5 550 years of history - from a simple inn to modern hotel Angelo Engel

As one of the first buildings in the center of Ortisei, the Hotel Angelo Engel looks back on over 500 years of eventful history. The hotel has been run by the Demetz family for 110 years and its history is closely interwoven with the history of Ortisei.

Browse through the anniversary brochure 110 years Demetz family in Hotel Angelo Engel -Brochure HERE.

1547 - 1850 The beginnings as Unterur innkeeper

Unter Ur (Ladin Dëur dessot) is the name of the later Gasthof zum Engel in the year of its foundation in 1547. The owner at that time, Jakob von Ur, is probably more of a farmer than an innkeeper, but in the rural Ortiseit his inn offers a welcome distraction from the hard mountain life.
Around the year 1650 the woodcarving industry of Val Gardena begins and soon international trade relations in Europe and even in America are established, bringing prosperity to the valley.
At the Unterurwirt, in whose inn sign the angel appears for the first time in 1779, there is a large cattle trading post at that time. The prosperity from the trade mainly in sacral art statues also benefits the trade in town and in 1836, the Unterur innkeepers are officially allowed to rent out two rooms, as many cattle traders came to Ortisei and had to be catered for.

1850 - 1870 The convivial inn

Until 1870 Val Gardena is little visited by tourists and only a few pioneers get lost here. At that time locals meet in one of the fours inns to play skittles or cards, have lunch after mass or on special occasions.
At the Angelo, things sometimes get colorful. In 1852, for example, the local government refuses to grant the tenant a dance music license because they "did not like it when foreign minstrels carried the money out of the community”. In 1884, the Austrian imperial office also filed a complaint because "a theater company (...) staged a performance at the Angelo" without permission…
The same governor's office also had to order the municipality of Ortisei several times to place all women who had sexual intercourse in the surrounding inns for commercial purposes under the supervision of sanitary police....

1870 – 1900 The first guests

In 1856 the first road leading to Val Gardena is opened. Until then the valley had only been accessible by mule tracks. This brings not only a great economic boom but also the first guests to the valley.
At first, mountaineers find their way to the still untrodden high peaks of the Dolomites. The climbers were soon followed by the summer visitors, who were particularly attracted by the modern character of Ortisei, which had become prosperous thanks to the trade in carvings. The opening of the Brennero railroad line in 1867 spurred on this development once again.
In 1885, the section of the German Alpine Club of Ortisei is formed and the first hiking trails are laid out and signposts are installed. In the same year, the tourist association is founded, which, among other things, lays out the first sidewalk, removes dung heaps and sprinkles the dusty streets with water...

1900 – 1913 A butcher at the Angelo

At the turn of the century, tourism becomes more and more active and Theres Metz, the owner of the Bierhaus zum Engel around 1896, sees the need to expand her establishment, builds a beautiful dining room and a garden with a veranda.
For it is mainly aristocrats and wealthy citizens who come to the valley in addition to the mountaineers, and they want increasingly comfortable accommodations with luxury facilities such as electric lighting, water-flushed lavatories, and music and social rooms.
From 1909 to 1913 the Gasthaus zum Engel, which at that time had about 25 rooms, belonged to a butcher (Ladin bechè), which is the origin of the name "Bechè", still widely used today to refer to Hotel Angelo Engel and the Demetz family “dl bechè”.

1913 – 1935 The Demetz family takes over the Angelo

In 1913 Martin Demetz Sen. buys the inn "Zum Goldenen Engel" for 52,200 Austrian crowns (approx. 350,000 euros) in order to give in to his adored Maria, who only wanted to marry him on this condition.
The First World War puts an abrupt end to the tentatively emerging tourism. Prisoners of war and military troops instead of tourists now fill the guest beds. In 1918 South Tyrol becomes part of Italy. Before the war, it was mainly Germans who came to the valley, but now Italians made up almost 100% of the guests.
At the Angelo one adapts and comes to terms with official harassment such as the exclusive use of the Italian language decreed in 1923, whereupon all crockery, linen, cutlery etc. had to be replaced with Italian lettering.

1935 – 1950 The second generation

While until 1930 tourism was almost exclusively summer tourism, the first winter tourism begins to develop with the opening of the Alpe di Siusi cable car in 1935.
Son Martin Demetz Jr. (in the meantime forcibly Italianized as "Martino") sees the potential and begins training as a hotelier, producing the first sketches for a new Hotel Angelo Engel.
The Second World War ruins these plans. Martin and his brothers are called to military service, fighting in Russia, Italy and Africa. After war and captivity, Martin Jr. returned in 1947 to take over the Angelo.
During his time in captivity, he had drawn the floor plans for the remodeling of the hotel in a notebook. In 1950, according to them, he converts the business from a simple inn to a modern vacation hotel.

1950 – today - The fourth generation

In the second post-war period, guests from all over the world come again to Ortisei to hike and rest, and after the Alpine Ski World Championships in Val Gardena in 1970, there is a sharp increase in skiers and other winter sports enthusiasts too.
Among the most loyal guests at the Angelo is Prof. Oswald von Schöpfer zu Kaltenbrunn, a nobleman of Tyrol, who spends a week at the Angelo at the end of August 1955. He enjoys his stay and returns in September. 23 years (!) later, the bachelor succumbs to a heart attack during his morning visit to the hairdresser, without ever having left again.
In 1988, Oswald & Michèle Demetz take over the Angelo in the third generation and expand the hotel in 2004 according to plans by the brothers Hanspeter and Hugo Demetz. In the process, the public restaurant, where cards had been played and drinks had been served for centuries is closed.
In 2019, Oswald & Michèle hand the hotel over to their son Nils, who now holds the reins of the Hotel Angelo Engel in the fourth generation.


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