HOTEL CHRISTINA, PERTISAU, TYROL, AUSTRIA
The first Australian to visit, Andrew L. Urban explores the Tyrolean village resort of Pertisau and its unique stone oil.
You canít get blood from a stone, but you can get oil Ö and you can bathe in it, spread it on your arms, face, hands and feet. Shale rock oil is a unique local product made in Pertisau, a village on the Achensee shore, a lake 960 metres above sea level. Hotel Christina offers these and more in its basement spa. If you donít fancy the Tyroler SteinŲl bath (itís black but with the consistency of milk and quite relaxing) there is an orange bath, a green cream foot massage, a steam room and communal relaxing on lounges.
Martin Albrecht discovered shale oil and its health benefits in Pertisau in 1902 and the Albrecht family still has the patent on the oil, which is distilled from fossilised remains of 180 million year old marine life extracted in rock burners.†
"the oldest resort in the Tyrol"
Pertisau is the oldest resort in the Tyrol, with its first recorded Ďtouristí being the Emperor Maximillian who in 1480 built himself (probably with help) a decent summer house on the lake. Itís no longer there, but many have come in his wake, both winter and summer. Some even take part in the Christmas swimming carnival, in which the contest is to see who can swim fastest to a platform moored offshore in the semi-frozen lake and return, in their summer bathers. And live. There is much cheering and hooting and music through loudspeakers to accompany the frozen swimmers, who get a wurst sandwich and a Schnapps after their swim.
The Christina (19 rooms) promotes itself as ďAchenseeís smallest 4 star hotelĒ and is run by the Reiser family, who with their young children, have their meals with the guests in their own section of the hotelís restaurant.†
"a dramatic view of the lake and surrounding mountains"
Our room has a balcony with a dramatic view of the lake and surrounding mountains with a second, smaller balcony to the side, looking across the lake and more Alps. In winter, itís a postcard wonderland of
snow-laden trees on the slopes and the partly frozen lake. The snow piles up on the balcony handrail high enough to cool the beer bottles that donít fit in the bar fridge.
There are several restaurants in the other hotels, but the Christinaís tariffs, including meals, represent the best value; the food is great, combining Austrian and international dishes. Breakfast buffet includes just about everything, afternoon tea is filled with dangerously tempting cakes from the pastry chef (and/or soup) and dinner is relaxed, varied and plentiful, including beer, wine, etc.†
The Karwendel mountain cable car is 10 minutes from the hotel and lifts you 2,224 metres above sea level (Eu 22 per person return) to a spectacular viewing and/or skiing staging post; the Karwendel-top restaurant serves excellent snacks and, of course, gluhwein in winter.†
There is a supermarket and other shops near the Christina and the advantage of taking a winter walk to the shops is having to pass Peterís makeshift schnapps bar, with various bottles of the heartwarming liquid standing in 20 cms of snow on a ledge, so passers by can take a shot to keep warm.
Published March 2012
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Photos by Louise Keller
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