400 years, 4 generations and plenty of character

Sarah Meraner

400 years, 4 generations and plenty of character

As a boy, Mark Eisath used to help his parents with the running of the hut. Today the 32-year-old is in charge of things himself up at the Mayrl Alm, a charming mountain hut located on the southern slopes of the Latemar Massif. He is the fourth generation of his family to manage this refuge – but the history of the hut stretches back much further.

Once upon a time ...

The Mayrl Alm has enjoyed its majestic position at 2,036 metres above sea level, in the heart of the Dolomites, for more than 400 years. Hidden away between lush green meadows, it long served as a refuge for local herdsmen looking after their animals in summer. It was not until 1900 that the Eisath family purchased the property – and in 1984 it received a whole new purpose. “My father decided to sell the animals and turn the building into a ski hut,” explains Mark. At the time, of course, nobody knew that this decision would mark the start of a local success story.

“My father loved music and would entertain guests by playing the guitar and singing. Some of the impromptu concerts went on late into the night.” The number of visitors increased over the years, until in 2000 a decision was taken to update and expand the Mayrl Alm by turning the former stables into a traditional dining room. Following the death of his father eleven years later, it was Mark who took over the running of the hut. Today the Mayrl Alm is a popular destination in both summer and winter thanks to its large terrace, three cosy dining rooms, bar and sausage snack stand.

The hills are alive with the sound of music

Mark may not have followed in his father’s musical footsteps, but today he continues many of the hut’s traditions in his own way. The Mayrl Alm, for example, hosts regular concerts. “You won’t find me performing, but I love organising music events,” smiles Mark. The changeable weather in the mountains means both musicians and guests alike must be ready for anything. “I remember one time we teamed up with the local volunteer fire brigade to put on a concert by the famous local folk music group Ursprung Buam from the Zillertal Valley in Austria. It rained all day, but the people had such a good time and partied non-stop. What a memory!” Another thing he has from his father is his relaxed, positive outlook on life. 

Secret recipe to success?

“Lots of hard work and passion,” laughs Mark. These ingredients may not exactly be secret, but the broad smile on his face is proof enough of the pleasure he gets from running the Mayrl Alm. Guests who have been to the hut will know all about his open and friendly nature – positive vibes which the other members of staff also spread with a smile. Maybe, in fact, it’s not the recipe itself which makes the success but more how you mix the ingredients.

Talking of ingredients

One of the highlights at the Mayrl Alm is the food. Mark serves traditional, hearty dishes made using produce sourced from the local region. Some of the meat is even caught by Mark himself, who is an experienced hunter. Fish can often be found on the menu in winter – the Mayrl Alm is one of only a few huts in the region serving fresh fish during the ski season. Among the favourites is Spaghetti allo Scoglio. “The fish was also an idea originally developed by my father,” explains Mark. “30 years ago he started serving fish and other seafood here at the hut – and today we continue this tradition.” 

Team spirit and family values 

None of the staff at the Mayrl Alm can claim to have worked there since the very start 400 years ago, but there are several who have been there for decades. Egon, for example, has been in the kitchen since 1988, while Joe has been in charge of the bar since 1989. They are institutions in their own right and just as much a part of the Mayrl Alm as the chairs and tables. Indeed, the whole team feels like one big family – not least thanks to the fact that several of them come from the local region and already knew each other before they started working here. This team spirit, coupled with real family values, creates a special atmosphere. Mark knows how lucky he is to have such a great team around him and tries to give everyone the respect and time they deserve. This is also reflected in how the staff welcome and serve each and every guest at the hut. Everyone knows exactly what to do and who to talk to if they need help or advice. The result is a well-oiled machine which runs at full speed in high season. And should a problem appear, everyone sits down together to work it out – just like a real family.

Sarah Meraner

is responsible for Digital Storytelling at clicktext, the South Tyrolean agency for corporate content and blogger of “Geschichten im Kopf [Stories on my mind]”. Making use of every one of her senses to experience the world, she can tell us all about it in words, stories and images.

The Italian version of this text is the work of our translation wizard Serena Schiavolin, responsible for Italian content at clicktext, who brings a typical Italian touch to our stories!