Where To Stay In Italy
Hotel Sassongher,Corvara, Italy Hidden away in the Italian Dolomites lies the beautiful South Tyrolean valley of Alta Badia. In the mid 19th century, the first alpine explorers arrived. Now the area is as famous for its sport (skiing, cycling, climbing) as for its natural beauty and delicious cuisine. And,these days, you can pair your outdoor activity with a restorative dose of spa r&r.
Right at the heart of the valley on the Sellaronda trail (the famous cycle/ski tour of the Sella mountain range), surrounded by majestic peaks, sits the little town of Corvara, all wooden chalet houses and cute tea shops. It’s a picturesque,three-hour drive from Venice and, as we wind our way up the hairpin bends, we’re full of respect for the cyclists inching their way up the final climb before the equally twisty descent into town.We immediately fall in love with our hotel the five-star, family-run Hotel Sassongher.Originally a farmhouse, the luxury hotel hasbeen owned and lovingly restored by the Pescosta family since 1938, and today,hotel manager Francesco Morini (the owners’ nephew) offers a warm welcome Sitting directly under the imposing Sassongher mountain, the hotel is decorated in traditional South Tyrolean Style with snug wood-panelled parlours and family hunting trophies. My spacious,sun-drenched bedroom is a lovely place to relax. I stand on the balcony, breathing in the crystal-clear mountain air and drinking in the panoramic views.
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From the hotel, it’s a quick hop to the ski lifts, our gateway to an adventure playground of mountain activities, including cycle trails, nordic walking, mountaineering and a well-marked network of hiking trails for every fitness level. We take a lift up to the Piz La Ila area, where we find an outdoor gym with incredible views and workout stations to help you get ski-fit.We hike through the stunning flower-strewn meadows, looking across to the Marmalade (the highest peak in the Dolomites) and down over the valley below. We’re working up an appetite to try one of Alta Badia world-famous mountain-hut restaurants. With its location on the Italian/Austrian border, the region is famed for its gourmet gastronomy and, in summer, the Peaks of Gastronomy food programme sees Michelin-star chefs create dishes for eight mountain huts. At The Utia De Bioch, we enjoy an aperitif prosecco & elderflower cocktails, followed by divine dishes including homemade beetroot pasta with wild garlic and nettle pesto – perfect hiking fuel. The next day,we do it all over again on the Col Alto Plateau, lunching at the pretty Col Alto Hut, demolishing rustic Veal stew and Gnocchi with local chanterelles.
Back from our activities, we pad down to the hotel’s Alpine Wellness and Spa area to stretch out our legs in the warm, tranquil pool (with mountain view) and relax in the heat suite, including hunter’s sauna(fragranced with pine essential oil), Turkish Bath and vitarium (with colour and aromatherapy). Then it’s through to the Wellness & Beauty Spa by Danielle Steiner formassages (from deep tissue to couples’),beauty and body treatments (many using products imbued with local herbs), plus programmes for après ski, detox and beauty. I opt for an Invigorating body scrub containing therapeutic alpine herbs My therapist then eases out my tight leg muscles with an expertly delivered message. There’s also a tempting Arnica Body wrap to soothe sore muscles using arnica flower essence from the Dolomites.WORDS: Mary Comber.
That night, we feast on dinner in the cosyhunters’ stuben dining room, built in 1520,lined with old timber and adorned with the Pescosta family’s hunting trophies.We start with the huge antipasti buffet,before feasting on delectable local dishes such as Venison cutlet with juniper and red cabbage, Burrata cheese cream with tomato confit and Sea bass with saffronpurée. For dessert, the buffet table creaks under the strain of tempting puddings from tiramasu to delicate berry panna cotta.
Hotel Sassongher, Corvara has double rooms from €135 per person, per night,based on two adults sharing a Comfort Room, half-board; sassongher.it. For More on Alta Badia visit alta badia.org.
Miller Harris Rêve le Verger Scented Candle, £45 for 185g;feelunique.comRêve de verger means ‘orchard dream’, and this candle has been created to evoke the scent of the sun setting on a pear orchard, complete with hay, rose and peony. Just what we need after a stressful day in the big smoke – sit back, close your eyes and daydream about a warm, rural summer evening. Just feel your worries evaporate…Made with a blend of mineral and natural waxes, the candle has an impressive burn time of 40 hours,so you can revisit your relaxed state many times.Other scents in the collection include the beautifully fresh and leafy Cassis en feuille – the perfect energy boost; the spicy, smokey and exoticLʼArt de fumage for a great dinner party atmosphere;and Reine de la Nuit that evokes a really sensual ambience, thanks to the inclusion of tuberose, plus mimosa and violet.
‘IT WORKED FOR ME’
Gabrielle Nathan triesa bikini-body beauty treatment.
What? Bikini Facial, £150 for 45 minutes.
Where? Bea Skin Clinic, Crawford Street, London (and Beckenham,Kent); bianca estelle aesthetics.com.‘I’m not usually body-conscious,but my bikini line, with its bumps,ingrown hairs and patches of discolouration, knocks my confidence when I wear swimwear. But not this summer. Before my Bikini Facial at Bianca Estelle’s Marylebone Clinic,I’m nervous about the steaming,sloughing and squeezing – but this facial-for-down-there doesn’t include heat or extractions, just pampering and serious exfoliation.‘Following a brief discussion about my depilation methods (allow at least 48 hours after waxing and before you hit the pool or beach), I lay on the therapy bed in my knickers. Therapist Sarah put me at ease, covering my lower half with a towel and massaging my feet while explaining she’d work on the front and then back of my thighs. My legs were cleansed, toned, polished and massaged from the knees up as far as conservative bikini line. I drifted off as Sarah’s firm strokes smoothed inDian Skin Care cosmeceuticals products, but came to when my inner thighs began to tingle. The tingling turned into an eye-watering stinging as the glycolic-acid peel took effect.Thankfully, though, it only lasted a minute before Sarah sponged down my skin and applied a cooling,moisturising balm.‘The effects were immediate – the skin on my outer thighs has never felt so soft and my bikini line and upper thighs are free from pesky ingrown hairs. I’ve definitely reclaimed bikini swagger.’
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