Das Kaltenbach, Tyrol, Austria: The ultimate day-dream
Stephan Haas spent more than two decades working in senior management at a bank before leaving it all behind and becoming a hotel owner. The result is Das Kaltenbach, which offers the perfect combination of much-needed privacy and luxury.
Q - You built The Kaltenbach from nothing in the middle of the countryside. What were you looking to achieve?
A unique new hotel concept with the perfect combination of much-needed privacy and the luxury of an upmarket four-star hotel. The result is like a typical Tyrolean mountain village, characterised by fascinating architecture and placed right at the heart of nature – we call it our power place. We’ve received several awards for it.
Q - A power place allows you to achieve calmness, gain strength or expand your consciousness. You live in a power place. What is so special about this location?
It’s not just that it’s a power place it’s the symbiosis of architecture, design and being the perfect starting point for activities in and around the mountain village, as well as cultural city excursions and sightseeing.
Our motto “Feel right at home” is something our guests also experience – we’re not just saying that, it’s proven by the fact that they come back time after time. What's particularly interesting about our location to those who don't enjoy the hot weather is that we border the forest. In the summer, this helps to maintain a comfortable temperature, to the point where we don’t need air conditioning in the rooms. That in turn makes a substantial contribution to our efforts to operate more sustainably.
Q - How do you know when you've done everything right as a hotel owner?
When guests no longer know which day of the week it is – they’re in true holiday mode and can really switch off.
Q - What is the best thing about nature for you, and how do you maintain your connection with the natural world?
A passion for the mountains runs in the family – my great-grandfather used to make a living as a renowned mountain guide in the Tyrolean Alps. My soul lights up when I wake up in the morning, look out the window and can see the unparalleled mountain landscape and the Zillertal countryside right in front of me.
Q - As a hotel owner and host, when do you get to go on holiday yourself?
I get asked this question a lot by our guests. The answer is quite simple. Whenever I go on a hike in the Tyrolean mountains – either with other mountain enthusiasts or on my own – it feels like a proper holiday experience. The recreational value is huge and it allows me to really recharge my batteries for everyday life. People are often rather taken aback when I tell them during a mountain tour that it feels like I’m on holiday in that moment.
Q - What are your five favourite places in and around the hotel?
It’s natural to have favourite places that you’re drawn to because they radiate some kind of special energy. But now that I’ve started thinking about it, I’m finding it hard to choose. As a mountain guide with many years of experience, I would say that there is a really special moment when you reach the top of a mountain – you see the cross at the summit, in varying shapes and conditions, marked by the weather and the climate. That never fails to be a defining experience. You take a moment to pause and be thankful.
Q - What do you daydream about?
Even though it’s also the most popular image of the Zillertal on Instagram, the view from the suspension bridge at the Olperer Hut is really something spectacular, above the turquoise lake and with the enormous mountains in the background. Guests always feel the special atmosphere when they go there, as well. Joy, inner peace and glittering eyes are always proof for us as hosts and friends that they’re in the right spot in the world.
Q - Which experiences should absolutely not be missed during a stay in the Ziller Valley?
That’s one of the most difficult questions because I find it almost impossible to choose. There are many reasons why Zillertal is one of the most active valleys in the world, bursting as it is with destinations that will provide unforgettable experiences for the whole family – for example the Spruce Tree Castle in the Zillertal Arena, or the birds of prey display at the Adlerbühne in Mayrhofen, which is ideal for nature enthusiasts. Nature’s Ice Palace at the Hintertux glacier is a guaranteed adrenaline rush and an incredible adventure. Mountain lovers yearn for many different things, but one thing is certain: those who stay with us at The Kaltenbach enjoy maximum holiday time.
Text : Nina Prehofer