10 Mar A Luxury Gourmet Ski Safari – The Dolomites
I was delighted to be invited on my first ski safari, be it luxury, gourmet or just “ski”.
It was also my first time to the Dolomites. If you have never been – then you must. It is, quite simply, stunning. Without a doubt one of the most beautiful, striking and impressive mountain ranges in the world.
I need to be honest from the outset, this isn’t a trip for everyone. If you are a ‘hardcore ski fanatic’ you might find the terrain a little too mellow for your liking. If you are an off piste powder hound, then you may struggle to find enough places and areas to ski. However, if you want a real Italian ski experience where you can fill your Ski Tracker with km’s of cruisey skiing whilst trying some interesting, new and incredible food then this is without a doubt the experience for you!
I can personally vouch that this experience would be suited to families (with kids who are experienced skiers), small groups of friends, a corporate ski trip or it is even a great break for couples.
My trip consisted of a three day, four night safari and as such, it was a little rushed in order to see as much as possible. We would recommend ideal timing to be a week, then you could really enjoy the luxury on offer.
Take a look at my trip itinerary below to get a real feel for a luxury ski safari in the Dolomites and if it might be for you:
The first day was spent in the resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo and a stay in the delightfully charming, if slightly old school luxury, 5 star Hotel Cristallo. The hotel is the highest rated in the region, home of royalty and me for the night! The evening consisted of a beautiful five course dinner, a briefing on the trip ahead and then off to bed to prepare for the tour.
Duffel bags were packed for a two night stay and whisked off by our guides to be ready and waiting for us at the huts when we arrive; amazing logistics and a great service by our guides.
Day two was a ski day exploring the Cortina and Cinque Torri (five towers) area where we experienced endless, perfectly groomed slopes that perfectly suit cruisey skiing. We skied World Cup downhill runs, trekked up to viewing platforms and covered 140kms of slopes; a truly great ski day. Whilst it may have been a little cold (it was January after all) it could not deter from the stunning views and magnificent scenery!
Lunch was enjoyed at a ‘simple mountain hut’, where a delicious Italian feast of cured meats, cheeses, hot soups, soft succulent meats and grilled veggies was served: simple food done so so well.
Once our legs were tired from skiing we arrived at Refugio Scoiattoli on top of the mountain. Upon arrival it was apparent that waking up to these stunning vistas was going to be something special! We watched the sun set with a lovely bottle of Italian wine ahead of dinner: an epic four course meal before turning in for an early night.
The Rifugio is quite basic (some of them are more luxurious) but bear in mind at well over 2,000m up, more luxury means an ensuite bathroom and twin beds as opposed to shared facilities and bunk beds. None-the-less the charm, the character and the stories are lure enough, and not forgetting the outdoor fire heated hot tub, which has to offer some of the most stunning backdrops of any hot tub anywhere in the world!
And we were right…. Waking up to ‘that view’ was stunning! Watching the sun rise over the mountains, whilst preparing for another amazing ski day made for an unforgettable start to the day.
A hearty breakfast and we were off to enjoy a mixture of ski runs and shuttle buses (private and very well orchestrated), skiing the Civet and Passo San Pellegrino areas. Again, we experienced beautiful, quiet slopes and racked up several more km’s of skiing. You can’t help but stop for selfies, photo opportunities and just to gaze in awe at these amazing mountains. Our guides told us stories of the area, dating back to the Second World War and even further back to the battles to claim this stunning part of the world.
We enjoyed a bit more luxury that night in Rifugio Fuciade; an unassuming hut reached via a snowcat (huge snowcat tractor bumping you across the slopes – part of the experience and great fun!) with the most magnificent interior. The rooms were ensuite (luxury!) and the beds were great. The small bar and the kitchen were impressive, as was the traditional and cosy dining room. Only outshone by the incredible wine cellar and meat room! Yes – this little hut in the hills had one of the most impressive wine cellars that any chateaux would be proud of. So impressive. And the “meat room” was exactly that, where all the meats were hung to dry, age and cure: stunning! As was the wine tasting and the seven course taster menu! WOW!
A day skiing in Val di Fassa and Alte Badia – an intermediate paradise. The beautiful slopes were well groomed and perfect for getting your speed up and carving into the mighty Dolomites.
That evening we were back to Alte Badiaand and to 5 star luxury at the Rosa Alpine Hotel. I can honestly say the Rosa Alpine is one of the most impressive hotels I have ever stayed in.
The lovely adults only pool, sauna and steam rooms offer the ultimate relaxation after some long days skiing (the family spa has hot tubs and a bigger pool), followed by dinner in the two Michelin Starred restaurant: the perfect finish to a perfect trip. We were treated to champagne and canapés in the kitchen itself (a real privilege to be allowed into the chefs kitchen) and then the seven course taster menu, paired with wines from the region and beyond. It was quite simply delightful and a wonderful finish to a great four days.
The optimum time for such a trip wold be five to seven days to really get the full experience, you can make it as luxurious or as rustic as you like. The essential part is the guides and the organisation: it’s a lot of logistics to organise and requires access to the right restaurants and huts. The local contacts are crucial to the success of the trip.
We really couldn’t recommend this experience highly enough and are delighted to now be offering this wonderful adventure/experience through Kaluma, where all our care and attention will ensure the memories are unforgettable.
Andy Butterworth – Kaluma Director