Fabulous food, friendly people, stunning mountains and great snowboarding across a vast area, pretty much describes the Dolomiti Superski area. Want more detail? Then check out this review of Dolomites snowboarding holiday in Val Gardena.
I first visited Val Gardena in 2013 and stayed in a chalet in Selva, which along with the towns of Ortisei and Santa Cristina make up Val Gardena. I have since returned in 2015 and 2018, both times staying at the four star Hotel Piccolo in Selva.
Located in South Tyrol the area is traditionally Ladin, which is an ethnic population different to both its Austro Germanic neighbours to the north and Italian neighbours to the south. The three ethnic groups have created a unique culture and culinary blend that adds something different to a snowboarding holiday in Val Gardena.
All mountains are beautiful. But a Dolomites snowboarding holiday with the backdrop of the imposing Sassolungo and Sella Massif – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – takes some beating. This ridge of sheer and jagged mountains rise sharply from the slopes changing colour, through various shades of brown, red, pink and orange, as the light changes.
The Dolomiti Superski area includes a whopping 1200 km of piste. Around 500 km of this is lift linked and easily reached from Val Gardena. The slopes are immaculately maintained, and have some of the best snowmaking on the planet.
The Dolomite Superski area is also home to the famous Sella Ronda – the longest ski circuit in the world. It is all accessible on one lift pass which costs €273 for a week – this may sound expensive but it’s actually pretty reasonable compared to other large ski areas.
Locally there are a great variety of runs in Selva. From the large dedicated beginner area and wide cruisy blues, to the black Saslong World Cup run and an imaginatively designed snowpark. The slopes above Santa Cristina are sunny, wide and wonderful, while the run down to Ortisei is long and a lot of fun.
Further afield you can reach the high point of Marmolada Glacier at 3342m or explore the wilderness at the Hidden Valley on your snowboarding holiday in Val Gardena. You can also explore the ski areas Alpe di Siusi, Val di Fassa, Alta Badia and Arabba, all of which are lift linked.
The Dolomites get an impressive 300 days of sunshine a year – not many ski resorts can boast that. So they are perfect if you like fair weather slope time or are travelling with a family.
Much of the ski area is below 2000m, which coupled with all that sunshine could make for poor snow. However one of the most advanced snowmaking networks in the world means that 98% of pistes are covered. So even without any natural snow, the Dolomiti Superski area gets its slopes open, making it a snow-sure destination.
On my first visit in 2013 snowboarders were quite a rare sight in the Dolomites. This had improved slightly by 2018 but there are still a lot less of us travelling sideways than in other resorts in Europe.
This may be because the Dolomites has an unfair reputation as being flat. Although there are some flat sections, they are no worse than in other resorts. Personally I think the lack of snowboarders is more to do with the locals and a largely Italian crowd who are more ski focussed.
As well as fewer snowboarders, there seem to be fewer people heading off-piste. Perhaps the two go hand in hand? During this review of Dolomites snowboarding holiday in Val Gardena we were lucky to get some fresh snow, and to enjoy plenty of powder.
We spent the first day of this review of Dolomites snowboarding holiday exploring the local Val Gardena slopes. We began in the Plan de Gralba area where there are nice wide blue runs and a couple of more challenging reds. Between the pistes there was plenty of space to play in the fresh snow.
Plan de Gralba is home to the Selva snowpark which includes a car you can ride over and various other interesting features. There is also a seperate line of small kickers and a basic boardercross track.
Be sure to check out the new Piz Seteur gondola, it’s fast and efficient and a good improvement on the old lifts. If you feel like splashing out, book the VIP treatment to have a car to yourself with champagne on ice and Ferrero Roche – now you’re really spoiling us….
After a snack at the Rifugio Comici seafood restaurant – the prawns are incredible – we headed into the Monte Seura area. Here there was a lot of powder to play in along the edge of the piste, and we found an untouched path that led to the bottom of the black Saslong that is not on any piste maps.
The excellent black and red Saslong Downhill World Cup runs go from above Selva into Santa Cristina and are great for a bit of speed. We enjoyed them a couple of times before heading to Daniel Hutte in the Seceda area for a lovely lunch.
After lunch we lapped the Catores Martin chair where there was some great powder off to the right of the black run. There are some nice little cliff drops that could be reached by taking the blue cat track and then cutting back to the black. With plenty of untouched snow and barely anyone else on the slopes this was a highlight of this review of Dolomites snowboarding.
Following this we took the La Longia piste from the top down 10.5 km into Ortisei. It is Val Gardena’s longest run and one of my favourites anywhere. It’s long, fast in places, with tight turns, narrow sections, some wide pistes and undulating terrain – overall it has a bit of everything and is a must during a snowboarding holiday in Val Gardena.
In the evening we explored the beautiful town of Ortisei and went for dinner at the stunning Tubladel. It is a meat lovers paradise with some of the finest cuts of beef I have ever eaten. Just beware of the meat sweats afterwards! They also serve excellent beers from a local microbrewery.
On the second day of this review of Dolomites snowboarding holiday we did the Sella Ronda circuit. With plenty of fresh lines still to be had we did much of the route off-piste. We stuck near to the runs and found plenty of powder on slopes that were not steep enough to be an avalanche risk.
Including the lifts, the Sella Ronda circuit is 42 km long including 26 km of skiing. It is recommended that you start early to complete the route with plenty of time before the lifts shut. Having done it a couple of times I know that at my pace I can easily do it in half a day.
But with plenty of powder to play in we got delayed and distracted… I had the best day I have experienced snowboarding in the Dolomites. I was amazed at how untracked the powder was within touching distance of the pistes – perfect for powder loving skiers and snowboarders.
Despite the distractions we still made it almost all the way around the circuit to the Rifugio Fienile Monte in time for a lovely lunch. It is the smallest hut on the mountains but has a big reputation for excellent food. It did not disappoint.
From here it doesn’t take long to get back to Selva. Just a couple of runs and lifts and you arrive back in the centre of the resort. We stopped for some Après at Bar La Stua, it is a wine and gin bar above the Stua pub that serves a huge range of funky and delicious G&Ts using local gin.
During this review of Dolomites snowboarding holiday in Val Gardena we stayed at the lovely four star Hotel Piccolo. It is conveniently located around 200 metres from the town centre in Selva. Family run it is very friendly and they make you feel really welcome.
My bedroom was very nice with a good bathroom and comfy bed. The hotel has a boot room with individual lockers which you can access from the outside, or through the hotel. There is also a spa with a small pool, sauna and wellness area.
On two evenings we had a four course dinner plus salad buffet in the hotel. The food is a mix of South Tyrolean, Italian Mediterranean and international cuisine. There was a good choice of tasty options, and the menu catered well for the vegetarians in our group. Everything I tried was exceptionally good – but then you expect that in Italy!
Breakfasts were equally tasty. There were a few hot dishes plus a selection of breads, pastries, fruits, cold meats and cheese plus cereals. Easily enough to give you plenty of energy before you hit the slopes.
As a snowboard journalist people often ask me what is my favourite ski resort. I usually answer that it’s the right place, with the right conditions and the right group. You can have the best day anywhere with great snow and a good crew.
We had good conditions and a great couple of days on this snowboarding holiday in Val Gardena, but that is not why it is one of my favourite resorts. It ranks better than most because it is one of the most stunning ski areas I have been to, the food is exceptionally good and the people are very friendly.
Combine this with a vast and varied ski area, the longest ski circuit on the planet, innovative snowparks and mostly untouched off-piste you have a ski area that should be on everyone’s list to visit.
We hope you enjoyed this review of Dolomites snowboarding holiday in Val Gardena. For more information about the area visit: www.valgardena.it.
Inghams provide a seven-night half board ski holiday at the four-star Hotel Continental in Selva, Italy, from £1,099 per person. Price includes return flights to Innsbruck and resort transfers. To book, visit www.inghams.co.uk/selva or call 01483 791 114.