A Modern Über Lux Bavarian Alps Retreat With a Past Guest Linage of Aristocrats, Bohemians, Vacationing Evangelists, Olympians, Nazi Youths, and American GI’s
Das Kranzbach is an impressive hotel that offers bold decor and breathtaking mountain views. The hotel is more of a ‘wellness retreat’ rather than a ski resort, where you will find more spa junkies than ski tourists.
Once upon a time in 1913, there was a wealthy English aristocrat from London; Lady Mary Isabel Portman. She was known for her beauty, self-confidence, and independence. At the age of 36, she purchased “Kranzbach meadow near Garmisch” and decided to build “The Kranzbach Castle”.
Detmar Blow and Ferdinand Billerey, two well-known English architects who were inspired by the English “Arts and Crafts” movement, provided the drawings for the Kranzbach manor. It is the only building of its kind in Germany and dubbed the “English Castle” by the local people.
When planning the building a private concert hall and a grass surface tennis court were Mary Portman’s special request. Yet, for all her personal plans to construct a congenial place for herself and her culturally sophisticated friends, her vision was never realized with the outbreak of World War I. However, shortly before the beginning of the war the construction was completed, but Mary Portman never had an opportunity to return. It is assumed that she never saw her finished manor.
During the following years, various guests brought life to the remote estate in the Elmau valley. Young painters stayed for weeks to preserve on canvas the location’s stunning beauty. In 1929, a team from the film studios “Deutsche Universal Film“, arrived. Director Wilhelm Dieterle used the Kranzbach scenery for his movie “Das Schweigen im Walde“, based on the famous novel by Ludwig Ganghofer.
In 1931, the Dortmund Evangelical Church discovered the fascinating building when they were searching for a holiday and convalescence home for young people from the heavily industrialized Ruhr area. The Church leased the estate from the Portman heirs.
On Christmas of 1933, a fire destroyed large areas of the building. After its renovation, the Kranzbach once again served as a vacation home for young people. In 1936, during the Olympic Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, it was used as a dormitory. And during the first years of World War II, the Kranzbach became the home of many children from the “Kinderlandverschickung”. (A program created by Hitler-Germany to protect mothers with small children and adolescents from the effects of war.) Once World War II was over, the Kranzbach was turned into a hotel hosting recuperating U.S. Army officers.
In late 2003, the Church sold the property to its current owners, who already operate two highly renowned wellness resorts in Austria: “Hotel Quellenhof Leutasch“, near Seefeld, and “The Steirerhof” in Bad Waltersdorf.
The Kranzbach’s new architectural concepts and its renovation during 2006/2007 were realized by a team of architects from Innsbruck: David Edinger, Thomas Fischbach, Martin Aufschnaiter and Heinz Pedrini. The main building’s interior design featured in these photos is by IIse Crawford. - via Das Kranzbach.