Root Causes
A just-opened mountain resort in the Dolomites provides a sensorial retreat.

There once was a time when a wellness retreat meant heading to some far-off place—the Alps, say—to do little more than take in the fresh mountain air, ignore the troubles of the world, and return to a simpler way of life. That was then. Between detoxes, biohacks, cryotherapy, infrared saunas, and the modern miracle of cosmetic enhancement, the definition of wellness today makes the idea of returning to something uncomplicated and unadulterated sound like the most radical experience of all.

Enter Forestis. Tucked away amid the Italian Dolomites, the new wellness hotel doesn’t simply channel the classic mountain retreats of yore—it was built in the early 1900s for exactly that purpose. Alas, it never fully realized its function, instead becoming the summer retreat of the Vatican (an upgrade in status, to be sure). Just a handful of years ago hospitality couple Stefan Hinteregger and Teresa Unterthiner began transforming the property into the slick retreat it is today. Modern though it may look, the hotel’s main structure is more than 100 years old, but whether you stay there or in the three new suite towers, minimalism reigns with crisp, spartan décor ensuring that the greatest pleasure of your stay is derived from the views of the craggy massifs and forested valley just outside.

Forestis is not strictly a wellness retreat, but it is strictly a mountain retreat that makes good on the arboraceous promise of its name. The lifts of the Plose Mountain Resort are a stone’s throw away, making it a true ski-in/ski-out destination (or during summer, hike-in/hike-out). Experiences indoors are also based on the surrounding nature—specifically the pine, spruce, and larch trees. Treatments draw from the ancient rituals of the Celts, who once roamed these sylvan peaks and revered the power of the forest. Wood oil and forest salt are used in massages and bathing rituals, while tree-circle ceremonies tap into the healing frequencies that the Celts believed were inherent to wood. A little heady for some, perhaps, but there are also body scrubs and facials (in which the use of pine needles is relatively minimal). The Celtic appreciation continues with Wyda, a sort of yoga-like meditation once performed by the druids that can be practiced in-studio or out in nature alongside rushing natural streams.

You’ll taste the Dolomites at Forestis too, thanks to the hotel’s restaurant serving “forest cuisine.” But fear not—the food is more of the foraged-and-farmed kind than the scraped-off-the-side-of-the-tree variety. Sprigs of fir feature in earthy cocktails and you will find spruce sprouts on your plate, but you’ll also feast on potato mezzelune, wild herb salads, and mountain cheese fonduta, all sourced from within a few miles. The nightly tasting menus are as much a reminder of the pleasures of a pampering hotel stay as they are a reassurance of the endless benefits that a return to the simple mountain life can bring.