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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The cost of half board was not calculated by the hotel