The sauna area at Hotel Gardena
In this column, I’ve already written about my new love for South Tyrol, Italy. It’s the country’s northernmost province and a two-hour drive north Venice. The Dolomite mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are located here, and it’s a destination rich with history, culinary culture, active pursuits such as hiking and skiing, and dramatic scenery.
Now, let me tell you about the spas: South Tyrol has a rich tradition of spas where the weary can revive themselves with treatments of manners that feature local herbs and ingredients, healing soaks, steams, sauna,and so much more. Many of the spas are affordable for travelers who don’t have deep pockets while others are decidedly luxury spots with prices to match. Either way, they’re true retreats and a must for any spa lover—all of South Tyrol’s other attractions aside, they are worth planning a trip for on their own.
The options of spas are endless in the region, but I’m highlighting my top six picks below.
The spa at Forestis
FORESTIS Set amid a mountain forest and bordering a nature park, FORESTIS is a small luxury hotel with a more than 20,000 square foot spa. The bi-level space has killer Dolomite views and offers both indoor and outdoor pools. Other amenities include a brine steam bath, Finnish, bio, textile and outdoor saunas (the latter is in a typical wooden South Tyrol house), and a Silent Room with a fireplace. There are also four treatment rooms where guests can partake in facials, massages and other feel-good services.
VILLA EDEN A must for anyone who is a sucker for high-end hotels that offer the best of service, amenities and style, Villas Eden is in the jewel box city of Murano. Owner Angelika Schmid, a charming woman who is always on hand to interact with guests, has a two-fold approach to her attractive spa: there’s the medical side where guests meet with doctors to achieve specific goals such as lose weight or counteract stress and the aesthetic side with face and body treatments. Fitness programs and healthy but delicious food- fresh vegetables, green juices, leans seafood and meats- round out the offerings.
CASTEL FRAGSBURG Majestically set on top of a mountain ledge overlooking Murano, this Relais & Chateaux property is surrounded by greenery and has scenic gardens with hard-to-beat views. The spa is just as incredible and bases its treatments on herbs and alchemy from South Tyrol. The products are made by hand and use local ingredients, and amenities include Finnish, bio and infrared saunas, a steam room and a swimming pool. Book a body scrub or take a soak in goat milk while savoring the vistas. No matter the service, the point is just to escape here where you’re immersed in another world far away.
HOTEL GARDENA In a prime location in the heart of the charming town of Ortisei, Hotel Gardena is a chic Relais & Chateaux property with a new expanded spa. It has an indoor swimming pool, sauna area complete with chandeliers and a gym. Treatments include massages, soaks, facials and scrubs and feature renowned product lines from the beauty industry including Sothys from France and Sensai from Japan. The Ayurvedic services are particularly notable.
The view from the spa at Alpina Dolomites
ALPINA DOLOMITES This Leading Hotels of the World property is in Alpe di Siusi, one of the prettiest parts of South Tyrol. The spa is truly world-class and has a pool that faces the mountain landscape. There’s an option for every type of spagoer here from holistic treatments and multi-day health and wellness programs to science-based anti-aging facials. The large sauna area is a highlight and features a bio-sauna with fragrant herbs that are locally picked. I’m also a fan of the water beds and lounge chairs—relax in them, and all your troubles just seem to melt away.
A sliver of what to expect during the SilberQuartz experience
SILBERQUARZIT EXPERIENCE Kornelia Schwitzer, founder and CEO of SilberQuarzit, has been working in the wellness industry for over 20 years and developed silberquarzit, a multi-hour experience that’s the most unique treatment I’ve ever had—- and believe me, I’ve tried my fair share. Your session with Kornelia begins with her asking your goals when it comes to your mental and physical health. Perhaps you want to sleep better or have personal distress that you’d like to let go of. You relax with incense, and then she works her magic using quartz stones that she finds in the quarry near where she lives. Get ready to experience muscular or emotional reflexes as the quartz interacts with your body. The more intense they are, according to Kornelia, the more likely it is that you’re getting rid of all the blockages holding you back. This is healing done to another level.