Holidaymakers who set out on the route from Brixen over the Puster Valley or from Bruneck through Val Badia towards San Cassiano look forward to the breathtaking backdrop of the Dolomites with their awe-inspiring peaks that rise over 3,000m. Another mountain awaits holidaymakers in the middle of the village of San Cassiano near the pedestrian zone.
Not possible! How can that be?
Hotelier Günther Frena, the architects from noa*, Roman Castlunger from Castlunger Metal, as well as perforated sheets from MEVACO, made a masterpiece possible: The Tofana Explorer’s Home Hotel took on the appearance of a mountain in an astounding way, not only on the outside, but on the inside too. Welcome to a mountain landscape which couldn’t have been orchestrated more fittingly!
Renovation or fresh start?
It all started with a big decision. Hotel Tofana was built in 1933 and had become outdated. “Our grandparents and parents were always adding to the property and refurbishing,” states Günther Frena, who manages the family-run business with his wife Verena in the third generation.
“Now we found that it was becoming more and more difficult to maintain a simple hotel business to meet the needs of guests today. In 2016, the time had come: We decided to demolish the property. And we felt the desire to build something completely new!”
An unusual idea becomes reality
“It is true, we do things a little bit differently,” laughs Günther Frena during the interview.
“That is why we also didn’t see our new building as a copy of another hotel. In addition, we ourselves are sporty. Skiers, hikers, mountain bikers and racing bike enthusiasts all benefit and find the ideal starting point for their activities here at our hotel. You only have to think of the Valparola Pass, the famous Sellaronda ski circuit, or our well-maintained hiking routes right here on our doorstep. In short: Outside nature attracts people and we wanted nature to have the same effect on the inside too.”
Outside a mountain. Inside pure relaxation
This is in fact what it does: As you would expect from a proper mountain in the middle of the Dolomites, the Tofana Explorer’s Home appears different from every angle. The facades have edges and cracks, each one is unique. Trees are growing on the terraces, an outdoor jacuzzi awaits guests at the top of the hotel with a breathtaking panoramic view of the rocky amphitheatre of the mountain world of San Cassiano. The inside impresses with its A energy rating and rooms with an open-plan design and large light-flooded windows. The reception is modelled on a cable car. There is a bike workshop and a fitness studio whose view leads many guests to forget why they actually entered the fitness studio in the first place.
“The work processes in the kitchen and restaurant are now ideal,” delights Günther Frena.
Sometimes cheaper is even better
The only remaining question is how it came about that 670m² of MEVACO perforated sheets were installed. Here the hotelier can’t hold back his grin.
“Originally, we were thinking of timber during the planning stage,” he adds.
“No wonder really since we are up here in the mountains.”
But the calculator made a clear statement: “Getting timber costs a great deal of money. In contrast, MEVACO perforated sheets are cheaper and last a very long time too. This was the decisive point.”
In addition, there was the fact that Günther Frena expected a certain lightness from the perforated sheets.
“We didn’t want any linear levels, instead we wanted variety,” is how he explains the final decision for MEVACO perforated sheets, for example from the Creative Line.
“From this line, we used two different types and selected two more classic hole patterns,” adds Roman Castlunger from Castlunger Metal from St. Martin in Thurn.
“Arabica and Wabe from the Creative Line were used, as well as the classic hole patterns Rv10-15 and LvL 10×50-19-60.
His metalworking company is also in the third generation – which turns out to be a real benefit, as the CEO reports: “For us knowledge is essential for first-class quality. And in the 85 years of our company history, we have acquired an abundance of know-how and expertise!”
A construction site with lots of challenges
Günther Frena also benefitted. ‘The perforated sheets support the urban style in the middle of the mountains’, is how he explains the unusual appearance of his hotel.
“It is very well received by our guests. They are absolutely delighted!”
But before reaping the rewards of the labour it was necessary first to complete this work.
“We installed the perforated sheets in the entire outdoor area at stairs and railings”, reports Roman Castlunger.
“It was a demanding construction site with many technical challenges. This started with the assembly of all railings without scaffolding and only using lifting platforms and cranes, because the terrain made this necessary. In addition, there was the fact that all perforated sheet panels – at least 500 units – had a different format. We folded these first before the assembly.”
No easy task, but a worthwhile one in the end: “In my opinion, the perforated sheets have two key benefits,” adds the metalworker.
“One benefit is echoed in the aesthetics: Perforated sheets are clean, simple and diverse. The second benefit lies clearly in the weight-saving potential.
Optimistic about the future
And that brings us full circle! The owner was pleased with how his new hotel increasingly took the shape and appearance of a mountain.
“We have been working with MEVACO for over ten years,” continues Roman Castlunger.
“As more and more steel products are being used in the construction sector and customers are demanding increasingly higher quality, we will definitely realise many more wonderful projects again together.”
Hotelier Günther Frena is also optimistic about the future.
“Now guests come to us who previously never found their way to San Cassiano,” he states.
“Our hotel which looks like a mountain is a great thing for the village!”