Why fly across the Atlantic to the Alps for winter getaways when there are perfectly good mountains in America?
Well, La Dolce Vita isn’t just in Rome. You’ll also find it in the Alps. European winter getaways are an entirely different level of pleasure. Imagine warming up at a country French restaurant in a converted barn. Enjoy après-ski at a mid-mountain chalet, sipping on fendant and dipping country bread in fondue made with cheese from the valley. Taste the chef’s homemade apricot eau de vie. Then at sunset, you snowplow down the return trail to your luxurious eco hotel. Perhaps you take a nighttime dip in a heated alpine infinity pool. Or curl up by an open fire and watch the snow fall outside. Not to mention the glaciers, champagne bars on the slopes and off-piste skiing that dreams are made of. If this makes you google airfares, then the Alps are for you.
Even better news is that hotels in Europe are committing to sustainable tourism in sensitive environments such as the Alps. When you stay in one of these gorgeous eco-hotels, resorts and lodges, you won’t be damaging the very nature you came to enjoy.
Here’re my top 7 Eco-Luxury Winter Getaways in the Alps:
The Adler Mountain Lodge worked hard to open their doors in the highly protected Alpe di Siusi area in Italy’s Dolomites – a UNESCO world heritage site. In compliance with the Klimahous Nature standard to reduce energy consumption, the hoteliers still managed to pull off a heated outdoor infinity pool where you can swim through reflections of the mountains, a panoramic sauna, and in-room fireplaces. This family run eco-retreat is so gorgeous, you’ll beg the airlines to waive their change fee and stay longer.
2. Hotel Sonne
A bio-hotel with eco-compatible materials never looked so good. What looks even better is that it uses alternative energy sources for nearly zero impact on the environment. 4-stars and counting, Hotel Sonne is located in in the heart of Livigno’s car-free zone. Cozy up at the 16-room hotel and enjoy a spa day in their biological sauna, infrared cabin and steam bath. Or walk a short distance and be on a ski lift in minutes. Even better. Do both.
They coined it. Eco-chic ethos. And bravo! I scoured France to find eco-hotels and honestly, they weren’t all jumping up all at once. Run by the Temmos Group, the Hotel Les Menuires Les Bruyères, is committed to carbon neutral strategies, greenhouse gas assessments, and a partnership with EcoAct, all in loving pursuit to protect the melting Alps. With irrefutable scientific evidence that its glaciers are well, melting, eco isn’t just a buzzword. It’s a necessity.
Now, this is cool. Low impact tourism. Fifteen geodesic domes built on wooden platforms form the Whitepod Hotel. At its center, the Chalet Les Ceniers, built in the 1800’s, is the happening hub of the whitepods serving up libations and innovative Swiss alpine cuisine. But let’s talk about the private ski lifts, serving up more than 25 km of private trails all-for-you on a powder day. That’s worth a holler. And just because you’re bunking on wooden platforms, don’t think you’re roughing it. Au contraire. You’re wrapped in luxury with organic bedding, wood burning stoves, private decks, king size beds, a Finnish sauna, spa treatment rooms, and panoramic views. Ooh la la.
No four-star hotels in the Swiss Alps – or anywhere that I know of – can boast that they are built from bales of hay. But the Maya Boutique Hotel can. Because it is. All of its building materials are natural: stone, glass and local pine and oak. Even its restaurant, with stunning panoramic views, cooks every dish in a natural clay wood fired oven. When one thinks of hotels usually we wouldn’t want our room to smell. But each of their handcrafted rooms features a different local wood and smells heavenly. Not wanting to leave out any of the senses, even the outdoor sauna has a glass wall. So you won’t miss out on a single white-capped Swiss peak.
Ever dreamed of leaving it all and moving to the Swiss Alps? Now you can live out your alpine fantasies at the Montage Alternative Swiss Alpine Eco Lodge. Stay in one of their beautifully renovated historical barns or houses. Drink fresh spring water and dine at their onsite restaurant, L’Arpalle, serving up organic daily menus foraged from the garden and local terroir. To boot, Montagne Alternative is the first Swiss company to be awarded a B-corporation certification for two reasons: sustainability and their ability to make friends with the neighbors and play well together.
Nestled on a snowy 8000 ft. peak in St. Moritz, the 16-suite Romantik Hotel Muottas Muragl was the first plus-energy hotel in the Alps. Talk about ski in-ski out, it’s so high, the only way to arrive is by helicopter or the nearly vertical Muottas Muragl Railway. With a long list of environmental awards including the Swiss Solar Award, Minergie Ecological Standard, the hotel gives guided tours of its impressive “Flyer Energy” concept. And if that doesn’t impress you, make reservations at the Panorama Restaurant. At this altitude, its name is no joke. And sensitive to food allergies, their lunch and dinner menus offer gluten and (surprisingly for Switzerland) lactose free alpine specialties.
Whether you dream of a 4-star boutique hotel made of hay, a luxurious winter pod with private ski lifts, sleeping amongst the glaciers at 8000 feet or collecting snowflakes on your tongue while floating in an alpine infinity pool, a winter vacation in the Alps is worth the flight. Just bring a book for the plane, take a nap, watch three movies and you’re there.
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