Hotel Hohenwart high above Merano

The 4 star superior Hotel Hohenwart in Schenna is more than a well managed, modern hotel and spa resort with excellent cuisine and an extensive offer for relaxation and outdoor activities. In addition to all the amenities and the magnificent panoramic location and despite its size of one hundred rooms and suites spread over three houses, it is above all the people who make the Hotel Hohenwart a special place.

Wellness und Spa-Bereich haben im Hohenwart einen hohen Stellenwert / © Foto: Georg Berg
Wellness and spa area have a high priority at the Hohenwart / © Photo: Georg Berg

Beautiful views and a family history

Hotel Hohenwart is run by Famlie Mair. The third generation is just getting ready to take over responsibility. Lovingly is remembered in many places in the house, the founder Franz Mair Sen. In 1957, still a bachelor, he tried his luck as a hotelier with a small bed and breakfast in the rural Schenna.

Schloss Schenna hat man vom Hotel Hohennwart aus gut im Blick. Das Schloss war Wahlheimat von Erzherzog Johann von Österreich / © Foto: Georg Berg
Schenna Castle can be seen from the Hotel Hohennwart. The castle was the adopted home of Archduke Johann of Austria / © Photo: Georg Berg

The hotel has grown over the years. Quite grown, in fact. From the modern and large entrance hall, whose driveway overlooks Schenna and the castle, we are escorted to our room. It goes through long corridors and hallways, past the spa area and the fitness equipment, once again turned right and the room is reached. The view from the balcony also captures Schenna including the castle and the Etsch Valley. Only later do I realize that the Hohenwart is a hotel consisting of three houses situated on a slope. To our surprise, we manage to find our way back to the main house, which also houses the restaurant with its large terrace. For dinner – which is part of the style of the house – guests are always greeted by members of the Mair family.

Familie Mair vor dem Hotel Hohenwart. Anna Mair hat zusammen mit ihrem Mann Franz Mair das Hotel in den 1960er Jahren aufgebaut. Heute hat die Leitung Sohn Josef Mair mit seiner Frau. Enkel Franz Mair trifft man im Service an und er leitet Wanderungen für Hausgäste / © Foto: Georg Berg
The Mair family in front of the Hotel Hohenwart. Anna Mair, together with her husband Franz Mair Sen. built up the hotel in the 1960s. Today the management has son Josef Mair with his wife. Grandson Franz Mair can be met in the service and he leads hikes for house guests / © Photo: Georg Berg.

The people at Hohenwart

In over 60 years, the small Hohenwart guesthouse with floor showers and 18 beds, which was only accessible via a gravel road, has become a luxury wellness oasis with a panoramic pool in modern alpine chic. The best impression about all these amenities you get on the Internet presence of the Hohenwart. At this point it is worthwhile to report on the feel-good factor people and to introduce some personalities from the team of the Mair family.

Hubert gehört seit über 30 Jahren zum Team im Hohenwart. Seine Einsatzorte sind der Empfang und die Berge / © Foto: Georg Berg
Hubert has been part of the team at the Hohenwart for over 30 years. His places of work are the reception and the mountains / © Photo: Georg Berg

Hubert the hiking guide

“Simply Hubert! That fits,” he says and smiles. All the guests know Hubert. He has worked at the reception desk at the Hohenwart for 33 years and is the best example of how the hotel uses the talents of its employees. He knows his homeland, knows the best hiking routes and in addition almost every herb along the way. Twice a week, the extensive activity program includes guided hikes. One with Hubert, the other with Franz Mair Jun. One tour is easier, the other has more vertical meters. Then it goes with the minibuses of the hotel also to the neighboring valleys or even to a sunrise hike to the Weisshorn. In May and June Hubert appreciates the awakening of the vegetation and the blooming of many plants. In autumn there is often clear weather with good foresight.

Das Hotel Hohenwart bietet seinen Gästen regelmäßig Wanderungen in die umliegenden Berge an / © Foto: Georg Berg
Hotel Hohenwart regularly offers its guests hikes in the surrounding mountains / © Photo: Georg Berg.

Despite all the discoveries along the way, his focus is on the perception of nature. “On my guided tours, there is no non-stop explaining and talking. I’m happy to answer questions, but otherwise the rule is: let nature take effect on you.” What has changed with the pandemic I still ask him. “In the past, the whole hotel went out together. Today – also due to the pandemic – guests are grateful for hiking recommendations, which they then undertake independently.” Group hiking has also already accompanied hotel founder Franz Mair Sen. At that time, 50 guests and more went with him. The focus of the hike, Hubert still says with a wink, however, was on stopping at a mountain inn and not necessarily reaching a summit cross. The guided tours offered weekly are always free of charge for house guests.

Hotelgründer Franz Mair führte seine Gäste gerne zum Gsteier. Da konnte es passieren, dass das ganze Hotel mitwanderte. Heute wird vom Hotel ein Shuttle-Service angeboten oder die beliebte Tour vom Taser zum Gsteier mit Shuttle zurück zum Hotel / © Foto: Georg Berg
Hotel founder Franz Mair liked to lead his guests to the Gsteier. There it could happen that the whole hotel hiked along. Today, the hotel offers a shuttle service or the popular tour from the Taser to the Gsteier with shuttle back to the hotel / © Photo: Georg Berg

A place to ground – the mountain inn Gsteier

Gsteier is the name of the mountain inn at an altitude of just under 1,400 meters. The farm has belonged to the Hotel Hohenwart since 2001. For the hotel founder Franz Mair Sen. the yard was a place to earth, so it tells his son Josef Mair. The Gsteier-Hof is situated above the wild gorge of the Naiftal. The panorama is impressive. Here, sheep graze in the pasture, chickens scratch in the outdoor enclosure. They supply the eggs for the many orders of Kaiserschmarrn and Buchteln. Back then, his grandfather was given 800 square meters of land and the right to keep six chickens. Then as now, practical for a lived regional cuisine.

In addition, the Gasthof Gsteier offers many hearty dishes of lamb and pork, also from the farm. A fountain splashes. There is a small farmer’s museum with all kinds of equipment from past times. In between there is an old residential house. Grandson Franz Mair Jun. recently moved into it. Like his grandfather, he appreciates this place in the middle of nature. After studying agriculture, he also has room up here for keeping animals.

Franz Mair mit seinem Herdenschutzhund Kira. Beide Hunde sind tagsüber mit ein paar Schafen in einem offenen Verschlag / © Foto: Georg Berg
Franz Mair with his guard dog Kira. Both dogs are in an open shed during the day with a few sheep / © Photo: Georg Berg

In the summer he was given two pot-bellied pigs that were looking for a new home and recently the young running ducks Frieda and Gustav have been swimming on the small pond. But above all they keep sheep and dogs up here for their protection. Also from the wolf, which has returned to South Tyrol. Kira and Asa are guard dogs of the breed Cane da Pastore Maremmano Abruzzese. These dogs are already born into a livestock herd and grow up, as in the case of Kira and Asa, among sheep.

Herdenschutzhunde der Rasse Cane da Pastore Maremmano Abruzzese. Im Gegensatz zu dem Schafen, können die Hunde die Box jederzeit verlassen. Besonders wachsam werden sie in der Dämmerung und Nacht - die beliebteste Jagdzeit von Raubtieren / © Foto: Georg Berg
Guard dogs of the breed Cane da Pastore Maremmano Abruzzese. Unlike the sheep, the dogs can leave the box at any time. They become especially alert at dusk and night – the most popular hunting time of predators / © Photo: Georg Berg

The dogs are imposing and capable of defending their flock even from wolves. Especially at dusk and at night their protective behavior awakens, explains Franz Mair. The dogs then work independently, walk their territory and strike loudly when intruders approach. Usually their threatening defensive behavior is enough to send enemies of the herd fleeing.

Franz Mair begleitet regelmäßig Gästegruppen auf Wanderungen / © Foto: Georg Berg
Franz Mair regularly accompanies groups of guests on hikes / © Photo: Georg Berg
Die Wandergruppe aus dem Hotel Hohenwart macht Rast auf dem Weg zu den Steinmännchen / © Foto: Georg Berg
The hiking group from Hotel Hohenwart takes a break on the way to the cairns / © Photo: Georg Berg

Hiking with Franz to the Stoanernen Mandln

One of the regularly offered tours goes with the hotel bus via Hafling, Vöran and Mölten up to a parking lot at 1,590 meters. From there it goes over the Jenesier Jöchl to the Stoanernen Mandln at a good 2,000 meters. It is a remarkable collection of cairns. Always changing. Most are very steadfast and new ones are added every season. From here you have a wonderful panoramic view and it goes over the Kaser Alm back to the car. The Stoanernen Mandln are a pagan place, Franz Mair explains to us on the way. Witch burnings are also said to have taken place here.

Die Stoanernen Mandln auf 2.000 Meter Höhe. Hier führt ein alter Passweg entlang / © Foto: Georg Berg
The Stoanernen Mandln at 2,000 meters above sea level. An old pass path leads along here / © Photo: Georg Berg

The old pass over the mountains serves partly as a path, because in former times the valleys were full of moors and difficult to pass. This geological peculiarity also explains that the oldest settlements of the Adige Valley were not built in the valley, but on the mountainside, and with them the castles and towers for collecting tolls along the way.

Home brewery & Buschenschank Pfefferlechner

Hotel guests can visit the village of Lana for a round of golf with Josef Mair. But to Lana is also worth a trip to visit the home brewery Pfefferlechner. The ancient estate in the heart of Lana, a good twenty minutes by car from Schenna, was first mentioned in 1297.

Christine Mair, älteste Tochter von Franz und Anna Mair führt uns durch den Pfefferlechner. Bei Kindern ganz groß im Rennen: Blick in den alten Kuhstall, durch den heute niedliche Kaninchen hoppeln / © Foto: Georg Berg
Christine Mair, eldest daughter of Franz and Anna Mair leads us through the Pfefferlechner. Very big with children: View into the old cowshed, through which cute rabbits hop today / © Photo: Georg Berg.

Since 1895, the Pfefferlechnerhof has been owned by the Laimer family, and in turn Christine Mair, the eldest daughter of Franz and Anna Mair, married into them. For 40 years there is the Pfefferlechner cellar with food and products from own production and since 2005 also with own house brewery.

Ausschank im Pfefferlechner. Die Hausbrauerei braut verschiedene Biere. Vom Pfeffer Hell bis Pfeffer Schwarz. Vom Kastanien Bier bis zum Pale Ale. Neueste Kreation ist ein alkoholfreies Bier. Das erste aus Südtirol / © Foto: Georg Berg
Tapping at the Pfefferlechner. The house brewery brews various beers. From Pfeffer Hell to Pfeffer Schwarz. From chestnut beer to Pale Ale. The latest creation is a non-alcoholic beer. The first from South Tyrol / © Photo: Georg Berg

From the grist mill for the barley to the storage tank, everything in the Pfefferlechner is visible to guests, and between the brew kettle and fermentation vat, the fresh beers can be tasted. The kitchen provides all kinds of hearty dishes made from regional ingredients to go with the beer. These include classics such as pork knuckle with coleslaw or spare ribs in tomato salsa. In 2019, the small home brewery achieved a real coup. It secured a patent from the Technical University of Berlin for the production of an alcohol-free beer that hardly differs in taste from real beer. Freedl is the name of the first alcohol-free beer from South Tyrol.

Vorspeise von Küchenchef Hannes Stuffer. Tortellini mit Schnittlauchcreme und halbflüssiger Tomatenfüllung / © Foto: Georg Berg
Appetizer from chef Hannes Stuffer. Tortellini with chive cream and semi-liquid tomato filling / © Photo: Georg Berg.

All the beers from Pfefferlechner are, of course, also on tap at Hotel Hohenwart. Guests can also switch their half-board and head to the Pfefferlechner for a hearty dinner instead of the hotel menu. However, one risks then to miss a special creation of chef Hannes Stuffer.

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The cost of half board was not calculated by the hotel

Travel Topics on Tellerrand-Stories

Our mode of operation is characterized by self-experienced, well-researched text work and professional, vivid photography. For all stories, travel impressions and photos are created in the same place. Thus, the photos complement and support what is read and carry it further.

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