Forestis was once used as a retreat for friends of the Vatican. Given its location at 1,800 meters above sea level with mostly cloud-covered skies, you can understand why.
Nowadays, you don’t need to be remotely religious to visit, but you do need to appreciate the majesty of the mountains.
Forestis is located in Plose, a small and peaceful resort in the Dolomites, ideal for skiers and non-skiers alike. In fact, with high alpine hiking, delicious mountain food, and a wonderful spa with outdoor pools and wood-fired saunas, the majority of guests choose not to ski.
But for me, it’s all about perspective. The dense, snow-dusted Odles Mountains can be seen directly in front of the hotel, rolling through dense, dark pine forests, dancing in pastel shades of orange, pink and purple at sunrise and sunset.
Natural peaks: Harriet Syme visits the Forestis Hotel in the Italian ski resort of Plose. View of the Dolomites from one of the hotel rooms above
“It’s all about the view,” Harriet said of the hotel, which overlooks Mount Harriet and a dense black pine forest.
As soon as you step through the wooden doors into the hotel reception area, your focus changes.
Located in the South Tyrolean region of the Dolomites (where Italy meets Germany), Forestis began in 1912 as a log cabin, used as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. The building was abandoned during World War I and fell into disrepair until it was purchased by the Vatican for use by those in need of rest and relaxation.
But in 2000, local hotelier Alois Hinteregger saw the building through the tall trees, and it took on a whole new life.
Fast forward twenty years and the building has been transformed into the most amazing hotel I have ever set foot in.
Forestis began in 1912 as a log cabin, used as a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients.
Galdamt Spa features a wood-fired sauna and outdoor steam pool (above).
After waking up to a blanket of snow on our first morning — moody mountains covered in clouds of various colors and patterns — my husband, Dan, and I hit the skis.
Snowflakes the size of giant tennis balls dance in the wind as we pass mountain temples on our way up. But when they reach the top, a storm closes all but one lift. I’m secretly excited because that means a day at the spa.
Trees permeate every element of the hotel, including the spa, so I signed up for a three-hour tree-based ceremony, a treatment named after him.
Harriet described the resort as “the most amazing hotel I’ve ever set foot in.”
Most hotel guests choose not to ski, Harriet said. Instead, they enjoy high-altitude hiking and hotel spas
Harriet preaches at the spa (above) for a signature treatment – a three-hour tree circle ceremony.
I’m skeptical of anything not labeled a “facial” or a “massage,” and the idea of a “ritual” scares me, but I’m determined to embrace it to the fullest.
After a few sips of the pine-syrup-flavored water from a nearby spring, Isabella passed me four pieces of locally sourced wood as I dipped my feet into a tree-scented salt bath.
They have different smells, textures, and densities, and I’m told to choose the one I like (in the belief that everyone will choose according to their “current constitution and seasonal needs”).
Instinctively, I go for the rougher, fresher-smelling woods. This is a spruce in the lower valley.
Beautiful rooms: Harriet spends “endless” hours gazing at the mountains from her hotel
Harriet says one of Forestis’ big draws is the “delicious” mountain food. Every ingredient on the hotel restaurant’s tasting menu is sourced from Italy
While skiing in Plose (above), Harriet watches “giant tennis ball-sized snowflakes dance in the wind.”
Doubles from £630 per night including dinner and breakfast (forestis.it/en). EasyJet Gatwick to Innsbruck from £44.50 return (easyjet.com).
Isabella explains how spruce helps with digestion and “helps people rediscover themselves.”
She tunes the spruce with healing stones and offers a two-hour body scrub, massage (healing wood is used to apply pressure) and a facial.
I emerge from the spa pink-faced and squeaky clean, and although I haven’t found myself, my overactive mind is falling into hypnotic silence.
With the weather improving, we spend the next two days on the sunny slopes, retoxing each evening with a delicious seven-course set menu that changes daily. Every ingredient is sourced from Italy (Sicilian oranges, raspberries and strawberries have traveled the farthest).
I spent my last dinner battling ‘snow blindness’, my eyes watering and stinging from the sunlight reflecting off the bright white snow burning my corneas.
I’ll never know if it was because of the time I spent on the slopes or the endless hours I spent staring at the mountains from the hotel.
But if it was the latter, it was worth it. These views will stay with me forever.