Winter vacations: unusual charm


Exclusivity is often thought to rhyme with inaccessibility. Yet it’s enough to go off the beaten path to find unique, amazing and pleasant places. Here are some suggestions

Luxury isn’t only a question of money. The search for beauty and quality can often be seen most in taste, style, originality. So, even when it comes to planning a trip, it makes senses to take a look at unusual destinations, rather than settling for the “classics” that attract the crowds, but which perhaps for this reason risk being unsurprising or  falling short of expectations.
It’s a matter of adapting the concept of accessible luxury to vacations, discovering pleasantness wherever it may be, and paying only for the real quality of the experiences instead of for the “name”.

Dinner with a view of the Dolomites  

Winter vacations mean in particular winter resorts. Along the Alps, other than the most famous destinations, winter sports enthusiasts love the ski resort of Porta Vescovo, a real gem set in the Dolomites, reachable from Arabba, in the province of Belluno. With its seven ski lifts, 11 slopes that reach a height of 2478 meters and a maximum slope gradient of 50%, Porta Vescovo is ready to offer a one-of-a-kind experience, both for the splendid landscape that surrounds it (declared Unesco World Heritage site), and for the surprises reserved for lovers of good cooking. Indeed, the Luigi Gorza mountain refuge houses Viel dal Pan, the only high-altitude gourmet restaurant in the Dolomites, where you can enjoy an unforgettable dinner by chef Ivan Matarese. Reserve one of the ten tables with a view of the Marmolada Glacier, enjoy refined dishes with accompanying wines behind the immense glass windows looking out on the Sella Group, it’s truly priceless. And Saturday afternoon, in the same refuge, you can enjoy a chic aperitif with a DJ-set.

Courchevel for all tastes

Among the most renowned skiing destinations in Europe, loved by VIPs and celebrities, is France’s Courchevel: 150 kilometers of slopes in the Savoie region, at the entrance of the Vanoise National Park. A place of great charm, Courcheval doesn’t only offer modern sports facilities, but also an enormous quantity of boutiques, spas, cultural events and seven restaurants with Michelin stars. Courchevel is so renowned that it attracts tourists from all parts of the world, but not everyone knows that it is made up of five separate villages: the most famous (and overrated) is that at the highest altitude, Courchevel 1850, full of luxurious facilities, but also crowded. For a more relaxing and perhaps even more exclusive experience, it’s better to head to the small village of Le Praz (also known as Courcheval 1300), with a quaint old town and top-notch facilities. Courchevel 1550 is instead the most recommended for families.

Oases of relaxation

For those who see winter vacations as an opportunity for pure relaxation to dedicate to one’s psycho-physical wellness, the right choice is a nice spa that offers luxury treatments, but whose tubs and pools aren’t too crowded.
Kalidria, a five-star hotel in Castellaneta Marina (in the province of Taranto), is home to Thalasso Spa, 3,500 square meters of wellbeing with two seawater swimming pools, a tonifying seawater treatment and an external oasis with hydromassage tubs. In addition, saunas, Turkish baths, fitness areas and body and facial treatments are available for getting yourself back into shape,  with water from the Ionian Sea in the role of absolute protagonist.

Looking to the East, the spas of Rimske, in the town of Laško, in Slovenia, are both relaxing and suggestive. This complex, made of up three first class hotels and some 450 square meters of tubs and pools, is immersed in the woods and boasts more than 2,000 years of history; the ancient Romans already knew about the curative qualities of its waters, in which even Caroline Bonaparte was accustomed to immersing herself.
Despite its long and aristocratic curriculum, it remains little known in our country, and for this reason, not to be missed.

Welcome to the south

Those who prefer to spend their winter vacations where it’s warm, don’t need to head too far away: a week on the beaches of the Red Sea is much more accessible. Dahab, at only 80 kilometers from the cheaper Sharm-el-Sheikh, offers diving, excursions by camel or lovely walks on the seaside. If you are instead looking for the maximum in tranquility, you can reserve a hotel with every possible comfort in Makadi Bay, where – other than water sports – the many bazaars offer the possibility of shopping.

Lovers of wine tourism, finally, can set aside without regrets the idea of a tour of the wine cellars of Burgundy and head off to the nearer and sunny Sicily. Viticulture in this region, with its 107,000 hectares of land, is among the most extensive in Italy, and the first report on Italian Gastronomic Tourism ranked it among the best national destinations for a gastronomic trip. It’s nice to enjoy a sip of Marsala liqueur or sweet Zibibbo, all while visiting the incredible sites of the area. There’s always time for a Chablis.