This Austrian couple have transformed five farmhouses into a timeless Tuscan retreat
Celebrating its 400th birthday this year, Lupaia is a nature-based agriturismo set within the vineyards and olive groves of the Sienese countryside. Though relatively late to the 17th century party, Christopher and his wife Heidi have worked wonders on the former goat farmhouses since taking over the ancient estate in 2016.
Sensitively restoring the centuries-old complex of outhouses which date back to 1622, the couple have cleverly elevated period features like exposed beams, traditional tiles, and rustic fireplaces to bring Lupaia’s agricultural heritage to life. So often the heart of the home, Lupaia’s open, tile-backed kitchen has a ‘whatever you want, whenever you want’ serving style, where guests are encouraged to roll up their sleeves and cook Italian classics alongside the chefs. Idyllic as it is immersive, the Lupaia experience is all about slowing down and enjoying life’s simple pleasures.
What does being ‘Independently Minded’ as a hotel owner mean to you?
Coming from previous careers in the corporate world, as hoteliers and owners we now enjoy the freedom of making decisions quickly, efficiently, and easily. We are hoteliers by passion: we cherish every day because we do what we have always wanted to do. We have travelled a lot, and the whole experience at Lupaia is based on what we would be looking for in our perfect hotel.
What was the inspiration behind the hotel, and where do you continue to find sources of inspiration?
We were extremely lucky to have found this Tuscan farm estate which dates back to 1622, and is laid out like a little village, with lots of privacy in the midst of nature. The idea was to create a hotel that didn’t feel like a hotel. Guests should feel at home, yet everything they desire is taken care of. That’s why there are no kitchen hours or designated places where we serve food or drinks – this is possible anywhere on property, at any time of the day. The first rule for our staff is that the answer to a guest’s request can never be “no” – we empower everyone to be creative and find a solution. In our downtime, we continue to travel around the world and bring the best ideas home.
”The idea was to create a hotel that didn’t feel like a hotel. Guests should feel at home, yet everything they desire is taken care of. That’s why there are no kitchen hours or designated places where we serve food or drinks – this is possible anywhere on property, at any time of the day.
How do you think your hotel stands apart from other luxury hotels?
Size does make a difference. Having only 12 rooms and suites allows us to provide a very personal service and to remember our guests’ preferences. We have all the facilities of a larger resort, but the intimacy and tranquillity of our quiet little hilltop hideaway makes it a unique experience.
If you only had 24 hours to get a taste for your hotel experience, what would you recommend a guest must do?
Our ‘Sunset Negroni Experience’ is something we created for truly memorable moments. There is a little hidden pergola on the edge of our fields overlooking the valley and town of Montepulciano. A private barman leads our guests there for a private cocktail experience, where he will mix Negronis for them, while Montepulciano is aglow in the red evening sun. This is the essence of Lupaia and gives guests a true taste of Tuscany.
How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?
Service that is not obtrusive but anticipates guests’ needs. Staff that are dedicated and personable and who will go beyond the call of duty. A room that is comfortable, and makes you feel at home, while providing all the luxury amenities. A restaurant that serves excellent food, made with the best local, seasonal ingredients. And unique experiences, rooted in the region or destination that I will remember for a long time to come.
Do you have a vision for the future of the hotel?
We continue to invest in the property, and every year brings new services and little improvements for our guests. Joining SLH after six years of operation makes us feel really proud and has provided a great boost of motivation to the whole team. We don’t want to grow the number of rooms, but provide an unforgettable experience that creates lasting memories for our guests.