Professionalism, hospitality and a pioneering spirit all made Emma Hellenstainer (1817-1904) into a trailblazer in the early days of tourism as the "most celebrated landlady in all Tyrol".
The most important stations of her life are scattered around the old Crown Land of Tyrol. Leaving her place of birth, St. Johann in Tirol (in North Tyrol), Emma Hellenstainer moved first to the east (Niederdorf, Prags) and then to the west of southern Tyrol (Meran, Spondinig). The legend surrounding her persona reached far beyond Tyrol, as "Frau Emma in Europe" became a byword for regional hospitality. It was a source of amazement to her contemporaries that a young , independent woman (she was widowed in 1858), could not simply run a large hotel establishment but actually expand it in trailblazing fashion.
A new profession, tourism and the rise of a woman whose achievements towered above those of most of her fellow professionals were the starting points for the "Emma myth". Behind this lay the carefully cultivated quality of her kitchen and cellar, an attention to regional dishes, a discreet hand in the furnishing of the rooms and the later business expansion undertaken by her and her children, first through the extension of the "Schwarzer Adler" Inn in Niederdorf in the Puster Valley, then through the purchase of the nearby Pragser Wildsee lake and the building of a grand Alpine hotel, then with the plans to expand in Spondinig and Meran with the posthumously opened "Hotel Emma", the finest hotel at the centre of the tourist business in Tyrol.
Above all Frau Emma was praised for her special way of treating guests, her attention to them and her endearing manner and kindness that never tipped over into fawning.