The Dolomites 2016
The Dolomites is a truly unique place and, since visiting in 2015 on a road trip, I promised myself I would visit each year from then on. It had had that much of an impact on me!
Luckily, I’d been invited by Trentino Tourism to visit the Brenta Dolomites for a workshop showcasing what is on offer in the area. The area of the Dolomites is around 220 kilometres northwest of Venice airport, 140km northwest of Trentino airport, and 230km northeast of Milan. The Good Buy Trentino workshop was predominantly aimed at ski companies, but the region are trying hard to increase tourism in the summer months too.
There were delegates from all around the world (26 countries in total), from some of the largest ski operators, to small companies and everything in between. We were transferred from Venice airport to the Sport Panorama Hotel, near Andalo, a major ski hub in the area. The village church looked stunning against the clear mountain sky.
The hotel is outstanding, with a spacious spa complete with no less than seven pools, saunas, steam rooms, gymnasium and outdoor jacuzzi. Upon arrival, I did the only logical thing and tried out them all.
That evening we were treated to a dinner in the hotel restaurant and were officially welcomed by the Trentino Marketing team. The food was outstanding.
The view from my room that evening easily lived up to my expectations of the hotel name.
The following day was a work day. After a delightful buffet breakfast all of the buyers were shipped down into the small resort town of Andalo and to the sports hall. Here we were welcomed with more coffee and sat at our tables awaiting the sellers, or suppliers of the region to approach.
It was a pretty day but the delicious lunch overlooking the sharp, snow capped peaks overlooking the sports hall made up for it. I met around 20 suppliers in total, exchanged details with numerous hotels, tour operators, local guides and even several buyers from around the world. Once the workshop had ended, we were transferred back to the hotel to freshen up/use the spa, before being taken back down to the ski lifts in Andalo for our evening’s entertainment.
At the top of the lift a blue carpet and candles welcomed us to the lodge in which we would be spending the evening. It really was spectacular venue and nothing like I’d ever experienced.
After yet another delicious meal, a live band with a particularly charismatic lead singer/saxophone player got 99% of the crowd on the dance floor with a selection of blues and Northern Soul.
We were all asked to go outside where a temporary bar had been stocked with a variety of liquor. Healthy quantities were poured into brandy glasses then “BANG” – the first of a series of fireworks illuminated the air!
The show was fantastic and suddenly the air was filled with oohhhsss, aaahhhss, and the unmistakable smell of sulphur. It lasted at least fifteen minutes and no expense had been spared, a real treat so high up in the mountains. This was certainly one way of negating any avalanche risk for the following day’s skiers.
The party continued in a bar in Andalo where locals looked on as a strange looking group of misfits wired on shots of Jagermeister and Grappa danced until the wee hours.
There were some heavy heads at breakfast the following morning. Today was activity day and we had a choice of skiing, fat/mountain biking and trekking. I opted for fatbiking as I’ve never ridden a fatbike before, and loved the idea of riding on snow.
I joined another seven cyclists and we head up towards the ski lift we’d partied in the night before, to the snow. We stopped at a gap in the trees to admire how far we’d come.
Soon we had reached the snow and I was pleasantly surprised with how easy riding was with the extra-wide tyres. Stopping took a bit of getting used to, but my bike handled extremely well.
There were a couple of instances when I sunk into the snow and another when I hit a rather large lump of icy snow and decked it, much to the delight of our instructors and the other riders.
After a quick coffee, the guides asked if anyone would like to try out their new singletrack route back down. Not knowing at all what to expect, I gave it a go.
The riding was pretty technical, with countless lumps, bumps, burns and trees to dodge. Totally exhilirating, we passed through the trees as scary speeds underneath the line of the ski lift. We then caught the lift back up to the restaurant for another amazing meal and a few glasses of wine.
“Would you like to ride the same route back down Tom”, asked my smiling instructor. “We don’t have much time as the buses are leaving, but if we’re quick, we can make it” he added.
We hardly stopped on the way down. I had grown in confidence, partly due to my prior experience of the route, and partly because of the Dutch courage I’d acquired over lunch. We arrived at the base of the gondola at around the same time as those who had return on the gondola. I was trembling with adrenaline coursing through my system as I high-fived my guide and boarded the bus. It took some time for me to calm down.
We visited three hotels in Molveno, a lakeside town that I’m sure I’ll return to one day. Flanked by the lake on one side and jagged peaks the other, it is the perfect base for all manner of outdoor activities.
Our final evening’s meal was in a pizzeria in Andalo. I sat with my new friends, we drank our fair share of wine, and laughed until the onset of giggles. It was a fantastic end to a fantastic trip.
A massive thanks to the Good Buy Trentino team for having me, I had in incredible time in your superb region with your superb team. I am sure I will be back soon!