Want to feel lavished in luxe but still set your own rules? In the glacial paradise of San Cassiano, Lagació Hotel Mountain Residence’s 24 elegant, fully stocked apartments combine privacy and pampering with concierge-enhanced adventure.
11am; later check-out may be possible, but there’s a day’s charge. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £300.43 (€355), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.30 per person per night on check-out.
Rates include Continental breakfast and shuttle rides to and from the Alta Badia ski resort.
Each suite has its own natural drinking-water fountain, fed by a spring. The reviving La Palsa spa offers facials, massages (some using honey and chocolate), Ayurvedic therapies and body peels.
7 April to 1 June and 23 September to 7 December.
At the hotel
Ski shop; ski room with boot dryer; spa with treatment rooms, saunas, crushed-ice well and fitness room; free WiFi throughout. In rooms: kitchenette (refrigerator, dishwasher, microwave, Nespresso machine); balcony; flatscreen TV; hairdryer; felt bag containing bathrobes, towels and slippers.
Our favourite rooms
Marvel at the Dolomites from the comfort of east-facing Claraia’s sleek couch. Honeymooners should book Bellerophon, which has a terrace running the length of the apartment and Lagazuoi mountain views. Ammonite has a seductive leather-upholstered bed, an open fireplace in its living room and a Kneipp shower.
Layered thermals to take on your alpine adventures. With these mountain views, a camera is obligatory.
The hotel is wheelchair accessible throughout; Suite Daonella is specially adapted for mobility-impaired guests.
The apartment-style lodging is ideal for families – cots or extra beds are €15; €50 for over-threes. Claraia, Daonella and the Ammonite suite have two bedrooms. Babysitting can be arranged.
The hotel uses uses solar energy, LED lights, and optimal thermal insulation, and all the building materials come from local sources: slate and loam, Swiss pine and spruce and loden and linen fabrics.
Aim for a table by the floor-to-ceiling windows, to make the most of the light and elbow room.
Post-slopes comfort: designer denim and casual cashmere.
A ‘best of’ breakfast buffet spread highlighting the region’s freshest natural fare is laid out in the Stube, a set of three rooms all panelled in reclaimed wood; throw your five dailies into the noisy juicer. Although only breakfast is served by the hotel, guests can arrange outside chefs to come in and cater.
Begin the day with a couple of coffees in the slate-floored, terracotta-walled Lagació Bar, before hitting the slopes or hiking the hills in summer. Return in the evening for potent mountain aperitifs and the sounds of jazz fusion; in winter, there are hearty organic South Tyrolean bar snacks available on request.
The bar and restaurant close at 11pm.
Order up cheese, cured meats, cakes, toast and pie until 11pm. Select organic goodies (including baby food) and supplies from the hotel’s in-house list two weeks before you arrive; the groceries will be left in your kitchen.
The nearest airports are Bolzano (75 km) and Innsbruck (133 km). The Venice, Verona and Munich airports are also within reasonable distance.
The Brunico train station is 35 km away and the Fortezza is 60 km away.
By car, Brunico is 45 minutes away and Bressanone is one hour away. The hotel has free parking.
Worth getting out of bed for
Rent or buy equipment from the hotel’s onsite ski shop; have the concierge arrange your ski passes. The Alta Badia area offers winter sports activities for beginners and pros, including toboggan runs and a snowboard fun park. Dolomites Superski, the world’s largest ski carousel, provides 450 cable cars and ski lifts that travel through 12 skiing areas. Hiking aficionados can snowshoe, and hit the trails up the peaks. Zipline Adrenaline Adventures (+39 331 4188007; www.adrenalineadventures.it) organises speedy cable line slides 100 metres high over the valleys and hills. Rafting, canoeing and kayaking with Peter Mair’s River Tours (+39 347 44 28 020) are a sure way to whet an appetite for watersports. Heilig Kreuz (+39 0471 839645; www.santa-croce.it) arranges ski tours with gourmet-pleasing restaurant stops.
St Hubertus (+39 0471 849500), at the Rosa Alpina hotel in San Cassiano, has garnered two Michelin stars. The same hotel’s Wine Bar & Grill is less formal, serving hearty meat dishes and superb pizza from its wood-fired oven. Take a table on the terrace overlooking the market, and listen to the brass band as you sample aged prosciutto and buffalo mozzarella. Casually elegant La Siriola (+39 0471 849445; www.ciasasalares.it), where Fabio Cucchelli fashions basic local ingredients into culinary fireworks, is a three-minute drive from Lagació, at Hotel Ciasa Salares; there’s a fantastic wine bar, too, serving cicchetti (and more) alongside a good range of biodynamic wines. ake the cable car from the centre of San Cassiano to the top of Piz Sorega, where you’ll find Utia Punta Trieste (+39 0471 836643), an all-wood mountain refuge on the Pralongia plateau above Corvara. Set the mood by sipping prosecco in the wine-tasting hut outside.
If you want to skip the three-course feast but don’t want to miss the rustic, mountain cosy ambience of La Siriola, grab some seats at the lively Winebar (+39 0471 849 445; www.siriolagroup.it) adjacent to the restaurant. Here, you can nibble on truffle-decked appetisers and warm your snow-chilled skin with something from the extensive wine list.
There’s something about travelling to Italy via Austria that’s like watching a stripper who begins their act wearing a welder’s mask and Crimplene pantsuit. However, as our plane swoops between the mountains, searching out Innsbruck’s runway, notions of national distinctions give way to an appreciation of general European mountainy-ness.
To catch this early flight, Mrs Smith and I were are up at 4.30am, having rented a cell in an economy airport hotel. An oxymoronic start to a period of relaxation, perhaps, but the paucity of passengers at least offsets the usual security hell. Restorative dozing through a two-hour flight and two-hour hotel transfer makes us chipper by the time we arrive at Lagació Mountain Residence.
Forget Alpine clichés: in this tiny north-east Italian hamlet of San Cassiano, wooden shutters and chintzy woodcarvings are out, and sharp corners and glass panels are in. Lagació’s see-through sides demonstrate the owners’ appreciation that, however incredible their hotel is, its guests are really here for what’s outside. And they invite you to get a bloody good look at all that stunning Südtirolean scenery.
Environment and sustainability is important at Lagació, but never at the cost of luxury. Everything is natural. Take the fossils, for example. They’re all over the gaff. Handpicked from these very mountains, the stony motifs show Margareth and Pio Canin’s dedication to fusing eco-consciousness with local relics. They appear everywhere, from room numbers to floor signs – a cute design touch, but also a bizarre memento mori. They call to mind childhood revelations that our planet has played host to bygone beings; odd monsters and dark creatures. Intended to inspire us to push ourselves harder on the slopes or to indulge without guilt, perhaps? Mrs Smith and I do both, just to be on the safe side.
Thanks to our early flight, we are up a mountain by late morning – me on my snowboard and my lady with snowshoes. Then, after the thrills of the piste, we throw ourselves into Lagació’s epicurean delights. A short walk away at Rosa Alpina, there is the excellent Grill and the Michelin-starred St Hubertus. Mrs Smith and I soon learn that we prefer our restaurants less fussy, our food less pernickety, and our meals to cost less than €500. Taking the advice of Lagació’s receptionist, we discover we are financially better off next to the Piz Sorega bubble lift in the strip-lit, diner-style Ski Bar – where we enjoy some of the most delicious pizza ever.
Many guests, though, cook lunch and evening meals themselves. Baskets of organic produce can be pre-ordered to stock your cupboards. There are five classes of apartment available at Lagació; we are in the second smallest, yet the intelligent layout and posh fittings make it feel larger than your usual suite. A pine-clad hall leads to an open-plan kitchen-cum-salon, with a glass wall at the end framing that staggering Piz Sorega view. And an enormous double bed – crisp white cotton sheets, an excess of pillows – is all that stands between us and the two-person bath. The bathroom is that special mix of black slate and designer fixtures that makes a simple shower feel like a deleted scene from American Psycho. Not a murdery moment, mind; a bit where you’d go, ‘Ooh, isn’t his apartment nice?’
Being rubbed, buffed and scrubbed is another feature of a Lagació stay, thanks to spa La Palsa. Mrs Smith opts for a Dr Hauschka facial and shouty-looking Relaxing Full Body Massage, whereas I, being a terribly manly sort, have a Full Body Sports Massage in an attempt to put right some of my self-inflicted snowboarding damage.
And the saunas! They are, well, saunas (you know the sort of thing: tongue-and-groove, hotter than hot), but these bad boys border on preternatural, location-wise. Huge slices of rock act as modesty screens, and ice cascades into a stone font for therapeutic rubbing. A dark slate steam room feels very grown-up and, dare I say it, sexy. Next-door, a relaxation lounge with ergonomic eco-furniture and a surfeit of herbal infusions leads to a second outdoor sauna and a giant water-filled barrel for that all-important pore-closing sub-zero dip. Just thinking ‘I’ve never jumped into a big barrel of cold water before’ is enough to make you want to try it. A word of advice: allow extra time after your sauna for your internal and external organs to return to their usual locations.
Piste-activated adrenalin and masseuse-applied ylang-ylang prove a heady mix, and Mrs Smith and I pat ourselves on the back for leaving our offspring in the bosom of his London-based grandparents. As an urbanite, the opportunity to tit about in nature is a rare treat indeed. I imagine that any trip here is very much focused on sliding down the Dolomites at high speed – and for that Lagació Mountain Residence makes the ideal base. The Fairtrade cherry on this organic panettone? Being able to step directly from the piste’s powdery playground into unabashed luxury.
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