent there. When not going on a treasure hunt, crafting bracelets and crowns or reading stories, kids can enjoy a ball bath, video games, a soccer table, a bouldering wall and even a proper cinema room. But don’t fret, screentime-counting parents: there is far too much to do to watch movies so more often than not films only play in the late afternoon.

Finally there is the one-of-a-kind waterslide park, well and truly a unique feature for a ski hotel, especially given the size of the one at the Edelweiß. A grand total of 5 big slides make kids of all ages beam with happiness.

Food

There is something to be said about the culinary badassness of this hotel. Every evening would see a 5-course fine dining menu with the possibility to mix and match between 3 different menu choices, including a vegan one.

The waiters and waitresses were all smiles every day and quick to take orders and bring out food. I especially appreciated their flexibility on the evenings that I needed the food to come out quick as I had to wrap dinner within 30 minutes. They made it possible though and I loved them for it.

Things to Do

As mentioned above, all fans of snowboarding and skiing will be delighted to find the slope and ski lift just next to the hotel. Once you head back to the Edelweiss, you can simply drop your gear into their special locker room, where each room is assigned their own locker, the top of the range kind that is heated and will dry all your gear in time for your next session.

Fans of slower paced winter activities will enjoy snow-shoeing or cross-country-skiing, both of which are organised by Berg Gesund who also offer thrillseekers the opportunity to climb up a frozen waterfall. If you opt to come to Großarl in the summer months, you’ll be pleased to find there plenty more thing to do here, with paragliding, hiking and rock-climbing  just being a few of them.

To level out active and passive fun, I highly recommend trying out the Spa at the Edelweiss where lots of treatments from luxurious mineral baths to deep-tissue massages await. Very special spa feature: the moroccan hammam, you won’t usually find in other spa hotels – and it actually looks like the real deal!

What I like about the Edelweiss, is that when you’re not out firing down the slopes, enjoying an apres-ski drink or getting pampered at the hotel spa, just lying on your very comfortable bed, grabbing a good book and enjoying the uniquely positive vibes of this resort will feel you rejuvenated in no time. I can only get behind what all the others are saying who’ve stayed here and left ravishing reviews: The Edelweiß is one of a kind and we’ll definitely be back.

*Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by the Edelweiß, but everything reflects my personal opinion to 100%.

 

 

 

 

 

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