Hotel Quelle is a 5-star, family-run resort in the Puster Valley, one of the northernmost corners of Italy’s South Tyrol region, which includes the Italian Dolomites and the upscale ski resort towns of Merano and Cortina d’Ampezzo. The majority of the South Tyrol’s residents speak German as their first language, harkening back to the region’s history as part Austria-Hungary, prior to its annexation by Italy at the close of World War I. In the Puster Valley as in the rest of the region, the vibe is more Teutonic than Mediterranean, from the breathtaking Alpine scenery, the pointed church spires and dark-stained wooden dwellings of its mountain villages, to the region’s hearty cuisine and traditional dirndl costume. For visitors who are used to thinking of Italy as a decidedly southern European nation, the South Tyrol is an exotic, slightly quirky pocket of exception.
Like many luxury resorts in the region, Hotel Quelle offers multi-day or weeklong packages that include accommodation, all or most meals, scheduled activities and access to spa and aquatic areas. It’s the European equivalent of an all-inclusive resort, with enough comforts and diversions to keep guests entertained without having to set foot off-property—though the great outdoors do call loudly in this picturesque mountain setting.
Set just off the main road through the Val Casies (or Gsiesertal in German), the hotel looks modest on its exterior, and appears much smaller than it actually is once you begin exploring this gem. Guests enter at the garage level, and ascend a staircase or elevator up to a rustic-elegant lobby lounge, where the décor and materials combine the outdoorsy nature of the mountains with the plush comforts of a luxury lodge. The cocktail bar with cozy sitting areas, a fully-enclosed cigar lounge and a piano lounge all surround the lobby. The overall impression, from the friendly dirndl-clad front desk staff to the hand-carved, wooden bowl of locally-grown, organic apples at check-in, is one of unpretentious luxury and a family welcome.
Room & Suites
Guestrooms and suites at Hotel Quelle sport the same mountain chic as the rest of the property, with modern décor that stops short of being sterile and impersonal. Standard rooms are anything but—all come with furnished balconies, sitting areas and generously sized bathrooms, some with separate tubs. Our 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom suite was of apartment-like proportions, and came with thoughtful amenities, like pegs for hanging bulky outdoors gear, tote bags for the spa, bespoke herb-scented bath products, and pool towels, slipper and bathrobes. Rooms and suites are all a little different, and may have fireplaces, romantic round beds, or saunas and whirlpool tubs.
Food & Drink
Though B&B rates are available, most guests opt for the ¾ meal plan, which includes a sumptuous breakfast spread of hot and cold, sweet and salty, healthy and more decadent items. Lunch is more informal, with a healthy and colorful salad bar, soup, and usually one hot entrée available until late afternoon—perfect for active guests who’ve hit the slopes or hiking trails in the first part of the day. Dinner is a full-on extravaganza, with a glorious antipasto spread, plus a larder full of fresh baked breads and gourmet cheeses. We quickly had to learn to pace ourselves here, since the antipasto buffet is followed by a 3-course meal selected from a menu that changes daily, and includes a dessert of the day in addition to a dessert buffet.
The very high quality of the cuisine was the most unexpected surprise at Hotel Quelle—we never had a so-so dish, and most of it was simply outstanding. And while it all may sound excessive, the sensible portions at dinner, the taste satisfaction that came in every bite, plus the variety of healthy options at all meals (and a modicum of self-control on our part) meant that we could eat very well without eating too much. Though alcohol is not included in meal plans, the wine list features a full range of price points, and the very cozy bar, in addition to standard offerings, has a selection of rare spirits, including Caroni rums by the glass.
Aquatics & Wellness
The pools and wellness area are the centerpiece of Hotel Quelle. There are seven heated, indoor and outdoor pools and whirlpools, including an outdoor infinity pool and a saline grotto. The sauna area (which in keeping with European custom is nude only) has 10 different saunas, ranging from Turkish-style steam saunas to dry Alpine saunas where temperatures peak at a lung-clearing 95 degrees Celsius. Cold plunge pools and a snow sauna help regulate and restore normal body temps after hot sauna sessions. Salt scrubs, herbal infusions and Aufguss rituals—sort of where wellness meets performance art—are part of the daily schedule. There’s also a clothed, family sauna area.
The Hotel Quelle spa is the serene oasis one would expect it to be. It offers head to toe treatments, including specialty therapies by Maria Galland, !QMS and Team Dr. Joseph. Facials, massages and mud packs were all on the menu for us, and even our daughter got into the act, with a 25-minute hot chocolate massage which she later claimed was the “best ever”—not to mention her first ever.
Our stay at Hotel Quelle was among our most relaxed and pleasant family vacations in recent memory, in large part because the property is so family-friendly. A kids’ club opens at 10 AM each day and offers supervised crafts, movies, swimming sessions and guided hikes for the little ones and a “hang-out” area for teens. Our daughter was more than content to spend a few hours there each day, while we took advantage of the adult sauna world or got a spa treatment. At dinnertime, a kids’ menu kept her satisfied. Though she would eat her meals with us, she happily ran down the hall to rejoin her mates after dinner.
At just a few miles from the Austrian border, Hotel Quelle is a bit off the beaten path of the South Tyrol. Bolzano is the closest major city, and it’s more than a 90-minute drive from there to the hotel. Still, we found that the extreme comfort, warm family welcome, excellent cuisine and on-site diversions at Hotel Quelle more than made up for its remote location. There’s an easy luxury about this place, that never feels affected. And that alone is well worth going out of the way for.
We recommend Hotel Quelle for travelers seeking a luxury vacation in the South Tyrol, or for those touring Italy who want to see a part of the country that is culturally and linguistically distinct from the rest of the peninsula. With its amenities suited for families, couples or friends traveling together, Hotel Quelle is an effortlessly luxurious haven amid the mountains.