Located in the heart of the Dolomites in a year-round destination just two hours from Venice, the ultra charming property Hotel Rosa Alpina has remained in the hands of one family for 78 years.  Originally a parish when it was built in 1850, the hotel has an interesting history: During WW1, it was the only public place in the Tyrolean village of San Cassiano and ultimately became a meeting place and respite for the soldiers and officers during the war.

In 1940 the Pizzinini family purchased the European hideaway and it has been family owned and operated ever since, expertly run today by Hugo and Ursula Pizzinini.  Epitomizing rustic glamorous chic, the Rosa Alpina, anchored by the three star Michelin restaurant, St. Hubertus, is a must stay for any European in the know (Prince Albert of Monaco being one). In 2009, the year round destination of the  Dolomites was formerly designated as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage site and the hotel takes great pains to showcase the beauty of its surroundings.

Just Checked Out: Hotel Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano Italy

Inviato contributing editor, Romi Howard had the opportunity to check in at the Rosa Alpina for a four night stay with friends this summer:

My husband and I have been talking about going to the Dolomites for a very long time.  We love the outdoors, we love to hike, we love the mountains and we love far-reaching places off the beaten path. But getting to the Dolomites is not so easy.  We combined this annual summer getaway with pit stops in Lake Garda, Venice and a beautiful stay at the Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco in Montalcino.  Nonetheless, it was the iconic Rosa Alpina that anchored this trip and it did not disappoint.

I cannot emphasize enough how breathtakingly beautiful the Tyrolean region is. No words can adequately capture the beauty of this place.  You literally want to break out singing the Sound of Music soundtrack. The scenery is so breathtaking, it borders on the surreal.

Just Checked Out: Hotel Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano Italy

Pulling up to the charming town of San Cassiano (essentially a one street village among six villages that make up the South Tyrolean locale of Alta Badia), Rosa Alpina is positioned very unassumingly. If you’ve never been to the region you would have easily driven by it, which we almost did. It literally sits on the street. It is not grandiose in presence, it just blends into the fabric of the town, which I’m guessing is exactly how they like it to be.

Just Checked Out: Hotel Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano Italy

Upon entering the Rosa Alpina, my initial impression was that of an understated and simply elegant place.  As we settled in, I began to appreciate to the sophisticated touches that initially went unnoticed: Just Checked Out: Hotel Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano Italythe inviting couches nestled between the check in and the piano bar complemented by local antiques and vintage photographs. The simple yet beautiful bouquets of fresh Alpine flowers that adorned all the tables. The warmth of the various social spaces for guests to enjoy to themselves, accented by wood-paneled ceilings and frescoed walls, that blend seamlessly from one room to another. The crackling fire completes the vibe.

It is all pretty magical.

Just Checked Out: Hotel Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano Italy

While the outdoor scenery and activities is what you come for, the hotel itself features many assets that compel you enough to enjoy yourself immensely indoors. A beautifully appointed library and bar, replete with an impressive selection of books, offers guests charming spaces to unwind in front of an inviting open fireplace. Although we were too busy enjoying the outdoors or taking advantage of the spa, there is a state of the art media/cinema room as well as a wood-paneled game room with pool table (there is also a turn table record player if you want to spin your own records). The piano bar, anchored by a fantastic bartending team and featuring the very talented and engaging Mauro Rinaldi was our favorite hangout by far during the evenings.

Just Checked Out: Hotel Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano Italy

Just Checked Out: Hotel Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano Italy

For those not taking advantage of the hiking but wanting to get some exercise (which you will need after enjoying the meals here), the hotel possesses a fully equipped fitness center with proper facing views onto the breathtaking mountains. One pet peeve of mine when travelling are hotels who leave fitness centers as an afterthought and more often then not relegate their location in the basement with no windows. Fortunately, Rosa Alpina does not make this mistake. A yoga studio with similar views is found adjacent to the gym. Two indoor swimming pools, one for family and one for adults only, abuts a relaxation area. Complimenting the spa services, a marble steam room, Finnish sauna and cold water plunge pool offer guests some post-hiking relief. Don’t miss visiting the spa.

There are 51 accommodations in five different categories at the hotel, ranging from 440 square feet Deluxe Rooms to 624 square feet Suites with separate living areas and wood burning fireplaces, a wonderful touch especially at nighttime when it gets cold. The spacious 538 square feet Loft suites, located in the wooden chalet wing of the hotel, have additional South-facing open terraces as opposed to smaller enclosed balcony style terraces found in the standard and Junior suites. The largest suite is the Penthouse Suite.

All of the accommodations at the hotel are decorated in warm tones with oversized blankets and comforters at the foot of the bed, lots of wooden accents. Alpine floral bouquets in delicate vases dot the room. Blond wood floors permeate throughout. Some bathrooms have slate flooring and glass showers (note: some are more dated then others, one of our only critiques).  The rooms, as the public spaces, are warm, cozy and inviting.

Fabio and Enrico at the concierge desk just off the front entrance always greet you with a warm smile.  Omar and Matteo at the bar know your drink within hours upon your arrival and have it waiting daily with nibbles upon at cocktail hour. You don’t need to ask.  Ursula, the beautifully gracious and stylishly chic proprietor of Rosa Alpina, was always making sure all the guests were continually taken care off. And if you’re so fortunate to eat at St. Hubertus, the hotel’s three star Michelin restaurant, well then you are in for a treat. Chef Norbert Niederkofler and the entire team are just sublime. You may roll our of there at the end of the evening but that’s what hikes are for during the day, allowing you to indulge in a singularly culinary experience. The restaurant’s decor compliments the rest of the hotel. Understated yet elegant.

Just Checked Out: Hotel Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano Italy

 

The next four and a half days at the Rosa Alpina, we enjoyed unparalleled hiking in the area, breathtaking scenery, incredible cuisine in the local restaurants of the neighboring towns as well as the piece de resistance, the three Michelin star onsite restaurant St. Hubertus. The alpine luxury of Rosa Alpina, coupled with its amenities and facilities, made this the ideal holiday to get off the beaten track. A far and welcoming cry from the maddening crowds flocking to the popular summer destinations of Capri, Ibiza or Mykonos.

Just Checked Out: Hotel Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano Italy

I cannot begin to tell you how exhilarating it was to hear the stillness of the night in the middle of summer, the crispness of the air devoid of pollutants, and being continuously surrounded by the most astonishing backdrop.  Rosa Alpina is a place for reflection, for clarity, for beauty and awe, for rigorous (although at at times punishing) hiking and for post pampering at the spa, for intimacy and giggles coupled with stiff drinks at the bar, for enjoying listening to Mauro at the piano and sumptuous feasts in the evening. It’s a magical place not to be missed.

Just Checked Out: Hotel Rosa Alpina, San Cassiano Italy
San Britte

Photo credits: Hotel Rosa Alpina and Romi and Jeff Howard. 

Loved Didn't Love
  • The abundance of nibbles provided at happy hour when you order a drink. Almost a meal in itself, the local prosciutto and the miniature bruschetta to name a few were simply sublime. Late afternoon cookies and sweets left for guests for a late night treat are also amazing. Moreoever, the concierge staff provides you with bottled water and delicious snacks for your daily hikes. These personal culinary touches all leave a lasting impression…and a satiated tummy.
  • Mauro Rinaldi the multi talented piano player at the Rosa Alpina. An icon in the Italian music scene, he has been playing at the hotel for 25 years.  I love the piano bar with the aforementioned Mauro Rinaldi at the helm. His knowledge and repertoire of music is astounding. From local Italian to Led Zeppelin Mauro plays and sings it all incredibly.
  • The Finnish Sauna and Steam room are incredible. They also have a cold plunge pool but be aware, they ask that you not wear a swimsuit in the steam and sauna rooms (towels only). This is the European way but not for everyone. I opted to keep on my swimsuit underneath my towel.
  • San Brite in Cortina D’Ampezzo is one of the top ten lunches I’ve had the pleasure to experience in my lifetime. Run by Ricardo Gaspari and his beautiful wife, this place is simply divine and an absolute requisite.  Bonus points for Piccolo Brite, the cheese shop within the restaurant, offering a myriad selection from their dairy farm on property.   Closed on Wednesdays. (Tip:San Brite also can arrange to create an amazing private lunch awaiting for you in the mountains when you are hiking). 

  • Refugio Bioch. The setting is incredible, the food is deliciously rewarding (I had the best ravioli ever) after hiking for three hours to get there. Owner Markus Valentini and his team are just phenomenal. A do not miss when in Badia.

  • The bathrooms in the hotel could use vast improvement: The showers in the room are minuscule (as in, it is difficult to turn around), the bathrooms are poorly lit and there is not a sufficient amount of towels for two persons.
  • Be aware that there is no air conditioning. It gets cool at night in the summer months but the housekeepers like keep all the windows and doors to your patio closed during the day unless you specifically tell them not to.
Don't Miss Skip
  • The incredible breakfasts (included in your Virtuoso rate) served in the restaurant Limonaia.
  • Dining one night at the hotel restaurant, St. Hubertus (its third Michelin star was awarded this year).  Make note the restaurant is only open during the summer and winter seasons and is not open on Tuesdays.

  • If you’re at the hotel in the Summer, meander back to the hotel after a day of hiking through the open air market for local provisions and crafts. I snagged a wood carved cheese plate for only 33 euros. The market is only open Wednesdays from the beginning of July through end of August.

  • If you are at the hotel during the Winter, do not miss the Winter Hugs Bar at the base of the mountain and only a three minute walk from the hotel (open from 3:00 pm until 2:00 am).  The bar turns into a full on disco after 10:00pm.
  • Perhaps it was an off night and we were in fact tired, but the Restaurant Wine Bar and Grill in the hotel was just ok. Instead try to snag a reservation in their limited seating fondue restaurant,  Fondue Stube for authentic cheese, meat, and chocolate fondues.
Fondue Stube
Rooms to Get Tips

  • Families should opt for the two Apartment-style lodgings or book a side-by-side side suite to junior suite combination as we did.  We stayed in a Junior Suite #205 while our friends were in a Suite #208. We had our own separate entrance with a small connecting hallway exclusively for our two rooms.
  • All rooms are stocked with PURE GREEN products, a vegan, amenity line with natural plant extracts made bespoke for the hotel.
  • Only one junior suite has a fireplace. All suites have a fireplace.
  • Request a room facing the back, with views of the forest and the glorious mountains. Rooms on the main floor and first floor have terraces as opposed to balconies.
  • Go to Lagazoi to stock out on all outdoor-related apparel. This condensed high-end version of a sporting good store is stocked with the usual brands you’d expect to see in addition to some local and hard to find European brands stateside like Save the Duck, Colmar and Montelliana hiking boots (at a fraction of the price they are back home). They have three different outposts within a block radius. Mention you are staying at the Rosa Alpina as guests get a discount on merchandise.
  • As far as the hikes go, ease yourself into them from a degree of difficulty standpoint. The hike up to the Rifugio Bioch is a perfect way to get started.  A lengthy hike that will give you a good workout and appetite, you won’t ever feel like your in over your head. You can progress to more majestic, yet at times slightly more treacherous hikes as you acclimate to the surrounding area.
  • Make sure you hire an experienced guide to take you on the more rigorous trails. There are a myriad of hiking opportunities for all degrees of difficulty. And it is possible to enjoy many hikes without a guide. However, there are many trails that unless you are an exceptionally experienced hiker, I promise you one will come across treacherous points on several hikes that, unless you are a local anyone would be ill prepared for. Although the concierge had advised us it was not difficult, a particular hike Refugio Scotoni that we took to lunch was quite treacherous.  We ended up on a cliff face of a precipitous drop on one side that we did not know how to navigate.   Get a guide!
  • Word of advice for those with depth perception issues such as myself, the drive to get to the Rosa Alpina is both jaw dropping gorgeous and jaw dropping petrifying. Switchbacks, cliff with nary a railing at times coupled with fearless Italian drivers does not make this for the faint of heart so be prepared accordingly.
  • Rosa Alpina can arrange for you at a cost, to have a car and driver pick you up directly from the Venice airport (about a two hour drive)  and transport you up directly. If your timing is limited, and you don’t mind spending the money then this is an efficient and effective way to get to and from the Alpina.
  • While the hotel is very family-friendly with ample facilities for children (family pool, accommodations, media room, kids club room and pool table), the hotel is ideal for an adult-only vacation. I would leave the young tots at home unless it’s a Winter vacation.
  • Dining: As an alternative to eating dinner in the hotel, there were two restaurants off premises one town over (in opposite directions) that we enjoyed immensely:  L’Osti in Corvara (mixed grill, fish and local ingredients indigenous to the area) and Fana in La Villa (their version of a steakhouse). 

Hotel Rosa Alpina

For 2018, your Virtuoso benefits at the Rosa Alpina include: 

• Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
• Daily Buffet breakfast
• $100 USD equivalent Resort or Hotel credit
• Complimentary Wi-Fi

Book This Hotel

Why book Virtuoso?

  • Personalized travel assistance
  • 24/7 online booking
  • Special rates & exclusive offers
  • Guaranteed Room upgrade*
  • Complimentary full American breakfast
  • Early check-in, Late check-out*
  • Exclusive on-site amenities (varies by hotel)
  • * based on availability on time of arrival

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