As temperatures cool, the ski season heats up…where better to head than the Italian Dolomites. Rich in style, sophistication and snow, the Dolomites is home to the largest network of skiing in the world. Intertwining 1200km of slopes and 450 lifts, Dolomiti Superski has several resorts scattered within its hemisphere, one of the favoured being Alta Badia, adequate for beginners through to seasoned skiers. At the bottom of the valley, on the tip of Corvara is where Sassongher Hotel has stood proud for almost a century. Backdropped by the dramatic undulating landscape that’s dusted in snow, this traditional hotel imbues Italian hospitality at its best and is a true alpine wellness mecca.
Laced in decades of lineage, Sassongher Hotel has been passed down through generations in the same family since 1933. The 65-room hotelier follows classic rifugio wooden architecture bedecked with heritage alpine interiors. Keeping the hotel business in the family has meant Sassongher Hotel retains a level of impeccable cordiality that earns the 5 stars above the door. There’s a homely, comforting presence from the moment you step foot in the lobby, inviting you in like an extended member of the family.
The restaurant echoes tradition, with dishes which have been served in the grand dining hall for decades, presented with an elevated upgrade to edge them into the gastronomic standard this region has become accustomed to. Lavish Italian dining will take you on a culinary journey; Antipasti, Primi, Secondi and (if you have space) an indulgent Dolce! Pick out a table in the hotel’s classic ‘Stube’, native to the region of South Tyrol, the rustic nook is the quintessential alpine dining experience.
Rolling back the clocks, the hotel bar oozes with charm, you can envision elegant Italian women back in the 50s sipping on an aperitivo, soundtracked by the piano. Theatrical mixologist ‘Saro’ mans the bar, tempting you in with his exquisite spin on classic cocktails and mocktails for a nightcap or two!
The wellness facilities have been given a luxe-modern makeover, offering the perfect post-skiing chill-out space to spend lazy afternoons soothing achy muscles. Perched on the rooftop is the open-air whirlpool hot tub, with panoramic views of the peaks. The sauna boasts a similar picturesque outlook of the scenery housed on the top floor, and in true European style, you may see a little nudity! Downstairs the spa continues with a gym, heated pool, infra-red cabin and relaxation area to cosy up by the fire on the floating rattan loungers and completely zen out. The alpine wellness treatments cover beauty, massage and facials to regenerate the body throughout your stay. The full-body massage will come as a tonic after a day on the slopes, minimising DOMs the following day.
Ditching après ski for fine dining, the Dolomites region is spurred on by a renewed food and drink scene. An example of a ‘Rifugio’ Restaurant’ fuelling this movement is Ütia de Bioch, a typical fairytale-esque mountain hut that you’ll stumble across in amongst the piste. Fusing Ladin, Tyrolean and Mediterranean cuisine, the menu takes inspiration from the various Italian styles to create gourmet dishes for memorable lunches in the most divine setting. Passionate about organic and local wines, resturanteur and sommelier Markus Valentini has renovated the basement into an impressive wine cellar, hosting high-altitude tasting sessions to flaunt his noteworthy knowledge. The Scotoni Hütte should also be on your hit list, coveted for its open-grill kitchen that stages a spectacular for diners. If there’s ever a time to eat meat, its here. The BBQ sharing platter is the speciality, partnering with a local butcher to deliver the highest quality meat. In fact, all the ingredients are sourced sustainably and locally, from the potatoes grown in the Puster Valley to the South Tyrolean cheese.
Crowned as the top gourmet destination in the Alps, Alta Badia has curated an avant-garde initiative to flex their culinary skill one step further. ‘Gourmet Valley’ pairs a sequence of restaurants with talented Michlean-starred chefs to present a collaborative dish at the mountain hut’s, accompanied by a local wine that complements the meal superbly.
If mapping out a length day of skiing fills you with joy, the Dolomiti UNESCO World Heritage Site is a playground of routes and loops to keep you occupied for days, if not weeks. Monikered as the ‘Ski Safari, the Superski multi-terrain swath is a winter sport enthusiasts dream, featuring the Sellaronda circuit one of the world’s greatest ski routes.
Just 2 hours transfer from Innsbruck, arguably the most straightforward airport in Europe, Sassongher Hotel eloquently synergises ‘La Dolce Vita’. Adopting the alpine Ladin lifestyle, their warm-hearted attributes are unparalleled, making you feel at home. Throw in the ski safari at your fingertips, on top of the sensational culinary scene and let the the magic of the Dolomites whisk you away this winter season.
words by Isabelle Shury