It’s dinner time at the Feuerstein Family and Nature Resort. In a chic dining room overlooking South Tyrol’s mountain peaks and a small waterfall, fashionably-dressed couples are speaking in low tones. They are leisurely sipping their wine and are enjoying their five course dinner. These are the parents of young children, who are able to enjoy each other’s company because their offspring (or three of them in our case) are having a great time at the Feuerstein Hour, where they are eating a healthy, kid-friendly meal and are getting entertained afterwards. Such after dinner activities as hay jumping, indoor football or basketball, or simply playing in a giant indoor sand box are guaranteed to wear your little ones out for a good night sleep.
Life post-children is a struggle to find a balance between doing the things we’ve always enjoyed and finding activities that will entertain the children. In addition, after welcoming the twins to this world we have learned that traditional hotels are almost out of the question for us. Hardly any hotel will let five people stay in one room and making sure everyone is safe in an unknown Airbnb could be a nightmare. That is why when I was asked how I would like to celebrate my 40th birthday, I didn’t hesitate for a second: “I want to go to family-oriented resort!”
We spend our first vacation with the twins more than a year ago at a family-oriented hotel and loved it (read more about it here).Then last year’s “more traditional” vacation to the beach included silent eating of a takeout pizza in a rental beach house to avoid waking the twins sleeping in a crib nearby; and “relaxing” by the ocean, which involved running around each twin to make sure that she doesn’t drown, eat too much sand, get sunburned or wander off. Add to it an additional task of entertaining an 8-year-old, and you need several week to recover from such a vacation.
I was lucky to learn from my sister about a newly-opened Feuerstein Family and Nature Resort in South Tyrol. After undergoing an eight month renovation to earn its current 5-star rating, Feuerstein Family and Nature Resort is offering attractive specials to get to know them throughout 2018. We were sure to take advantage of one of the attractive packages that the hotel offered us, and off we went to celebrate the Big 4-0!
Just over an hour south of Innsbruck by car, the Feuerstein Family and Nature Resort is located at the end of the South Tyrol’s Pflersch Valley, an area of fresh mountain air thanks to very little car traffic that comes to the end of the valley. Surrounded by forests, mountain peaks, and waterfalls, the region is dominated by tourism: skiing in winter, hiking, climbing, and mountain biking in summer.
One of the biggest advantages of a vacation in a family-oriented hotel is professional childcare. At Feuerstein Family and Nature Resort, child care is based on Maria Montessori principles, and provides a relaxed, creative environment which allows children to enjoy their mountain vacation in a meaningful, lasting way. Babies and toddlers (up to 4 years of age) have their own playroom with direct access to the kids’ restaurant. Every day is filled with activities that accommodate children of all ages – and babies can be wheeled along in buggies by the friendly staff. Childcare is offered daily from 9:30 am to 2 pm but kids can be dropped off earlier and picked up later by agreement, for example, if parents want to undertake a long mountain tour.
In the late afternoon, the hotel offers its guests some family bonding time, when guests can enjoy creative activities together: create a wooden toy in a wood workshop, or paint their next masterpiece in the painting studio, or simply kick the ball in the sports arena. We tried them all and the twins really loved painting, while our 8-year old’s favorite was a making of a wooden guitar. In the evening, as mentioned in the beginning, it’s time for the Feuerstein Hour, where a dinner is followed by supervised play activities.
While the twins joined the childcare activities, we snuck off to sample some adult pursuits. There is a full range of top-quality body and beauty treatments available from in-house spa, and the sauna is an oasis of calm that takes up three floors. Most of the time we enjoyed the sauna when the kids napped in the room, armed with a baby monitor provided by the hotel. Feuerstein’s Mountain Spa is the first spa in Europe to run on alpine natural resources. It includes adults-only area spread over three floors as well as a family area where kids can warm up after a long swim experiencing their first sauna visit together with their parents. A yoga class is offered almost daily in early morning or in the late afternoon. I was able to enjoy the yoga practice twice during our 4-day stay and loved the relaxing atmosphere of the yoga loft overlooking the alpine forest.
Our stay wouldn’t be complete without our daily swim ritual. There are endless possibilities to experience the water: the baby pool, action pool with a speed-check water slide, outdoor endless pool, a small swimming pond, and a family spa. The kids enjoyed it all are very excited to swim every day.
In addition, there are various guided fitness classes that are offered daily. The bright and airy gym is also popular, though it seems crazy to hit the treadmill when a rigorous alpine hike starts at the door. While the twins were in childcare, we were able to explore the surrounding mountain area.
On our first day we took our 8-year old daughter with up and went on an easy fixed rope climbing tour (via ferrata or Klettersteig in German) that starts right at the Feuerstein’s back door. We didn’t get all the way up because it was still early in the season and there was some snow on the mountain but the views were breathtaking. The next day the twins skipped the daycare and we borrowed (free of charge) baby hiking backpacks. We did a short hike to a nearby waterfall and had a small picnic in the forest, where the twins enjoyed a pine cone fight. Parents can also borrow mountain buggies and do a variety of stroller-friendly hikes near the hotel. On our last day, we ventured out for another Klettersteig, but this time it was adults only. We headed back to Austria to a beginner-friendly Peter Kofler Klettersteig that was about 30 minute drive from the hotel.
In addition to climbing and mountain tours, the Pflersch Valley can be explored on mountain bike. The hotel offers its guests E-bikes to ensure an enjoyable biking experience up and down the hills. If you are not up for doing things on your own, a weekly outdoor activities program is also posted daily in the hotel. The guests can enjoy a guided E-bike tour, a guided mountain tour, or a white water rafting trip, just to name a few.
After a day filled with activities, a dinner at the Feurerstein is a gourmet culinary journey. The resort’s talented chef offers a sophisticated Alpine cuisine, hybrid of wholesome and hearty fare, where a traditional Italian cuisine meets old-age regional recipes of South Tyrol. The food is fresh and locally-sourced, mostly in the Pflersch valley. The smell of freshly-baked apple strudel spreads daily through the air from the hotel’s own bakery, and pasta, jams, and ice cream are homemade from the local ingredients.
The magic time at the Feuerstein Family and Nature Resort is still fresh in our minds. When the kids are entertained and happy, and a thoughtful resort organizes everything for you, you actually have time enjoy each other’s company and, finally, relax. Being in a place of this quality, it’s hard to imagine why would you ever go anywhere else?