Next stop: a bucket-list ski safari in the Dolomites.
Exclusive Resorts’ Senior Vice President of Hospitality, Todd Harris, lives in Vail, Colorado—arguably one of the world’s top ski destinations. He’s carved tracks in Jackson Hole and Big Sky as well as overseas in Japan and New Zealand. But nothing prepared him for Exclusive Resorts’ seven-day ski tour of Italy’s Dolomite Mountains. “It’s the winter trifecta: terrific food and wine, beautiful UNESCO World Heritage scenery, and incredible skiing,” he says.
Popular in Europe and slowly catching on in the U.S., ski touring allows you to travel from accommodation to accommodation by the power of your own two skis, taking in sights and on-piste lunches along the way. And you don’t need to be a double-black diamond skier to participate. “A lot of people have the perception that this is hardcore skiing,” says Harris, “but you can do the entire trip on groomed runs unless you want to go off-piste.” The European approach to skiing is also very laid-back. “Skiing is not the main event,” says Harris. “You’re constantly stopping to take in jaw-dropping views and lunch is a two-hour affair with lots of wine, cheese, and prosciutto.”
Agustina Lagos Mármol, founder of trip outfitter Dolomite Mountains, has spent years researching the best ski runs, restaurants, and rifugios in the region. The rifugios are fully catered mountain huts—often family run—complete with wine cellars and gourmet food. Luggage is transferred hut to hut so you’ll have everything you need, including a warm fire and hot cocoa, upon arrival. “Quite frankly, that type of on-mountain experience just doesn’t exist in the U.S.,” Harris says. Louis T., an Exclusive Resorts Member since 2006, wasn’t privy to the Dolomites before The Club began offering this experience in 2017. “It changed our entire outlook on where to ski and was one of our best trips ever, and we’ve had 40-plus vacations with Exclusive Resorts.”
Mike R., an Exclusive Resorts Member since 2012, had placed skiing in the Dolomites at the top of his bucket list ever since hearing about the region’s famous Sellaronda, a breathtaking ski route that loops around the massif of the Sella mountain range. “To have a private guide along with Exclusive Resorts-level accommodations put this unforgettable trip over the top,” he says. “Our guide, Michele, aka Mik, was outstanding. He grew up there, knew people all over the mountain, and we got to meet many of them. They all said the same thing, ‘Mik is the best guide in the whole region...’ Based on the five days we were with him, we would completely agree.”
All of the “hard” work on the slopes is bookended with pure pampering and full-service amenities. The trip begins with two nights at Hotel Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa in the glitzy ski town of Cortina D’Ampezzo, and ends with a Michelin-star meal and overnight at Hotel Rosa Alpina in charming San Cassiano. “You earn your turns, and you’re definitely rewarded,” says Harris.