A short history – the story of Hohenfels over 50 years
How Hohenfels became a hotel for epicures – cosy and exclusive.
Every person has a story – so does every house. Here you can read how Hohenfels originated and how it came to be what it is today.
How Hohenfels got its name...
Back then, in the first half of the 1960s, hotels were not generally built in this area; the preference was for a "guesthouse with guest rooms". Ideally, this guesthouse would be located in the village centre, as near to the church as possible.
When Matthäus and Elfriede Grad decided to construct a guest house in Tannheim, they chose to depart from this norm. Their "hotel-restaurant" was to be built on a plot which, while only a five-minute walk from the village centre, sat in the midst of nature, perched on a hill with unobstructed views across the village and the surrounding Tannheimer mountains.
Stunning as this location was, a problem immediately arose. When building began, it emerged that the whole area below the surface consisted of a giant rock face. By normal means, it would be impossible to build anything on it. To create the foundations for the house, the rock had to be partially blown up, and then construction of the house on the massive rock face rising above the valley could follow. Hohenfels – high rock: the name was born.
Grand opening of the hotel, Christmas 1965 – the end and the beginning of a long journey
The work was completed just before Christmas in 1965. Matthäus and Elfriede Grad and their daughter Sigrid Radi opened their "hotel-restaurant" with 30 guest rooms and seating for up to 100 in the restaurant. The Grads had seen the world before making the decision to build something of their own in their native Tannheim.
Elfriede, who from the outset ruled the roost in the kitchen, trained at the renowned "Frankfurter Hof" which is still numbered among Germany's finest hotels. There she met Tannheimer tourism pioneer Matthäus Grad, one of the first ski instructors in the valley. He had trained at the Vienna school of hotel management, then spent a year as an apprentice in Monaco and on cruise ships before being engaged as head waiter in the Frankfurter Hof. From the very beginning, the couple had a shared vision: to combine their world experiences with Tyrolean hospitality in order to create something special.
Hohenfels rapidly became a popular destination for connoisseurs. Austrian cuisine with French influences was very much in keeping with the trends of the time and nowhere was it so successfully achieved as in the Grad/Radi establishment. As far as cuisine and accommodation were concerned, Hohenfels soon became known as the "best in the area". In 1961 the Grad/Radi family proudly announced the birth of their first son Wolfgang, followed by Christian in 1967.
Added comforts and new directions at Hohenfels
Over the next few years, there were continual changes and reconstructions. Not all can be listed here, but among the most important:In 1974, all the south rooms were fitted with living areas and an en-suite shower and toilet. In 1978, these improvements were added to the north rooms. The large gardens with outdoor pool (then only used in the summer) and barbecue huts followed in 1984.1989 saw a dramatic change in the vision for the house. The lively lunchtime and evening service in the restaurant found itself at odds with the hotel guests' needs for relaxation and restoration.
Every generation has evolved its own ideas and developed the hotel further
The hotel's concept, revolutionary in the two decades which followed its foundation, eventually found its time.Wolfgang Radi, the founders' grandson, attended the Villa Blanka school of tourism in Innsbruck. He then built up experience in gastronomy in London, Paris, the USA and on a number of cruise ships. He developed a vision: to create a unique small hotel in the home of his parents and grandparents – a luxury hotel with individual charm.As preparation for turning this vision into reality, he completed six semesters of specialist study at Innsbruck University. There he met Monika, who would later become his wife. Monika's background is in the financial sector; they returned to Tannheim together. The "new" Hohenfels was not to be much bigger than the original hotel but would offer something special in every area. The 35 rooms were thus kept, artistically refurbished in a modern style with fresh colours and modern fabrics which create an elegant ambiance. Every detail was chosen with care and made by local craftsmen.
The next generation of the family is waiting in the wings
Monika and Wolfgang Radi welcomed their son David to the world in 1994; their daughter Laura followed in 1996. In this same year, the 16 south rooms were converted and addition of the sauna, steam room and massage area created exceptional comfort for guests. The huge garden was overhauled in 1995, including the sunbathing lawn and swimming pool. Further refurbishments followed: in 1997, the hotel lobby; in 1998, the kitchen, the garden restaurant and the buffet area. In 2000, eight "Edelweiss" double rooms and two "Silberdistel" (silver thistle) suites were constructed.
Toques and stars – gourmet cuisine at Hohenfels
In 2000, the small, exclusive gourmet restaurant the "Tannheimer Stube" was opened and the first Michelin star was awarded to the Tannheimer Valley restaurant in 2005. Every year since, Gault Millau Austria has awarded us a minimum of 16 points. Sadly the Michelin Guide discontinued its Guide to Austria after five years; we had featured there with one star every year from 2005 to 2009. The current Gault Millau Austria gives the Tannheimer Stube 16 points and two toques.
The hotel was expanded in 2006 with a timber extension, housing ten spacious south-facing rooms and suites, all with large balconies and open views.
In 2009, the motto "not bigger, but better" was adopted. A new year-round heated outdoor pool was built, as well as a new outdoor sauna in the log cabin, an indoor sauna and a large relaxation lounge with stunning view, where water beds, reading lamps and comfortable loungers are installed.
The Wellness and Beauty Centre was built in 2010. In the spring of 2013 the outdoor areas, car park, reception and hotel lobby were entirely refurbished.
In 2015/2016, all the bedrooms and the restaurant in the main house were fully renovated.
Three generations of our family so far have enthusiastically and passionately worked together to make Hohenfels into a place of hospitality and well-being. The fourth generation is already waiting in the wings. Both children have completed their diplomas at the "Villa Blanka" school of tourism. David is now studying at the Vienna University of Economics and Business and Laura at the Innsbruck Management Centre.
We are very happy and excited about the future.