above: A stunning view of the sunlit mountains. – Photograph: brusign – stock.adobe.com
Italy is in the middle of its hot-girl summer. Hotels are overflowing with Aperol Spritz-sipping tourists living la dolce vita. But as the Game of Thrones saying goes, winter is coming. There’s always a tipping point for the new “it” destinations, and the Dolomite mountains in Cortina, Italy, are about to hit theirs. Europeans have been skiing this part of the Alps for decades. Cortina hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics, and James Bond fictionally drove his winter-equipped white Lotus Esprit Turbo down the slopes in The Spy Who Loved Me.
The Dolomites take their name from the carbonate rock of the same name. At dawn and dusk, the mountains are awash in a fiery pink so stunning the Italians have created legends and folk stories about the enrosadira, the alpenglow. This unexpected phenomenon is exclusive to the Dolomites and reason enough to plan a visit.
Madonna di Campiglio manages to be simultaneously one of the largest ski resorts in Italy in terms of skiable area and one of the least spoiled. The lifts rise from the picturesque village on the Val di Sole—the sunny valley—accessing nearly 100 miles of pistes.
Book your stay at Lefay Resort and Spa Dolomiti. The staff will make skiing effortless. The only thing they could do to make it easier would be to carry you down the pistes. Ski rentals are on the property; your gear is stored in heated lockers overnight; and you’ll be whisked to the lift, just five minutes away. Oh, and they’ll print your lift ticket for you. True luxury is a world in which you never stand in line.
When you return from a less than grueling day on the slopes, the fever dream of a spa is waiting. The spa covers four levels and is over 53,000 square feet. That’s ten football fields of salt caves, saunas and sprawling jacuzzis. Kids are welcome at the family pool, and everyone will want to swim through the sliding glass doors to the toasty outdoor pool with a heated floor and expansive view of the mountains. This is the best place to enjoy the enrosadira.
You’ll want to book your trip before they televise the 2026 Winter Olympic downhill events from Cortina. The Dolomites will suddenly be on everyone’s bucket list. Part of the massive Dolomiti Superski, Cortina connects skiers and riders to nearly 750 miles of slopes.
Just two hours from Venice, Cortina isn’t remote—though the towering ring of surrounding Dolomites might make it feel otherwise. And there’s a low-key vibe that’s a far cry from the see-and-be-seen culture of other comparable European ski towns. (I’m looking at you, France.)
HITTING THE SLOPES IN ITALY
They aren’t runs.
They are pistes.
There are no green runs. The beginner runs are also called “nursery hills” and are blue. The intermediate level is red and advanced is black.
Italians like their runs like they like their hair, perfectly groomed.
Skiing is more a glamorous pastime than a rigorous sport. So clocking your speed will make you look intensely American. This observation is based on firsthand knowledge.
AN UNEXPECTED BARGAIN
Skiing has a well-earned reputation for being the sport of the swell set. Skiing the Alps even more so. Images of trust fund babies clad in Gorsuch sipping champagne come to mind. But what if skiing in the Alps is less expensive than hitting Utah or Colorado, including airfare? Lift tickets at most American resorts exceed $200 per day. Lunchtime feels like a sweaty game of musical chairs played in clunky boots with trays of overpriced fried food.
Here’s the math.
Jan 11–15, 2024
Ski pass for family of four at Park City $1,036 per day
Luxury hotel, two rooms $3,600 per night
Travel to Salt Lake for four $2,000 (Drive-time to the mountain is forty-five minutes.)
Jan 11–15, 2024
Ski pass for family of four at Madonna di Compiglio $320 per day (Access to four ski resorts on one ticket.)
Luxury hotel, two rooms $1,000 per night
Travel to Milan for four $2,600 (Drive-time to the mountain is about two-and-a-half hours.)
Photographs: Nikolai Korzhov – stock.adobe.com; anshar73 – stock.adobe.com