Thursday, December 15, 2011

500 Words on a Hotel

Seiser Alm Urthaler Hotel in Alpe di Siusi 

My German is sketchy and my Italian even worse, but even I could figure out that the sign in both languages on the door to the sauna and steam room was announcing that anyone entering was required to do so senza costume da bagno. I had already noticed that things up here in the Italian Dolomites seemed more German than Italian: clear cool weather, cows with cow bells, geraniums in window boxes, efficiency....And here was a clincher: everyone in the nude, please. Still, my friend had raved about the sauna followed by the icy plunge bath, and the alpine garden (towels allowed over the private bits), so I overcame my initial reluctance and joined a merry throng of mostly-German speaking guests frolicking nude in the sauna. 
When I had enough of that - and it was very invigorating, I must say - I went off to lounge by the enormous pool. Here you can swim indoors under the solarium roof, or swim out through the opening in the glass wall to feel on your face the crisp cold mountain air of 2000 metres above sea level.
Here at the Seiser Alm Urthaler Hotel in Alpe di Siusi health is on the menu, every day in every way. The big drawcard is of course hiking through the green fields and forests of the Sud Tirol, in winter a ski resort but in summer a trampers’ paradise. But even if you never left the Seiser Alm Urthaler, you would be sure to go home healthier than when you checked in.
To begin with, the entire hotel is built of wood - there are even little wooden plugs where you’d expect to find nails. There is glass in the walls and windows, and natural stone or wood on the floors, and the carpets are hand-woven. The entire building is designed to be allergy free, and is built from organic, chemical-free materials. The spruce and larch from which it is built was even - you’ll hardly credit this - cut during a certain phase of the moon. The hotel claims that you will sleep well here, and I certainly did. From the scenery outside the floor length windows, to the scent of the spruce, to the non-allergenic organic rubber mattress and pure cotton sheets: everything converged to lull me into blissful slumber.  
Although the tiny village of Alpe di Siusi is close enough for a drive to the picturesque neighbouring towns of Castelrotto and  Urtijei, driving is discouraged on the mountain, and in fact cars are forbidden entry until 5 pm. And despite some options for eating at other hotels on the hillside, and the allure of a picnic lunch, it is sensible for the Seiser Alm Urthaler to offer half-board. The breakfasts and dinners are varied, regional, tasty and healthy. A digestif by a log fire in the bar rounds off the day. And tomorrow? Perhaps a treatment at the spa, something involving hay or apples or other South Tyrollean goodies... 

Contented...and why shouldn't she be?

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