Patrons spend their day visiting music concerts in the garden surrounding the property, tasting cider during the summer and eating chestnuts during autumn
In the Passeiertal Valley in South Tirol, Italy, a hotel stands in the region since 1978. The Torgglerhof, known under the name of Apfelhotel, was a farm, which encompasses agriculture, breeding and apple orchards. Over time, this began to change as they adapted to people who visited the valley, with a curiosity towards nature and traditions. Apfelhotel began as a family-run guesthouse with fifteen rooms and one restaurant. At the beginning of the Twenty-first century, it was recognized as a three-star hotel with a total of twenty accommodations. The Pichler family has been running the business since its inception, and has been taken over by Maria Pichler, who runs the hotel with her brother Martin and her boyfriend Christian. «We don’t pretend for our guests; we want to share values of being down-to-earth». The name given to the property was Torgglerhof, a complicated term to remember, that hides the meaning behind its letters. It was a term given to those who practiced Törggelen. It was a South Tyrolean tradition that involved reuniting the workers who had participated in the wine press to relish chestnuts and unfermented wine, which was called Suse. Since 2007, the farm-hotel has been called Apfelhotel, in English Apple Hotel. In 2010, the management passed into the hands of Maria and Martin. The hotel had to be modernized to meet the needs of the guests. In 2016, they commissioned an architectural competition to find the right collaborators to achieve their goals. It was in that year that they began their collaboration with Noa Design Studio, a creative studio in Bolzano. The objective of the renovation was to prioritize the environment compared to the soft skills for which they had been recognized. According to Maria, the Torgglerhof lacked a correspondence between the services offered, including cuisine, excursions and the environment around them.
Briefs and reflections on the philosophy to be transmitted within the design required a process divided into two phases: 2016 and 2019. The first phase of the renovation was based on the name of the hotel: Apfelhotel. The forms reminiscent of the fruit from which the structure takes its name. The Apple Bio Sauna, winner of the European Hotel Design Award for its designs and materials was the first structure of the Wellness & SPA path. The barn, which had not been used since they no longer practiced breeding, was renovated. Nine rooms were built, with the manufactory and the farm shop, where guests can purchase products made by the family. This involved changes to the reception, the bar and part of the restaurant. For the 2019 renovation, «we deepened our philosophy to step away from apples». A ‘dive into nature’ philosophy was adopted, to build with forms able to become one with nature. The project includes a guesthouse with eighteen rooms, six garden lofts, a restaurant and the completion of the Brunnenhaus (water well house), giving its name to the hotel’s wellness area. The latter is developed on two floors and blends into nature, conveyed by the fact that it is concealed by a man-made hill covered with greenery and plants. The entrance to the spa is a curved semi-exposed concrete shell that tucks into the landscape and is designed with a door made from dark wood. There are no natural thermal waters, but the spa has a stone fountain located in the center of the building, from which fresh spring waters flow. The swimming pool opens onto the outside, where the water is heated to 32° in the cold. This design won the Ahead Europe Award in November 2020. The rooms were awarded for their smart-layout and use of zoning, providing guests with areas from which to sleep, work or relax. The spa was awarded for its attention to detail and respect for nature, for the colors used and materials chosen. The furnishings in the rooms and the spa were commissioned to companies in the region, including Tischlerei Rier, a joinery located in Siusi. They relied on a type of French wood, which was treated in Milan.
They have lived on the farm and understand how to exploit each product without harming it. From the activities proposed, to the kitchen that they offer. Patrons spend their day in the Passeiertal Valley visiting music concerts in the garden surrounding the property, tasting cider during the summer and eating chestnuts during autumn. They can enjoy the sunrise over the valley accompanied by a family member, follow tours that explain the history of Torgglerhof or the cider production. Hotel guests can take part in the apple or grape harvest. They bring in zero-kilometer products from producers. In addition to using products from the region, they have decided to expand their presence to start a vegetable garden in their spaces overseen by farmers close by. Next to the apple orchards and the vineyard, guests can stopover by the vegetables of the garden. For the past five years Martin has been inculcating cider production. Over time, he has created two varieties, Anderdog and Mali, dedicated to his mother, to which he is about to add a third in 2021. From the vineyard, 700 bottles of Pinot Noir Riserva are produced annually, which are labeled and numbered by the house sommelier, Lukas. This variety of wine is sold in the hotel restaurant, where guests can consume vintages in production. Cultivated vegetables determine the menu of the restaurant, managed by Chef Christian. The simplicity and bio-sustainability of the products bring creativity to the kitchen. «Whether it is the char from the river, the salad from the garden or the lamb from the local farmer, each product has a value, which we want to maintain with attention to detail», states the Chef.
The Apfelhotel has not reached its final destination. They are looking to refurbish the building central to the property, to match the renovated buildings, in terms of design and colors used. A shop to accommodate the family’s production from the property will be constructed. Maria hopes that in the coming years guests of the hotel will be able to buy products from companies in South Tyrol, with the view of creating a concept store.IMAGE GALLERY
South Tyrol, Italy