Hotel Hochschober |

Mediterranean, Nordic and Oriental: three in one in the … Alps

Nestled amongst the stunning scenery of the Austrian Alps, Hotel Hochschober is renowned for its all-weather activities and facilities featuring unique attractions like a heated lake and a Chinese pagoda.

Hotel Hochschober is a unique spa hotel in the lush southern Austrian Alps of Carinthia. Located high atop the Turracher Hohe at 1,763 meters above sea-level, the hotel overlooks the tranquil lake Turracher See in the Nockberge Mountains. The family-run hotel prides itself on good, solid Austrian hospitality. “We see our staff as a vital part of the Hochschober’s golden triangle of guests, staff and family-owners. They help create that informal, family-like atmosphere so characteristic of the Hochschober,” says Hotel Manager and owner Karin Leeb. “This demands a high degree of knowledge and competence coupled with sensitivity and enthusiasm in attending to guests’ wishes and needs. Because only in this way can we continuously enrich the many small details that make the Hochschober what it is.” 

Huge fireplace right in the middle of the hall, in-house concerts every Friday – these are just a few of the countless small details that give this charming, traditional establishment an “inside-of-a-cuckoo-clock” ambience. “The Hochschober would not be the Hochschober if a panoply of brand-new ideas and projects – some bigger, some smaller – were not in preparation, all the time,” Leeb laughs. “Guests do return, and they are now sort of expecting to see something brand new,” she says, adding that constant renewal is a tradition in the hotel’s life. Her grandparents, Hilde and Hans Leeb opened the Hochschober as a country inn with 30 beds in 1929. “Then, my parents, Barbara and Peter Leeb managed the hotel from 1967 up until 2003. During this 35-year period, the inn grew to a five-star hotel with innovations such as the Lake-Pool and the Oriental bath, still unique in the region, as well as in Europe.”

New standards
In 2003, the third Hochschober generation, Karin Leeb and her husband, Martin Klein took over the management of the hotel. They transformed Barbara and Peter Leeb’s idea for a Chinese pagoda into reality, also adding a new wing with a children’s playhouse and a library to the complex. Guests nowadays can choose from 100 tastefully furnished rooms, including single and double rooms, apartments, studios and suites.

The modern building of the base camp, at the spot where we have demolished an old garage and part of the domestic wing, is our latest project. This is a user-friendly area to park your bike or skis, with a free service point, run by Sepp, the ski specialist for smoothing and waxing your skis, and a few little extras,” Leeb says. “I explain why I said ‘project” instead of ‘building,’ she adds.  “While we believe the care of your equipment is important, much more important is your well-being. That's why in the middle of the room, we keep a log fire burning, or by the large mirror you'll find sun cream to protect your skin. There's also hot tea or cool fruit juices to keep you going on your day-out. Plus, there's all the information you could possibly need about the cross-country trails and special events. A huge map laid out on the floor will help you to get your bearings before you set off or so that you can check up on just what you have achieved when you return ... preferably relaxing on a comfy sofa sipping a glass of cool and delicious Turracher Bergquell mineral water.” The hotel manager also explains that mixing new and old styles may look eclectic, but this, she believes, adds to the unique atmosphere, which is also utterly comfortable, practical and welcoming. “The word you’ll often come by here (nearly as often as the local greeting “Gruss Gott”) is ‘Hochschobering’,” she adds. “ ‘Hochschobering’ is our hotel philosophy; denoting a vacation that combines activity and relaxation. It is very important not to try and cram as many activities as possible into a vacation day, but to pick out just a few to really savor. You will see that this really boosts your holiday’s relaxation factor immensely. Consciously doing nothing in particular, but just enjoying the moment helps you slow down.”

Active sports
The Turracher Hohe is among the ski regions of the eastern Alps with super skiing conditions, owing to a network of ski lifts, 38 kilometers of downhill runs for skiers of all levels of proficiency, extending up to an altitude of 2,205 meters and full coverage by artificial snow producing equipment. The skiing season generally starts in November and lasts until May 1. Night skiing, snowboarding, snowshoe hiking, Nordic walking and ice skating is also possible, as well as a crazy ride on the Nocky Flitzer, Turrach’s Alpine rollercoaster toboggan run. The Alpine landscape offers a variety of outdoor activities in the summer and the fall, too, including walks around the Turracher See or in Austria’s most extensive contiguous rock pine forests, easy hikes or challenging treks to the best-known Nockberge peaks, fishing, mountain biking, tennis, golf, horseback riding, outdoor yoga and more.
Chillax zone. Hochschober’s Spa, the “World of Water, Warmth and Well-Being” is a harmonious mosaic of distinctive feel-good ideas inspired by different cultures. Here, the Mediterranean, the Nordic and Oriental blend together into a whole. Guests can relax in an unparalleled variety of pools, saunas and baths, complemented by the “Fountain of Youth”, “Lasterbank” and “Milky Way” areas that offer light refreshments, the Blue Salon for smokers, make-up areas and kids’ area.

A piece of China
The Chinese pagoda, picturesquely located next to the hotel on the shore of the Turracher See, is a meticulous reconstruction of a four-story tower, designed by Professor Zhang, chief historic landmark curator of the Chinese province of Henan.  In order to stick to authenticity, craftsmen were brought from China to carve intricate details and to install roof tiles. (The same ceramic roof tiles were used as in the renovation of Beijing’s former imperial quarters, the Forbidden City.) The tower’s top floor affords a magnificent view of the mountains and lake, and is home to the “Beautiful Teahouse on the Mountain”. The floor below the teahouse is dedicated to meditation and other Far-Eastern techniques of exercise and relaxation. The second floor is a center for treatments drawn from Traditional Chinese Medicine while the first floor is used for a variety of activities both cultural and physical, from calligraphy to readings.

Swimming in an icy lake?
Imagine swimming in the balmy waters of a crystalline Alpine lake in the middle of a snowstorm. A worldwide unique patented technology lets you bathe in the Turracher See at a temperature of 30°C year-round, even when the rest of the lake freezes solid. In the summer, the combination of Lake-Pool and beach fun on the Nocky Mountains Riviera is a Hochschober highlight.  In addition to this lake pool, there are other, smaller outdoor heated pools, connected to the spa complex.

The Hamam bath was constructed on the basis of traditional models while incorporating the latest technical features. Expertly carried out by specially trained male and female telaks, or Haman washers, Hamam treatments offer a combination of washing and massage for an Oriental bath experience straight out of ‘1001 Nights'. The pure Turracher Hohe mountain spring water, soothing warmth and Oriental architecture makes you feel that you have been transported to another world.

Réka Alíz Francisck

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