Lefay Dolomiti, which opened just over two years ago, perches majestically above the Alpine town of Pinzolo in the scenic Rendena valley in Trentino’s western Dolomites. Its soaring glass and wood architecture blends in seamlessly with the surrounding mountains: on one side, the Unesco World Heritage-listed Brenta Dolomites; on the other, the Adamello-Brenta Geopark. The original Lefay resort, around 90km away overlooking Lake Garda, is more about health programmes inspired by Chinese medicine. Here in the Dolomites, it’s less medically minded and more of a leisurely, relaxing holiday destination where you can hike in warmer months and ski in the winter, while enjoying all the resort has to offer: uber luxe suites, one of the biggest spas in the Alps, amazing treatments, a stunning indoor-outdoor pool and gourmet food. At this time of year, you are just a hop away from the fantastic Madonna di Campiglio ski area. You can ski all day until the last lift closes, but if you prefer to pootle about on a couple of blue runs in the morning, have lunch and retreat for an afternoon of relaxation and pampering, Lefay Dolomiti is the sanctuary for you.
The 88 suites are spacious, with natural fabrics, local wood and stone giving them a Scandi feel. They are inviting and cosy, with super comfortable beds, stylish wall-mounted fireplaces and every high-tech device you can imagine; most also have balconies with glorious views of the mountains and the valley below. Bathrooms are separated from bedrooms via a slatted blind and have a huge bath and separate power shower – we love the full-size, own-brand bathroom products. The almond oil body lotion is particularly divine and available to buy in the spa, so do take some home. Five of the larger suites have their own wellness area with jacuzzi and sauna. The super swanky Royal Suite on the top floor has three bedrooms, a living room, dining area and kitchen, as well as a private spa treatment area with sauna, jacuzzi and relaxation area, and a heated whirlpool on the wrap-around terrace.
The Spa & Fitness Centre
The jewel in the crown is the vast spa at the centre of the resort. It’s spread across four floors and you could very happily spend your entire stay dressed in nothing more than the fluffy towelling robe provided, trying out the wide range of massages, rituals and treatments, as well as osteopathy, physiotherapy and beauty treatments, all of which are meticulously described in the 75-page spa guide. Our top tip is to try the salt lake grotto, a blissful Dead Sea-style floating experience that leaves you feeling calm and totally relaxed. Or get a body scrub where your therapist will slather you in chestnut flower, alpine salt and alpine butter, leaving your skin soft and glowing. The body massages and facials are excellent too – all use Lefay’s own chemical and preservative-free products.
But there’s more to this temple of peace and tranquillity, where you could also spend hours in the various saunas, steam rooms, ice baths and whirlpool. Lefay describes its spa as “where East and West blend together”. The aim is to rebalance and rejuvenate body and mind by stimulating Chinese meridians. Each sauna area (with different levels of temperature and humidity) has been conceived following the principles of classical Chinese medicine: the bio-sauna in the Green Dragon is scented with rosemary and orange, and recommended for impulsive and nervous people; the Finnish sauna and ice pool (this one requires some bravery) in the Red Phoenix is infused with lavender and vervain, and recommended for anxiety; the salt grotto and salt-water lake in the Black Tortoise, with its aroma of juniper, is recommended if you are stressed; the steam bath in the White Tiger, scented with eucalyptus and thyme, is advised for people experiencing weakness, tiredness or melancholy. Connecting each of these areas is the Centre, where it is recommended you transition in the hydro-massage whirlpool before moving on to another area.
There are also two swimming pools. The indoor one is perfect if you want to get up early and do some serious length swimming. The gorgeous indoor-outdoor infinity pool has jaw-dropping views and can be used any time of the year – in rain, shine or even snow – as the water is gloriously warm.
And if the above is not enough to keep you busy, the fitness centre has a large 24-hour gym with all the latest kit. There is also a range of classes you can try, such as Pilates, Qi Gong, stretching, power pump and yoga, as well as private sessions.
There’s a choice of two restaurants, though both are all about sustainability, seasonality and high-quality ingredients (preferably local). The main dining area, Dolomia, has floor-to-ceiling windows onto the valley and the mountains, and serves breakfast (a spectacular buffet, so don’t miss it), lunch and dinner. Dishes are a mix of Mediterranean and local: home-made pasta; seared scallops with pumpkin flowers stuffed with ricotta; roasted turbot fillet with potatoes, snow peas, zucchini and basil cream; Alpine trout with toasted almonds, mushrooms and chard; saddle of venison with marinated cherries; as well as risotto dishes to share and meats from the grill. Slightly healthier options are marked on the menu with an ‘L’. The puddings are excellent, particularly the classic tiramisu, so make sure you leave some space for the dessert trolley. The glass-enclosed wine cellar as you come in houses over 600 different wines, mainly local.
For fine dining, book into Grual for the eight or 12-course tasting menu. Devised by chef Matteo Maenza as a tribute to the surrounding mountains, every ingredient in his ‘altimetric’ menu has a specific altitude – valley floor, alpine pasture and high mountain – and your meal will take you on a gastronomic pathway from the bottom of the valley to the highest peaks. Expect dishes like green beans, mustard seeds, hazelnuts and nasturtium; mountain potatoes with herb pesto and rosehip ketchup; Arctic char with Trentino bread purée and wild broccoli; roe deer with wild blackberries; caramel tarte tatin with puff-pastry ice cream and almond chips; and to finish off, a pretty plate of walnut emulsion, chocolate mousse, blackberry compote and mountain pepper ice cream. Each of these courses can be paired with local wines. Decadent? Yes slightly, but truly memorable and delicious too. You can also order from the à la carte menu.
Skiing & Other Things To Do
Lefay is just 12km from the runs of the ultra-chic ski resort of Madonna di Campiglio. An express gondola lift a few metres from the resort will whisk you there in just 16 minutes. Here you will find over 150km of immaculately groomed pistes, mostly suited to leisurely intermediates, though – for the more adventurous – there are steep blacks and plenty of off-piste. There is also a vast snow-making system, which means you are pretty much guaranteed good conditions from November to April. For non-skiers, there are toboggan runs, ice skating and many walking trails to discover either on foot or with snowshoes.
This area does not only come into its own in the winter months. Once the snows have melted, from early summer right up to late October, the green mountains of the Dolomites offer the perfect conditions for a limitless number of activities. Head out at sunrise or sunset to catch the picture-perfect scenes as the jagged mountain tops gain a reddish glow. For the very best views, you need to head up into the mountains – there are pathways and trails to suit all abilities. At a fairly leisurely pace, you can walk for miles through the forests, along the Sarca river to the famous Nardis and Lardes waterfalls, past small shimmering turquoise lakes and open pastures where cattle graze, and then lunch at the lovely family-run Chalet Fogajard. More serious hikers can hire a guide to go across the mountains and up to some of the highest peaks. If you just fancy a short, 30-minute stroll from the resort, head to Chiesa di Santo Stefano, a beautiful, frescoed church on a nearby hill above the village of Carisolo from which you will get more fabulous views. The cycling is excellent too, with rugged trails perfect for mountain bikers – or you can hire an e-bike to help you up those hills. There’s also a nine-hole golf course nearby as well as horse riding and fishing.
The small town of Pinzolo (a ten-minute walk away) is worth a visit, if only to shop at the deli, Alimentari Caola, where you will find shelves stacked with amazing local products – grappas, Trentino wines, honey, jams, as well as cheeses, hams and salamis. For €15, the owner Antonio will delight in letting you try some of the local wines, cheeses and salamis in the tasting area in the basement.
Room rates start from €350 per room per night, including breakfast and taxes. Visit Lefay Dolomiti to book and for more information.
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