In 2013 I was mystery guesting all of the (at the time) 30+ Best Wellness Hotels in Austria and South Tyrol in Northern Italy. The time frame back then was short. I had to do all properties within about three and a half months, with a stay of two nights in each house. That equals to about two hotels per week.
Maybe not surprising that I do not remember many of the details of each place, however a few memories stand out. I found the Hochschober to be a magical place with its hotel pool inside a lake. I had my best facial treatment at the Erika, and remember the fantastic Sauna culture at the Alpenrose.
My favourite culinary experience amongst the many hotels back then was at the Hotel Theresa in the famous Ziller valley. So when choosing a place to stay for two nights over my recent birthday, I managed to convince my husband that the Wellnesshotel Theresa is the place to go.
(A nearby championship golf course supported my argument).
Arrival and Rooming
The family owned hotel Theresa lies in the centre of small town Zell, quite handy right next to the tiny railway station of the famous nostalgic Zillertal steam train, a tourist attraction.
The hotel is easily accessible and our car fit in the modern garage. We arrived mid day and found our room ready for us. Yet before being asked to do anything, we were escorted to the beautiful terrace and offered a glass of bubbly. We enjoyed drink and view, filled our guest card and read about activities and dinner options. Lovely Christa, owning family member, gave us a tour of the house and took us to our room, where our luggage awaited us. Although our room was not of the most modern design, it was spacious and comfortable. We had a stunning view from our little balcony over the mountains and hotel gardens.
My favourite: the new adult only 25m outdoor pool, which I made my home during our stay. I spent hours lying in the shade of an umbrella, just mountain gazing. The fairly cool air (I stayed at Zell during the hottest week in June, with temperatures of about 38C/100F which is pretty unusual for Tirol), and the great open field with small flowers gave the spot the perfect frame.
Two more outdoor pools and an indoor pool, a spacious gym with a large size studio, heat experiences and treatment rooms with garden access, relax areas and silent gardens… it is all there and makes the Theresa a true Wellness Hotel.
There is so much to do in the beautiful Zillertal.
Hiking, Biking, Skiing, Golf, Horse back riding, Ice Skating, Climbing, Canyoning, Sledding… adrenalin guaranteed. The valley is long and somehow wide, with tall mountain ranges and spectacular views.
We took two bikes, freely accessible to hotel guests, and biked along the incredible blue river that splits the scenic valley.
Like said above, the main reason for our stay.
Stefan, owner and head chef, goes the extra 100 miles to create something very special. His own bee hives, own hunting grounds, herbal gardens, connections with local suppliers for meat, poultry and dairy, as well as a family owned olive plantation in Portugal support the uniqueness.
We found the wine list quiet nice, not only for the selection with an emphasis on Italian and Austrian wines, but also for the fact that the drinks menu is a magazine in its own right. We were encouraged to take it home and like to be inspired by it.
Warning: do not visit the Theresa when fasting! The all-inclusive concept offers a long breakfast buffet until 10am, mid day lunch buffet till 3pm, cakes and desserts until 5pm. 5 course dinner starts at 7pm… The good news: lots of healthy options too!
Unlike most hotels, where you can usually find 3 different main course options (meat, fish and veg) to choose from, Stefan offers his guests 3 different options for cold and warm starters, at least 6 (!) options for main, and huge selections for after dinner cheeses and deserts.
I chose the fish on both nights, my husband steak once and meat dish the other night (yes that is two different options daily). There is also a vegetarian of course, and a traditional meal. It is almost too hard to choose!
A truly authentic service culture
Deserves an extra paragraph! Everyone at this family owned hotel was super nice! I don’t like the marketing slogan phrase ‘home away from home’, which has been used by many hotels around the world way too often.
Here at the Theresa, I did not really feel like a hotel guest. But more like a friend, staying at the Egger family’s home. Family members are around all times of the day, very approachable, talking to the guests, their ‘friends’.
And all members of staff are lovely, many of them having worked for the Eggers for a long time. 5 stars for service!
The Theresa may not be the biggest, flashiest, most expensive hotel you can find in Tirol. But certainly one with a truly authentic service culture.
I would not pick the Theresa, if
- you need a more energetic place, maybe with nightlife
- your children need 24/7 entertainment (the Theresa is of course very kid-friendly, but not a designated family hotel)
- you want to dive into anonymity
- or if you don’t care about good service
But this is your place, if
- you want to enjoy the outdoor activities of the valley
- a romantic stay is what you need
- your love for good food is a decisive factor
- you enjoy a cosy atmosphere.
I have paid for my stay myself, which has no impact on my opinion about this experience.