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‘Essentially the most impressive hotel I’ve ever set foot in’: HARRIET SIME is wowed by this Italian ski retreat

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Forestis was once used as a retreat for friends of the Vatican. You possibly can understand why, given its celestial position 1,800 metres above sea level and infrequently enveloped by clouds.

Nowadays, you don’t should be remotely religious to go to — but you do need to understand the majesty of mountains.

Forestis is ready in Plose, a small, peaceful resort within the Dolomites, and is ideal for skiers and non-skiers. The truth is, such is the draw of the high Alpine mountaineering trails, delicious mountain cuisine and glorious spa with its steaming indoor-outdoor pool and wood-fired saunas, that nearly all of guests select to not ski.

For me though, it’s all in regards to the views. The chunky and snow-dusted Odles mountain range may be seen directly in front of the hotel, bursting through dense, dark pine forests and dancing in pastel shades of orange, pink and purple at sunrise and sunset.

Natural highs: Harriet Sime checks into the Forestis hotel within the Italian ski resort of Plose. Above is the view of the Dolomites from one among the hotel’s suites 

'It’s all about the views,' Harriet says of the hotel, which overlooks mountains and dense, dark pine forests

‘It’s all in regards to the views,’ Harriet says of the hotel, which overlooks mountains and dense, dark pine forests

Your focus shifts as soon as you walk through the wood doors into the hotel’s reception area.

Set within the South Tyrol region of the Dolomites (where Italy meets Austria), Forestis began as a wood chalet in 1912 and was used as a sanatorium for tuberculosis victims. The constructing was abandoned during World War I and fell into disrepair until bought by the Vatican to be used by those in need of a restful break.

But it surely was when local hotelier Alois Hinteregger got a peep of the constructing through the lofty trees in 2000 that it took on a complete recent life.

Skip forward twenty years and the constructing has been transformed into what might be probably the most impressive hotel I’ve ever set foot in.

Forestis began as a wooden chalet in 1912 and was used as a sanatorium for tuberculosis sufferers

Forestis began as a wood chalet in 1912 and was used as a sanatorium for tuberculosis victims

The 'glorious' spa features wood-fired saunas and a steaming indoor-outdoor pool (above)

The ‘glorious’ spa features wood-fired saunas and a steaming indoor-outdoor pool (above)

After waking on our first morning to a thick blanket of snow — the moody mountains smothered with clouds of all colors and formations — my husband, Dan, and I head out on our skis.

Giant tennis ball-size snowflakes dance within the wind as we pass mountainside churches on our way up. But a storm shuts all but one among the lifts after we reach the highest. I’m secretly thrilled as this implies one thing: a day within the spa.

Trees permeate every element of the hotel, including the spa, so I book myself in for its signature treatment — the three-hour tree circle ceremony.

Harriet describes the resort as 'probably the most impressive hotel I’ve ever set foot in'

Harriet describes the resort as ‘probably probably the most impressive hotel I’ve ever set foot in’

The majority of guests at the hotel choose not to ski, Harriet reveals. Instead they enjoy the high Alpine hiking trails and the hotel's spa

The vast majority of guests on the hotel select to not ski, Harriet reveals. As a substitute they benefit from the high Alpine mountaineering trails and the hotel’s spa

Harriet books in for the signature treatment at the spa (above) — the three-hour tree circle ceremony

Harriet books in for the signature treatment on the spa (above) — the three-hour tree circle ceremony

I’m sceptical about anything that isn’t billed as a ‘facial’ or ‘massage’ and the thought of a ‘ceremony’ fills me with fear, but I determine to completely embrace it.

After a couple of sips of pine syrup-flavoured water from the nearby spring, my feet are placed in a tree-scented salt bath while Isabella passes me 4 pieces of wood, all from the local area.

They’ve different scents, textures, densities and I’m told to decide on the one I’m drawn towards (in the idea that everybody will select in response to their ‘current structure and seasonal needs’).

I intuitively go for the rougher, fresh-scented piece of wood. It’s spruce, present in the valley below.

Rooms with a view: Harriet spends 'endless hours' staring at the mountains from the hotel

Rooms with a view: Harriet spends ‘infinite hours’ gazing the mountains from the hotel

One of the big draws of Forestis is the 'delicious' mountain cuisine, Harriet reveals Every ingredient on the hotel restaurant's tasting menu is sourced from Italy

One in every of the massive draws of Forestis is the ‘delicious’ mountain cuisine, Harriet reveals. Every ingredient on the hotel restaurant’s tasting menu is sourced from Italy

On a ski outing in Plose (above), Harriet watches 'giant tennis-ball-size snowflakes dance in the wind'

On a ski outing in Plose (above), Harriet watches ‘giant tennis-ball-size snowflakes dance within the wind’

TRAVEL FACTS

Doubles from £630 per night, including dinner and breakfast (forestis.it/en). EasyJet Gatwick to Innsbruck returns from £44.50 (easyjet.com).

Isabella explains how spruce aids digestion and may ‘help people rediscover themselves’.

She matches the spruce with a healing stone and two hours of body scrubs, massages (with the healing wood getting used to use pressure) and facials proceed.

I emerge from the spa pink-faced and squeaky clean, and while I’ll not have found myself, my hyperactive mind is reduced to a hypnotic lull.

The weather conditions improve and we spend the following two days on the sunny slopes, retoxing each evening with a delicious seven-course set menu which changes every day. Every ingredient is sourced from Italy (the Sicilian oranges, raspberries and strawberries have travelled the furthest).

I spend our last supper battling ‘snow blindness’, my eyes streaming with water and stinging resulting from the sun reflecting off the brilliant white snow which burnt my corneas.

Whether this was brought on resulting from my time on the slopes or the infinite hours I spent gazing the mountains from the hotel, I’ll never know.

But when it happened to be the latter, it was value it. Those views will stick with me for ever.

sportinbits@gmail.com
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