I recently had the pleasure of staying at Belmond El Encanto…
I’ve been to Venice, Italy a few times, always landing, then heading to Venice with the water taxis right outside the airport….however, if you go out the airport and head about 3 hours North you’ll get to one of the most amazing mountain ranges you’ll find ~ the Dolomites. Or you can also treat yourself to a helicopter from Venice that only takes about 45 minutes. So if the Dolomites have been around for thousands of years, why have they recently become so popular? Well it all began in 2009 when the area was recognized as an UNESCO World Heritage site.
The Dolomites is a great summer and winter destination. 1200 kilometers of area (745 miles), 460 lifts, 475 interconnected ski runs and 1 ski pass to get you access to all of it (ski passes are about $ 70/day). In the summer you can take the lifts to great hikes and enjoy the same views as winter. In addition, you can bike and climb in addition to one of the most famous summer activities in the area, one of the Via Ferratas.
I recently spent 5 days in the area and can’t wait to return. While I could detail each place I stayed and how to get there, etc.……that’s the easy, tangible stuff. What I’d rather share with you is why and what you can do in the area.
My summer time trip to the Dolomites included hiking, Via Ferrata and some great food and accommodations. Most of the places are family owned and the stories that come along with your visits are not only authentic, but so heartwarming. The food is amazing because of the heart, soul and history used in preparing each dish. Whether it’s at the top of a lift or in town, each meal I enjoyed was fantastic. Many of the lifts have a Refugio at the top. A Refugio is a place to spend the night, have a meal and head off the next morning in a new direction. Summer hikes and winter ski trips can be organized so you never stay in the same place twice (you definitely can if you want) and you never hike the same trail or ski the same run the entire time.
A trip to the Dolomites isn’t just about the hiking or skiing, it’s about the experience. The Village to Village skiing or hiking, and enjoying some amazing meals all without rushing or time frames. One day we hiked for a few hours, then spent a few hours enjoying lunch, with amazing views, great food and wonderful wine……it’s got it all!
This area is so very special, it’s not over crowded (yet) and provides some of the most jaw-dropping scenery I’ve seen! It should definitely be near the top of the list for the next luxury adventure. While the Refugio’s are very authentic (well that can mean basic) there’s a great selection of Relais & Chateau and Small Luxury Hotels properties around as well as many 1, 2 and 3 star Michelin restaurants.
~ If you want to break up the 3 hour drive, you can spend the night in the Prosecco region of Italy, enjoy some great accommodations and meals then head to the Dolomites the next day. I did it this way, and did bike around the hills for a few hours before the drive to the Dolomites.
Amazing experience! Would recommend to all!
~ Steve Orens