San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge is an exclusive vacation rental retreat amid forests and lush meadows in the unspoilt heart of the Dolomites.
What is the story behind the lodge, what was your inspiration to create it?
The lodge is an 11th-century farmhouse and barn located at 1,200 metres between Villanders and the Villander Alm. The current owner, Thomas Erlacher, bought the property 15 years ago and lived here for 10 years with no electricity or heating. He wanted to take time to get to know the farm as it had remained for many years before making any changes.
Five years ago, he decided to build his own apartment underneath the farmhouse to use as a private dwelling. While it is connected to the listed farmhouse, it is completely independent and largely underground.
During the first Covid lockdown, he began renovating the historic building and created the lodge as it is today. It combines a traditional farmhouse with modern architectural features to create a luxury stay for guests seeking peace, nature and an exclusive break.
Erlacher collaborated with Rudi Perathoner, an architect with whom he had previously worked, and the project took around two years. Most of the yard didn’t have a basement and the roof had to be completely insulated to make the farmhouse liveable.
That being said, the structure of the building remained completely untouched, not only because it is listed but also to preserve its unique atmosphere. For the additions, old materials such as wood and stone were used wherever possible while the low door frames, steep staircase and small bedrooms were retained.
How would you describe the atmosphere & the interior design of the lodge?
The lodge is a combination of old and new, with both traditional and modern elements. Serving as the living space is a wooden stube, which is typical of the South Tyrol region. While the kitchen is fully-equipped and very modern, it is blackened as it would have been in the past by smoke.
Tom is a carpenter, so he did a lot of the work on the farmhouse himself, alongside friends and local artisans. Many of the objects and furnishings are from the South Tyrol region, aside from the fabrics in the living room, which Tom sourced on a trip to Marrakesh. In the bedrooms are modern Italian box-spring beds while objects from as far away as Bali, Nepal and Yemen decorate the spaces.
To you personally, what is so special about the lodge?
I think it’s the personal experience that we offer our guests. The lodge is operated by myself (Claudia) who is the manager, Tom (the owner/founder) and Matthias (the guide). We are very close friends and do a lot of activities with our guests — I think that makes it special. It’s a place where you can really relax, with your own sauna and amazing views of the Dolomites.
The lodge is also an adventurous place that is full of history and stories. The farmhouse is of historical significance and has been renovated with a special flair. Anyone who gets involved and looks behind the centuries-old facade will encounter an interior that has been curated down to the smallest details. The incorporation of fabrics, furnishings and objects from all over the world is complemented by the expansive views from the windows.
The barn’s steep, thatched, half-hipped roof is also a rarity as one of only five surviving roofs of this type in South Tyrol. Many guests comment that the property is “magical” and “something out of a fairytale”.