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Until recently any mention of the Dolomites would guarantee a blank stare from many an American traveler. “What is it?” “Where is it?” But that’s changing rapidly as this spectacular mountain range circling a ski area of about 750 miles of trails and 1,200 valleys covering roughly 1,000 sq. miles develops an increasingly visible year-round presence.

The Italian Dolomites occupy the northeastern province of South Tyrol, with Austria to the north and Switzerland to the west. Originally part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, it was ceded to Italy in 1918 but maintains a strong connection to its history, culture and language.

In 1810 Austrian businessman Josef Sanoner bought a small tavern in the town of Ortisei, in the Dolomite Mountains. Two-hundred years and six generations later, the property, now known as ADLER Spa Resort Dolomiti, is still owned and operated by the Sanoner family. And while the original inn dates from 1810, decades of contemporary additions and refurbishments have transformed it into a stylish in-town hideout with standout accommodations, superb service, fine dining and the largest, most impressive spa in the Dolomites.

Despite the richness of the hotel’s decor, its ambiance is intimate and laid-back. Spa-bound guests are welcomed in bathrobes at breakfast and lunch, meals are locally inspired, delicious and mostly served buffet-style, desserts blessedly outnumber entrees, and waiters have become family by the time your client leaves.

The ADLER spa, considered one of Europe’s best, is divided into three distinct areas. “Water World,” the largest, features 30,000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor pools, from a saltwater grotto to freshwater lake, and six varieties of saunas and steam baths. The state-of-the-art gym for individual workouts and classes also includes a climbing wall and kids’ play area. For the sybarites among us, there’s a sophisticated beauty department  and a much better than average hair salon. Ever the skeptic, but determined to try something new, I booked my first facial ever, an hour of bliss topped off with the mild and gentle natural products made and sold on the premises. Afterwards I noticed a definite improvement in both my skin and my sense of well-being. Here is a place where holistic meets allopathic for a mind/body alliance with a medical component where necessary.

The medical angle is also key at BALANCE, the ADLER’s 31-suite sister hotel that opened in 2009 for adults 16 and older, where a staff of doctors and highly qualified therapists diagnose and address guests’ medical issues. BALANCE programs include weight loss, detox, non-invasive laser therapy and even Carb-O-xygen. And while BALANCE guests have their own menus and a la carte dining room, many take advantage of the more “permissive” options—fine wines, whiskey sours, tiramisu—next door. Such is the forgiving mission of both facilities!

An ADLER summer means daily guided walks, mountain biking, Nordic walking excursions, and barbecues all included in the price of a guestroom. Winter brings a dazzling array of ski packages.

From now until mid-December, there are several fall packages worth considering, among them an Autumn Walking Special and a Super Spa Special both starting at 426 euros ($477) pp for three nights, and a 4-night November Yoga Break, a good value for its
70 euro ($78) spa voucher at 518 euros ($581) pp.

The ADLER Spa Resort Dolomiti is child-friendly, too. Kids will love the nearby cable-car or funicular rides almost to the sky and overlooking the most thrilling views anywhere. The hotel’s clientele is predominantly Italian, but we met several American, German, Austrian and English guests as well, many of them “regulars.” No wonder. This is a place you’re reluctant to leave!

What’s In it For Travel Advisors
The resort offers special FAM rates on request.

Contact Information
Adler Spa Resort Dolomiti: