Looking for a luxurious mountain biking trip in a stunning destination? Then a Val Gardena MTB holiday in Ortisei might be just the ticket. Check out this review of Adler Dolomiti and the epic mountain biking holiday they offer in the Italian Dolomites.
Val Gardena is in northern Italy and includes the towns of Ortisei, Selva Gardena and St Cristina. Nestled in the UNESCO world heritage Dolomite mountains it is a beautiful location. To reach it you can fly to Verona (two hour transfer) or Innsbruck in Austria (90 minute transfer).
The Adler Dolomiti is a five star spa hotel in the centre of Ortisei. It is stunningly beautiful both from the outside and on the inside. The huge reception area alone is bigger than some places I have stayed!
I am not really used to the five star treatment, but soon felt at ease due to the friendly staff. In fact I quickly came to enjoy it during this Val Gardena MTB holiday in Ortisei!
I stayed in one of the standard bedrooms. It may have been standard for the Adler but to me it was luxurious. Everything from the decoration to the bed, and large flat screen TV to the contents of the fruit bowl was top quality. Likewise the bathroom was lovely and far more than just a functional room.
The luxury is not limited to the bedrooms but spread throughout the hotel. The spa area is sensational with outdoor and indoor pools and everything from saunas to solariums. The gardens are immaculate and tastefully laid out to aid relaxation, whilst being pleasing on the eye.
A review of Adler Dolomiti would not be complete without talking about the delicious food. I have never seen such a large honey, juice and smoothie selection as at the Adler breakfast. There was also a vast range of continental and cooked options, including an omelette station.
The seven course evening meal was out of this world. From the salad buffet to the choice of mains, and inventive starters and soups to the indulgent desserts, it really was a feast. One of my favourite dishes was chilled melon and chilli soup with prawns – exquisite!
During this Val Gardena MTB holiday in Ortisei there were cakes and snacks laid out every afternoon. These included meats, cheeses, pasta, breads and salads – perfect after a hard day pedalling.
I have been lucky to stay in some lovely hotels. But to conclude this review of Adler Dolomiti I’d say it is by far the best I have stayed in anywhere. Everything from the staff to spa, and bedroom to food was perfect. You can find out more by visiting: www.adler-dolomiti.com
But the Adler doesn’t just provide the accommodation. They also include a whole range of activities from guided hikes and eBike rides to mountain bike adventures and riding tuition. And to top it all off, they even include the bike hire with both electric mountain bikes and standard bikes available.
To review a Val Gardena MTB holiday in Ortisei I had booked two guided rides on a top of the range full suspension bike. I also took one of the electric bikes out for a spin one morning. If you are interested in how they differ to ride check out my MTB vs eMTB comparison.
The Adler Dolomiti runs a bike shop right next to the main entrance of the hotel. There are all kinds of bikes available including both electric and normal bikes in either hardtail or full suspension. You just let them know your name and room number, grab a helmet and away you go.
For more serious biking the Adler works withOrtisei Bike School. From here you can pick up top of the range full suspension bikes – I was on a Ghost FR AMR 8 LC 27.5er with a carbon frame and 170mm of travel. The bike shop runs guided MTB rides for Adler (including bikes) everyday for a range of ability levels.
While in Ortisei I went on three rides to get to know the area:
On the first morning of this review of Adler Dolomiti I took out an electric mountain bike and rode from Ortisei up towards St Cristina. From there I took a dirt track up to Saltaria where I got slightly lost. My confusion came from not realising how far I had climbed so quickly as the eMTB was so easy to ride uphill.
Once I realised where I was – thanks to a kind lady – I cycled a little further on a road, giving me access to Alpe di Siusi Seiser Alm. From here it was mainly downhill, at first on paved road, then dirt tracks and before long on technical single track.
At points beyond my ability, mainly because I was riding a heavy electric mountain bike on technical trails for the first time. I found it hard to keep the heavy bike under control when going slowly. It did not help that the trail began with a series of very tight and exposed switchbacks, that to be honest I would struggle with on any bike.
As there was a fairly nasty drop, I was riding on my own, no-one knew where I was and there was barely anyone around, I avoided riding the tough sections. But it wasn’t long before the trail became fun flowing single track through the forest.
Eventually it bought me out just outside Ortisei and it was a short ride through town and back to the hire shop. All told I had covered 23.6 km in just over 2 hours including over 1000m of climbing. If I had done that on a normal bike I would have been shattered, but on an eMTB I had barely worked up a sweat.
After a big pizza for lunch (when in Rome!) I walked the short distance to the Ortisei Bike School for my next ride during this review of Adler Dolomiti. I was kitted out with the aforementioned Ghost FR AMR and met my guide and the other person on the tour.
Before heading up the mountain we had a little training session in the safety of the sloping car park behind the shop. Our guide wanted to be sure we have the correct body position and that we could lift the front wheel over obstacles when riding downhill.
It was all stuff I have covered before but it was new for the other member of the tour so it took a little time. But once proficient we headed to the Resciesa Funicular which whisked us up the mountain. It was time to properly begin the Val Gardena MTB holiday in Ortisei!
Once at the top the ride began with a 300m climb over about 3km of riding. Some of the trail was quite steep and moderately technical with lots of rocks. But if you picked a good line it was all very rideable. However, a few minutes into the climb I wished I had the eBike from the morning, as riding at over 2000m altitude is tough.
After a couple of photo and drinks breaks we soon reached the top where we were given a lesson in how to ride drop offs. Normally I would just hop off them, but due to the technical nature of the trail we needed to be able to ride half meter drop offs in a slow and controlled way.
The trail began anything but technical. It was fast, flowing and fun – perfect for beginners to get to grips with MTB and more advanced riders to really let go. But as the trail progressed it become more and more technical. Sharper turns, steeper slopes, many rocks and roots all added to the fun in this review of Adler Dolomiti MTB holidays.
Eventually we reached the most difficult bit and I could see why we needed to be able to do slow controlled drop offs. It was a 100 meter long section of wet rocks that in places were smooth and slippery and in others jagged and dangerous. There were also multiple step downs of around half a meter.
There was no way you could pop off them and had to stay in complete control to avoid crashing. But the excellent Ghost bike, combined with my recently acquired skills, meant I made it through without any issues. It is the kind of line that I would usually have struggled on.
After that the trail mellowed out a bit, before becoming steeper but less technical. It was nice to really let go towards the end and fly down the slope. Strangely the scenery seemed familiar, when we reached the bottom I realised I had snowboarded the last section a few years before.
For this review of Val Gardena MTB holiday in Ortisei, I have to say this was one of the most fun trails I have ever ridden. In places it was flowing single track and in others it was very technical. It was challenging and rewarding without being too much effort on the legs despite covering nearly 14 km in 1 hour 45.
My final ride during this review of Adler Dolomiti was again on the Ghost FR AMR from the Ortisei Bike School. Although this time it was just me and the guide. Also the lovely sunny weather had been replaced by thick fog and rain. We set off up the funicular again, from the top we rode in the opposite direction to the day before.
It was a bit of a disorientating uphill slog through the fog. Riding on slightly technical terrain we eventually came to a church in the middle of nowhere. From there the trail was downhill through a very rocky landscape. In places it was important to follow the guides line to avoid crashing.
Eventually this brought us to the same spot that the day before we had practised drop offs. We then followed a bit of the same trail, although in poor visibility and wet conditions it was a lot tougher. After a while we took a different route that took us to the upper half of the Seceda gondola.
At the top of this my guide gave me the option of stopping for lunch or powering through. Although I really needed a break there was heavy rain due in the afternoon so we decided it would be best to carry on. I consumed my emergency Mars Bars for energy!
From here we cycled beneath the imposing Sall Rigais and Furchetta peaks. If we could see it would be one of the most scenic parts of this review of Adler Dolomiti MTB holiday.
The first part of the trail was very steep and had a raised narrow strip of rutted concrete down the middle. In the damp conditions this was very slippery and if anything made the trail more difficult.
Once passed this tricky section – I had to walk a bit as I came off the concrete strip and then couldn’t get started again – the trail become natural single track again. There were uphill, flat and downhill sections and we found ourselves in a brief period of sunshine riding among donkeys.
Next was a very long downhill section to the edge of St Cristina. It wasn’t too technical so we were able to ride quite fast. Despite the excellent suspension on the Ghost my arms were very tired and I was struggling to grip the handlebars towards the end. Plus it had started to rain fairly heavily.
We still had a the toughest part of this Val Gardena MTB holiday in Ortisei ahead of us. A long climb on quiet roads with very tired legs brought us to another church. This was followed by forest walkway, which in sections was a wooden path a little like Northshore (but built for hikers not bikers).
Eventually a purpose made MTB trail cut off from this path taking us down through the trees in a series of tight switchbacks. In the wet conditions the many roots were very slippery which combined with the mud was difficult but a lot of fun. A good way to end this review of Adler Dolomiti Val Gardena MTB holiday in Ortisei.
When we arrived back at the shop we’d covered nearly 31km. Overall we climbed around 600m using leg power and with help of the lifts enjoyed around 2250m of descent. We’d only been riding 3 and three quarter hours but I was utterly spent.
After riding I went straight back to the hotel, got cleaned up and made the most of the afternoon buffet. I was so tired I couldn’t muster the energy for another visit to the spa. Instead I took a long afternoon nap.
As I made clear in the review of Adler Dolomiti section, this is a special hotel in a beautiful location. It is luxurious without being pretentious, the staff are friendly, the food delicious and the spa facilities incredible. That they also include activities, guiding and bike hire makes it the perfect destination for mountain fun.
And the biking was brilliant, with some of the best single track I have experienced all while riding through stunning scenery. From the excellent quality bikes to the first class guiding and tuition, a Val Gardena MTB holiday in Ortisei at the Adler Dolomiti comes well recommended.
I hope you found this review of Adler Dolomiti both useful and inspiring. If you would like to book this Val Gardena MTB holiday in Ortisei then go to: www.adler-dolomiti.com or visit www.valgardena.it to learn about the region.