Fly Me to the Marmolada!

Alpenroyal Hotel, Selva Alta Val Gardena, Italy

I was in the passenger seat of a helicopter high above the Dolomites en route to be dropped (yes dropped) on the Marmolada glacier (Ghiacciaio della Marmolada). Once you ski this way, it’s hard to go back to the lifts.

The Marmolada is the highest mountain in the Dolomites, a section of the Alps, about three hours by car from Milan. St. Moritz and Gstaad can move over—this is real skiiing. This recently named UNESCO Natural World Heritage site has more than 1,200 km of skiing wonder through twelve ski areas. It would take two weeks to ski them all. I tried my best in eight days.

The invigorating spa

I discovered this amazing region through a friend’s hotel, Alpenroyal Grand Hotel Gourmet & Spa in Selva Alta Val Gardena, Italy.

The five-star hotel is a member of The Leading Small Hotels of the World and has been family run since 1956 by the Prinoth family. Service is impeccable, the food top-notch and the spa, invigorating.

Mornings would start with a breakfast of every grain, cheese, cured meat (including speck, native to the region), organic eggs and fruit you need to fuel up for a day on the slopes. The hotel’s driver would then drop us at one of the many gondolas (we liked to start at Col Raiser).

Pastry selection at Frainela

Spring skiing was at its best: sunny, mild days meant hours and hours of sublime alpine adventure. Midday breaks were spent at huttes that pepper the landscape. These mountainside restaurants range from rustic, casual spots to the stylish and chic Club Moritzino (Book ahead +39 0471.847403;, where we enjoyed a fabulously long meal. A great spot for an aperitivo is Baita Ciampai and another favorite hutte is Sophie ( where you might find yourself double ordering the lamb chops.

We’d time our last run down the Sellaronda to end up at Frainela ( where owner Daniela Comploj bakes the most divine pastries on the planet.

Flying to the Marmolada

Satiated by ski and sweets, we’d head back to Alpenroyal for a massage at Spa Eghes (ask for Nunzia) and a swim in the heated outdoor pool, complete with water circuit.

Dinner at the hotel’s Le Stuben restaurant was the cap to a quintessential mountain day. Sardines with black currants and chanterelles, spaghetti with radicchio, pork cheek and red wine sauce, lamb in salt and mountain hay crust, organic farmstead cheeses and dolci…at least I was skiing off the calories the next day.

Alpenroyal Grand Hotel is also open in the summer months with loads of activities from mountain biking, climbing, hiking to paragliding, and of course, helicopter tours. Combine it with a trip to Milan or Venice.

Reserve by calling +39 04-71-79-55-55, or email the hotel directly at: info @