The path to Collis Hill wasn’t an easy one, but Katrin still wouldn’t change a single thing about it. In the heart of Kals, she has succeeded in turning an old farmhouse into a place of tranquillity and inspiration. Returning to the roots and the four elements. We asked her what the journey was like to get there, what tichas are and what guests can expect when they get there.
Katrin, can you tell us about Collis Hill? How did your little hill come about?
In 2014, I bought the Figolalm and my family’s old farmhouse following the death of my father and my mother wanting a change of scenery. My brother also decided to settle down elsewhere and start an apprenticeship in Germany, despite originally wanting to take over the Figolalm. That ultimately led to me taking on responsibility for the farm and the cottage, even though I was only 20 years old at the time. I was perhaps far too young back then, but in retrospect, it was a good decision. It was obviously extremely hard to start off with as I had several jobs at the same time to make ends meet and still renovate the farm. My goal was to make something special out of the cottage and the farm, and I invested a lot of time and energy in bringing my ideas to life. Over the last ten years, I’ve worked hard and gained valuable experience, including in the tourism industry.
The takeover must have brought with it many changes. What was it like to take over the Figolalm from your family?
It was difficult, both emotionally and generally in terms of the workload. A lot of the pipes were old and faulty, and I had no idea about the technical side of things. My father wasn’t around anymore to help me. But a good friend of mine helped with the cottage, with the pipework, the electrics and the building work, so I could finally make my new vision a reality. My motivation was having my family all together again in one place and enjoying time together, especially in memory of my father and my brother, who sadly also passed away in 2020. This only served to strengthen my determination. Despite financial challenges, I remained positive and recorded my ideas for Collis Hill in notebooks. Despite everything that had happened, I endeavoured to create a place that promoted health and inspired people.
And the tichas? What are they and what was the inspiration behind them?
Ticha is a name I made up based on “tipi” and “chalet”. And the tichas actually came to mind last year, inspired by my childhood in a tipi tent, my love of Norway and Pocahontas – and my travels. Like a recipe, I mixed everything together and that often leads to extraordinary things in life. A pinch of creativity is all you need. During the demanding building process, I got extra support from friends and my mother, who all helped lend Collis Hill a unique style.
The tichas are named after the different elements. What can visitors expect there?
I’m currently in the process of working out the concept for them. In each ticha, guests will find a piece of paper describing something related to the respective element. For water, there’s the Kneipp basin right next to Collis Hill with a brief explanation about the water and Kneipp treatments. For air, there’s a breathing exercise that follows the Wim Hof method and a hanging chair outside in the fresh air. For fire, it’s about warmth and assurance. For this, there’s a short poem and instructions for how to make twist bread and spending the evening by the dying fire.
How did you come up with the name Collis Hill?
The name was one of the last things to be decided. I wanted to incorporate something about the history of Kals and add it to something new. “Collis” comes from Romanic and “Hill” is English. That’s what became my little hill.
Photocredits: Collis Hill