Tuesday, 26 April 2011

In Vino Veritas - Loisium Hotel and Spa

Don't be put off by the neo-brutalist minimalist architecture, that looks as if was covered with industrial packing plastic wrap.

As we arrived, there was a sharp intake of breath from the blonde as she took in full ghastly impact of the facades. She muttered something like "you must be joking", before I could encourage her to descend from the Bentley and reconnoitre the interior.

Inside, brutalism is toned down considerably and, the warm welcome from the reception staff turned out to be just a taste of the excellent service we had throughout our stay. Staff attitude and training is the hardest thing to get right these days; I see this across Europe, from the top hotels in London to the fanciest restaurants in the South of France. The hospitality industry has much to answer for; little of no training, poor pay and conditions and no interest in fostering career development. But in the Loisium, try as I might, I had trouble to fault any member of staff and with Night Rider being one of the most demanding and difficult clients they will encounter, that's amazing.

Now I should point out that the whole experience revolves around wine; the hotel and spa are in the middle of the vineyards of Langenlois ( Austria ), the Aveda spa has many wine related treatments and a couple of hundred metres away is a kind of "World of Wine" building where wine tastings and sales are happening all the time, along with educational displays and wine paraphanalia. In short, a great place for wine-lovers.

Probably, like me, you might have thought that the Austrians only produce good white wines; I was wrong. They have started to produce some really excellent reds; but they are pricey. Expect to pay around 35 Euros for a good bottle of red, or more, in the Loisium restaurant and about 60% of that price, from their "Wine World" cellar priced establishment.

The spa experience is pretty average, and although branded by Aveda there is little evidence that they play much of an ongoing role. The treatments are expensive and pretty much what one would expect from similar small hotel spas around Europe. But it seemed that all the guests were at least pretending that they were using the spa, as the garden and pool areas, were a sea of contended burgers, enjoying the sun and all dressed in their white spa robes. It almost felt like being part of some new religious cult, where the wearing of this uniform like attire was obligatory. I guess the Austrians like this sort of thing.

5 Star - Died and gone to heaven
4 Star - Rhapsody in white
3 Star - Wine lovers convention
2 Star - Cheap and cheerful
1 Star - Blott on the landscape

No prizes for guessing: its 3 Stars, if I am being kind

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