“The most beautiful, truthful and richest novel I ever read was History”.
While lingering in the Meranerhof Hotel’s foyer, I softly touch the walls and imagine the enormous history they must hold. In my mind’s eye…I am drawn back in time.
It is the year 1886. From my small room I observe the vibrant streets of Merano. In the midst of everything I spot Karl Wolf, a young man on his way to do some important business. In fact, today he is signing the contract to purchase the Villa Adelheid. He has on his mind a large project, as he is planning to rebuild the site and turn it into a successful ‘Pension’, later to be named Pension Wolf.
Many years pass. Weakened by illness, Karl bequeaths the precious Pension Wolf to his son in-law Carl Parisis. Without hesitation, Carl tears the place down to make room for a 4-storey hotel – his greed appears to be bordering on vanity (if you ask me!). Only a few ground level walls are left of the former Pension Wolf. Checking back a short time after, the renovations are now in full speed. The new Continental Hotel is completed and opens its doors in 1913.
The years of the First World War begin – and life in the historical Spa town of Merano is now overshadowed by fear and despair. Challenging years for the Continental Hotel lay ahead. And yet, things start to look up again. The opening of the brand new horse racing track enriches the Spa town with new elegance. Wealthy guests fill the hotel rooms again. And also, I overheard important merchants of the city discussing plans for new Thermal Baths. What will this mean for the Continental Hotel?
Wolfgang Parisis, who inherits the hotel from his parents during the challenging war years, is now having a hard time. His streak of bad luck seems endless. He himself is called to go to war, where he loses his life in 1943. News of Wolfgang’s passing spreads like wildfire through Merano. Who will take over the Hotel?
It is now 1948: loud voices proclaim the “Reopening of the Continental Hotel” fill the streets. Of course I must also join the crowds. With Wolfgang’s cousin, Grete Cakak, the future of the Continental Hotel appears to be secured for now.
Lately though, Grete seems to have grown tired. So it comes with no surprise when I find out Arthur Eisenkeil, a successful businessman, is taking over the reins of the Continental Hotel in 1966.
Arthur and his wife Traudl are ambitious and envision big plans for the Continental Hotel. The Hotel is now under renovation and home to chaos, noise and dust. It is however filled with the spirit of new beginnings, new ideas and a commitment to holding on to traditional elements. So I am not surprised when nearly overnight, the Continental Hotel is transformed into the Meranerhof Hotel. Modern elements meet the sinuous lines, floral ornaments and round arches typical of the Art Nouveau. The Eisenkeil’s undertaking is a risky business. The grand reopening shows it as a full success. Their plan has paid off.
And today? My visits to the Meranerhof are becoming rare. I no longer have to worry about my ‘problem child’. Traudl’s daughter Astrid and granddaughter Beatrix are now hard at work, passionately operating the Meranerhof Hotel.
Have a wonderful stay and enjoy the unique ambiance of the Meranerhof Hotel.