The nights are drawing in, snow is settling on the mountains, winter is coming... For some a time to shiver and look forward to the warmth of the Spring sunshine, for many others, time to get out the skiing gear for another winter of activity on the slopes.
Before the snow sets for this non-skier, I was keen to get out into the mountains and contrast with life in the big city. Having just arrived back in Munich a few days ago after a glorious summer on the island of Hvar, the contrast between the Adriatic and spectacular vistas in the Tyrolian mountains was something I was keen to experience, and I headed to Schwaz, where my friend Wolf was embarking on his latest hospitality project, a complete makeover of the Hecherhaus mountain house, high above the town at an imperious 1887m.
This of course is off season, and although snow had fallen, there was none now in evidence. The lift, which stops right by the house, was also having a 3-week break, but the owner turned it on to allow Wolf to get essential supplies and materials up the hill. What seemed like almost a private lift on a private mountain - there are no buildings in the vicinity to Hecherhaus, allowing one to make noise, or enjoy the silence of nature, whichever floats your boat - soon brought us to a piece of Alpine paradise I predict many others will be discovering in the next 12 months, either by ski lift, or mountain hikers - there were a steady stream for my entire stay.
The first thing one notices of course is the view. Simply breathtaking. Zugspitze can be seen through some other mountains, but it is the valley below which leaves the most lasting impression. As well as the isolation from the rest of the planet, where the only company is the occasional curious mountain goat, keen to find out what is going on at Hecherhaus.
For change is coming. After several years of run-of-the-mill self-service, Wolf and his team have decided to breathe life into Hecherhaus, bringing his own unique approach to hospitality. Veterans of the region's skiing community will know him well from the legendary Kristallbar in Hochfügen, which he ran on and off for 16 years until 2010, before achieving even greater success in Croatia by building up a run-down beach bar into not only one of the top attractions on the island of Hvar, but also one of the internationally acclaimed top beach bars in the world.
Breathaking view by day, absolute stunner by night - here is Innsbruck as you have perhaps never seen it. With 55 beds, place for 200 guests inside and another 200 on the amazing terrace, Hecherhaus is equipped to entertain large groups, and with no neighbours apart from that occasional goat, it is the perfect place to celebrate, or relax - yoga retreats are just one of the concepts that will be coming to Hecherhaus.
As will (not this year) a panoramic sauna, just below the main house, one of several amenities planned which will raise the level of service and quality in this idyllic and delightfully lonely spot.
Hecherhaus will be undergoing a rebranding, getting back to its traditional roots, which focusing on quality service, outstanding cuisine, and a very warm welcome and atmosphere.
The team are hard at work reorganising the lodge, with plenty of carpentry, painting and other preparations ongoing before the planned opening next month, but if you happen to be hiking past, pop in and say hello and see the progress being made.
At 1887 metres, Hecherhaus is a fair way up the mountain, and while the skiing may not be the best in the area, it is very competitively priced, with a day pass costing just 27 euro for adults, 17 for kids (or 21 and 13 for a half-day).
The few people I spoke to in the valley were more than a little excited that this great tourism resource looks set to live up to its potential. And for those who enjoy the elevated and superior morning view, how about this weekend's morning spectacular in the lead photo above - while the valley was shrouded in mist...
Hecherhaus Alpine Lodge - one to watch when it opens next month (we will keep you posted). In the meantime, why not follow progress on the Hecherhaus Facebook page?