Nestled within the Austrian Alps, lies the rich natural ecosystem that is the Bregenz forest. Rolling hills are adjacent to rugged peaks, vast meadows and rare plant life are framed by cultivated land, while the smell of homegrown herbs complements that of colourful flora.
Here, sitting on top of a hill, you’ll find Susanne Kaufmann, the natural beauty guru that has been heading her family 5-generation business, Hotel Post Bezau, since the early nineties. It comes as no surprise that, given the environment she lives in, Kaufmann is considered to be one of the first worldwide pioneers of clean beauty.
With over 90 skin-care products and a hotel inherited by her parents which is now offering yoga retreats, detox treatments and more, Susanne Kaufmann has been showing that natural luxury cosmetics in top spa-quality, with a focus on slow production, aren’t just the preserve of the big brands but instead are shaping the future trends of the entire beauty industry.
“Hotel Post Bezau was already a cure hotel (the word spa didn’t exist in those times) when I was growing up. This means I was raised with the idea of health and beauty treatments. This formed my passion for beauty and beyond,” explained Kaufmann.
When Kaufmann first joined the family firm, one of her initial projects was to develop a spa with an offering of signature beauty treatments. She quickly realised that she also needed to create her own in-house spa product line to support the service, one that espoused the same natural, regional, and sustainable values as the hotel itself, one that looked and felt high-end. As a result of this, in 2003, Kaufmann launched her first cosmetics line inspired by the nature surrounding her.
A love for nature has always been part of her as, growing up, she was pushed to make healing tonics, marigold cream and arnica schnapps and her grandmother used to rinse her hair with beer, eggs or chamomile, twice a week, for two hours. This daily ritual stayed with her and she carried it with her family to this day.
Because of this, and because of the rich environment of the Bregenzerwald surrounding her family business, which provides the possibility of sourcing ingredients like arnica, chamomile, marigold, lavender or rosemary, her beauty line has proved to be so popular, a result of intense study on how to perfectly combine nature and science to produce great natural effective skincare.
“In Austria, we see beauty wholeheartedly. This means if you stay healthy, you feel better and look better. In Austria, we have very deep roots in a sustainable and holistic lifestyle and I think it is a holistic lifestyle a combination of all,” she said.
It is this ‘holistic’ attitude that inspired her to collaborate with Ingo Metzler, one of the pioneers of organic and natural cosmetics, for the past fifteen years. With Metzler, she has made sure that all of her products are cold-pressed formulations packed with active ingredients, natural antioxidants, vitamins and minerals; are free from parabens, minerals, artificial aromas, softeners (phthalates), gluten, artificial colours, fillers, binders, sulphates and silicone; are not tested on animals and not available where animal testing is permitted and, last but not least, all of the production of her cosmetics can be easily recycled where possible.
This mindset extends to everything she does as she recently introduced a 4000-square-meter organic garden to her hotel, which adds another dimension to the notion of farm-to-table dining: every day, ingredients are planted and harvested opposite the hotel. In close collaboration with the kitchen team, its two young farmers also host regular sessions revolving around the art of cultivating organic produce.
“It’s great to say that our values are still the same from the first day and I would say this is the most important plan for the future. It is all about keeping your philosophy, your values even with the growth we luckily have benefitted from,” Kaufmann concluded.