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enzian Jun 30th, 2009 08:55 AM

Val Gardena/Alpe di Suisi hiking---hotel or apartment for us?
I just figured out how to add 3 nights in the Dolomites to our 2010 family trip to Italy, and I am very happy about that! Now to decide where to stay. We will rent a car in Bolzano for this part of the trip. Thee will be 4 of us---our daughters will be 18 and 22 and do enjoy hiking (we've been to Switzerland several times). They also appreciate really good food.

I just finished reading through previous posts and comments by Steve_James, Paul, and Schuler, among others. And now I'm more confused than ever.

I love Alpe di Siusi and want to hike up there--probably up to Rifugio Bolzano from Compatsch. Our other hike will be somewhere else. I saw Steve's mention of the great views from the CIAMPINOI lift from Selva---is there a nice 3 to 4-hour hike up there too?

Places I have considered as a base for three nights are Siusi (for the lift directly up to Compatsch area), Castelrotto (maximum flexibility), Ortisei (based on Steve_James' recommendation of Hotel Villa Park, which looks great), and Selve di Gardena (based on someone's recommendation for Chalet Gerard, which looks fantastic).

Each has its plusses and minuses. For Siusi, the downside is that it gives us great access to the Refugio Bolzano hike but it's a long drive to any others others. For Castelrotto, we'll have to drive to any area we choose to hike, and it's not really "in" the mountains. For Ortisei, I have to say that Schuler's comments about there being too many cars---and even smog---really resonated with me. On the other hand, I think the girls would find the idea of a real village, where we could walk at night, attractive. Also, maybe we could get an apartment at Villa Park, which we always like. And for Selva, the situation looks ideal for the Ciampinoi lift, but it's a long drive around to Siusi for the lift up there. Maybe we could take the closer lift up from Ortisei, but that puts us in a different area than I want to be. On the other hand, we could go someplace new and use the Seceda lift.

And somewhere along the way I will look for Enzian in bloom. My previous visits to the Dolomites were too late in the season (end of August) for this treat.

So many choices. Can you help me figure it all out?

And Steve_James, do you by any chance know if the apartments at Hotel Villa Park are available for short (3-night) stays outside of the main season? We'll be there early July, not at the height of the summer season.

Thanks for your help!

enzian Jul 1st, 2009 03:22 PM

I'm now looking at the village of St. Cristina---any feedback on this for location?

bobthenavigator Jul 1st, 2009 04:01 PM

Look at Haus Silbernagl in Castelrotto--good access to the hiking via the road between Castelrotto and Seis.

enzian Jul 1st, 2009 05:11 PM

Thanks, Bob. Do you have any idea how long the drive would take from Castelrotto to the upper end of the Val Gardena---say Selva---if we want to hike up there one day too?

Dayle Jul 1st, 2009 06:19 PM


I can't really answer your detailed questions, but I am SO envious that you get to hike in the Dolomiti! We skied there on our first trip to Italy, and the scenery is absolutely incredible. The towns and villages you mention, we have skied through and they all looked just great to me.

Buon viaggio!

Steve_James Jul 2nd, 2009 02:14 AM

Hi Enzian - As you say, so many choices - and pluses/minuses to each. Whichever you choose is a compromise to some extent ... and after many visits to the Dolomites I still find Ortisei the best 'compromise' for me.

For your itinerary Ortisei or Castelrotto give you the best flexibility IMO.

Castelrotto to Selva is about 35 mins drive if you choose to base there (- Haus Silbernagl and Zum Wolf are lovely guesthouses).

Personally I wouldn't choose Siusi or Santa Cristina (- my least favourite of the Val Gardena villages).


Steve_James Jul 2nd, 2009 04:20 AM

P.S. Not sure about Villa Park apartments availability for a short let - drop them a line. I think they've got a couple in the main house plus chalet apartments elsewhere - there's a link on their website.

kleeblatt Jul 2nd, 2009 04:54 AM

Hi Enzian,

You hit the nail on the head with your reasoning. It isn't easy to decide where to stay in the Dolomites.

My personal preference is Castelrotto but, like you said, it's out of the way.

The town of Ortisei is quaint, small and parts are car-free. If I were you, I'd go to Villa Park and stay there because there will be much more activity for your teenagers and for its vicinity to the lift up to Seiser Alm.

enzian Jul 2nd, 2009 09:14 AM

Uh-oh. Steve_James----can you describe what it is you don't like about Santa Cristina? Is it just a resort with no "there" there? Or is it something to do with the views and the sunlight? My current top pick for a place to stay is this one in Santa Cristina:

And I'm wondering if anyone knows of it? I like their attitude.

Schuler---I'm not sure how much activity our girls need in the evening. In Switzerland, they enjoy the small quiet villages (like Mürren) and even Lake Oeschinensee, where there is nothing but the hotel and it is very quiet in the evening. They do appreciate good food---as in upscale gourmet---so we need either an apartment (where we can choose to either cook or go out if we find a nice restaurant), a Garni that offers B&B, or a Garni with excellent food on the half-board menu.

The apartments at Villa Park look perfect, but according to the website they are by the week only. And so are many of the hotels and Garnis. It may come down to that as a deciding factor---which place will allow a 3-night stay.

Haus Silbernagl apparently will, and looks like a good option, especially with the swimming pool. With a base in Castelrotto, we would go one day in each direction---once to Seis/Siusi for the lift up to Seiser Alm, and once to one of the lifts from Val Gardena---may the Ciampinoi lift with a walk along the base os Sassolongo, or maybe up into the Puez nature park.

The rest of the trip will be farther south in Italy--as far as Lucca. But I'm sneaking in a short stop in the Dolomites on our way back to Zurich, where I plan to fly in and out.

enzian Jul 2nd, 2009 10:50 AM

OK---I went back and re-read the Villa Park website. The English and German are different, in that the English prices haven't been updated since 2007. The German site also offers a half-pension deal with their partner restaurant until 17 July---this doesn't appear on the English site.

Both state a per person room price based on a one-week minimum stay. However, the prices for the apartments and studios are given per day for the whole apartment (4 people), and without any minimum stay requirement. So maybe it will work. I'll e-mail and ask them when it gets closer to the time (this is for 2010, remember).

kleeblatt Jul 2nd, 2009 11:55 PM

Hi Enzian,

It's a tough decision. I looked at the views on the Silbernagl website. That's what you get in Castelrotto. Gorgeous views from a town set on a green alpine slope.

But the village is small. Much smaller than Ortesei. However, if you like Mürren, Gimmelwald, etc., you'll love Castelrotto.

Yes, there will be more driving to get to the other places in the Dolomites. But I have a sneaky feeling that once you'll see Castelrotto, you'll be hypnotised by its beauty. That was my problem.

Ortisei has more to offer town and location wise, Castelrotto has more to offer views and setting wise.

Steve_James Jul 3rd, 2009 02:35 AM

Enzian - As Schuler says, it's always a choice between setting and what's on offer town/location-wise. It depends what you want ...

If you like the S. Cristina hotel best, I'd say ... go for it! For views and setting it's as good as anywhere. The village is strung out along the main road (- unlike Ortisei) and has less appeal IMO - but if you have a car it really doesn't matter - Ortisei and Selva are only 5/10 mins away. (They were building a by-pass last year which should be finished by now, so that should be an improvement).

From the map, that hotel is away from the main road on the Col Raiser side - so will have great views of Sassolungo. S. Cristina is certainly more convenient than Castelrotto location-wise IMO, for ease of access to the Val Gardena lifts* - and for touring the central Dolomites.

There is a chairlift up to Alpe di Siusi from S. Cristina - or if you prefer to drive to the Siusi lift it's only about 35-40 mins. Otherwise you can drive up to Compatch from Castelrotto (- restricted car access, so go early).

Villa Park offer their 'half-board' deal in conjunction with nearby Tubladel restaurant (- run by a member of the family). It's very nice - but there are several nice restaurants in Ortisei (- I just book B&B as I prefer to eat somewhere different each night).

Villa Park also offer guests free access to Ortisei swimming pool across the road (- a nice bonus) -
I haven't seen their apartments so I can't comment there ...

Haus Silbernagl swimming pool is tiny by comparison, of course.

Let me know if I can be of more help ...


P.S. If you want gourmet eating, check out Il Siriolo over in Val Badia - a Michelin/Gambero Rosso-rated place (- with prices to match).

* N.B. Not all lifts are open in early July.

enzian Jul 7th, 2009 04:54 PM

Steve---thanks for the caution about lift opening dates. I found a schedule for this year:

Is this pretty typical? Looks like we would miss the Ciampinoi lift if they are the same next year, but others will be open.

Steve_James Jul 8th, 2009 12:55 AM

I think it's pretty standard each year, Enzian. Ciampinoi is always one of the later ones, unfortunately.

If that's closed, the other lift from Selva - 'Danterceppies' - is also good.
I'm sure the Passo Sella 'Forcella' lift from nearby Sella Pass would also be excellent (- one I still haven't managed, unfortunately :( )

Have you tried the 'Florian' chairlift on the Alpe di Siusi? If not, that's another beautiful ride.

And if you want high altitude ones, check out Lagazuoi and Pordoi. Both are awesome.


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