You know the Rockies, because Aspen is on the annual ski circuit list. And of course you know Chamonix, St. Mo, and Courchevel, in the French and Swiss Alps. But there’s a mountain range you need to add to the list. With its majestic red rocks and charming former Olympic village, think of Italy’s Cortina d’Ampezzo as the insider mountain. It’s such a hot spot that fashion houses like Prada often preview their lines here first, before they go to Milan. Now Aman finally brings a true five-star experience to the area at Rosa Alpina. This is the luxury hotel in the Dolomites, and a destination to put a pin in, for some spring skiing or all through the summer.
As the Italians Call It: The Dolomiti
Yes, mountains are often described as majestic, but there sure is something special about the Dolomites, located in the northeastern part of Italy. Their super power is their distinct red rocks, and soaring jagged formation, which make them unique from the Alps. As you approach the range from Venice, beautiful only just begins to describe the awe of driving through the Dolomites. The highest peak is Marmolada, which tops out at about 10,968 feet. The well-paved roads are cut right through the mountains, so no matter where you look, there’s a view. This is a ride that’s just as compelling in the winter for skiing as it is during the summertime.
The Town of Cortina D’Ampezzo
The most well-known of the mountain towns is the former Olympic village of Cortina D’Ampezzo. This is the St. Moritz of Italy, where the impossibly fashionable Italians converge for their winter ski holidays. Think of it as the Christmas to New Years spot where the old school wealthy and aristocratic Italian families holiday. For those who don’t ski, there is plenty of shopping, eating and apres ski in town. The lines from Prada and major Italian brands are as plentiful here as they are in Milan. Cortina maintains its small town charm though; you’ll find plenty of local souvenirs, handicrafts and homemade honey. Bottega di Amelie is a favorite for housewares, including handcut Artel glass from the Czech Republic.
While Cortina is known for its glamour, historically the accommodations have been less than five star in town. It is near impossible to find a luxury hotel in the Dolomites, and even more surprisingly an established town like Cortina. You really go old-school ski lodge with the options in town, but the Cristallo on the outskirts provides a more full-service grand resort experience.
The Most Luxurious Hotel in the Dolomites: Rosa Alpina
We know we said it’s near impossible to find a luxury hotel in the Dolomites, but luckily, there is a handful that knock it out of the park. And while Cortina is the fun party town during the winter months, some of the most compelling places to stay are further afield in the Dolomites. So head to the Alta Badia region, where one hotel has made it the place to ski.
The top hotel, and one that is even better during the summer if you’re not a big skier, is the Rosa Alpina. Rosa Alpina is tucked into the town of San Cassiano, with views of the Lavarella and Conturines Dolomite mountains. Also of note is that Rosa Alpina is an Aman partner hotel, so enough said. What makes Rosa Alpina unique from even the rest of the Aman portfolio is that it’s a family-run hotel. So you get the best of both worlds with authentic and warm hospitality, along with the with some major refinement, which is 100% Aman.
Aman + Authentic Ski Lodge Vibe
The marriage of the two continues in the architecture of the hotel which retains the Bavarian/Austrian lodge sensibilities. Suites and atmosphere though reflect the Aman aesthetic, sleek and modern spa and creature comforts in upgrades in technology. Each of the 52 rooms, which in itself is much larger than a typical Aman, is unique and well-appointed. The regular rooms are tiny though, so opt for a suite if it’s possible. The Penthouse suite has three bedrooms and its own Finnish spa, which of course you would expect from a luxury hotel in the Dolomites.
Ski-In, Summer Out
Similar to Aspen, you come for the winters, but stay for the summer. Rosa Alpina is a luxury hotel in the Dolomites because it’s ski in, ski out, which is a big deal in the region. Mostly you lug your own skies unless you stay here. Unlike other parts of Cortina, at Rosa Alpina, you can get full-service to make the ski experience more seamless. Most of Cortina is DIY, but at Rosa Alpina they’ll do everything from the rental equipment, ski school and lift passes.
During the summer, the Alta Badia region is a green wonderland of hiking, biking, golf and scenic drives. Even if you were just to stay at Rosa Alpina and eat at their three-Michelin starred restaurant St. Hubertus, you will leave better than you came. So welcome to the Dolomites, the mountains you need to know.