Nestled in the lush valley of Lagundo, Italy, is a hotel that reminds us to find balance in our daily lives. We have recently had the pleasure of staying at Hotel Avidea, which blends seamlessly into its natural surroundings.
Starting with a great culinary experience, we enjoyed our meals at the on-site restaurant with a terrace. The kitchen crafted themed menus that changed by the day. Monday treated us to “sweet, wine & dine”, while Tuesday’s “Bella Italia” theme spoilt us with Italian-based dishes for breakfast and dinner. Not only was the plating beautiful, but the textures of each dish was highly enjoyable. The chef is also careful to source his ingredients sustainably.
The idea of balance and wellness is carried out beyond our meals too. Hotel Avidea features a beautiful spa area with a Mediterranean-inspired garden. You can dip into saunas, steam baths, relax in scented treatment rooms and an infinity pool that is both indoors and outdoors. In particular, I love the rooftop spa! They also offer plenty of Yoga treatments (including massages and gentle workouts) out in the woods.
If you love nature, spare time for “Algunder Waalwegs”. This stunning trail is just in front of the hotel, leading into the vineyards and fruit grove.
With 300 sunny days every year, Algund is made for outdoor living. Don’t just admire the Texel Mountains from the lounging decks and the comfort of your bedrooms (even if they’re beautiful).
To make travels more convenient for you, Hotel Avidea offers you a ”South Tyrol GuestPass Algund” – complimentary! The guest card lets you use public transport for free within South Tyrol, as well as free entry to 90+ national museums. You also get discounts on rentals and leisure outlets, so be sure to pencil in at least a day for biking and hiking.
Things to Do
The small, elegant city of Meran and neighbouring Algund will stay in my memory forever. You can walk the distance to Spa Town Meran – it’s 1.5 hours on foot – or travel 10 minutes by car to explore the beautiful city with loads of shopping possibilities.
Visit Meran – Having hosted nobility and royals since 19th century; we get to appreciate stunning architecture like the Pavillon des Fluers, the Kurhaus and the Kurmittelhaus.
Walk around the city – 16 hectares of parkland, heritage sites and more are meant to be explored. Don’t miss out on the Gardens of Trauttmansdorff Castle, Women’s Museum, Merano Theatre or the panoramic chairlift.
Enjoy spa time – Therme Meran Spa is such a relaxing experience.
Relax with the Kneipp Course – There are 50 “exercise” stations dotted around Algund so that you can meditate and move outside in nature.
Hike the Meran High Mountain Road – This high-Alpine circular hike is one of the most beautiful in Europe. The 100-kilometers long route features plenty of rest stops and cultural landscapes.
Bike around Merano – Cover more ground as you cycle around the city and over the mountains.
Discover fortresses and castles – There are 400 in South Tyrol, now home to small businesses, museums, wineries and restaurants.
Wondering where to go next during the winter months? Seek out the nature-made winter haven with thick blankets of snow and fresh pistes – the coveted PillerseeTal. The sloping valleys around the Kitzbühel Alps remake themselves with every season, but it is in winter where this Austrian region becomes a fairytale.
Combine panoramic views and quality snow to enjoy a top-tier ski holiday! Right by the front doors of cozy lodges and cabins are three ski areas with a variety of slopes.
Steinplatte ski area is made for explorers and passionate skiers. Offering up a wide range of slopes, there’s something for every ski level. Add in the expansive views between the Wilder Kaiser to Chiemsee and it is perfect for first-time visitors.
Buchensteinwand ski area is best fit for families and beginners thanks to its leisurely descents and wide slopes. The Jakobskreuz landmark is like a beacon; but it’s the Pletzibär-Park at the Valley Station that draws in the multigenerational families.
Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn ski area is a mouthful to match with its equally generous splay of slopes. Featuring 270 kilometers of ski paradise, 70 cable cars and lifts, and challenging runs for athletic skiers – it is one of the coolest ski arenas in Austria.
If you’d rather leave the slopes to the passionate athletes, PillerseeTal offers other winter activities too. Snowshoeing is another classic to-do as it takes you straight into the snow-draped forests. Well-prepared hiking trails cross through the dreamy landscapes, taking you into Fieberbrunn, Hochfilzen, St. Jakob in Hause and more valley secrets. Explore 100 kilometers worth of fields, farms, frozen hamlets and idyllic winter scenery.
Plenty of beautiful chalets can be found on these ploughed hiking trails. Rest your feet and warm up with their traditional food. One of the best snacks (or late lunch) to have is Kaiserschmarrn, a sweet and lightly-fluffed pancake shredded into easy bites. The rich flavoring comes from rum, applesauce, raisins and powdered sugar; it’s warming after hours out in the snow.
Another PillerseeTal itinerary is walking around the Pillersee. It’s a stunning lake of around 60 acres, where the mountains run right down to its banks. With water flowing in from the Kitzbühel Alps and the Lofer Steinberg mountains, no wonder it’s so clear! Even when it’s frosted over in the winter, the utter tranquility of the place makes it a lovely strolling ground.
Whether you’re coming from the village of Sankt Ulrich am Pillersee (which is near the lake) or exploring the area around Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm, be sure to drop by the market town of Fieberbrunn. It also makes a great base – Tui Blue Hotel is one of its many resorts and lodges. Right by the slopes, the hotel is both accommodation and break stop! The diner spoils you with Tyrolean and Austrian cuisine, while floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the snowy grounds. Enjoy the daily-changing menu as you dig into a well-earned meal.
Anyone who takes a picture in the Infinity Pool of the four-star superior hotel Excelsior Dolomites Life Resort in San Vigilio will also give those who stayed at home a new taste for vacations in South Tyrol. In any case, the surroundings are breathtaking: the 180-degree panoramic view from the hotel pool extends as far as the imposing Dolomites. One hour north of Bolzano is the 4-star superior hotel in the beautiful Badia Valley in the village of San Vigilio.
The Excelsior Dolomites Life Resort
Our room was located in the new building “Dolomites Lodge”, which has 16 rooms. One of them was ours for 2 days. Not only was it inviting, but also spacious. More remarkable was the roomy and half-open bathroom.
Optionally you can book the rooms with your own sauna or whirlpool. However, the impressive Sky Spa area is also located in the same building.
Feasting with a View of the Mountains
For breakfast, you can choose between freshly prepared egg dishes, pancakes and crepes. The buffet offers homemade juices and everything your heart desires (all organic and regional, of course).
Breakfast is served daily until 11 am so there’s no need for any hurry. Later on, there is a light lunch snack and in the afternoon, homemade cake.
In the evening, you can end the day not only with delicious drinks at the bar but also with a 4-course gourmet menu of your choice.
What do you actually do when you are not on a mountain bike or exploring the nearby national park? Relaxing, of course! Especially relaxing in the Sky Spa (Adults Only!), which is located above the roofs of San Vigilio.
The spa area with its unique mountain scenery offers so much that you don’t have to move anywhere from the hotel for having fun.
The Panorama Infinity Pool provides a unique swimming experience with a view of the Dolomites. When the sun is shining, you can relax on the sun terrace at any temperature. Of course, there is also an indoor relay room. Especially delicious were the dried banana and nut snacks in the Spa Lounge. Not only the panorama pool inspires with a great view, but also the panorama sauna was equally remarkable.
Wellness with a small child is no problem at the Excelsior Dolomites Life Resort! Here too, everything has been thought of: family sauna, indoor and outdoor whirlpool and a children’s pool.
Hiking in San Vigilio
If you do want to leave the hotel, you can walk up the hill directly behind the hotel, or you can go to the Fanes Sennes Braies Nature Park, which is 10 minutes away.
In the midst of fabulous mountain scenery, numerous bicycle and hiking trails are offered. ABSOLUTE highlight was the wild animals! In the middle of the nature park, we suddenly found beautiful horses and Scottish Highland cattle. We watched them for at least an hour and walked a little with the horses.
Nevertheless, I would recommend keeping some distance for safety reasons.
Masks are only compulsory at the buffet and in the dining area. At the table, you can, of course, take off your mask just like in the restaurant.
If you can’t maintain the distance of 1.5m, please wear a mask. In the wellness area also, the distance regulation applies, but there’s no mask obligation.
There are still rooms available for the next season. It is therefore advisable to book quickly:
When you enter the Antholz valley, you cannot fail to notice that Antholz is connected to the biathlon. In fact, the annual Biathlon World Championship takes place in Antholz. At the same time, on the way to the Antholz Upper valley, one is already enchanted by the unspoiled nature and the small traditional villages. Before arriving at the Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Antholz, you will feel an inner peace due to the alluring solitude.
At the foot of the Rieserferner-Ahrn Nature Park, you’ll find not only those who’re seeking relaxation and love nature but also active athletes.
Adults Only in Antholz
If I summarize our stay in three words, they would be: secret insider tips, idyll & pure nature.
South Tyrol is and has always been a popular vacation destination, especially during the Corona time, many people escape to the nearby vacation destination. I would describe Antholz as a hidden gem. The concealed but central location does not bring many holidaymakers to Antholz.
The modern Junior Suite Deluxe with loggia in alpine style invites you to a relaxing time. Thanks to the fresh mountain air and the great view of the mountain landscape, you start the day full of energy. We were even rewarded with the sight of a clear starry night from our lounge corner several times. Also, Chuck, our French Bulldog, felt very welcome! He and we especially liked the short walk into the forest in the early morning and late evening.
A personal highlight was the ¾ pension. In the morning, we could press our own orange-carrot-ginger juice at the breakfast buffet and enjoy the view through the panoramic windows. In the afternoon, there was always a snack when we came back from our trip. Not to forget, dinner!
A very special romantic moment in itself.
Every day we were surprised anew with an unusual gourmet menu. Not to forget the pleasant and incredibly friendly service. It was always a successful end to the vacation day.
Only at about 15 minutes walking distance from the hotel is the unknown Insta-Hotspot “Antholzer See”. It is the perfect alternative to the Braieser Wildsee. You have to have your camera with you in any case.
The turquoise Antholzer See has a huge advantage – no mass tourism. Here you can still experience and photograph nature in peace, whereas Braies Lake is also only an hour’s drive away from the hotel. However, it is mostly crowded with tourists who are approached by busses.
Around Antholz Lake, you can still walk in peace without being disturbed by a multitude of visitors.
Up until now, I had no connection to the biathlon at all. So I was all the more pleased that we were able to take a few test shots (5 shots/5€) in the nearby biathlon center (about 10 minutes walk away). Did you know that the pulse is about 150-170 for a biathlete?! A little tip: Withhold your breath so you can aim better!
This will be explained again on site. I found it very, very exciting! You can also watch the biathletes training in the morning.
Of course, there are numerous hiking trails from the hotel. The reception has the best tips, or the hotel offers guided hikes every day. Also to the sunrise!
If you just want to enjoy a day at the hotel, you can pamper your body and soul in the 1000 m2 spa area. The wellness area offers a wide range of saunas, massages and spa treatments for relaxation, regeneration, health and vitality.
Absolutely special is the heated indoor and outdoor pool, from which you have a view of the Antholz valley and the mountains.
Although the coronavirus certainly brings restrictions, we felt absolutely unrestricted during our stay at the Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa Antholtz.
Due to the good organization, we felt completely safe. In the whole hotel, there is mask duty. Of course, you can take off the masks in your room as well as at your place during dinner.
Also, in the wellness area, there is good regulation. Only a certain number of people can enter the sauna. During the day, you simply enter your name in a list for the sauna times.
Basically, like everywhere else, you should keep your distance and act conscientiously.
Despite our arrival on a Saturday, it took us only 9 hours from Cologne to the Falkensteiner Hotel & Spa in Antholz. We even made a stopover at the outlet at Brenner Pass. Of course, during the pandemic, there are often border controls, and you might end up spending 1-3 hours at the border if you‘re driving during the rush hours.
It takes just under three hours from Cologne to Bloemendaal aan Zee. We have driven this route far too seldom up to now and have not appreciated it enough!
That’s why after our first tour to Ouddorp we now went to the corner of Haarlem and Zandvoort.
Here you can easily combine a city and beach trip!
Our apartment with sea view at Poort Beach Hotel
I haven’t been in Bloemendaal aan Zee for a long time. So, we were looking forward to the super stylish Poort Beach Hotel Apartments. The tasteful accommodations have so much to offer!
We had planned to spend 2 days on the beach, but when we came to the apartment, we immediately knew that all our time would be spent on the spacious terrace. From here, we could also watch the whole happenings on the beach along with the surfers. In the evening, you can enjoy the beautiful sunset with a delicious glass of wine.
The apartments are equipped with a lot of love for details. As always, you should think of bringing salt, pepper and oil, in case you do your own cooking. Otherwise, everything is on the spot! Even a Nespresso machine! I always bring my own milk frother for a delicious cappuccino in the morning.
In our apartment, 6 persons could have stayed overnight, and it costs about 250€ a night. You should book the apartments well in advance as they are almost always fully booked.
Things To Do
You’ll never be bored in Bloemendaal aan Zee as there are countless things to do!
– Beach Walk – Every evening, we took a drink from our apartment and walked along the beach with Chuck. Dogs are allowed to run around freely without a leash from 19 o’clock in the evening.
– Water Sports – You only have to walk down the stairs to go to the beach and rent the surf equipment for surfing. Of course there are more water sports available right outside your front door!
– City Trip – It’s only about 10 minutes by car to Haarlem. For a day trip, I would always prefer to go there. The beautiful city of Haarlem has its own charm with its small streets and canals. The place is also known as the “little sister of Amsterdam”. However, I would rather walk all the way to Haarlem because the parking spaces are very expensive. Anyway, the footpath to Haarlem has a lot to offer! You will pass the Kemmerland National Park and some great housing estates. Walking there is an absolute breeze!
– Beach Club, Republiek – Right in front of the apartment door, you have the Beach Club, Republiek. If you prefer to have breakfast in the morning, I recommend you to visit the trendy and new Beach Club. I could have spent the whole day in the lounge chairs in the sand.
– Zandvoort – Do you feel like a walk on the beach? Then you should consider going to Zandvoort! There are also a lot of modern beach clubs here! In the centre of Zandvoort, there is also a small shopping street to stay in. We made a stopover at the photogenic beach club “Ubuntu Beach”; a must-visit for Instagram lovers!
If you want to see more videos of my stay, have a look at the highlights on my Instagram account.
In the middle of the nature reserve “De Punt” on the Grevelingenmeer is the modern Oasis Punt-West Hotel & Beach Resort, which we reached after a good 3-hour drive from Cologne.
The only five-year-old facility in Ouddorp in the south of Holland (near Renesse) is located directly on the Grevelingenmeer inland waterway.
The sea may not be as clear as the crystal blue water in the Maldives, but the villas and studios are located directly on the water! Most of them even have their own beach.
Instead of the Mediterranean palm trees, you look out over the bright green dune grass from the terrace or the panoramic windows.
Oasis Punt-West Hotel & Beach Resort
We were able to enjoy the wonderful view of the place directly upon arrival in our modern “Hotelstudio Waterfront” for 2-persons. On the ground floor, there is a small kitchenette and living room. From the couch, you can always watch the sea drifting through the wide, panoramic windows.
On the first floor, you reach the bedroom and bathroom, where well-scented Rituals products await you! My personal highlight was, of course, the terrace directly above the sea and the quietness in the resort that makes one really relax.
Also, during breakfast and/or in the restaurant, one always has a direct view of the wide sea!
At the reception, in the restaurant building, you can also rent a SUP or bike.
For your information:
The stairs to the first floor are a bit steep. We always carried Chuck, our Frenchie, upstairs, as he could not walk up them alone. Even for older people who find it difficult to climb the stairs, it is better to choose another type of accommodation in the resort.
The fitted kitchen has a microwave but no stove. You should bring your own salt, pepper, oil etc. if you want to prepare something.
There is no partition wall between the terraces of the studios. If both studios are occupied, you end up sitting very close together on the terrace. Dogs, for example, can run over to the neighbours quickly.
We absolutely enjoyed the peace and quiet and the location. Our Hotelstudio is offered on the website for about 350€/night, including breakfast, which is, of course, an exclusive price.
Therefore, the price-performance ratio did not fit 100% for me, as the equipment of the hotel studio is very ordinary. However, I did look at some villas from the outside, which were very ornate! Especially as a big family or a group of friends, one can have a great time here!
Things to do
Not far from the resort (about 15 minutes walk) is the 18km long coastal beach. Even during Corpus Christi, there was hardly anything going on here, and we could really enjoy the absolute silence! I definitely recommend a walk to the lighthouse and a romantic picnic at sunset. If during the day the weather is halfway ok, you can expect a beautiful sunset!
An absolute must in Holland is of course to explore the area by bike. You have a great landscape all around, which you can explore by bike.
Whoever arrives early in the morning by car or camper has a great first-row seat at the sea to watch the kite surfers. Unfortunately, you don’t get breakfast here, but there are plenty of public houses on the Dam!
If you do not want to spend a day at the sea, you can be in Rotterdam or The Hague in less than an hour.