Imagine waking up in the clouds, enveloped in air so pure you could drink it, and as the sun cuts through to lift the morning mist you watch deer galloping across the verdant forest. This is your wake-up call at Oasyhotel, a nature-immersive retreat located in a WWF-protected wilderness reserve in Tuscany.
Eco-conscious travel has never been more relevant than it is today, but it is rare to find a resort that has shaped its entire guest experience around the preservation of its surroundings.
A refuge in nature that is uncompromising in its commitment to sustainability, Oasyhotel is redefining what it means to have a holiday that doesn’t cost the earth.
Tuscany is best known for the lavish architecture of its cities and abundant vineyards of its countryside – hectares of undisturbed forest in which wolves roam and birds of prey swoop across lakes situated at over 1,000 metres above sea level are not what you would immediately associate with the region.
And yet, this natural haven is only an hour outside of the bustling, extravagant piazze of metropolitan Florence. Formerly used as a hunting reserve, the area surrounding Oasyhotel has been transformed into a regenerated forest oasis in which rare plants, a huge range of biodiversity, and wildlife such as wolves, deer, foxes and wild boar flourish.
This is next-level nature immersion: trees as far as the eye can see and nothing but the sounds of wildlife to accompany your thoughts (rest assured: high-speed Wi-Fi is available in rooms and communal areas for those who can’t resist Instagramming the #dreaminess of it all).
Tucked into the hillside, 16 sleek, chic eco-lodges add to guests’ nature-immersive experience: spacious verandas offer panoramic views across the reserve, whilst sustainably sourced wooden furniture seamlessly extends the beauty of the forest indoors.
At 65sqm the standalone lodges are large and secluded enough to feel like a private wilderness retreat, enhanced by thoughtful features such as separate dressing rooms and living areas with sofas, deck chairs, and coffee tables adorned with a carefully curated set of nature books, radios and torches for exploring the trails after dark. Families or groups can be accommodated in either a standard lodge double room with a sofa bed in the living area, or family lodges which feature spacious bunk beds and two bathrooms.
Guests are free to roam the 1,000+ hectares of the private WWF-protected reserve and immerse themselves in the experiences offered by the natural habitat – be that foraging for wild mushrooms, swimming in the crystal-clear lake, or hiking to spectacular viewpoints to watch herds of deer gallop among the trees.
A team of expert guides is on hand to offer a set of unique experiences, from nighttime wolf-watching followed by whiskey and roasted chestnuts by an open fire, to yoga and gong baths by the lake where the serene sound echoes off the water and around the surrounding hills.
True to the resort’s ethos, the spa offering is simple and uncomplicated, with a concise menu of massages based on the four elements delivered in a secluded cabin. A more expansive spa is currently under construction.
Naturally, Oasyhotel’s focus on showcasing the very best of its surroundings extends to its cuisine. A visit to the Oasi Dynamo farm provides the opportunity to meet the Bruna Alpina cattle reared for fresh meat and dairy, and to participate in organic cheese-making. The Casa Luigi farmhouse is the perfect setting for picturesque picnics of handmade pasta, Tuscan panzanella salad and organic charcuterie and cheeses – and to stock up on exquisite preserves and biscotti to bring home.
Back at the lodges, restaurant Le Felci is rapidly establishing a reputation for culinary ingenuity that puts seasonal ingredients at the heart of its dishes: my visit in October featured flavours such as roasted chestnuts with bacon and pork with roasted pumpkin and caramelised apple, served with a flair that hints at the high aspirations of the head chef, who at a mere 25 years of age is already a master of his craft.
Nestled in the heart of Tuscany between Lucca, Pistoia, Florence and Bologna in San Marcello Piteglio; Oasyhotel is easily accessible from these key Italian cities by road. A shuttle service takes guests from the entrance into the secluded reserve in 20 minutes.
How to book
Oasyhotel is open seasonally from April until October. Stays start from €560 (approx. £472) per lodge per night on a bed and breakfast basis. Stays include minibar access, e-bike usage, access to private lake and watersports and valet parking. Oasyhotel is a non-profit organisation with all hotel revenue going towards the conservation of the Oasi Dynamo reserve. To book, visit oasyhotel.com
words by Rosie Sargeant