Arrividerci Grand Hotel, buongiorno Beauty Clinic
EUROPE 1906: Welcome to South Tyrol, the health resort of the middle and upper class and of the nobility of the mighty Austrian-Hungaro empire under the aging emperor Kaiser Franz Joseph I. We are in the city of Meran, surrounded by 2000-3000 metres high mountains, the Alps. Here they are called the Dolomites.
Compiled by Andreas Augustin
45 kilometres south of Innsbruck you find the health resort Meran(o), capital of South Tyrol. Around the fin de ciecle it was the resort of consumptive and nervouc invalids who enjoyed the purity of its air. Owing to its mild climate, the city enjoys three seasons. At the beginning of the 20th century entrepreneur Peter Delugan acquired the land on which the then Maur Castle was built, dating back to 1676. The land, along with the enormous adjoining parkland, boasted a plant nursery, a vegetable garden, a vineyard and a splendid botanical garden and up to then it was a place for pleasure trips which were becoming increasingly popular among the nineteenth-century European aristocracy.
A decision was taken to build a luxury hotel that could appeal to their refined taste and after only 18 months, in 1906, the Palace Hotel opened its doors. The style and architecture of the Palace, inspired by the luxury hotels of the Côte d'Azur, boasted neo-classical architecture and ensured that the dignitaries of that age flocked to enjoy the Mediterranean climate, the pure, dry air in Meran and last but not least, the impeccable services offered. The lobby was enriched with marble and crystal, while the rooms and suites still offer furnishings that are a perfect blend of the antique and modern, with precious fabrics and contemporary detail.
After World War I, Meran and South Tyrol became part of Italy, the name changed to Merano. The hotel suffered from these geopolitical changes as well as from global recessions. During World War II, the luxury hotel was transformed into a garrison by German forces, with the Palace risking ruin had it not been for businessmen and property owners in the town of Merano.
Unable to bear the thought of seeing the jewel in Merano's crown falling into the hands of property speculators, they set up a company with eight shareholders, to finance the renovation project and re-launch the hotel. Later, in response to the growing demand from discerning tourists and visitors interested in the treatments, significant modernization work began in 1972: the panorama storey was raised, the kitchens extended, a spa centre created in the basement area, an outdoor swimming pool built and new rooms and suites added.
However, it was only with the arrival of Henri Chenot in the 1990s that the total renovation of the spa took place and its use significantly changed: a new pavilion was added to accommodate a wellness centre, in 2000, making Palace Merano Espace Henri Chenot one of the most prestigious, innovative and renowned spas and wellness centres in Europe.
Since late 2005, the property has been owned by the Hon. Pietro Tosolini, a surveyor and very important person at the Palace Merano, and as the sole owner has made considerable investments to renovate the rooms and suites, the common areas, such as the swimming pool and the fitness area, as well as the renowned indoor Spa: such work has made Palace Merano Espace Henri Chenot increasingly innovative, which enables the splendour of olden times to be maintained.
Today, if you want to savour the beauty of the Belle Epoque of the wonderfully renovated 1906 palace, you have to book yourself not a room (which you can't), but one of the attractive health- and beauty packages.