Carinthia, Austria for all seasons

The Capella Schloss Velden Hotel

IN Carinthia province, often referred to as the Austrian Riveria, you can drink from the lake and eat the flowers! 

Velden is Carinthia’s most fashionable resort, with villas and hotels encircling the western end of Lake Wörthersee, Europe’s largest and warmest Alpine lake which is so clean you can drink from it. The number of boats on the lake is limited by a heavy tax policy.

Carinthia is ideal for year-round activities such as golf, hiking, mountain biking (42 kilometre ride around the lake is well worth it).

Monte Lussari Ski resort in Italy is only 40 minutes away, where guests can ride up the Gondola for fabulous views or visit the Sancturay Church which still holds services and provides a traditional German, Austrian or Italian lunch.

Capella Schloss Velden (schloss meaning castle) is one of only two five-star hotels in the area. Originally built between 1590 and 1603, Schloss Velden has long been a preferred destination of the international jet set. In 1762, a fire ruined major parts of the three-level Renaissance chateau. In 1890, it was reconstructed into a luxury resort and in 1990, it became the private residence of the German industrialist Gunter Sach.

May 2007 saw the re-opening of this hotel now owned by Hypo Alpe Adria-Bank International and operated by Capella Hotels & Resorts. It offers 105 guest rooms, 39 located in the 400-year-old castle, with 66 additional rooms and suites in the modern addition to the building.  On the 6.5 hectare property are 45 additional private luxury residences. Rooms have the latest amenities such free wireless internet access as well as central touch panel control of the lights, curtains and air conditioning which can even be accessed from the bed. Elmar Greif, general manager of the hotel said that to provide the best possible environment to his guest, each room and suite features LCD television in the living room and bedroom as well as the bathroom! 

Room rates range from Euro 250 ($366) to 850, depending on the season, and suites start at Euro 1,100 ($ 1,613) up to Euro 5,600 ($8,215) for the top Kaiser Suite.

A centrepiece is the 3,500sq/m Auriga Spa. Winning the Best Destination Spa in Europe at the Europeon Health & Spa Awards 2009, the spa has separate treatment areas for men and women.  Espa products are used for most treatments, which include the exclusive moon-phase treatments designed according to the special flow of the tides and only offered during the corresponding phase of the moon to ensure optimum regeneration and well-being of the guest. 

Leading the hotel’s gourmet restaurant Schlossstem is chef Silvio Nickol, who has won two Michelin stars since the re-opening and three Gault-Millau bonnets. The Beach Club Restaurant Seespitz at Lake Wörthersee has panoramic views of mountains and lake and at breakfast guests can watch the sunrise. 

There are many three and four-star hotels around the lake, but one to mention is Schlossvilla Miralago, a 19th Century villa with much character, with its small setting for dinner above the boathouse overlooking the church across the lake – ideal for wedding proposals! 

Velden is located within easy reach of many European cities. We flew into Vienna on Qatar Airways and chose to take the beautiful scenic three hour drive through the Alps to the hotel. Klagenfurt (KLU) Airport is only 20 kilometres away, so guests can connect here from cities such as Vienna, Milan, Munich and Salzburg. Transport from this airport to the hotel is via its own Bentley.  A helipad is also available in Velden.

Qatar Airways offers daily flights into Vienna.  Business or first class passengers connecting through Doha can make use of the many facilities (including a spa and free wireless internet) at the Qatar Airways Premium Terminal.

by Kim Thomson