By Emily Rookwood
A new breed of super chalet is moving in to the Dolomites. The five star Pine Lodge Dolomites is a brand new, luxury chalet in Selva Gardena. Complete with butler, house manager, professional chef, housemaid and driver, you have the service of a hotel but with the privacy of a chalet.
The lodge is fully appointed with a log fire in the large, open plan living area, hot tub on the secluded terrace, a private cinema, gym, sauna, steam room and boot room can all be found in the subterranean areas with an indoor swimming pool soon to be added. The four bedrooms are spotlessly clean and elegantly decorated, all come with soft robes, slippers and a luxurious range of bath products. You could quite happily never leave the chalet and still have the most wonderful holiday, watching the sun set over the jagged mountain peaks with a glass of champagne in hand.
Set in the north of Italy, the Dolomites benefit from Italian weather and food but also Austrian hospitality and all round breathtaking views. Skiing in the winter is naturally wonderful here with several runs right on your doorstep but summer also has much to offer under the warm summer sun of the Dolomites – not too hot to stop you being active but certainly hot enough to simply sunbath should you rather.
This area is renowned for its summer cycling trails and scenic walks. If you’re not entirely ready for the full lycra-clad cycling experience you can opt for e-bikes, which the lodge will provide for you on request. Even the least able cyclist will be able to traverse the mountains and make their way up to one of the regions most unlikely gourmet offerings – Gostner Schwaige. You would never discover this place on your own – this is where the lodge’s concierge service comes in to play. This small, unassuming mountain hut appears at first glance to be a pit-stop for bikers and hikers – and it is – but it is also a destination all of its own. The food here is incredible: salads created from over 25 local herbs and flowers infused with pine oil, vibrant soups strewn with petals, dumplings that are as light as your head might be after the ride up. Produce is local and seasonal, dishes simple but as good as any michelin starred meal you might have all served up with Alpine generosity as you sit on your wooden bench bathed in sunshine. They also have an intriguing selection of liquors to make the ride back down the mountain less painful.
If you prefer less action and more culture on your vacations, you will be well served in Selva and the surrounding areas. The reigning art form is wood carving, mainly devotional, often very unappealing. A few local artists, though, have reclaimed this art form and turned it in to something quite different.
Aron Demetz has exhibited in Shanghai, London and Milan and you’ll find his work in the lodge. An articulate and engaging man, he welcomes guests into his nearby studio to talk them through his creative process, techniques and exhibitions. Gerhard Demetz is another local artist pushing the boundaries of figurative wood carving. With exhibitions in New York, Germany and Korea his pedigree is similarly undeniable. The work displayed in Pine Lodge is not the conventional bland art you find in many hotels, it is thought provoking and more importantly, distinctly local.
Supporting local artists is a key objective of the owners, and should you venture into the village itself you will find the local art gallery with its striking glass square extension to the traditional wooden building. It is currently showing an exhibition of art relating to the theme of war, to coincide with the anniversary of the first world war but if you’re more interested in the history than the art you can walk through the mountain tunnels used during that conflict.
The well informed and friendly staff at Pine Lodge will help you arrange everything according to your every whim and interest – after all that is the advantage of a full service chalet – you can combine luxury with the ultimate in flexibility.