MERANO: Indeed, I am travelling a lot and when I visited MEISTER’S HOTEL IRMA in Merano a couple of weeks ago, I felt that they had 90 years to think about how to make their guests truly comfortable. 90 years ago the hotel was established as Hotel Meister, but changed the name to IRMA in the 40s during the Fascist period in Italy. Irma being the name of Ms. Meister works in all languages.
This charming hotel consists of many places, houses, angles, corners and pools as the family business continuously thinks about how to make their guests feel relaxed and cared for. Different architectural styles extend throughout the entire complex and it seems that the lush, botanical gardens forge everything together into a green oasis.
Can you imagine living in a safari tent next to a pond with swans or sleeping in a modern treehouse above the garden? I couldn’t imagine how all these elements could work together and not look out of place. But it works, because Merano has quite a Mediterranean climate, temperatures can be high in summer and seldom drop below zero in winter. The Meister family has an eye for detail that makes everything not only taste good but also look deliciously. And although there are rooms and suites for a total of 110 people, the hotel hardly seems crowded, even if the place is fully booked. The trick is that you have so many different cosy places to rest, read or just daydream.
We wanted to know how they do it and asked Claudia Meister, the hotel manager, to share with us some insights, but first I advise you to see and feel it yourself, maybe for a weekend in autumn.
IRMA: We have counted so many chairs and lounge chairs, wherever you go you can decide to take a rest and chill out. What is the idea behind all theses seats?
CLAUDIA MEISTER: We want to create a warm and relaxing atmosphere. Wonderfully calm and without strict etiquette, the characterising parameters are naturalness, truthfulness, fire, water, wide spaces and light – all of them close together.
The relaxation concept in the hotel and SPA is set up holistically and can be experienced in diverse manners. The wellbeing and security of the guest are at the focus. They are influenced by many aspects: light and temperature, smells and sounds, room structures, lines of sight. Pleasant staff is as important as a decision to consistently use healthy and natural products.
The design can be described as a comfortably touching country cottage style with modern elements as well as diverse references to Merano style. The creative handwriting of the owners is found everywhere. The many different rooms with the generous, pleasant atmosphere are embedded in the lush green of the Merano.
IRMA: Your welcome drink looks beautiful and tastes of the garden around you. Would you share the recipe?
C.M.: In our „Naschgarten“ we grow a lot of herbs, vegetables, berries and edible flowers. We use them in our kitchen, bar and spa to pamper our guest. Most of all we love „Lemon Verbena“ light, lemony, minty. We prepare it similar to the Hugo summer drink (originating in the South Tyrol region of northern Italy, now popular all over Europe), add fresh verbena leaves and some figs and cranberries from our garden.
LEMON VERBENA RECIPE
Crush or muddle 4 verbena leaves in a champagne or large wine glass.
Add a small amount of homemade verbena syrup (about 1-2 teaspoons or 5-10 ml). Be careful not to add too much, otherwise you will end up with an overly sweet aperitif.
Add the lime juice, champagne (100 ml) and mineral water (150 ml). Stir well with a cocktail spoon.
Add more verbena leaves, lime slices and ice as desired as well as some cranberries and figs.
Serve with a straw.
100 ml prosecco or 100 ml champagne brut
150 ml sparkling water
1 -2 teaspoons verbena syrup
organic verbena leaves
2 organic limes, juice of
1 organic lime, sliced & ice cubes
IRMA: The idea of a safari tent in Merano – how does that work all year round and what is so special to spend your holidays in a tent like this?
C.M: Are you looking for something special? A generous luxury tent in the middle of our park with a lovely view over a lot of greenery? The light and airy living room with fine upholstered furniture, the cosy sleeping area with an extra large bed and a comfortable indoor bathroom open up to the southward facing teak terrace during the warm season. Stylish garden furniture invites you to tan and relax in peace. A few steps further, a hot tub filled with warm spring water is waiting for you. Thanks to the individually adjustable ventilator or floor heating, the whole tent is either delightfully fresh or pleasantly warm from March to November! Here you find space for ideas and the break you wish for. Writing, reading and dreaming… Here you have a lot of space at your disposal, in an idyllic, stylish and secluded surrounding – almost completely hidden behind lush rose hedges which is especially charming in summer, when everything blooms in a sea of colors of white and pink.
IRMA: Would you advise to sleep in a tree house for good sleep and being close to nature?
C.M.: It lends a feeling of security and a refuge, 35 very personal square metres in a loft style. Here you have an overview with a splendid vista. You’re „right on top“. Lots of wood, natural colours and sensuous materials characterise the fine, simple natural style of the suite in a tree. A large sofa in the comfortable living area tempts you to simply do nothing. The freestanding bathtub rounds off your holiday enjoyment. The view from the balcony is splendid. But why get up at all? You can enjoy this view from the bed too: with absolutely no trouble, you can pull the extra-large bed onto the terrace so you have the possibility of sleep in the open air. Out onto the balcony and breathe freely!
You are looking for a very special room. Security & retreat – 35 personal square metres and loft style. Our suite in the tree is completely private – just one staircase to take you up…
IRMA: What is your trick to continuously put new design elements into your place like for example the Spiegelsaal for dinner and integrate them with the rest of the hotel?
C.M.: With courage to make changes in the building, the present things are questioned, new things are included. The hotel concept is improved continually. Standing still is not imaginable. This is certainly part of why this place is so successful.
IRMA: Your bedding is special, I slept like a baby. How do you do it?
C.M.: The rooms at Meisters Hotel Irma in Merano are fitted with healthy beds sporting special boxspring mattresses as well as mattresses consisting of down feathers or synthetic fillings, as you prefer. Comfortable damask bed sheets and superb furniture guarantee that you will be able to relax and improve your health during your stay here in Merano. The beds, mattresses and mattress toppers are handmade by an old Italian upholsterer. We have been working with him and this family for over 30 years.