Bergland Design- and Wellnesshotel Sölden, Austria: World champion host
"The ski lift was our nanny. Our mother sent us out in the morning and we returned home for lunch", recalls Sigi Grüner, host at the Bergland Hotel Sölden. When it comes to skiing the five-time deep snow world champion and three-time synchronous ski world champion is the right contact to talk to.
The snowy wintertime is still a distant dream. At the glacier skiing area in Sölden however all the lifts are already in operation. "Here’s a great tip: On the glacier you can test the latest products – all the skiing companies are on site. At the same time you can get some useful tips from the skiing instructors to get in good shape for the winter season", says the 50-year-old.
Sölden is a relatively large skiing area and it is not all that easy to find your way around. On request Sigi Grüner offers exclusive skiing days.
"It's like a private skiing course with me. I show our guests at what time which slopes are less crowded, where to find the best snow. I give tips and come up with small excercises. The participants usually notice an improvement right away".Sigi Grüner, host
Since the modern lifts result in less waiting time, skiers spend more time on their skis than a few years ago. Consequently it is important to find the right pace and to use your strength optimally. The skiing day with the hotel owner is planned through to the last detail. It should be the perfect day. Of course the culinary breaks are very important – Sigi Grüner chooses the huts wisely.
When Sigi Grüner was 20 years old, he was the youngest skiing instructor in Austria. "Due to my height and my skiing skills I was ideally suited to the Japanese market. I went to Nagano for Salomon in 1990 and trained the Japanese skiing instructors", recalls the Söldener. For years he travelled the world for the sake of deep powder snow - from New Zealand to South America to Canada. As a result the many world championship titles followed.
In 1998, after ten adventurous years abroad, he returned to Sölden for a BMW commercial. As one of four skiers he swept synchronously down the glacier, a BMW with the then new xDrive made the spectacular escort. A friend of Sigi married and at the wedding he met Elisabeth Falkner. She is one of the four children of the leading hotelier family that made Sölden in Tyrol an up-and-coming winter sports metropolis. It was love at first sight. "Somehow we have not seen each other for 30 years. It's funny - when you travel around the world, you do not expect to marry your neighbour", says the father of two with a smile. In 1999 the two take over the Bergland Hotel Sölden from Elisabeth's parents. In 2010 they take a bold step: The old hotel is torn down and completely reinvented in a seven-month record-breaking construction period. As the first design hotel in the Ötztal the hotel is a harmonious combination of nature and architecture. Regional materials such as wood, stone and the wool from their own sheep farm are responsible for the charm of the house.
Very approachable hosts
They live the idea of hospitality of the founding family with their heart and soul. The two daughters of the family, Sara and Anna, will probably continue in this grand tradition. They are good for tips on skiing too. No wonder: Per season both easily make 3,000 trips up and down the skiing slopes in Sölden. One can guess that a nanny was probably not necessary.