Treating yourself to a one-week wellness retreat at Preidlhof is one of the most wholesome and soothing things you can do. I was lucky enough to experience the five-night Integrated Healing program, which focuses on emotional, mental and physical transformation. Spearheaded by Patrizia Bortolin, the spa and wellness offering at Preidlhof takes wellbeing to the next level.
Located in South Tyrol, Italy, just a train ride from Switzerland and Austria, Preidlhof is neatly tucked away in the lovely town of Naturns. Just past the church, nestled among olive, lemon and cypress trees, Preidlhof offers a unique setting with palm trees against a backdrop of snow-capped mountains, due to its micro-climate.
Encompassing three large buildings (which are all connected underground), the property boasts 71 rooms and Jacuzzi-suites, and wellness facilities that span 5,000 square meters, including a sauna tower with 16 steam, sauna and relaxation spaces, six swimming pools, five hydrotherapy pools, a spa with 14 treatment rooms, as well as a medical spa.
Its history harks all the way back to 1966 when the Ladurner family first opened Preidlhof. Three generations later, the family is still involved, but it wasn’t until 2019, when spa director Patrizia Bortolin joined the property to introduce new wellness treatments and retreats.
Since her arrival, Bortolin has added 9 wellness programs, which include signature treatments and rituals, beauty sessions, fitness classes, as well as a healthy menu which is enjoyed in the Wellness VIP Lounge.
The spacious spa offers a beautiful sanctuary with its large reception, where guests are seated down for their wellness consultations or gather before their treatments. In addition to its 14 treatment rooms, the spa also boasts a large relaxation room with water beds (for ultimate bliss) where soothing sound healing sessions unwind and recharge you. The spa is situated next to a beautiful outdoor relaxation garden with pools and sauna, so guests can move in and out between spa treatments and dips in the pool and sunbathing sessions.
There is an exceptional wellness team of resident medical doctors and holistic practitioners to assist you on your healing journey. To kick off my wellness program, I was first treated to a sensorial wellbeing consultation with Bortolin, who is also a trained transformational wellness coach. Using essential oils to determine challenged and potential growth areas in my personal life, she was able to create a wellness plan for my five-day retreat.
I then had the opportunity to enjoy various wellness sessions, such as the transformational Glowing Flow treatment with Stefano Battaglia, who won “Holistic Treatment of the Year” at the Destination Deluxe Awards 2020. Referred to as trauma healing, the hands-on bodywork session releases emotional blocks and rebalances one’s chi. It left me feeling whole and wonderfully balanced again.
I also experienced a beautiful Zen Shiatsu session with Andrea Martinelli who uses meridian work to clear energies. My Ancient Healing Session with Martin Kirchler was also very profound. Based on TCM, this whole-body treatment integrates massage with movement to activate the body’s self-healing abilities.
I also enjoyed a Color Healing Massage, where you select a specific color according to your mood, and I was one of the first to try the newly launched 46° Parallel Olive Oil Massage. The olive oil used in the treatment is a high-grade extra virgin olive oil that you can actually eat, and it is grown on the 46th parallel (same as Preidlhof).
In addition to treatments, I also enjoyed Yoga Nidra, Kundalini Yoga, Transformational Dance, and my favorite – Face Yoga & Smile, which was (you guessed it) hilarious.
Bortolin’s wellness retreats are well thought out and her ability to understand a person’s wellness challenges and create a bespoke program according to her findings is a true gift. Furthermore, she is surrounded by an extremely talented team, which makes you feel so very looked after and nurtured, allowing you to make great strides on your healing journey towards greater wellbeing.
My wellness program also included medical appointments with Dr Alexander Angerer, a complementary medicine physician, at the Preidl Med Spa. He did a heart rate variability test with me which revealed data on energy and brain frequencies, allowing a good overview of my physical health and energy reserves, mental activity and emotional state. All in all, the results showed that I was pretty burnt out, but Patrizia Bortolin and her very capable team of wellness practitioners took great care of me and nurtured me back to health.
At the beginning of the retreat, I also received a wristband to monitor my sleep and overall mental activity, and the results at the end of the program showed that I wasn’t getting enough deep sleep. Dr Angerer recommends getting at least one to two hours of sleep before midnight as these are the most valuable hours of sleep. I was also given CBD drops to experiment with, which might aid in achieving deeper relaxation and hence a better night’s sleep.
Furthermore, Dr Angerer also treated me to ear acupuncture to address some of the mental overstimulation and inability to relax. It was excruciatingly painful (in a good healing way), pointing to a serious blockage of energy flow.
Sauna & Thermal Bath Experiences
If you’re new to Preidlhof, the Sauna Tower is a good place to start. Spread over six floors, guests can enjoy a myriad of relaxation options, including a rooftop pool/Jacuzzi overlooking the mountains, a Kneipp path, a deep-sea room that promotes relaxation through a three-dimensional sensory experience, a salt room which is great for respiratory issues, steam rooms, and the highlight – various saunas with special Aufguss performances at scheduled times. All levels offer beautiful views and numerous nooks to while away the day. There are so many experiences, that you will need at least two to three days to try them all.
But the relaxation doesn’t stop there, guests can also enjoy the rooftop outdoor pool to swim laps and enjoy the excellent panoramic vistas of Naturns. It is also a great spot to watch the sunset.
Furthermore, guests can enjoy “The Fifties” indoor pool, which invokes 1950’s glamor and makes for a great private relaxation spot for undisturbed moments.
The Great Outdoors
There are wonderful opportunities for outdoor wellness and fitness, such as one of my retreat highlights, the Forest Bathing walk with Irmgard Moosmair, a 74-year-old local who knows the forest in Naturns like the back of her hand. She led the way from the resort down across the river and into the forest, pointing out local flora and fauna along the way. We collected botanical samples, and Moosmair created a personalized smudge bath with barks, resins and natural plants she felt guided to include in this healing experience. It was a very powerful encounter, giving us the opportunity to allow ourselves to be healed and cradled by Mother Nature. No wonder it has come 2nd in the “Holistic Treatment of the Year” category at the Destination Deluxe Awards 2021.
The area is famous for its apple production, and in line with this, guests can also enjoy an “Apple Journey” with Norma Jean Botticelli, a neuropsychologist and fitness trainer, where she introduces different apple varieties and teaches guests about mindful eating and slowing down to appreciate texture, aroma and taste.
There is also a daily bulletin that announces hikes, walks, and fitness activities. Now you simply need to make time in your busy schedule, and this indeed can be difficult when the saunas and baths are so relaxing and inviting.
The restaurant, which has been awarded three toques from Gault Millau, offers mostly locally sourced food (some ingredients are even grown and harvested on site).
Breakfast and lunch buffets are quite expansive, while dinner is served a la carte. Cocktails and wines are paid extra, but do make sure you try the wine. It’s excellent!
There are several dining rooms to choose from, including the terrace if weather permits, and guests on retreats are treated to a seven-course wellness healing gourmet dinner menu at the VIP Wellness Lounge. The special menu changes nightly and avoids soy, egg, lactose, added sugars and gluten.
The rooms are modern and well-equipped, complete with a tempting large mini-bar and flat-screen TV. The highlight is without a doubt the balcony with daybed that can turn into a cosy sleep option by night. Be sure to ask housekeeping to prepare the bed with duvet outside, and enjoy the most blissful al fresco night drifting into sleep to the sound of nature while admiring the starry sky and eventually waking with the sunrise over the Dolomites. You can also enjoy this during cooler months as there is a heater to keep you toasty overnight.
Guests can also choose from an extensive pillow menu to improve their sleep, and if need be, there’s a relaxation basket with sleep aids that can be delivered to your room. WLAN is turned off at night to minimize the interference with sleep, allowing guests to enjoy their best sleep ever.
Furthermore, fluffy bathrobes (you’ll be spending your entire stay in it), slippers, spa bags and backpacks are also provided for use throughout your stay.
Wellness retreats of four to seven days are priced between US$551 – US$1,792 (plus the price of the hotel stay, US$224 – US$317).