South Tyrol has a rich, colourful and tragic history that still informs its vibrant culture today. It straddles the border between Italy and Austria – taking the best aspects of the Mediterranean and Alpine culture to create a unique melting pot. Seehotel Ambach’s story is woven into the history of South Tyrol – a physical representation of what happens when the ideas of two great societies are merged.
Seehotel Ambach has always been owned by the Ambach-Maran family of hoteliers – native Tyrolians who were actively involved in the community. Family friend, Othmar Barth was a legendary South Tyrolian architect who struck up a close friendship with all of the owners. He developed an especially close relationship with Anna Ambach, the aunt of the current hoteliers, who spent her entire life living in the Seehotel Ambach, devoting herself to making it truly great. Anna gave Othmar free reign to design the Seehotel Ambach – she trusted him blindly. The visionary, Barth, was more than up to the task, creating a work of ‘total art’, where every corner, wall, and feature had a purpose. He used the architectural language of the 1970s, utilising clear geometrical lines and masonry as concrete. Barth also wanted the design to be a continuation of the landscape, equipping the hotel with long straight staircases to do exactly this. The result was an oasis of peace perched on the shore of Lake Caldaro – designed to feel like being on the deck of a ship docked in a private harbour, whose sole intention is to open your eyes to the beauty of nature. Each terrace offers glorious panoramic views of the serene lake, mighty mountains, and rich vegetation, it is the perfect place to escape the chaos of the modern world. The work was initially derided – with many people describing the hotel as a beached ship. However, Barth begged to differ, regularly staying at the hotel and often describing it as one of his finest works. Anna Ambach agreed and spent the next forty years preserving this iconic piece of architecture. No changes were made without the input of Barth and lovers of architecture quickly began to realise that the hotel was actually a work of genius. A symphony of German order and Italian flair – the perfect physical representation of Tyrolian culture. Anna Ambach passed away in 2014 – bequeathing the Seehotel Ambach to her nephew, Klaus Maran. He and his wife Manuela continued the family legacy - engaging local architect Walter Angonese to update this architectural gem for the twentieth-century guest. Every renovation was made with Barth’s initial dream in mind, adapting Seehotel Ambach to today’s expectations of luxury, whilst retaining its unique architectural character. Klaus and Manuela also understood that the hospitality industry was changing – guests didn’t just want to visit a place, they wanted an authentic experience of it and its culture. Thus, they introduced a traditionally-rooted South Tyrolean gourmet restaurant, serving delightfully unexpected and creative dishes. They also updated the balconies and terraces offering stunning vistas over the lake and the surrounding mountains. The Seehotel Ambach is one-of-a-kind – a once derided work of genius by one of the finest architects in Tyrolian history. Fortunately, Anna Ambach, the owner of this architectural jewel, knew what she had straight away and spent the next forty years lovingly maintaining it for future generations to enjoy. This love and care meant that it passed to Klaus Maran and his wife in excellent condition and with a few intelligent renovations they have only improved further. If you visit the Seehotel Ambach today, you’ll discover a piece of architectural genius nestled amidst one of the most beautiful places in the world. The property truly is a living testament to the vision of the Ambach-Maran family, who passionately believed in a local architect and allowed him to create something truly special and unforgettable.
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