You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Visit Nature Park Almenland in Styria, stay at the Eco Hotel Bauernhofer.

Gourmet Travel, Austria, Travel With Locals, Europe, Family Travel, Travel Blog , 0

Table of Contents

The popular Austrian “Sommerfrische” is back again. Especially now, during the summer of 2020, as the travelling world still reels with the shock of the current pandemic, many people simply look to recover closer to home, and want to spend some quality travel time in peaceful, quiet, and natural surroundings. “Of which Austria has plenty, and we out here especially”, Simon Bauernhofer tells us, welcoming us to his Naturhotel Bauernhofer in the Styrian alpine upland. The small town Brandlucken, where his hotel is located, is right inside a nature park, called “Steirisches Almenland”, and both his hotel as well as the wider area are dedicated to many efforts of ensuring sustainable and ecological development. But not only that. There is room for fun and creative stuff, too! Know the high seats used during hunting in or near forests? Simon has single-handedly converted them into love nests and hideaways for his guests! He has also turned a run-down inn into a thriving grocery shop, theatre and civil registry office (the theatre, meanwhile, totals well over 600 seats and receives up to 14.000 guests a year!). So how does all of this go together, and even result in a place ideal for young families, too (my husband Georg and my young one-year-old son have also joined me on this trip)? Let me explain – and the journey begin.

Willkommen im Steirischen Almenland ("Wow, Mama, Kühe, so etwas habe ich ja noch nie gesehen ...!") ...

Welcome to the nature park “Steirisches Almenland” (“Wow, mummy, cows, I’ve never seen the like of them before …!”) …


... und dem Naturhotel Bauernhofer, das seinem Namen alle Ehre macht und auch noch umweltschonend gebaut wurde und betrieben wird ...

… and the eco-friendly Naturhotel Bauernhofer, living up to its name and delivering high ecological standards …


... hier

… this really is a region with a clean, green consciousness, and I’m happy to recommend it for your future travels here.


A word about sustainable development:

Our host Simon Bauernhofer recommends us to visit several of his regional business partners, among them the nearby distillery Graf.

It is not far from where we are in the Styrian “Almenland” to Sankt Kathrein am Offenegg, indeed a lovely drive through the densely forested alpine upland northwest of the Styrian capital city Graz. The Graf family welcomes us to their distillery and explain that in order to produce their high quality spirits from local endemic produce, such as pear or berry varieties, they need about 35-40kg of fruit in order to make one litre of schnaps! What they don’t harvest themselves, they buy within a 20km radius from their property, fulfilling strict Slowfood criteria in the process. After our guided tour, we are invited to harvest and taste some cherries from their orchard. They are simply delicious, and Liam just loves this new summer flavour, while we indulge in a spirits’ tasting ourselves.

Empfehlenswert: Besuch der Edelbrennerei Graf im Steirischen Almenland ...

Recommended: Visiting Graf Distillery as part of the nature park “Steirisches Almenland” …


... bei der Führung durch den Betrieb sowie der anschließenden Verkostung lernen wir die edlen Destillate umso mehr zu schätzen ...

… our guided tour allows us to really appreciate the flavoursome brandies and distillates …


... vielen Dank auch für das Naschen reifer Kirschen aus dem hauseigenen Obstgarten!

… thank you, too, for inviting us to taste cherries fresh off the trees!


Ich weiß ja nicht, wie es Euch geht, aber die Landschaft ist echt ein Traum hier finde ich ...

I don’t know about you, but I’m loving the cultural landscapes we see around here …


... in unmittelbarer Nähe zur Edelbrennerei Graf (rund 200 Meter Spaziergang entfernt) ...

… and in case you go hungry, about 200 metres from the distillery, there is a perfect inn waiting …


... erwartet uns das Landhotel Spreitzhofer mit ausgezeichneter regionaler Küche ...

… full of traditional Austrian flair: Landhotel Spreitzhofer, offering great regional cuisine and even adapting to serving a very tasty veggie dish for our little Liam.


... und vom flüssigen Schokokuchen als Nachtisch träumen Georg und ich immer noch ..!

Meanwhile, Georg and I still dream about their chocolate cake ..!


Tipp: Die vielen Brände und Liköre der Familie Graf finden sich auch in der Greisslerei, einem überaus gut bestückten Bauernladen des Naturhotel Bauernhofer wieder.

Worth noticing: You can also shop for the Graf distillates at the grocery shop of the Naturhotel Bauernhofer, as depicted here.


Our trip exploring the nature park “Steirisches Almenland” results in a short hike around Teichalm and its local nature trail.

Without our little Liam, Georg and I would have likely gone off on a major hike, of which there are plenty in the Almenland nature reserve. Instead, however, we tested the (stroller-friendly) nature trail leading us through an alpine moorland and slightly off the busy Teichalm lake. As for a foodie experience, we can recommend “Stoakoglhütte” (an alpine hut) near Sommeralm. It comes with a possibility to climb the nearby Plankogel summit (either before or after that delicious slice of cake ..!).

Willkommen auf der Teichalm ...

Welcome to Teichalm lake, a classic alpine destination for families and couples alike …


... hier treffen wir auf die größte "Holzschindel-Kuh", die wir je gesehen haben ...

… it is here we find the largest wooden cow we have ever seen (Liam and his dad are impressed!) …


... kurze Zeit später spazieren wird durch das nahe gelegene Wald- und Wiesen-Moor ...

… a little later, we discover the local forest marshes on a secure little nature trail …


... und genießen die vielen kleinen und großen Entdeckungen entlang des Weges!

… loving to see how Liam soaks it all up!


Auf der Stoakoglhütte später darf Liam von meinem Teller mitnaschen ...

Having arrived at the Stoakogl hut, Liam and I share a little mountain meal (goulash soup and rolls) …


... und wem all das zu gediegen bzw. zu wenig actionreich erscheint, dem sei der Besuch der Sommerrodelbahn sowie des Motorikparks in Koglhof ans Herz gelegt! Mit den GenussCards

… and if all of the above provides for too little adrenaline, you can try the summer toboggan at a nearby mountain fun park in Koglhof (three rides are free with the GenussCard voucher you get upon checking into your local hotel).


Environmental efforts, sustainable development, staff commitment and theatre production: Why you can also just spend some days relaxing at Simon Bauernhofer’s eco hotel.

One day after breakfast, Simon Bauernhofer sits down with us and tells us “his story”. Of how it all started back in the late 70s, when thousands of “Sommerfrische” guests came from Vienna and Graz, seeking refuge in the Alps from hot city temperatures. Thus, the old inn and farm business have been revived, and now stand as an energy-saving, Passivhaus hotel business with 58 rooms heated by a power plant using local wood chips. Guests around us are couples of all ages, as well as families with (young) children, those who love hiking, food and nature. “It is four pillars we build on”, Simon explains his philosophy, as well as his recent award of the Austrian Eco Label for tourism. “On the one hand side, we take care of our environment through reusable bottles, recycled paper, the wood chip heating facility, shared mountain taxis, e-bikes, the like. On the other hand side, we also strongly support our regional farming network, what with our local grocery shop serving as a direct point of sales for nearby farmers and producers. Add to it our deep care about our employees and their development, as well as our commitment to culture, and you get to where we stand today. The old ‘Huab’n’ inn, which you see right across the hotel, is our stage for countless theatre productions, and our theatre has turned into a hub for young, aspiring actors.” Simon Bauernhofer, we gather, could go on talking forever. So let’s add a few more images and personal impressions to his account!

Einmal wohlfühlen, bitte! Unser Junior ist hier im Spielzimmer des Hotels bestens aufgehoben.

Check this out: Liam feels great in a room especially designed for young kids, cleverly situated next to the main dining room.


"Coole" Details gibt es hier nahezu überall.

There’s plenty of “cool” little details, such as this ice cream trolley near the reception area.


Einmal "Knutscherei" gefällig?

Check out (and ask for) the local “Knutscherei”: Redesigned high seats that were used for hunting, but now offer many a surprise for lovebirds.


Daneben wartet die sogenannte "Huab'n To Go", ein kleines Holzhäuschen in dem um den "ehrlichen Euro" Getränke und Eis erworben werden können.

Next to the hotel, you can shop at the so-called “Huab’n To Go”, a simple hut offering drinks and ice cream for an “honest euro” (meaning there is no staff there, it’s just up to you to pay for what you take).


In der Greisslerei selbst kaufen wir liebevoll Selbstgemachtes, zum Beispiel "Bianca's Hauben", welche Simon's Frau selbst herstellt.

At the local grocery store, I buy a hat for Georg which Simon’s wife Bianca has sown herself. Lovely!


Im Wellnessbereich des Hauses genießen Vater und Sohn gleichermaßen ...

And while my boys relax in the wellness area of the hotel, it’s finally time for a massage for mum …


... beim Frühstück erwartet uns die ideale Stärkung für den Tag: Köstliche, regionale und frische Produkte.

… breakfast means gearing up for the day with tasty local products …


Beim Brot ist es übrigens so, dass wir gar einen Laib zum Mit-Nach-Haus-Nehmen reservieren konnten!

… and at a day’s notice, you can even take your favourite loaf of bread home with you.


Danke, lieber Simon Bauernhofer, für die guten Gespräche und die schöne Zeit, die wir hier verbringen durften!

Thank you, dear Simon Bauernhofer, for the wonderful time we spent here with you!


Zu guter Letzt sei noch der Besuch des "Huab'n-Theaters" ans Herz gelegt: Wir durften bei einer Theaterprobe live dabei sein !!

Last but not least, I can recommend you visit a local play at the “Huab’n” theatre: Even if you don’t understand a word of the regional Austrian dialect (sometimes even we don’t), it’s fun to watch the actors perform in traditional, Styrian comedies!


Check out all my travel pictures here:


Disclaimer: We have been invited by the Naturhotel Bauernhofer supported by the Austrian Eco Label on this trip to Styria. All opinions are my own.

Spread the love

Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
Exploring Rein Abbey and Maria Strassengel Pilgrimage Church near Graz, Styria.
Photo Festival #LaGacilly in Baden near Vienna: "All Eyes East" in 2020.


Leave a Reply

Follow me on my travels: