Being a single mom isn’t easy. Hell, being a mom isn’t easy! And what many moms sometimes forget is that an important part of taking good care of your kid is to also take good care of yourself. That means finding ways to be along, spend quality time, seeing friends, eating good food, reading and just doing all the things YOU like doing. Once or twice a year I like to get away for a whole weekend, preferably with a good friend on a weekend getaway where my only focus is myself. 12 months a year most of my brain space is occupied by my son, work and daily chores but that one weekend it is all about me.

 

My favorite way of spending that weekend is by booking a gorgeous luxury spa escape in Austria because there is just something about that crisp mountain air , the lack of traffic and the spectacular views that has an incredible power when it comes to charging my batteries. This year I was incredibly fortunate to be invited to spend 3 days at the Unterschwarzachhof in Saalbach-Hinterglemm, a charming little village in Tyrol, Austria. I didn’t know much about it, other than what I saw in the pictures and some glowing reviews I read about it online. It was enough to be get me super excited. (Tip: book your special weekend break a looooong time in advance so you can enjoy the anticipation for as long as possible.)

I went with my buddy Frank, my good friend and favorite travel buddy. I knew that our combo alone was bound to make the trip successful but boy, did the Unterschwarzachhof deliver to make it extra, extra special. When I think back to that trip I have so many special memories and rather than running you through the facts like some press release, i’d love to just share some of my favorite memories from that weekend.

1. A room with a view (and plants!)

I’ve stayed in many hotel rooms so there is little that can surprise me anymore. In this case however, they got me! Our room was drenched in warm colors and quirky prints, there was an old stone oven integrated in the wall and some real life plants, which is nearly unheard of in hotel rooms! The TV came with hundreds of channels from all over the world, you could sign up to your Netflix, Amazon Prime or whatever your smart tv heart desires, which especially those traveling with kids my appreciate. A highlight is of course the large balcony directly overlooking the monumental mountains. Even though we loved our T-Shirt weather conditions, I would love love love to see the place when the mountains and landscape are all covered in snow.

2. Fine dining like whoa

I am the first to admit it – I am a very picky eater. Add to this the fact that I try out a lot of upscale restaurants and love cooking at home so many foodie places can fall short of amazing to me. While I totally expected to be treated to a fine dinner, I was absolutely blown away by how nice the cuisine a Unterschwarzachhof really was. The half board (which includes a light lunch) comes with a wonderful dinner that rightfully was our highlight of every day. Each morning one gets to see the options for the same day (you can have your pick between vegetarian, fish and meat) and the 4-course menu never disappointed on the evenings we spent here.

3. Jacky, hostess with the mostest

As we sat in the hotel restaurant that first evening, somewhere between starter and soup, a woman walks into the room and breaks the silence with a wide smile and a loud enquiry towards everyone’s well-being. I liked her immediately! Jacky is loud and full of heart, which she literally wears on her sleeve. She’s not that old and still manages to give you that warm, fuzzy feeling a very lovely grandmother might give you. Jacky has that rare skill to make all guests feel like a true VIP and seeing her always meant a quick chat and a friendly pat on the back. Somehow she manages to run the hotel and still be everywhere and all the time, from breakfast hour to late dinner time, Jacky was never far. Once or twice a week Jacky also gives a very invigorating free yoga class which we really enjoyed.

4. Breakfast with alpacas

Naturally I love special experiences on my holiday but never have I ever had a hotel propose to me what the Unterschwarzachhof came up with on the first morning we had here. “We are hiking up the mountain for breakfast, along with all the animals” was the brief and it was a little too strange to fully understand what that even meant. Because what we had not yet seen at that point was that behind the hotel there are several stables for ponies, sheep, goats, a donkey and two alpacas. at 8am everyone was assembled by the stables including a around 10 kids and anyone who wanted could take an animal by the rope and guide them up the mountain road.

It was fun and unusual and glorious, especially with the glorious views that awaited us at the end of the 45 minute journey. And there was more! The breakfast was easily among the best hotel breakfasts I have ever had, regardless of location and circumstance. There were lots of fresh berries, locally made cheeses an cold-cuts, freshly made cake, pancakes and scrambled eggs as well as some amazing homemade jams. Add some really tasty coffee and your have the breakfast I dream of. An absolute perfect ending was Jacky serving everyone a round of fruit schnapps (it was 10am!) – truly a woman after my own heart.

5. Hiking for days

I’m a sucker for a beautiful photo opp and so naturally I did not want to miss the raved about slopes which in October were still green. Within a few minutes walk from the hotel we arrived at the cable car taking visitors up the mountain for hiking, biking and various winter sports when the weather allows for it. It was 22 degrees when we came up here and the most pristine blue sky and the only decision we faces was which alm hut we wanted to have lunch at. A quick google search gave us a better idea and so we began our leisurely stroll towards Reiteralm where we had Kaiserschmarren and wine, as you do.

6. E-bikes

I loooove riding bikes but this was the first time I got to dicsover just how much fun one can have with e-bikes! The Unterschwarzachhof is renting them out to their guests free of charge (as well as regular bikes, if you’re feeling traditional) and we were excited to see just how much ground we were able to cover with these, regardless of how steep the road got.

7. High-rope Garten Hinterglemm

When I found out about the high-rope park which just so happens to be Europe’s largest I was instantly keen to check it out. I had never really been to one before and thought not much of it. I mean, how hard could it be, right? 7-year olds do it! How very naive… Truth be told, this very large high rope park is not for the faint of heart, let alone those who share my fear of heights. Once you start going there is no turning back (because here are others coming behind you) and there is also no way down, mid way. In other words, you just have to suck it up and get through with it. I was totally ready to abandon the trail once I hit the part with the zip-lining (no supervision!!) but i pulled through and was mighty proud of myself. If you don’t mind a bit of adrenaline with your outdoor adventures this place is probably right down your alley!

8. Golden Gate and the Treetop Trail

If you have small kids or simply don’t love the idea of dangling from a rop 50 feet above the ground the next door tree top trail might be more your style. It is both beautiful and relaxing and great for taking photos. To get here you’ll cross the Golden Gate bridge which got its name from it’s bigger brother in San Francisco (despite not being red!).

9. Spa

This is my perfect day in the mountains: Waking up and heaving a hearty breakfast, then going out for some physical activity like biking, hiking, skiing, snowboarding, snow-shoeing or whatever else the season holds in store and in the late afternoon come back and enjoy a nice 2 hours at the hotel spa. Unterschwarzachhof has a great one, complete with a heated outdoor pool (my favorite!), a sauna and steam bath, an outdoor jaccusi and a couple of pretty incredible relaxation rooms. One of them comes with water mattresses (so comfy!) and the other one is called a bread bath, essentially meaning that bread is baked freshly in an oven at the center of the room while daybeds are placed around it. If you love the smell of fresh bread, you are in for a treat!

I think from this story you can tell this place was a very nice surprise and a place I am definitely placing high on my list of places I want to return to. Next time I would definitely bring my son, because they even have a kids club here and I just know he would love it as much as I did. I’d also want to come back during winter time just to compare how the place looks covered in pure white snow.

Regardless of who you come here with, get ready for the holiday of a lifetime and don’t be surprised if like many before you., you find yourself coming back here, again and again…