Tyrol Grey beef carpaccio instead of chips and naturalness instead of a buzzing après-ski scene: Gampe Thaya in Sölden is one of Tirol’s most unique on-mountain eateries.
“I am a farmer at heart,” says Jakob Prantl. “Otherwise I couldn’t do that.” The innkeeper talks quietly yet with determination and sincerity, in the striking dialect of Inner Ötztal Valley. A famous destination for sports and entertainment, Sölden holds a special place in the hearts of party people worldwide. Up here in Hochsölden, at Gampe Thaya at an elevation of roughly 2,000 meters above sea level, life runs at a slower pace and the stresses and strains of busy everyday life seem a long way away. Although it’s a busy life up here, too. A life that is dedicated to hard work in tune with nature. Together with his wife Daniela and his two grown-up daughters, Jakob Prantl operates Gampe Thaya and “(nat)UrHütta“, a lovely lodge with ski-in/ski-out convenience, where guests can spend a romantic winter vacation at the heart of the ski resort. In the summer, grey cattle are grazing behind the cabin.
Tyrol Greys are among the oldest, rarest cattle breeds in the Alps, well suited for the sustainable cultivation of the Alpine regions, rugged, undemanding, with a high milk yield despite meagre feed base. Reared in the mountainous landscapes of Tirol, the meat is a bona fide food treasure for conscious foodies and is highly appreciated by award-winning chefs. Jakob Prantl has a leading role in the association of Tyrol Grey cattle breeders.
One of seven boys, Jakob Prantl was born into a family of farmers in 1961. He was trained as a carpenter but when he married at the age of 20 he continued his wife’s family tradition and together they operated a hotel for 25 years. Running a traditional hotel was not an easy task for him, he remembers. “I always wanted to go my own way, do my own thing,” he says. And he had promised his father to take over their family farm. Finally, Jakob Prantl found his luck – or rather what fulfills him most – at Gampe Thaya.
The Prantl family’s determination to offer only local cuisine goes that far that they don’t even have fries on the menu. Instead, they serve outstanding mountain comfort dishes, prepared with the finest, locally sourced ingredients, many of them from own farming, and with much love for the detail. Diners can enjoy Tirolean staples like “Schölfeler”, potatoes boiled in their skins and served with house-made sour cream, farmers butter and herbal salt. Or outstanding classy dishes that come with a stamp of ‘house specialty’ and that you can get nowhere else, such as Tyrol Grey beef carpaccio tossed with arugula and mountain cheese shavings—with the cheese made by Jakob Prantl himself. As this is Tirol, such a feast needs to be rounded out with schnapps, homemade as you might have guessed.
After Vienna, Sölden is the second most important winter destination in Austria. Visitors from all over the world flock to this Tirolean resort – and to Gampe Thaya. Jakob Prantl is well aware of that: “I am definitely proud of everything our pioneers in tourism have achieved during the last decades. However, I am also convinced that tourism cannot survive without agriculture.” He calls for a more sustainable way in tourism – like the one he pursues at Gampe Thaya: “Growth cannot continue forever. And sometimes I have to say that less can be more.”
Gampe Thaya lies trailside to Run #11 at the Sölden Ski Resort and is open daily from mid/late November through mid-April. In the summer, Gampe Thaya is open daily except Mondays from mid-June through early October.