Perched 1,100 metres up in the mountains, on the edge of a forest and facing the majestic Dolomites, Hotel Saltus’ location is like something out of a fairy-tale. Far away from the fuss of daily life, secluded from any possible stresses, here you are surrounded by pure, untouched nature – and everything else simply slips away…
Franz Wentner knew this spot was special as soon as he saw it back in 1954, and spontaneously decided to build a hotel in the tiny mountain village of San Genesio. Not only was the setting spectacular, but he was also convinced that the unique ‘riviera-like’ climate could be curative for visitors. Indeed, it has since been scientifically proven that the air at this altitude has numerous health benefits – but you don’t need science to know that a few days spent here can heal like nothing else.
Four generations later, and Franz’s vision is still going strong – but now in the hands of the brilliant sisters Claudia and Nadja, and their mother Hedwig Mumelter, who combined the family’s historic hospitality know-how with their modern approach and values to create Hotel Saltus. It lies on the same site as Franz’s original hotel, blending harmoniously into its surroundings with a wooden exterior and natural materials used throughout. Entire walls have been made into floor-to-ceiling windows, and the rooms, suites and living spaces are arranged so that you can gaze into the dense forest, feeling at one with nature. The aesthetic is quietly cool, incorporating wabi-sabi with muted shades and minimal furnishings to instil calm, but also to ensure that nothing detracts from the star of the show: the nature which is all around.
Time is the greatest luxury, and so there are no clocks or televisions at Saltus. Instead, days are spent in a blissful state floating between yoga sessions (taught by Hedwig), painting classes and forest baths (led by Najda), meditations and massages using local larch – or simply relaxing in the Forest Spa, deep in the spruce trees, and swimming in the rooftop Sky Pools which look onto the Dolomites. The WiFi is turned off after supper to ensure a better, deeper sleep, and by each bed is a booklet for jotting down dreams, ideas and thoughts – when the mind finds itself in such an unusually quiet state, they seem to form more naturally.
From the very start, Claudia, Nadja and Hedwig were adamant that their hotel should ‘contribute to the common good’ and lead the way in encouraging a genuinely sustainable lifestyle. From offering discounts to guests who arrive by train and providing advice on travelling carbon-offsetting your journey, to scrapping single-use plastics and using rainwater barrels to supply the pools, the Mumelters truly practice what they preach. They even ensure the food they serve has no footprint – ingredients are zero-km and strictly seasonal, 90 per cent of the menu is vegetarian, and waste is minimised wherever possible.
But rest assured this never impacts on quality or taste – if anything, it elevates it. At the Tschögglbergerhof restaurant guests can savour traditional South Tyrolean delicacies at their most authentic: think handmade schlutzkrapfen using their great-grandmother’s recipe, pesto with wild garlic from the valleys, and tartare from local oxen. Their grandmother’s buckwheat cake is legendary – and still made by her every day.
The wonderful Mumelter family is never far from sight – they are rightfully front and centre of Saltus, ensuring your time there is nurturing, healing and memorable. Their thoughtful touches, authenticity and innate goodness make this a hotel with real heart, enveloping you from the moment you arrive, and staying with you long after you leave.
A few segreti (secrets) from the Mumelter family
Salten – Europe’s largest contiguous meadow, right by the hotel
Gasthof Refenstein – a family-run restaurant nearby for typical South Tyrolean food
Freiraum Mumi – an open air wine bar with amazing wines by the glass and an epic focaccia
DAMA Studio– sustainable, slow fashion which is made to order at the atelier in Bolzano
A swim in the hotel’s Sky Pool at sunrise, facing the Dolomites – simply breathtaking