Enslaved to the pocket-sized computer in my hand, mindlessly scrolling social channels to see how I can fit my photography into the current trend, sacrificing time with loved ones to uphold my place in the entrepreneurial rat race, stepping across airplane doors more than that of my partner’s house, shutting down like a robot when my head hits the pillow because my brain is just that exhausted — this is the lifecycle of me.
How did the rich complexity of my being become dictated by technological advances, changes to the world that don’t respect the ecosystem of the human being. Shouldn’t we, as any natural being, be lead by seasons, growth, hibernation, emotions, and things intrinsically woven into our very makeup?
I needed a change. A big, unbarring jolt back into the natural state of human that our makeup desires and needs.
“Buongiorno, welcome to FORESTIS!”
I’d heard about this mountain escape called FORESTIS from a friend, who dubbed it “the best hotel I’ve ever visited!” A wellness retreat swathed in soft puffs of cloud, high above the humdrum of the quaint South Tyrolean towns of Brixen and Bressanone.
Once a sanctuary for Popes and high priests, I imagine that FORESTIS is the closest to nirvana that humans can get on Earth. A hotel built on the promise of mindfulness, everything has been thoughtfully considered in order to enhance guest’s connection with nature. From the waxed Dolomiti stone, naturally curved bathtubs, to soft-scented spruce clad rooms and unadulterated vistas, to the fresh Plose mountain spring water from every tap, the team at FORESTIS have thought about how to bring you closer to nature through every one of your senses.
You may think, ‘How will visiting a hotel help me to reconnect with my natural self and be more mindful?’, well, there’s a big ol’ distraction that’s unavoidable. About 3,343m of a distraction, to be exact. A forest of pointed pines lead the eye to the snow-capped, pink-hued UNESCO Dolomites, the mountainscape that courses through the picturesque South Tyrolean valleys below. Peak perfection, the jagged outline of this natural beast is a welcomed reminder of the power of Mother Nature to those of us who have lost that respect.
This is the first place I’ve visited where screen time and guilt become synonymous — quite a conundrum when there’s so much to photograph! Despite the urge to snap, I found myself gazing mindlessly out at the CGI-like panorama before me on numerous occasions — thoughts few, movements limited, heart rate slowed to a rate I haven’t felt in a decade.
The regenerative powers of nature aren’t only laid out in the architectural prowess of this boutique escape, but are also showcased through the artfully planned menus and spa treatments.
Each night we dined in the amphitheatre-style restaurant with, where tables are in their own curved booths and dimly-lit to give spotlight to the great show that’s about to be curtained. Guests have the same table each night, but the 7-course tasting menu changes daily, each one as good as the last, with a detox option for those wishing to dial into the hotel’s wellness programme. The kitchen aims to be zero waste, so seasonal ingredients are used to create dramatic and colourful dishes that deserve an encore.
Time passes slowly here, as focus is drawn to the food, the view, and your dining companion, as the attentive staff move with unnoticed grace to replenish the organic wine in your glass. Afterwards, delight in a menu of libations mixed with forest finds in the black-walled bar, or get cosy in front of the outdoor fire and while away beneath the towering peaks.
It’s easy to be mindful in a place like FORESTIS, simply due to the setting, but the team go even further than that to ensure that the guest experience connects them to the four key elements of nature. This is most brought to life in the spa, where the natural doctrines of the Celts acts as inspiration for the regenerative wellness experiences on offer. The FORESTIS Spa combines these four elements of nature with four trees: mountain pine, spruce, larch and stone pine. The signature Tree Circle Ceremony is the coveted treatments — a 3.5 hour experiential wonder based upon the concept of touch that is integrated into a sequence of ritual behaviours. Where your body chooses the healing bark it needs in that moment through scent and touch.
A minimalistic space, filled with natural light from the windows-for-walls, the spa the is ideal perch to melt into mindfulness. Floating in the heated outdoor pool, the Dolomites reflecting in the rippled water as steam rose into the fresh snow falling silently above me, I could feel everything and nothing all at once. I felt aligned, in my thoughts and in my being. Where anxieties once fizzed through my body, calm was restored. The severed connection between my brain and my body became a lifeline once again.
Curled beneath a duvet on my balcony bed, the chilled night breeze kissing my rosy cheeks, I gazed in awe at the speckled night sky that lit up the alpine giants before me. Three days at FORESTIS felt like a lifetime, as if I’d slipped into a parallel universe where time was led by seasons and elements, rather than a round, wall-mounted dictator. A place where bodies and minds are invited to follow the natural life cycle of the living beings that had spent the past days staring at me. A constant reminder of the generosity of Mother Nature, where the luxury of the human experience is measured by living, not the existing.
Palmschoß 22, 39042 Bressanone BZ, Italy