Located in South Tyrol, on the southern slope of the Plose mountain, FORESTIS is a five-star retreat that opened in July 2020. The vision of owners Stefan Hinteregger and Teresa Unterthiner, the hotel is a place that reflects the peace of its surroundings, allowing guests to embrace the nourishing effects of being in nature.
Review: FORESTIS, South Tyrol
All 62 suites at FORESTIS have spectacular views of the mountains, meaning guests will never feel shortchanged by their room allocation. The hotel’s south-facing position also means sunlight streams through the floor-to-ceiling windows, creating endless spots for cat naps during the day. Natural materials are used throughout the bedrooms to work harmoniously with the outside world, and although stripped-back in their design, the spruce-lined walls make guests feel right at home in the mountains. Bathtubs carved from locally-sourced dolomite stone add a splash of luxury, though the real luxury lies in being so deeply immersed in these secluded landscapes.
The simplicity of FORESTIS is what makes it so appealing. Its deliberately reduced design allows guests to switch off from everyday distractions from the minute they arrive. And the only form of art can be found in the reception areas, where fountains create millpond-like pools of fresh-spring water – a nod to the natural elements that make this such a nourishing place to visit.
Hosts Teresa and Stefan could have easily relied on the surrounding trails and slopes to entertain their guests. However, keen to distance themselves from conventional mountain retreats, they have developed a unique spa concept you won’t find anywhere else.
Discovering that the region has holistic roots dating back to the Celtic Druids, they have incorporated their findings into the spa rituals on offer at FORESTIS. The Druids were thought to be high-ranking spiritual leaders who held a vast knowledge of the natural world and herbal medicine. Drawing on their wisdom, the spa team uses the therapeutic properties of trees native to South Tyrol to promote the wellbeing of guests.
The essence of stone pine, spruce, larch, and mountain pine forms the basis of the product line used throughout the spa. In the healing wood treatment, it is not just the olfactory effect of the forest that is used to promote wellbeing; massage tools crafted from the same four tree species are used to release muscle tension, improve circulation, boost lymphatic drainage, and increase immunity. The spa offering extends well beyond the treatment menu, and guests can continue to soak up nature’s goodness in the outdoor swimming pool or forest sauna, complete with an adjoining spring-water plunge pool.
There is also the opportunity to join a Wyda class – the Alpine alternative to yoga. A form of breathwork and movement developed by the Druids, Wyda originated in the forests and was thought to be the secret to their long and healthy lives. Much like the spiritual teachings of yoga and qigong from the Far East, Wyda calms the mind, trains concentration, and releases blockages.
FORESTIS is as yet the first and only hotel in Europe to offer Wyda, and to make the practice as authentic as possible for guests, classes are led amongst the verdant forests until the first snow settles on the region. Speaking of which, in winter, FORESTIS transforms into a skier’s paradise. There is a chair lift adjacent to the hotel, and the 45 kilometres of slopes in the Plose area have a balanced ratio of blue, red, and black runs. For non-skiers, the hotel’s hiking guide is on hand to lead guests on snowshoes over frozen streams, snow-covered woods, and the untouched snowfields of the Puez-Odle Natural Park.
The first thing to note about the restaurant at FORESTIS is its design. The cascading crescents of seats create a dining experience much like a cinema, where the daily showing is, of course, the skyline. With the view of the forested peaks captivating diners, the kitchen team has devised a menu that cleverly transports their tastebuds there.
The refined seven-course dinner menu is a celebration of regional ingredients, all sourced from local farmers or foraging walks, which guests are welcome to join. Daily changes to dishes are determined by what’s in season, although favourites such as potato mezzeluna topped with pickled mushrooms keep their place on the menu. The service at FORESTIS is also worth mentioning; with one waiter dedicated to guests for the duration of their stay, there is a warmth in the hospitality that sets this hotel apart from so many.
In the bar, it comes as no surprise that nature takes the lead. In a nod to the herbal alchemy used by the Celtic Druids, modern-day mixologists use the essence of herbs, nuts, berries, barks, and fir needles to blend signature cocktails that, believe it or not, have wellness-boosting effects.
- The CO2 neutral building uses 100 percent renewable energy, produced by the retreat’s own plant and wood heating system.
- Exteriors and interiors use local South Tyrolean suppliers and eco-friendly materials.
- ‘Forest Cuisine’ menu is inspired by nature, uses local produce and foraged ingredients or ingredients grown in the FORESTIS garden.
- All-natural spa products and guest amenities, provided in refillable bottles as part of the zero.plastic and a no-waste policy. Every day a guest chooses not to use housekeeping, FORESTIS will plant a tree. FORESTIS have organised the planting of 7000+ trees in the region since opening in 2020.
THE FINAL WORD
If nature is your tonic, FORESTIS is the place to drink it up. Every aspect of this mountain retreat acknowledges the healing effect it can have on us as humans. Whether you’re dining in the restaurant, trying a spa ritual, or simply taking in the skyline, there is a deep-rooted connection to the rhythms of nature everywhere you go. And at a time when there is a surge in wellness trends, travel, and technology, FORESTIS is proof that the new wellbeing rules are actually the old ones: eat local, switch off from distractions, spend time in nature, and don’t forget to take deep breaths.
Rooms at FORESTIS start from £626 per night. This includes breakfast and dinner. forestis.it/en