Autumn is ending, the trees are losing their last leaves, and the mountain peaks are beginning to turn white. Winter is almost upon us, ready to d envelop the world with its very special magic. And what better mix is there to face the colder months than snow and wellness? Here then is a special selection that embraces the unique experience of theItalian winter South Tyrol, with the most beautiful Christmas markets And off the common routes, snow For lovers of skiing and snowshoeing, the SPAs where to rejuvenate and winter vacations to spend with loved ones, family or adult facilities.
Ortisei’s Cavallino Bianco, the magic of winter
It is a fairy tale winter offered by the Little White Horse, an enchanted castle that makes children and adults happy. In the presence of the Dolomites and the most beautiful slopes in Val Gardena lies the Cavallino Bianco Family Spa Grand Hotel ****S, a true paradise for vacationing families, specially created for their perfect symbiosis, combining a modern lifestyle with a long tradition of hospitality at the highest level. Strategically located in the historic center of Ortisei (BZ), a winter town par excellence, it is the ideal destination for families who want to immerse themselves in a unique and unmistakable Christmas atmosphere, strolling among the stalls enveloped in spicy scents and dulcet songs.
An undisputed icon of family hospitality, the hotel is a guarantee of relaxation and recreation for young and old alike with safety protocols at the highest level to celebrate the pleasure of being together, of feeling at home away from home. A magical place that offers all the services of a Grand Hotel, intended, by vocation, exclusively for families with children, able to respond in the round to the expectations of parents and children for a new level of serenity, games, exploration – especially in winter.
The strategic location of the hotel, in the center of the Dolomiti Superski ski area, a true paradise for skiing and snowboarding, allows all snow lovers to experience it in all its declinations. At the White Horse Ski School, an extension of the Ortisei Ski and Snowboard School, you can take exclusive single and group courses for novice skiers as well as adults. For mom and dad, there is the assurance of White Horse’s signature care, which follows the children uncompromisingly from the time they put on their boots until they return to the hotel for their snack.
In addition, snowshoes can be rented at the hotel, which are perfect for walking the silent, whitewashed trails of Val Gardena. Those who love sledding will find theAlpe Resciesa funicular, a paradise belonging to the Puez-Odle Nature Park, a short distance from the Cavallino Bianco, which takes just a few minutes to reach a 4-kilometer-long sledding slope. Plus ice skating at the rink located near the hotel and Nordic Walking, a much-loved practice that has been particularly successful in recent years. And what could be better after a long day in the snow than the pampering of a spa?
The Little White Horse also thinks about this, offering a dip in the pools with unparalleled views of the Dolomite peaks at the Aqva-Sana wellness area, developed over 3,000 sq. m.You have fun on the slides or relax in the whirlpools and then, to end the wellness path, a stop in the Family Relax Lounge with a fireplace and “sweet dreams” beds and a huge selection of treatments for young and old.
Available to guests are cozy suites ranging from 25 sq. m. to 140 sq. m. and the hotel’s flagship Lino Land, the world of children. An entire floor of the hotel is precisely dedicated to the children’s paradise, open all day with its own dedicated restaurant with a menu designed by a nutritionist. There are plenty of games and endless amusements available for the little ones, the Family Play Room to play with mom and dad, and guaranteed professional care throughout the day for various age groups, from the first month of life to teenagers. Rentals, on the other hand, feature everything you might need on vacation, from strollers to bottle warmers.
At the White Horse , welcoming and caring for children is a top priority combined with impeccable service for adults. The carefully selected staff can also assist newborns (welcomed from one month of age) so that parents can have a little break to devote to sports, relaxation or simply time for themselves. A skillful and studied balance between moments for couples, those with children and those for oneself makes this facility a true hommage to family.
The modalities for a family vacation can be the most diverse. You can travel all together or with a single parent (the “Single with child” proposal provides a 25 percent reduction on average fares) or even with grandparents who take advantage of discounts of 30 to 50 percent. In addition, the “Cavallino Lovers” club, a unique loyalty program composed of friends and loyal White Horse guests, has been launched since 2020. To find out all the benefits and different offers: www.cavallino-bianco.com
Family Hotel Schneeberg, family-friendly fun
A kingdom for children, also perfect for adults, dominates the bottom Ridanna Valley at only 18 km from Sterzing, where from the 26/11 to 06/01/22 you can visit one of the most beautiful South Tyrol Christmas markets, rises a true white oasis of snow, magic and fun at the highest level for all ages.
It is theHotel Schneeberg Family Resort & Spa, a 4-star family-resort of spectacular dimensions, framed by the Giovo Mountain massif, the Stubai Alps and Snow Mountain (hence the hotel’s name). The hotel evokes in style the warmth of the coziest mountain lodges and hides a host of pluses appreciated by families and children in particular, who are bewitched by the indoor pools and slides. A hidden but, never the less, really important plus: you stay here with zero impact. In fact, the hotel can rely on a hydroelectric and woodchip power plant that feeds the facility and with the surplus provides energy to the valley.
Crossing the threshold of the Schneeberg Family Resort & Spa means entering a world of entertainment, wellness, sports and all-around gastronomy, where every element has always been designed to protect the health and safety of guests without losing sight of the true purpose of the vacation: top fun for the whole family. In fact, at the Schneeberg parents can rest easy and enjoy their vacation while keeping an eye on their children at all times thanks to the Free mini-club, operating 7 days a week, from morning to evening: the animators organize a rich program of activities every week suitable for children (3 years and older) and teenagers, who will never be bored. There is no shortage of a bowling alley, a small petting zoo, a climbing wall, and much more.
The pride of the facility is undoubtedly themore than 8,000-square-meter area dedicated to the well-beingof the whole family. Adults can enjoy the peaceful corners in total silence and regenerate mind, soul and body. The most active can also engage in the winter sports (snowshoeing or cross-country skiing courses) or take advantage of the water park “Family Acquapark Bergiland” complete with slides (including the turbo-slide with free-fall start and the mega-tunnel slide with infinity jump), pools for all ages, and an original Family-Sauna To share with mom and dad.
The Schneeberg Family Resort & Spa is also a perfect starting point to reach high altitudes with the Racines-Giovo panoramic gondola and reach 2,150 meters above sea level. Eight other lifts start from here, climbing even higher and offering a unique view of the surrounding peaks. It also leads from here to the Snowboard Funpark, a snow playground also complete with 3 toboggan runs, always well groomed to ensure hours of carefree fun for young and old. Cross-country skiers, on the other hand, can enjoy the 50 km on 3 loops, well prepared as early as the crack of dawn. Should we be without equipment, we can find it all rented, in perfect condition, directly at the hotel.
Lo Schneeberg Family Resort & Spa boasts newly renovated, family-friendly dining: much of the dining rooms, such as the reception and spa reception area have undergone a remarkable restyling, and so is the buffet area, which includes spaces and heights tailored for children. The informal pizzeria, located beside the pond and an evening bar, allows guests to replace full-board dinner with a tasty pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven or to indulge in a light lunch at noon, even while wearing a bathrobe.
Rates at the Schneeberg Family Resort & Spastart at Euro 99 per person per night with All Inclusive Light (soft drinks from the buffet included at both lunch and dinner) and all services included. More information at www.schneeberg.it
Plunhof: mountain wellness just a stone’s throw from Sterzing
The Plunhof is a special place that encompasses an ancient and authentic history, designer architecture, a warm and refined welcome, attention to detail with sustainability, and a very solid wellness concept that succeeds in conquering soul, mind, and body. Just a handful of kilometers from Sterzing, in the heart of South Tyrol – Südtirol, the Plunhof Hotel (4-star superior) ravishes the heart.
What was yesterday a farm today is committed to dealing body and soul with materials that can be recovered within 15 kilometers of the hotel. Managed by mother Paula and her eight children, all of whom are busy at the hotel, the Plunhof, welcomes guests with its 67 rooms and a 4,000-square-meter spa, a true exclusive haven of well-being and excellence, which over the years has been honored with major awards such as Global Winner at the World Luxury Spa Awards 2019 as the Best Unique Experience Spa.
An ultra-sustainable, Climahaus-certified eco-hotel, it has succeeded in combining unexpected luxury with a new concept of wellness firmly tied to the local area. The snow-covered wooded landscapes surrounding the hotel communicate peace, reduce anxiety and bring back the inner peace that more and more people are lamenting the absence of. “The connection with stone and the valley’s raw materials is inscribed in our DNA. My grandparents worked in the mines, which is why we wanted to dedicate the Minera Acqua & Spa to them, celebrating silver quartzite and mining.” Thomas Volgger, one of the Plunhof’s owners, proudly explains.
The Plunhof Hotel is located in the heart of Val Ridanna, which was once the kingdom of the Monteneve mines. It thus harks back strongly to this valley’s past at Minera Acqua & Spa, the perfect place to regain the balance of soul, body and mind. Local stones are used here to remind us of that ancient wellness formula: among them, the family jewel that is carefully guarded is the silver quartzite massage. Ancient stones from the heart of the surrounding mountains, once a treasure trove of precious silver strands, now envelop guests in a total wellness journey that touches the soul.
A path that winds through 80-100° mineral saunas, Turkish bath, biosauna, sauna infrared, sauna with panoramic rooftop relaxation area, Kneipp pools, the cave world with a mining pond, an outdoor saltwater pool with whirlpool, an outdoor heated spring water pool, and an indoor water world with a 20-meter-long pool and a relaxation pool. Not to be missed in the winter season is a swim in the outdoor salt lake. The temperature of approx. 38 degrees allows the body to absorb trace elements and minerals from the alpine salt dissolved in the water for a super detoxifying and relaxing effect.
The Plunhof is also a perfect starting point to reach high altitudes with the Racines-Giovo panoramic gondola lift and reach 2,150 meters above sea level. Eight other lifts start from here, climbing even higher and offering a unique view of the surrounding peaks. Enchanted forests of pine and fir trees to whiz through while whizzing on 25 kilometers of snow-covered trails.
Fun for those who love stunts is guaranteed at the Snowboard Funpark, a playground at 2,150 m. s.l.m. accessible by the Racines-Giovo cable car, perfect for enthusiasts and also complete with 3 toboggan runs, always well groomed to ensure carefree hours for young and old. Those who enjoy sledding will find a slope as long as 9.6 km – among the longest in Italy and illuminated at night. Cross-country skiers, on the other hand, can enjoy the 50 km on 3 loops, well prepared as early as the crack of dawn.
Prices from 133 euros per night per person in a double room, with breakfast and dinner with a 4-5 course menu. More information at www.plunhof.it
Gnollhof, an oasis of peace on the edge of the forest
It is a destination decidedly different from the others, the Gnollhof****. And the reasons are many. For starters, while easily accessible, it is a true oasis of peace, located in 1.160 m. above sea level, on the edge of the striking spruce forest of Gudon, a small hamlet a few minutes from Chiusa (Bolzano), an alternative and off-the-beaten-path destination, one of the “Most Beautiful Villages in Italy” and the heart of South Tyrol – Südtirol. Then, it is a historic structure: in fact, it has been welcoming guests to its precious corner of nature since 1888, the ideal stage for experiencing firsthand the mountains and winter in all their magic.
From outdoor activities in the snow at the relaxation in wellness areas surrounded only and exclusively by spruce forests, enveloped in the dry heat of the panoramic Finnish sauna or the humid heat of the steam room: the Gnollhof **** is a placid and quiet place where nature beats time. The 54 rooms and suites have beautiful glass windows that can allow nature to tangibly permeate the room’s environment, where devoting oneself to self-care with a well-being is naturally established.
Wellness at the Gnollhof means enjoying the seraphic silence, but also soaking in the heated infinity pool, from which to gaze out over the spectacle of the surrounding mountains, and indulging in treatments based on natural, hand-picked raw materials. The mix of snow and wellness at its best. The hotel’s spa features the freshness of aloe and the alpine herbs of South Tyrol, encapsulated in relaxing massages and body-facial treatments signed PHARMOS NATUR Green Luxury, a vegan line of 100% natural cosmetics formulated on the basis of original, organic aloe vera juice, which replaces water as an excipient, in combination with valuable healing, rejuvenating and regenerating plants.
Wellness at the hotel is also indulging in the pleasures of the table and authentic South Tyrolean flavors. Viticulture also has deep roots at Gnollhof: they can be enjoyed at the table thanks to the award-winning wines from the family estate “Taschlerhof” with a precise identity, intense in aroma, elegant and balanced. With its four Eisack Valley wines (Sylvaner, Kerner, Riesling and Gewürztraminer), it is among the most popular wineries among wine lovers.
Nestled in the forest, nestled on a scenic knoll overlooking the Eisack valley, the Gnollhof offers the perfect balance between relaxation and sports activities: provides, for example, the tennis court nestled in the woods and a myriad of trails for those who wish to walk outdoors even in winter, a practice that infuses undisputed proven benefits, perhaps while wearing snowshoes.
For those who like to ski also it is a perfect base. In the area of the Eisack Valley there is a good supply of ski areas, for example that of theAlpe di Siusi, which provides 23 ski lifts covering 60 km of ski slopes, or the Plose area, about 40 km of ski slopes and 9 ski lifts, as well as cross-country ski trails and three toboggan runs. Thanks to the shuttle bus provided free of charge by the hotel, it is possible to reach some of the nearby ski resorts without having to take your own car. In addition, for those who wish, the hotel provides an experienced guide who will accompany guests on unforgettable snowshoe hikes on the Villanders/Villandro Alps, the Seiser Alm, or the Feldthurns/Velturno Alps.
Rates from Euro 108 per person with the rich ¾ board (breakfast, midday snack buffet with soups, salads and desserts, 4-course dinner), use of the wellness center and tennis court, butalso the possibility to choose special packages such as “White Dreams.” More information at: www.gnollhof.it
The magic of South Tyrol’s Christmas markets returns.
This year, at last, the Christmas Markets are back: thanks to their so special charm and their load of tradition, from the city to the mountains they represent the real stars of the Advent season. It’s all thanks to their ancient history: it seems that the birth of Christmas Markets, one of the quintessential symbols of the holiday season, dates back as far as the Middle Ages, when they were an opportunity to stock up on provisions to face the long winter. Today they provide a unique opportunity for celebration and magic for young and old alike. Here are some suggestions for experiencing three of South Tyrol’s most exciting Christmas Markets firsthand.
A Merano Christmas markets are scheduled November 25, 2021 to January 6, 2022 and are a highly anticipated rendezvous with their romantic and fairy-tale souls, as sugary as homemade apple and cinnamon cakes and as warm as mulled wine with which it is nice to warm body and soul. Among the many wooden houses are many local handicrafts made of fabric, glass, wool or wood, perfect for Christmas gifts but also many delicacies to taste, such as the Brezel in endless variations, the Tyrolean Riggl (sandwiches with roast and rye bread) or the delicious Potato rosti. And you can also witness thearrival of St. Nicholas “who brings treats and gifts to the good children” and the grotesque parade of Krampus through the streets of the old town, with their devil masks and bizarre furs. Don’t miss the nativity scene in Terme Square, as well as the atmospheric Christmas tree, skating rink and horse carousel for the happiness of children. To enjoy the market to the fullest, you can stay at the Boutique & Design Hotel Imperial Art.
In the beautiful village of Klausen the Christmas market takes on an original and unique connotation. It is “Medieval Christmas,” which takes place from Nov. 26, 2021 to Dec. 19, 2021 among the picturesque streets of the center of the Eisack Valley. The Klausen Christmas Market takes place every weekend during the Advent season: the romantic old town serves as a natural setting among fir trees, rural objects, and Christmas decorations. Strolling through the town one encounters jugglers, knights and fire-eaters, a true journey through time that catapults one back to the Middle Ages. To make the atmosphere even more atmospheric, street lighting remains off, and the village streets are lit only by the light of candles and lanterns, tracing a truly exciting light path. Among the stalls, felt artisans, bakers, jewelers and carvers offer their typical products, amid gospel choirs and players of wind instruments and drums. Night watchmen, on the other hand, tell old stories as they walk up and down the village streets and light hundreds of candles. Medieval Christmas also offers a rich side program especially popular with families with children, including baking classes, children’s readings, pony rides, the Krampus and St. Nicholas parade, puppet theater, art performances, and more. To enjoy the market to the fullest, you can stay at the hotel Spitalerhof*** .
A stop at the magical Christmas market in Ortisei is a must, where the magic of Advent has the sweet scent of spices, the warmth of Christmas melodies, and the flavor of ancient Ladin traditions that take you back in time. During the festive season, Ortisei turns into the “Christmas Village” from December 3, 2021 until January 6, 2022. A fairy tale that can combine the historical traditions of Val Gardena, such as the wonderful Advent wreaths and the Advent calendar itself, with the charm and exclusivity of the products offered in the little wooden houses, such as sculptures, candles and glass objects made by master craftsmen, but also liqueurs and the fine wines of South Tyrol. To experience the market with all five senses, in the “Lodenlounges,” the cozy little gourmet houses, you can taste local products and exquisite delicacies in a warm and romantic atmosphere that smells of cinnamon sweets, gingerbread and mulled wine. In the streets of Ortisei, not to be missed is the exhibition of nativity scenes displayed in the original window-houses, and as every year, an additional man-sized wooden statue will be added to enrich the world’s famous World’s Largest Nativity Scene. Younger children will enjoy the Gardena carousel, made with four wooden horses. To enjoy the market to the fullest, you can stay at the Cavallino Bianco Family Spa Grand Hotel ****S .