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Winter wonderland, crown jewel

Winter’s crowning glory: a snow-white holiday by the Kronplatz!

Esther Seeber welcomes me with a firm handshake and a winning smile. My short break at the Haus Hedonè near Reischach will be on a crystal clear but frosty winter weekend. A hot drink would be just right now, I think – whereupon Mrs Seeber invites me to a coffee.

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Surrounded by atmospheric red tones, I warm up with a frothy cappuccino and feel completely welcome and at home. A lively conversation develops and I quickly see that Mrs Seeber is a very special kind of hostess: she has an unerring sense of how to please her guests. Whether you are looking for wild fun on the ski slopes or seclusion and relaxation, or wanting to savour the finest traditional local dishes or Mediterranean culinary delights, or to go hiking through the snow-covered landscape or take a shopping trip to nearby Bruneck, Italy's most liveable city - Esther knows each guest’s every wish and thought. She tells me with a smile that she even remembers for the next visit who prefers two pillows to sleep on, or who would rather feast on homemade cakes in perfect peace in their own room. That comes with her many years of experience: Esther has dedicated herself for 25 years to her role of hostess.

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Of crowned heads and royal winter fun

For winter sports enthusiasts like me, the Haus Hedonè in Reischach is a comforting retreat from where I can reach any number of places for outings or high-altitude adventures in the nearby ski areas. What’s more, the Holiday Pass Premium, free to guests at the Haus Hedonè, offers free travel on public transport – thus avoiding queues and parking problems – not just to the Kronplatz, but also to the ski resorts of the Upper Puster Valley, Alta Badia, Speikboden, Gitschberg and Klausberg. The Kronplatz mountain, the “crown-place” that soars above Bruneck, is so named with good reason: according to legend, it was the site of the coronation of Dolasilla, the invulnerable princess of the Fanes people.

She would certainly have appreciated the Concordia 2000 Bell of Peace, located on the observation platform at the summit of the Kronplatz: “Donet deus populis pacem” (May God give peace to the peoples) reads the inscription on the largest bell in the Alps, whose loud tones can be heard every day at 12 noon – as well as when the death penalty is abolished somewhere in the world, or when a war ends...

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Cron 4 – Wellness royal!

Mrs Seeber must have realised - even before I did - that I was looking for relaxation, rather than fun in the snow, in what is usually a hectic pre-Christmas period. At any rate her suggestion of spending the afternoon at Cron 4, a true wellness paradise in Reischach, was just right. Admission to the pool complex is free for guests of the Haus Hedonè, while the award-winning sauna world, with its herbal sauna, Viking sauna, Drei-Zinnen Hut and Earth saunas – to name but a few – offers steaming hot treatments - all at half price.

Glittering prospects and Christmas spirit

I decide to postpone my visit to the “Mountain Christmas at the Pragser Wildsee Lake” until the following morning. Esther has however aroused my curiosity with her tales of the special charm of this little Christmas market, with its shimmering lights, scents and sounds. And I myself am amazed at the delicious anticipation that Christmas produces in me (I am no great fan of Christmas markets!) as I imagine the atmosphere she describes.

What a good decision it was to stay with a private landlord, I think, as I drift off to sleep... The weekend here at the Kronplatz has brought me personal happiness with wellness, fun in the snow and Christmas magic!