Forestis, The Dolomites Review: Pure Relaxation In South Tyrol
— Updated on 19 June 2023

Forestis, The Dolomites Review: Pure Relaxation In South Tyrol

— Updated on 19 June 2023
Chris Singh
WORDS BY
Chris Singh

Heading to The Dolomites and wondering where to stay? If you’ve got the cash, the incredibly unique Forestis is well worth checking out. To get an idea of what to expect, read our full Forestis, The Dolomites review below.

The world’s most successful hotels and resorts offer much more than just accommodation and a great location. And that’s essentially the biggest challenge one faces when designing a hotel. How does one align each and every element so that the property truly expresses purpose and guests check out with a clear idea of why this place exists and what it can offer them?

Few hotels get it exactly right. Even some of the world’s most coveted luxury properties have one or two elements that can feel quite jarring to the entire experience.

A member of the Small Luxury Hotels collection, Forestis is one of those rare accommodations that manages to align each and every part. It’s a completely seamless stay, hinged on the idea of wellness – clean eating, forest bathing and meditation.

This is the kind of dramatic Alpine resort some of the world’s richest people and Hollywood’s elite would come for a spot of complete and utter privacy, perched at 1,800 metres above sea level in the South Tyrolean Dolomites with direct (ski-in, ski-out) access to the Plose ski region.

Anxiety is a central theme at Forestis. Or rather, the absence of such. From the staff, who speak so softly and calmly and the aggressively minimalist interiors, to the superlative spa and health club with its majestic indoor-outdoor pool. It seems Forestis was custom-built to shield guests from all forms of stress, which is fitting given the original building was first conceived as a sanatorium.

Forestis is located amongst a rich forest in South Tyrol (Photo supplied by Small Luxury Hotels)

Pre-WWI, the Austrian Emperor built this solitary health resort to treat lung disorders. The pure air, pristine climate and exceptional water quality from the Plose river must have lent brilliantly to the idea, so architect Otto Wagner was commissioned to design what turned out to be a very homely, Art Nouveau building.

Wagner suddenly died somewhere along the way, and the original plans for the sanatorium were never finished. Instead, the building was abandoned to nature for decades until it was discovered by the wealthy Heinteregger family and eventually turned into what we have now – one of the most unique hotels in Europe. No, the world.

Nature defines everything about Forestis. And rightfully so. The World Heritage Listed Dolomites feels like no other place on Earth.

Forestis, The Dolomites

Exceptional

94/100

SCORE

PROS

  • Genuinely calming design
  • Exceptional amenities
  • Restaurant is innovative and reliably delicious
  • Easy to organise activities around The Dolomites
  • Unmatched sense of privacy
  • Impeccable views of The Dolomites
  • Superb sustainability initiatives

CONS

  • Rooftop bar feels unused and wasted

Forestis, The Dolomites Review – Table Of Contents

  1. Location
  2. Design & Features
  3. Rooms
  4. Food & Drink
  5. Service
  6. Verdict & Value

Location

Location counts for a lot at Forestis (Photo supplied by Small Luxury Hotels)

You’ll find the remarkable property nestled into the southern slope of Plose Mountain, just outside the small town of Brixen. Surrounded by a thick forest glade of firs, spruce, pine and larch, Forestis looks – and functions – like a luxury ski lodge, near which three modern towers have shot up in recent years.

There are 44 modern Tower Suites across these modern additions, all of which are uniform except for the Penthouse atop one of the towers, the difference being that it has two floors and its own private plunge pool.

Driving up to Forestis, you know you’ve hit an absurdly beautiful part of the world. It feels like a genuine escape from society, deep in South Tyrol with enough elevation to afford those trillion-dollar views of the jagged volcanic and dolomitic formations of Puez-Odle National Park, looking like Triassic teeth over which constant chemtrails (jarring, but theatrical nonetheless) create an ever-changing dance in the skies. The view morphs throughout the day, acting as a magnetic dreamscape and a reminder of one’s modesty in the face of nature.

“Breathtaking” doesn’t quite capture it. In fact, there are very few words that match the vigorous spectacle of The Dolomites.

Looking out to The Dolomites (Photo by Chris Singh)

The Hinteregger family clearly took great strides to pair Forestis with its location. And so the exact spot where you’d find the property matters a great deal to how it exists in The Dolomites, which is expansive and much larger than this corner of South Tyrol.

Radius counts for a lot, especially for the beautifully designed, tiered restaurant where the kitchen only serves produce sourced from the mountains. If a guest wants an avocado, for example, the team will literally drive to the nearest town and pick it up. Otherwise, everything is foraged, from the gorgeously rich proteins right down to the garnishes and local honey.

From the property, it’s an easy drive to marvel at the steeples, rock walls and glacial landforms that make up The Dolomites. Some of the greatest viewing spots in the entire region lay at your doorstep, as well as essential restaurants like the alpine Ütia de Börz mountain hut, which is 2,006 metres above sea level and serves some moreish Austrian food.

Yet as tempting as exploring the numerous National Parks of The Dolomites is, many guests would want to just maximise their time at Forestis. The property is such that leaving confers a slight sting, so most would make do with the various hiking trails nearby, some of which form part of the hotel’s long list of complimentary activities.


Design & Features

View from the Tower Suite terrace (Photo by Chris Singh)

Elegant, minimal design characterises every inch of Forestis, from the hidden forest sauna with an outdoor cold-plunge soaking tub to the jaw-dropping tower suites plastered with blonde spruce wood.

Soft and gentle was clearly the brief given to local architect Armin Sader, who has done a tremendous job with these three towers, all of which are connected to the original building via an indoor walkway. The natural surroundings are mirrored with plenty of wooden features designed to look like tree trunks and bark, building up an elegant profile that couldn’t be further away from the lavish, ornate splendour of typical European luxury hotels.

The best part about the deliberately simple views is that it just leaves room for nature’s considerable visual punch. Those utterly perfect mountain views are maximised from just about every angle around Forestis. Every single Tower Suite comes with a reasonably sized balcony with uninterrupted panoramic views of the massif; it feels like you’re inside the opening shot of a nature documentary.

While Sader has kept those impressive views front-of-mind in his design, there are other features worth paying to. As mentioned above, the restaurant, helmed by local chef Roland Lamprecht, is designed in tiers with a contemporary look elevated by gigantic glass windows that look out to the surrounding forest. It’s as dramatic yet minimal as Lamprecht’s uniformly excellent food – more on that below.

The Wyda meditation room at Forestis (Photo by Chris Singh)

The other major feature is the Forestis spa, which acts as the heart of the hotel’s conceit and is overseen by a local who shares a deep connection with the immediate area. Treatments here are based on historic Celtic philosophy and are themed by the four species of trees – spruce, larch, mountain pine, stone pine – mostly commonly found in the area. My mountain pine massage couldn’t have been any more life-affirming.

Wyda, a set of practices and exercises guided by European principles, informs much of what the Forestis spa offers, which includes a complimentary guided hike to a local steeple to practice Wyda exercises. And just generally let the clean, crispy air and stillness of nature crack any residual stresses that weren’t already smashed upon check-in.

The Forestis spa also features numerous sauna areas – one for those with clothes and around four for those without clothes – and that beautiful indoor-outdoor pool framed by soft loungers and a reading station with various zines and fresh juices. You’ll also find a well-stocked gym, a meditation room offering one of the best angles of the mountains and a dimly-lit quiet room that screams tranquility with a circle of beds surrounding a pillar of soft light.


Rooms

Tower Suites offer an incredible view of The Dolomites (Photo supplied by Small Luxury Hotels)

In total, Forestis has just 62 bedrooms and suites. On my visit in early October, it barely felt like anyone else was there even though the hotel was operating near full capacity.

The heritage-listed main building has 16 suites while the rest are spread across those modern towers. My Tower Suite, the majority category, has a south-facing terrace with those trillion-dollar views and a large day bed that staff can make up on demand. The weather wasn’t too cold, so I spent some time sleeping outside just before sunrise. It’s mandatory.

A kingsize boxspring bed of medium firmness with high-quality, locally made linen features alongside a generous lounge area while a walk-in closet stands between the bedroom and the stunning bathroom. The latter gets its main appeal from a deep-soak tub made of local stone, twin basins and rain shower. Don’t miss the deep sage bathrobe – possibly the most comfortable I’ve worn.

Sustainability informs just about every aspect of Forestis, so it’s notable when little details pop up like the do not disturb sign. Press the panel to indicate you don’t want your room cleaned that day and, as a thank you, the cleaners will instead plant a tree in your honour. I do recommend experiencing the turn-down service at least once, though – it’s well-considered and genuinely refreshing.


Food & Drink

The tasteful Forestis Restaurant (Photo supplied by Small Luxury Hotels)

Nothing about Forestis is by accident. The holistic approach to nature-inspired wellness dictates a menu of great quality, healthy food from some of the lightest and purest water in the world – with a PH of 6.6 – to all the foraged produce used by Lamprecht to reinvent the set dinner menu each and every day.

No two days are ever the same at Forestis’ restaurant; everything is mapped out by the produce, and hence nature is – yep, I’m doing it – the real chef here. Lamprecht is just the interpreter, cobbling together soups, pastas, proteins and desserts that draw on inspiration from various cuisines.

You never know what to expect, so it’s always best to go in unprepared. Although I would highly suggest jumping at anything using those fresh forest fruits, which usually include lingonberries, wild strawberries, blueberries, elderberries, wild raspberries. And if there’s lamb on the menu, you’re guaranteed a good time.

The wine list, however, doesn’t change. And thankfully so. Some excellent Italian drops make up most of the menu, but you’ll also find fresh cocktails, local beers, and various life-giving smoothies.

Breakfast is the same kind of beast, with just about every healthy food you can think of from various nuts and fresh fruits to cured fish and house-made jams. I lost count of how many different types of bread and cheeses there were, and all of this can be complemented by a la carte options of fresh eggs and salad bowls. The local honey is a must, but perhaps don’t eat it outside as the local bees will constantly annoy you.


Service

Service is as calming and effective as the views (Photo supplied by Small Luxury Hotels)

You know a hotel has had a great effect on you when you start missing how the staff members talk. Everyone here is hushed and speaks in incredibly calming, dulcet tones. Perhaps it’s rehearsed, but whether or not it’s genuine matters less than the impact it has on the entire experience. Service here is just another layer of tranquility that helps stamp the Heinteregger family’s vision of a luxury escape like no other.

Themed well-being retreats run at Forestis throughout the year, and I have very little doubt they could turn even the hardiest and most cynical of stress heads into a yogi in just a matter of days. The staff knows exactly what they’re doing, whether they are leading meditation classes, organising cycling excursions or – in winter – taking care of all the ski equipment you’d need to make the most of the Plose.


Verdict & Value

View from reception (Photo by Chris Singh)

I know this Forestis review reads like a tongue bath, and while I consciously try to avoid disingenuous praise, it’s tough to write about Forestis without coming across like an over-excited child. Many frequent travellers have just a few spots that they’d like to come back to you every year. For me, Forestis is now of those. I’m already trying to work out how much I need to save to spend a week here.

And how much is that? It will vary. With its rising popularity, I do expect Forestis to become much more expensive than it is right now. And right now, you’d get away with a starting price of around $1,300. Which is very inexpensive for such a memorable experience.

Some of the most storied luxury hotels in Italy can charge considerably more than that, and yet I’d go so far as to say Forestis surpasses a great deal of them in terms of execution, experience and location.


Forestis, The Dolomites

Address: Palmschoß 22, 39042 Bressanone BZ, Italy
Contact: +39 0472 521008

Rates at Forestis start from around $1,300 per night.

The Author, Chris Singh, stayed at Forestis as a guest of Small Luxury Hotels.

Enjoyed our Forestis, The Dolomites review? Check out our other hotel reviews around Italy:

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Chris Singh
WORDS by
Chris is a freelance Travel, Food, and Technology writer. He has had work published by The AU Review, Junkee Media and Australian Traveller Media and holds tertiary qualifications in Psychology and Sociology.

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