The Escape | A Hilly Getaway To The Mountains Of Italy At Castel Fragsburg

BY Katrina Kufer / Aug 20 2019 / 17:42 PM

Katrina Kufer visits Castel Fragsburg – Relais & Chateux in the mountains overlooking Merano for an exploration into the globe’s only alchemstic spa, a journey that shows that slowing down needn’t be an effort or a luxury, rather, a given that is closer to home than expected

The Escape |  A Hilly Getaway To The Mountains Of Italy At Castel Fragsburg

“Alchemistic” or “holistic” bear the burdens of “New Age”-ism often met with dismissals by a world largely dominated by hyper-connectivity and a sprint-worthy pace. But the potency Castel Fragsburg evokes – even in the most resistant – an inexplicable sense of serenity and newfound respect for the self and nature that it seems only it can induce.

Set amongst misty and sun kissed mountaintops, Castel Fragsburg is a 400-year-old hunting castle transformed into South Tyrol’s smallest 5* luxury boutique hotel. Family run for three generations and headed by Alexander Ortner, it’s composed of the main hotel with a floating terrace; Sactuarium; garden gym; rose garden; panoramic tower and pool area; sun deck and canopy bed zone; and observatory.

Castel Fragsburg

The intimate property’s one-room-leads-to-another historical architecture is charmingly maze-like, more akin to a grand home, where heritage-decked hallways lead guests from a Tyrolean Stubl or sunroom with piano, to a slick bar or terraces, all of which overlook over 45,000-square-metres of lush grounds. Ensconced in wisteria, roses, hydrangeas, ivy and herbs, Fragsburg’s remoteness is tranquil, not isolated, but for those seeking more adrenaline, bikes can be ridden towards a nearby waterfall, or helicopter trips can be arranged.

Nature is quintessential to the refreshed philosophy and offerings at Fragsburg. Long established and renowned for its decadent regional dining at Orangerie as much as for its Michelin-star restaurant Prezioso – serving refined but playfully rustic Tyrolean fare with artistic plating under Head Chef Egon Heiss – the culinary approach embraces its surroundings. 

Focusing on the locality, Heiss established a farming cooperative with independent organic farmers to ensure reliable high quality produce for the kitchen’s tradition-meets-innovation style that insists upon long meals with exceptional service and beguiling company. 

Castel Fragsburg

Engaging alchemist Renate De Mario Gamper’s generationally-learned knowledge of the terrain, flora and natural healing methods, the property boasts the world’s first and only Alchemistic Spa Castellum Natura. The treatments available are all natural, with products and bespoke elixirs handmade for each visitor just prior to the treatment with her wisdom of ancient methods, incense therapies, nutrition and more, and often with flora from her own garden.

Fragsburg demonstrates that “New Age” is actually the return to the ages. Gamper emphasises – not preaches – that wellness goes hand-in-hand – not replaces – contemporary practices, and that flora – the root of many modern medicines – is helpful in balancing the inner states, which in turn benefits the outward physical symptoms. She asserts that the body reveals much – and that illness in some ways is a blessing.

Castel Fragsburg

Using the analogy of a car to outline how it alerts us to “look under the hood” and find the problem before it is too late – whether skin impurities, inflammation, or aches – Gamper clarifies that a naturalistic approach reduces much of the mental and physical pollution to which we are subjected. Keeping it simple keeps it clean – inside and out.

And this starts with the complimentary welcome elixir and almond oil, cocoa butter, beesewax and peppermint lip balm in each room – the additives found in most cosmetics or beverages are just that, she says, unnecessary additions that merely attempt to capture nature’s qualities.

Another way in which Castel Fragsburg commits to removing the “noise” is through Bellé Flora’s programme at the Eastern-inspired Sanctarium, or treehouse, strikingly perched overlooking sky, mountains and forest. Likewise catering specifically to each guest, Bellé, who spent years in Brazil, India, Thailand and Bali, among other places, before bringing her diverse skills and knowledge to Fragsburg, offers a mix of Vinyasa Flow, Yin, Kundalini, Rasa and Nada Yoga classes, breath work, sound medicine, tea ceremonies and chakra balancing.

Castel Fragsburg

Fragsburg’s offerings aren’t a lesson in ‘how to’, rather, an open-minded listen to what you feel with alternative propositions to how that energy can be redirected. Bellé notes that many skeptics have become return visitors: “We have more and more guests, curiously doctors and professors, or intellectuals, who are very drawn to this new concept, probably because they are so used to being centred in their heads.

Also, the fact that our guests do not have to choose between beauty and content or luxury and healing draws those who not only want to relax, but find a deeper level of pleasure and enjoyment. They are looking for an experience which stays with them and inspires their day-to-day lives.”

Castel Fragsburg


Inciting an inevitable cleanse of the mind, complemented by the spa’s bodily healing, the restaurant’s physical nourishing, and the Sanctarium’s soul relaxing, even one day with the thoughtful, insightful and intuitive trio of Ortner, Gamper and Bellé proves purifying and transcendentally peaceful. 

The effect is immediate, but it lingers, and ensuing days will see a deepening of the unleashed calm. Without tricks, gimmicks or judgements, Fragsburg is a powerful reminder that sometimes the solution is not external change, but an inner recalibration, rooted in the joy of just being and becoming. 

Rooms from EUR223 per night,,