For most people, Italy rhymes with sunny beaches, turquoise sea, loud conversations, and delicious, carb-heavy food.
But you won’t find any of this in the tiny alpine village of Ortisei, home to Adler Spa resort in the Italian Dolomites mountains, which are part of the South Tyrol Alps. Here, everything is calm, neat, and Swiss-style precise.
In South Tyrol, which is on the Italo-Swiss border, you get the best of both worlds: Italian dolce vita executed with Swiss efficiency. And this is only one of the things that makes this place so special.
Val Gardena Hotel Adler Dolomiti’s most remarkable feature is its impressive spa complex: 3,500 square meters of pools, saunas, steam baths and a wellness centre that is built like an Alpine village. Here, you can find peculiarities such as hay sauna hidden in an immaculate imitation of a mountain hut.
You don’t even need to set foot outside to admire the beautiful Alpine peaks. The hotel’s indoor pool under a crystal pyramid said to harmonise your energies, opens to a heated outdoor pool where you can just bask in a hot whirlpool while taking in the beautiful scenery.
I started my relaxing journey in Adler Spa in the otherworldly subterranean salt lake where the high concentration of the Dead Sea salt made my body float weightlessly while I listened to relaxing music from under water. After the recommended 20-minute session of just floating about and letting my mind be completely free, it was time to cleanse my respiratory system and strengthen my immune system in the Himalayan rock salt sauna. The gentle glow of Himalayan salt crystals is just what a tired mind needs to unwind.
Especially for ladies, there is also the Lady Relax area that features a rose bath which is essentially a rose-scented hammam, and super-comfy long chairs where you can lounge for hours on end listening to soft music, drinking herbal tea, and browse your favourite mag or simply snooze. For a more South Tyrolean relaxation experience, you can try the panoramic sauna with views of the Dolomites, organic hay sauna, blossom steam bath, and Kraxenofen that draws on the South Tyrolean tradition of mountain farmers who used to transport hay to the valley using carriers called “Kraxen.” The farmers, who sometimes even slept in the stacks of mountain hay realised that it helps them with sore muscles and back problems, and today Adler follows this tradition in its spa.
For the sporty, Adler Hotel offers a whole range of outdoor activities like hiking, Nordic walking, skiing and snowshoeing in winter, and electric mountain biking in summer. The latter is amazing, as the battery-powered bike makes you feel much fitter than you actually are whilst you speed up a steep hill without breaking as much as a drop of sweat. The hotel also organises group activities, such as outdoor yoga that marries hiking with a yoga class in the fresh air. And breathe…
For a more unusual activity, head to Gostner Schwaige, a mountain hut located in Siusi allo Sciliar, that you can reach by mountain bike in about an hour from the hotel. Here, chef Franz Mulser prepares meals made of edible flowers that he grows himself on the farm and in the Alpine meadows. During a flower degustation, he explains with passion different proprieties of plants while you’re munching on rose and elderflower petals. But don’t worry, you won’t leave hungry - delicious ravioli and pancakes are also on the menu, complemented by a glass or two of local wine. That, if you want to risk it before you have to come back on your mountain bike down the steep hill.
While nature and pampering are a great way to unwind, what really makes Adler Spa resort unforgettable is the food. From a breakfast buffet, where you can find almost any food on earth, from nearly twenty kinds of bread to cereals, fresh fruit, cold meats and cheeses, or hot food freshly prepared in front of you, through to lunches and dinners that blend hearty Italian classics with South Tyrolean specialities. All produce is locally sourced and you can choose from a more diet-oriented menu to classics, such as pastas and steaks. Delicious food is complemented by an impressive wine menu that focuses on local wines.
ADLER Dolomiti Val Gardena can be reached from Verona and Milano/Bergamo airports. Bookings can be made by telephone +39 0471 775 001, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or via the website.