Alta Badia is the most exciting mountain region in the Dolomites we’ve yet to visit – and we sure are planning a future trip. Tucked away in sunny South Tyrol, the commune’s ski slopes and luxury hotels are calling, and OutThere travellers are hearing an echo all across the world.
All the way back in the tenth grade, we went on a school skiing trip to the Italian Alps, and it taught us two things: firstly, don’t get caught sneaking late-night Smirnoffs into the girls’ dormitory by your maths teacher, and secondly, this part of Western Europe’s favourite mountain range is an altogether different world from the glittering billionaire hideouts of Switzerland and Bavaria. In Alta Badia, glitter makes way for snow, though skiing is far from the only activity on offer here.
Sure, the area’s 35 km of cross-country ski trails certainly entice our inner snowman, but we’ve always appreciated the mountains for the sense of calm and peace they give us, and following a turbulent year, why rush down the mountainside, if you can take to it slowly? Especially seeing Alta Badia has remained somewhat of an insiders’ tip, the sort of destination your Venetian gondolier might tell you they’re planning to escape to in the winter. With fewer tourists (and BMW SUVs) in the streets, the commune promises the chance of a real retreat from the world: there are some 80 km of untouched walking trails ideal for winter mountaineering, ice-climbing or snowshoeing – ‘ciaspole’, if you must brag with your Italian!
Should you tire of snow eventually, or your little toes beg to be defrosted, there’s always the Ciastel de Tor Ladin Museum, which tells the story of the UNESCO World Heritage Site’s local Ladin people. The museum has recently kicked off the ‘Nos Ladins’ initiative, giving travellers the opportunity to immerse themselves in ancient traditions and learn slow skills from the locals; a mindful and wonderfully experiential way of getting under Alta Badia’s snow-covered skin.
Still not enough? Unwind back at the hotel, then. At the Sassongher in Corvara, we’ll be headed straight for the Sky SPA, whose heated outdoor whirlpool and spacious sauna with nothing but a glass façade between guests and the Tyrolean mountainscape would put Elsa’s ice palace to shame (there, we said it!). Meanwhile, San Cassiano’s Rosa Alpina offers morning yoga sessions with its Mindful Skiing offer, and possibly the most sublime wellness menu in all of Alta Badia – not altogether surprising, seeing each treatment has been developed in collaboration with AMAN.
Should the urge to hit the pistes kick in at some point during your stay, the Dolomiti Superski app has launched an innovative Skiers Map, allowing wannabe Bode Millers to circumvent busier slopes. Not that there’ll be a lot of queuing to begin with. And that’s sort of the point of visiting: while resorts across Austria and Switzerland are bound to fill up first when travel becomes safe and available again for more people, Alta Badia is perhaps your best bet to get ahead of the game for next season, ditch the crowds and have a more or less private piste to yourself – although you might have to share with us!
www.altabadia.org / www.sassongher.it / www.rosaalpina.it
Photography by Freddy Planinschek, courtesy of Hotel Sassongher, and by Alex Filz, courtesy of Rosa Alpina