Glass visits the Rosa Alpina Hotel and Spa in the Dolomite mountains

BREATHE in. Feel your lungs pulling in more oxygen. Now just imagine that sensation while doing yoga at a high altitude and breathing in the pure mountain air, it’s a location that isn’t just reserved for skiing during the winter. The summer offers a more soothing atmosphere and activities for every taste, from thrill seekers to wellness addicts.

Just south of the Austrian border, the Italian Dolomite mountains are some of the best that this region has to offer, and the Rosa Alpina Hotel is in the perfect spot for easy access to the Dolomites. The family owned Rosa Alpina is about a two-hour drive from Venice, at first glance this sounds less than exciting but driving through the mountains and valleys of northern Italy becomes one of the highlights of the trip, offering some of the best views I’ve ever seen. The roads are a bit windy but it ensures you get plenty of instagram worthy imagery. As the journey comes to an end you pull into the area of San Cassiano, and a quaint town that has a distinctly alpine feel mixed with classic Italian charm, and the Rosa Alpina echoes this fusion.

Rosa Alpina Exterior

The Rosa Alpina Hotel exterior and San Cassiano region

When you walk into the hotel, the first thing you see is a large wooden reception desk and a lounge area for guests to meet and have a drink by the hotel bar in the evening. Your shoes click against the marble floors and everything is designed to be easy on the eyes and to have a calming energy.

The best way to spend your first day in the Rosa Alpina is by taking advantage of everything they offer to relax. The flight isn’t long from London, around two hours, but add that to another 2 hours to the hotel by car and hiking the Dolomites isn’t usually the first desire for day one. For this the Rosa Alpina has pulled out all the stops – especially with their newly completed wellness area. Start at the spa on the hotel grounds, it’s small, intimate and has a subtly sweet almond smell and natural warmth when you walk in. It’s the perfect place to start your visit with a well-deserved massage and maybe a facial to help ease you into your wellness escape.

All the other wellness amenities are in the same area as the spa. There’s a large pool that’s open to families, better if you’re looking to swim a few laps, and it also opens up to a garden where you can top up on your tan. From here there’s also an adults only area where there’s a smaller pool for when you just need a quick cool off, as well as a steam room and sauna. It’s a great place to spend a long afternoon and release some toxins.

_DSC0345The new adults-only pool and wellness area

Once an afternoon of detoxing comes to an end, it’s time to prepare for dinner. I stayed in one of the hotel’s loft suites with a large soaking tub, rain-head shower, walk in closet space, extra-large bed, fireplace and a balcony and it was phenomenal. The room has the classic elegance that resonates throughout the hotel while keeping a few modern touches. There was also a cosy balcony that faced towards one of the local mountains which during June is covered in lush greenery and it was a great place to enjoy a morning coffee and catch up on some reading in the sun.

Rosa Alpina ROomOne of the loft suites at the Rosa Alpina Hotel

For dinner, the hotel’s St Hubertus restaurant is difficult to beat. It’s a two Michelin-star dining experience with creations by chef Norbert Niederkofler. Niederkofler is something of a mountain man at heart and doesn’t believe in wasting food or skimping on portions, so you can feel more economical while you stuff yourself with exquisite edibles. He also uses a lot of local fresh ingredients so you can really get a taste of San Cassiano. Every dish is worth a taste but the fish are truly sumptuous and the berry dessert is unlike anything else.

The next day was much more about experiencing all the cleansing and outdoor activities that the Rosa Alpina has to offer, beginning with Yoga in a park under a waterfall. It was my first time doing yoga and there was something incredibly soothing about the sounds of water flowing in the background as you’re trying to balance and keep your breathing steady.

After yoga and a quick omelette in the hotel’s breakfast area, my group embraced the most difficult challenge of the trip, a hike up the Dolomite mountains. Our guide was a local man by the name of Diego and he was truly a local character. He hikes in a shirt and trousers, even in the toastiest of temperatures, and is constantly smiling and looks to be the epitome of health. There’s a short transfer from the hotel to the bottom of one of the hiking paths and it’s only up from there.

If you ever turn a corner thinking it will finally be flat and you can relax a bit, you’re wrong. It’s like being on am eternal stair stepper but on rocky terrain and with views that take your breath away. It’s a difficult climb for inexperienced hikers but it feels amazing once you finally get to the top, passing by a hillside restaurant and a waterfall on the way up.

At the top lies a turquoise lake, surrounded by more hiking trails and thick brush. After a long hike up the mountain, it’s worth having a dip in although it’s freezing cold – if the weather isn’t over 25 degrees.

20140805_025 ┬® giuseppe ghedinaGoing for a swim in a mountain top lake

The way down is refreshing and confidence building. It’s difficult hiking up a mountain, but reaching the top is one of the most pride filling moments to have and definitely something to tick off your bucket list. Plus after burning so many calories on your way up, you don’t feel half as bad gorging on truffle pasta at the hillside restaurant on your way back down.

That evening, after a few more laps in the pool and a quick steam, our group went to a cabin owned by the family that owns the hotel. It’s available to guests for an overnight stay and offers some of the most amazing views of the mountains and the town below. Here we gorged on local seafood and vegetables before truly indulging on the best apple strudel that the Dolomite’s has to offer. Leave your diets at home, the Rosa Alpina during the summer is all about feeling healithy, but the food doesn’t mean ou should skip the food.

The next day began with sunrise yoga, another amazing session with the hotel yoga instructor, a woman so at peace you feel your shoulders relax just speaking to her. It was a bit more intense this time around, but it’s still one of the best ways to wake up in the morning.

On this last day, I spent most of the remaining afternoon in my suite. Sitting on the balcony, breathing in my last breaths of the crisp mountain air. It was more than just a wellness experience at the Hotel Rosa Alpina, it was a personal triumph and journey of self-discovery.

by Anna Coughlan
Rosa Alpina Hotel & Spa, San Cassiano has rooms available from €455 per night based on two adults sharing a Deluxe Double room. For further information please visit this link.