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Luxury and art in the Dolomites by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in DESTINATIONS By Maggie O' Sullivan

This year I have added a new must-ski destination to my list: the Sella Ronda circuit in the rose-pink Dolomites. And I’ve found just the place to stay: a luxury chalet in the pretty mountain village of Selva Gardena. I visited the chalet back in September and, as the Dolomites were experiencing the first (unseasonably early) snowfall of the season, I got to see both the chalet and the surrounding region in their winter coats.So what distinguishes Pine Lodge – which has four stylish bedrooms with ensuite bathrooms, a vast open-plan living area, an indoor pool and outdoor hot tub – from other five-star chalets? For a start, it’s the only luxury chalet in Selva, which revels in a spectacular position at the head of the valley, below the towering Sassolungo, Puez and Sella Massif mountains. There are ski lifts within 300m of the chalet and the village centre is only a few minutes’ walk away. The Dolomites are nicknamed the Monti Pallidi, or Pale Mountains, but as I stood at my bedroom window on my first evening at Pine Lodge, they were anything but that. As I watched, the last rays of the sun turned the jagged rock face from pale rose to deepest coral until finally, a thick curtain of mist rose from the valley floor, signalling that the show was over. Most luxury chalets boast great views, but this one really is superb.Pine Lodge also benefits from its own butler (Andrea, above) and housekeeper (the lovely Monika who wears traditional Tyrolean dress). Breakfast is a spectacular buffet prepared by Monika, while dinner is four courses of delicious traditional dishes given a contemporary spin, including mouthwatering carpaccio of goose and canederli, a kind of dumpling.The main difference between this chalet and others of its calibre, however, is that it’s filled with artworks. Says its owner, Englishwoman Susanna Scott: ‘The idea is to use Pine Lodge as an evolving showcase for local artists who have all been greatly influenced by the region’s traditions of wood-carving and craftsmanship.’ When I visited, there were several sculptures by Aron Demetz. Demetz, who was born and bred in Selva, exhibited in the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2009 and his work now shows at galleries all over the world. On the dining table sat a bust by Aron’s cousin, Gehard Demetz. All the artworks in the chalet are for sale and if you’re lucky you might even get to meet the artists – both Aron and Gehard are childhood friends of Susanna’s husband, Georg.As we stood on Pine Lodge’s sunny terrace after breakfast, Susanna waxed lyrical about the Dolomites. ‘It’s so much more beautiful than the Alps. Did you know it’s a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site?’ I did – and I was beginning to see why – though it would need closer investigation, preferably on skis. To be continued, as they say.

From €22,00 for a week’s half board, based on exclusive use for eight guests and including afternoon tea and cakes, daily cleaning, and concierge service both prior to arrival and during the stay. Further information from Pine Lodge Dolomites.

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