Journeys: Pedestrian Pleasures: The Bavarian Alps' Loftier Lodgings
Residenz Heinz Winkler
The spa resort in Aschau, near Neuschwanstein, is designed like a private villa set around a colorful courtyard. Heinz Winkler was 31 when he became the youngest chef ever to be awarded three Michelin stars. He also is known as a pioneer of “cuisine vitale,” a philosophy uniting gastronomy and well-being. If this sounds like spa food, the gustatory equivalent of yoga, fear not. The cuisine is sensual and imaginative, the perfect complement to the resort’s romantic setting.
Inter Continental Resort Berchtesgaden
The property claims to be Bavaria’s first mountain hotel resort, an oasis of well-being set against the Obersalzberg Alps just 20 miles from Mozart’s birthplace in the city of Salzburg and four miles from Lake Königssee and the highly photogenic, onion-domed St. Bartholomae chapel. Its three stories contain 138 rooms and 12 two-story suites with private gardens. The floors are all hardwood, the bathrooms clad in dolomite limestone, and the rooms and suites warmed by gas-fueled fireplaces. Given time, this hotel might become famous for its scenic nine-hole golf course. Or for its La Prairie spa, the only one in Europe that offers the Li’Tya mud method. Or for its stylish bar, which purveys some 400 different kinds of whiskey. For the time being, however, most know it as the hotel in the town the Third Reich once made its private playground.
In German cultural circles, dropping the name Schloss Elmau marks you as a person of distinction and cultivation. The stately castle hotel, set on the serene alpine plain between Mittenwald and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, has been a popular destination for German musicians, writers, and their patrons since the early 1900s. Musical offerings in its three concert halls run the gamut from American jazz and swing music to chamber music and Wagner.
For those who cannot carry a tune in a milk bucket, the hotel offers a variety of alpine sports and a spa with 18 treatment rooms. The five restaurants include one fusion, one Italian, and one traditionally Bavarian. Children are welcome at Schloss Elmau, where an extensive program of events has been designed exclusively for them. This includes child music week, child literature days, even philosophy for children. The hotel, which was damaged by a fire in 2005, is scheduled to reopen in July.