Insider's Guide to Spas
Hotel Goldener Berg

Inns & Lodges

Austrian Hospitality Meets Holistic Wellness at this Mountain Hotel

Becca Hensley

I feel like I’ve known Daniela Pfferkorn all my life. Or, maybe it was in another life. Anyway, anything is believable right now at this blissful mountainside chalet, a wellness hotel in Oberlech in western Austria. The fresh mountain air, faintly perfumed with pine, breezes in through an open window. She’s dressed in a dirndl. I’m sipping Reisling, and watching the sun disappear through the panoramic window behind her.

“It’s not about being a certain way, or doing a certain thing. It’s about being the best you can be; finding that place” she says, as we chat about living well. I’m happy she’s said that. “Be at one with yourself,” She reiterates, in case I haven’t understood. With her implicit permission—I take another sip of wine.

Wintertime draws skiers and winter sports enthusiasts to Pfferkorn’s intimate hotel, The Goldener Berg, set mid-slope in the best part of the Austrian Alps. But in the summertime, Pfferkorn offers week-long healing programs, from detox to slimming to allergy eradication. Each regimen is heavily organized around Marion Grillparzer’s Glyx  principles (a high protein, organic, low-glycemic way of eating), abundant exercise, and spa pursuits—such as lymphatic massage and alkaline baths. Eating in the Goldener Berg’s Gault Millau-awarded Johnnesstubli restaurant, guests dine so pleasurably, they feel no privation. And, if like I, they cheat a little, nobody cares. Included in the program, a cookery session with Chef, provides recipes and patterns for better eating to take home, and a slew of knowledge about the hotel’s entire roster of locally derived food.

It is a sojourn of self discovery really, inspired by ancient alpine wisdom and lore.

Even with my glass (or two) of Riesling nightly, I feel amazing here. Eating sumptuous Glyx-approved meals that include items such as homeland beef, smoked trout, lentils and (my favorite) cheese sandwiches on thick slices of dark-brown bread for mountaintop picnics, I can rarely finish everything on my plate. Passing my days with long, rigorous, guided hikes and other sports (from swimming to Nordic walking), spa treatments, yoga and meditation, I feel relaxed and vivified—not to mention spoiled in the spa.

I don’t deny my skin glows. But here’s the thing. It’s not just what you eat or do at Goldener Berg. The soulful environment of the hotel amplifies wellbeing, meaning that even someone coming for just a night will feel more energized, relaxed, and alive. “Sustainability is not theoretical here,”says Daniela. “It’s a task and a benchmark.” Accordingly, the hotel’s water (procured from a subterranean mountain spring)  is treated with gemstones for purity, electric radiation has been cleared away by experts to ensure a good night’s sleep, and all furniture is made to be chemical-free (not to mention beautiful) by local craftsmen. Organic spa products, from regional moor mud to hay from the mountain, enrich the spa and guest rooms.

During my stay, individuals, couples, and families occupy the hotel, many part of a Goldener Berg wellness program, tailor made to regenerate them. Ensconced in an atmosphere of camaraderie, nobody appears to be anything but on a vacation. It is a sojourn of self discovery really, inspired by ancient alpine wisdom and lore. “We want guests to become part of our lives,” says Daniela. “Here, we produce more than wellbeing; we help guests to find the harmony within.” Seven-night programs (Starting at $1,500) include room, meals, hikes, cooking classes, fitness classes, and some spa treatments.


Becca Hensley

Becca Hensley

Based in Austin, Contributing Editor Becca Hensley writes regularly about travel and spas. She believes a good story draws you in like laughter in a crowded room, and challenges you to do it justice. Her work appears regularly in Austin Monthly, Travel Channel, Toronto Star and National Geographic Traveler.