Above the Alpine town of Pinzolo, the snow is softly falling, covering the pines and meadows with a crystalline, fairytale-like coating. Seen from the glass-fronted lounge of Lefay Resort & Spa Dolomiti, the peaks of the Dolomites are in touching distance but, while plenty of guests do hit the slopes, skiing is not Lefay’s main calling card.
Wellness is what it’s all about here. The second property from the Lefay group (the first is in Lake Garda and there are more European openings in the pipeline), Lefay Dolomiti has one of the largest spas in the Alps and its vast expanse of therapy rooms, pools and ‘pathways’ act as a cocooning retreat in this wintry wonderland.
Found a two-hour drive from Verona, you wind up to Lefay past mountain villages, medieval churches and mirror-like lakes. It opened its doors in late 2019, but the fanfare which would have usually greeted a standout opening such as this was overshadowed by the pandemic. Now in its stride, the resort is making waves for its cutting-edge approach to wellbeing.
You arrive into a central, hall-like space which houses the reception, lounge, bar and library. The A-shaped, floor-to-ceiling windows give epic views over the mountains and down on to the hotel’s cinematic, steamy inside-outside pool. The space calls the natural world inside with its use of wood, exposed stone, amber glass and pink-toned marble to echo the Alpine landscape on the doorstep, while open fires give a warming welcome to those who have been outside all day.
In fact, architect Hugo Demetz designed the resort according to the principles of bio-architecture, while the interior design, led by Studio Alberto Apostoli, sought out natural local materials to fit this ethos. Fir and larch are used for external coverings, oak for the floors, chestnut for furniture and all around are flashes of Adamello Tonalite, a typical local stone that looks like a light granite, which was used historically to build pasture fountains.
If skiing the Trentino Valley’s runs or snow-walking some of the 400km of trails is not for you, you don’t have to worry – there’s plenty to do within the resort (which may not requires as much energy). Lefay’s spa covers some 5,000sq metres, with many practices based on traditional Chinese thinking mixed with the latest scientific research.
At the heart of the spa are four different zones, called ‘pathways’ – each devised for a different ‘energy’ and matched to a season. Inside each are a series of hot and cold rooms and therapies for you to follow. There are also accompanying treatments that you can add on. You can dip in and out of each, as you wish, although it feels more comprehensive to focus on one at a time.
The Green Dragon, for instance, represents spring and is aimed at restoring feelings of restlessness and impetuousness. Inside this zone is an aromatic sauna fragranced with rosemary and orange, a sensory waterfall and special tea offered, made of dandelion and bitter herbs.
The largest zone – The Red Phoenix – meanwhile, embodies summer with therapies to aid anxiety. It has a series of Finnish saunas – including one with scenic views – cold and hot Kneipp pools and sensory showers. You can pad around for hours, losing yourself in the sensory spaces.
For those feeling melancholy or sad, the White Tiger’s series of steam rooms – representing autumn – are said to aid concentration and relaxation and are the perfect way to lose yourself for a while.
Finally, the Black Tortoise – the only zone that needs to be pre-booked – represents winter and features a dimly-lit salt grotto, a salt lake to float in and hot water beds to help destress.
Each zone offers its own series of treatments, although the The Black Tortoise options are particularly immersive. The Detox Path, for example, includes a body scrub made from natural mineral salts, followed by a magnesium-rich mud wrap, during which your body is ‘steamed’ so your skin soaks in all its goodness. Finally, you are massaged, almost to slumber, with locally-sourced chestnut oil and olive oil.
Lefay’s menu book is heaving with cutting-edge treatments – from reflexology-designed foot massages to anti-ageing facials. There’s lymphatic draining, anticellulite treatments and tension-relieving head massages and expert therapists are willing to advise and tweak each one to suit you.
As well as the indoor-outdoor pool, there’s also an indoor lap pool, a central whirlpool, with jacuzzi-like beds, and a well-edited timetable of fitness classes, including yoga, pilates and Qi Qong. You definitely will not get bored.
New for this year are sauna stretching sessions, led by certified Italian sauna instructor professor Enrico Milani. Ideal for those who have been skiing or hiking, gentle movements and breathing exercises, with aromatherapy oils, take place within the sauna – it’s ideal to relieve tension and soothe muscles and acts like a wake-up call for those who have been out of action for a while.
While wellness and fitness is an authentic focus of Lefay Dolomiti (the gym has exceptional equipment and is open 24 hours for those who are particularly serious), a stay here nonetheless borders on feeling almost decadent (the idea is that you can dip in to healthy living as much or as little as you want).
Rooms add to this feeling and are sumptuous and light-filled, with balconies overlooking the mountains, contemporary and sleek furniture and vast bathrooms stocked with Lefay’s own-brand of chestnut-scented toiletries. The faux-fur bed throws and faux fires, with a screen of flames which crackles on demand, add cosy touches, while the call to nature continues with teak screens and wood floors, velvet and suede fabrics and textural wall panelling.
While you can watch what you eat – the menus in the main restaurant Dolomia indicate healthy choices – this being Italy, food is definitely not an after-thought. Breakfast is particularly feast-like with tables teaming with fresh-fruit, just-baked breads and mini pastries to tempt you. There are also freshly-blended juices, charcuterie and omelettes and other hot dishes to order.
For those wanting an elevated culinary experience, then Grual will not disappoint. The fine-dining restaurant uses what it calls an ‘altimetric’ approach to cookery with the dishes focusing on ingredients sourced from the Trentino-Alto Adige region. You’ll find that as the menu progresses to the next course, each dish features ingredients taken from a different altitude: from the valley floor, up to the mountain pasture and on to the high mountain. The design of the restaurant has also been inspired by Lefay’s setting and takes the form of an enchanted forest with metal leaves on the ceiling and trees used as a frame for the room.
Starters include Mountain Potatoes, from the valley floor, served with herb pesto and rosehip ketchup, then it’s on to Risotto with local Nostrano Stravecchio cheese, from the pastures, and a Saddle of Roe Deer, red cabbage and polenta, sourced from the high mountain. The concept was devised by executive chef Matteo Maenza, who spent many months researching ingredients and recipes in order to accurately know where they are derived from and every aspect of their production cycle.
Dessert is a particular highlight – from the chocolate and caramel petits fours, crafted to look like toadstools and acorns, to the decadent apple, raisin and spirit puff pasties. It’s the perfect embodiment of Lefay’s philosophy that being immersed in nature, in all its guises, is truly good for the soul.
Lefay Resort & SPA Dolomiti offers an Alpine Spa Break from 330 Euros per person. The price includes one night in a Prestige Junior Suite, breakfast in Dolomia, one Lefay SPA ‘Linfa del Bosco’ massage (50 min), one session in the salt-water lake (40 min) and entrance to the Lefay SPA World of 5,000 sqm of pools, sauna, fitness centre and relaxation area. lefayresorts.com
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