From Lake Como, I made a stopover at Padova for one night, staying at the Four Points by Sheraton in the town of Padova. I had not bothered to review that as it was like a suburban motel in the United States and fairly forgettable as well. From Padova, it was about a 2 hours drive to the Cristallo resort in Cortina D’Ampezzo. Readers would have known I went to the Dolomites to ski last year and was mesmerized by the mountains here. Thus I made a stop here to show my family the beauty of this area.
The Cristallo resort is located up a small hillside with gated entry into the compounds and it is a relatively new addition to the Starwood Preferred Guest portfolio. Since Cortina D’Ampezzo is such a storied ski resort, it adds an amazing ski property. With the uphill location, it is best to arrive here by car and it does not seem feasible to arrive via public transport especially with your ski gear. As such, guests should note that parking is charged at EUR20 per night at any outdoor spot or EUR40 for a spot in the indoor garage. This cost includes valet service and they actually parked the car indoor anyway for the stay out of courtesy during the low season, since the parking garage is very empty. The resort’s parking garage is actually located at the back of the resort and located across from the reception lobby.
Inside, the reception lobby is actually fairly compact with a small reception desk on the left for such a resort. On the right, there was the concierge desk and in the middle there was a circular sofa. Past the reception desk along the walkway, there was a cabinet with infused water for arriving guests. Check-in at the resort was quick since they had prepared the keys before hand and the front desk agent made sure to let us know the hotel’s restaurant would be closing soon for lunch and noted that it was the only dining option open at the time due to my stay coinciding with the low season.
Room No: 206 Category: Panoramic Suite
For this stay I had booked 2 Classic rooms which are their standard base rooms, and both rooms were upgraded but one was upgraded to a Panoramic Suite which I will describe first. Both suites are next to each other but there was not any doors connecting them.
Upon entrance to the suite, there is a foyer and to the right, there is a walk-in closet where guests can store their luggage. Inside the closet, guests could also find the safe, bathrobes and shoe horn amongst the other amenities one might find in a hotel closet. To the left there was the bathroom where there was a ledge that functioned as a dressing table and useful for storing toiletries and towels. The bathroom did not seem overly luxurious for a suite and it was similar in size to the superior rooms.
What was unique about the bathrooms was the shower and jacuzzi combination at the end. There was an array of nozzles by the side in addition to a handheld shower head, arranged over a mini hot tub for one person that allows guests to enjoy a hot shower after their hiking or skiing adventures. As a ski resort, there was heated towel racks as well making it faster to dry your towels and get a warm towel or bathrobe to wrap yourself in after the soak.
A bidet was also found across from the toilet like in many European hotels. In addition, this resort has one of the most complete range of amenities I have seen. They might even beat many luxury Asian resorts. Bath amenities were by Transvital and besides the usual shampoo and bath gels, there was mini lotions for male and female use. There was even an intimate cleanser found beside the bidet, whatever it was used for.
The rest of the suite is split into a bedroom and a living room. In the living room, guests can find a sofa, armchair and desk with work chair. The living space was adequate for a family of four to lounge in and enjoy some coffee and tea.
Along the side of the wall, there is a flat screen TV with a minibar cabinet underneath it. The range of snacks and foodstuff prepared on the minibar was quite extensive and pretty good since they included numerous local delights. By the corner, there is another shelving unit with an espresso and tea making machine with the packaged pods found beside the machine.
A small packet of cookies was provided by the resort in the coffee table at the suite with a bottle of still water. I presumed this to be a welcome amenity of sorts.
Next to the living space, there is the bedroom with its own door. The bedroom itself is not large but it fits a King sized bed comfortably with a cabinet in the corner that holds another flatscreen TV. This meant it was a true suite in its own right with guests being able to watch different TV programs on both the living space and the bedroom.
Both rooms have a small balcony and there was a nice view of the mountains and the town from the balcony. In fact, this resort probably has one of the best views amongst resorts in Cortina d’Ampezzo. Cristallo certainly made full use of its location to add balconies to most of the rooms and suites and there was even wooden chairs outside for guests to relax while soaking in the mountain vistas. After all we were in the heart of the Dolomites in Italy.
Room No: 207 Category: Superior Twin
The Superior room located next to the Suite was more like a Junior Suite and similarly had a foyer on entrance with a closet on the left. There was no walk-in closet which limited the storage space here.
On the right side of the foyer was the bathroom which has a more conventional bathtub and shower combination at the end and a similarly sized vanity countertop.
Like the Suite bathroom, there was both a toilet and a bidet here as well. A ledge functioned as a dressing table with a stool by the entrance way as well. However the darker tile colours made the space seems smaller and older. If there was a lack of luxury in the rooms, it was from the bathrooms.
There was a wide range of amenities included on the countertop but it seems to lack an item or two when compared to the suites. They probably did it to differentiate the more standard rooms to the suites.
Moving on to the room proper, there is a sitting area with a sofa, armchair and a coffee table. At the end by the wall is a large flatscreen TV with a work desk and chair.
On the coffee table, there was another 2 bottles of water and a packet of cookies as welcome amenity. The Superior room is decorated in the same style as the suite with plenty of wood and chandeliers.
Unlike the Suite which comes with a King bed, this room has 2 Twin beds, which are very generous in terms of size. The beds faces the window and at the corner there is a sliding door that leads to a balcony with more or less the same view as that from the suite since both suite and room are side by side.
As a luxury property, there was turndown service in the evening with the curtains being drawn and the beds being turned down for sleeping. Slippers are neatly placed by the bedside and towels replenished if needed. In addition, a small amenity of lavender water was placed by the bed in both rooms.
Food & Beverage
Since not much of the village was open during the shoulder season, we had a late lunch in the hotel’s Veranda restaurant. This is one of the 4 bars and restaurants that can be found in the property. Though during the low season, not all of the dining venues are open. Breakfast is also served in the Veranda restaurant.
For lunch, we ordered a Fitwell salad with mangoes, celery, walnuts, fennel and grapefruit segments, a bacon cheeseburger with fries and grilled entrecote with with rocket and cherry tomatoes. All the dishes tasted delicious with the steak cooked perfectly and lightly marinated.
While the salad was a bit small in portion and expensive at EUR20, the bacon cheeseburger was large and generous with the fries. That allowed us to share these 3 dishes for 4 people since we did want to have dinner later in the town.
The service staff were also very nice to open the restaurant slightly past closing hours and service was cordial though the food did take a while to be served even though we were the only ones dining in the restaurant.
Breakfast the next morning was quite average and while it was a buffet style, the restaurant did charge for the eggs at a cost of EUR8. The buffet section consisted mainly of continental selections like a variety of cheese and cold cuts. There was local cheese along with local speck and hams that one might not find outside of the region. Smoked salmon with capers can be found amongst the cold cuts.
The selection for hot food in the buffet comprised of bacon, chicken sausages, potato waffles and the usual beans and grilled vegetables. There was also wurstel and scrambled eggs but any other types of eggs would be chargeable. The bacon and chicken sausage was not particularly very nice either.
Rounding up the main breakfast food, there was toast and bread along with a wide selection of pastries.
A large portion of the buffet was dedicated to healthier options and there was plenty of dried fruits and nuts to select from in addition to the usual cereals.
However the fruits did not look overly fresh and some of them were fruit cocktails that did not seem particularly healthy. There was kiwi, pineapples, and strawberries cut into small portions while the peaches and pears are in syrup.
Aside from fruits, there was fresh honeycomb to get honey from with a gluten-free corner. There was packaged granolas, cereals and rice crackers found in the buffet as well and they can come in handy for guests looking to go hiking for the day.
A variety of milk on the buffet would meet the demands of various travellers and there was also individual canisters of yogurts with toppings that was enticing. In fact the packaged foods seems to be the highlights of this buffet though I am not sure if this is a compliment.
Beverages that diners could enjoy range from a selection of coffee or tea that could be ordered from the server or there was water from the bottle and juices in jugs on the buffet. For the fresher alternative, there was a juicer in the center of the buffet with a chopping board and baskets of fruits and vegetables so guests could make their own mixed juices.
Families would also be delighted that there is a dedicated kid’s section in the breakfast buffet with smaller coloured bowls and specially packaged yogurts for kids.
While there was a decent range of continental fare on the buffet and even several hot food choices, the quality was somewhat lacking from a Luxury Collection property and I would have expected more from the resort in terms of Breakfast such as the inclusion of made-to-order eggs.
Spa and Fitness Centre
As a Luxury Collection resort, the spa is probably the highlight of the property. Located one floor below the lobby, and easily accessed via the elevators or the staircase between the La Veranda Restaurant and the Lounge Bar, there was a bright foyer that functions as the reception.
On the right side, guests will find a nice indoor pool with a jacuzzi at the end. Another hot tub is located outdoor on the deck. By the sides of the pool, there was plenty of deck chairs and outside of the pool area, there is an aromatic steam room and Scandinavian style sauna.
Between the pool and the sauna/steam room area, there is a foyer with a self-service juice bar.A selection of tea bags along with hot water from the dispenser is also available. Guests could make their own fresh mixed juice or hot tea after their session and enjoy it while relaxing in the numerous lounge chairs found in the relaxation lounge.
On the left side from the foyer is the fitness centre. Again, this facility is one of the most complete I have seen in a mountain resort or any hotel for that matter. Right by the entrance, there was a space with a projector showing routine exercises using common gym equipments.
The main floor space holds numerous fitness machines by Technogym while another section of the fitness centre has a row of treadmills facing the garden of the resort with a view of the mountains. The natural light and high quality equipments make it a conducive environment for a workout when the weather is not so good in the valley.
Other Facilities & Amenities
As a moderately sized resort, there was a couple of other facilities scattered across the building. By the main elevators, there was a lounge with newspapers where guests can sit down and catch up on the news.
Beside the lounge bar, there was an even larger lounge space with fireplace that could function as a spillover area when the bar is busy during the peak winter season.
And as I mentioned earlier, there is a beautiful lounge bar complete with a grand piano in the resort for after-dinner drinks. There was 2 other dining venues which was closed during the low season, but one of the nicer restaurants is connected to the La Veranda restaurant.
An outdoor terrace adjoins both the La Veranda restaurant and the lounge bar which means guests could have breakfast and evening drinks by the terrace if they visit during the summer time.
Even during the low season, the resort has a free shuttle to the town centre and guests just need to call back for a pickup. These shuttles are conducted using either a Volkswagen van or an Audi station wagon. Shuttles to the ski areas available during winter season.
On the last morning when I took some photos of the spa, one of the marketing staff actually came over to greet me and since she suspected I was planning to write about my stay, she did pass to me her contact. Due to the low occupancy of the resort when I visited, there seems to be more staff than guests and there was a more personal touch to the service. This extended to the friendly concierge who provided maps to the town and the ease of requesting for pick up in the evening. During our check-out, we were even provided with small canisters of sweets for the roadtrip.
Room rates in the resort is not cheap by any means and it was still close to EUR280 per night on the low season after taxes. In the peak skiing season, rates can go up to EUR500 and above. While expensive, this is probably the nicest resort in the Dolomites and visiting in the low season can be worthwhile for the views and lack of crowds. Though I am not sure if I would return for the skiing as it is not ranked highly in terms of the ski area.