The new Fontis Luxury Spa Lodge cultivates an enriching dream getaway unlike any other in South Tyrol. Discover how this rarefied eco-retreat encapsulates everything there is to love about Italy’s best-kept secret.
Valle di Casies (Gsieser Valley) may very well be the most peaceful corner of South Tyrol. Whether spending a day or a week here, the valley conjures a personal connection to nature that borders on mystical. As we recently discovered, the boutique wellness escape Fontis Luxury Spa Lodge deepens this elemental bond by centering relaxation and renewal around the region’s wondrous wilderness and treasured farm-to-table traditions.
Fontis invites the rare chance to wrap yourself in the humble charms of Alpine living where tending to a simple garden can be as revivifying as trekking beneath a snow-lanced mountain peak. A stay here consciously reawakens you to the rhythms and wonders of nature at its most pure.
Nurturing Alpine Ambiance
The setting of Fontis is thrilling. Framed by pine-steeped mountains in a sunny glen flush with flower-drenched farmhouses, the retreat envelopes you in the sights, sounds and peace-inducing bouquet of the Alps. An abundance of greenery decorates the property blending in naturally with boulders and babbling water elements — a reverent echo of the pristine brooks and streams rivering through the surrounding mountains.
The calming cadence of cowbells ringing in the distance greeted us the moment we arrived at Fontis. Before walking in, we marveled at the rotunda towers anchoring the retreat. They evoked medieval charm and modern elegance all in one glance.
As we looked around, it was clear the views from Fontis were going to do wonders for our wellbeing all on their own. Its location affords dramatic vistas in every direction. One can wake up to glorious sunrises pouring over the Gseiser Alps and then later bid the day farewell by spying the setting sun blazing the summits of the Dolomites to the west.
Stepping inside we were met with the vibrant aroma of freshly plucked herbs and flowers which was immediately followed by the equally vibrant smile of Julia Steinmair at the reception desk. Julia together with her mother, Margit, operates Fontis. They come from a family with a long tradition of wowing guests in South Tyrol. In fact, the Steinmair’s award-winning 5-star wellness and spa resort, Hotel Quelle, located minutes away from Fontis, has welcomed mountain lovers and wellness devotees for more than 70 years.
Just like our previous time at Hotel Quelle, we experienced genuine warm Tyrolean hospitality right away at Fontis. The loving artistic attention to detail we admired at Hotel Quelle was also wholly evident. What was noticeably different at Fontis was the more intimate atmosphere — both in aesthetics and spirit.
During our welcoming tour, we discovered the farm-forward getaway has only eight suites. This boutique size allows Fontis to help guests recharge with a truly Earth-friendly approach that is as inspiring as it is ambitious.
Julia also noted the retreat sources its ingredients locally from the neighboring farmsteads as well as from an herb-laced garden at the entrance of Fontis. A much larger organic garden, burgeoning toward the mountainside behind the retreat, also produces a bounty of fruits and vegetables the kitchen team harvests for its daily menu.
By operating also as a farm, Fontis not only contributes to sustainability but can also perfect the selection of ingredients comprising their cuisine. The result is delectable dishes reflecting peak freshness, color and flavor.
Eco Chic-Inspired Design
Fontis brings the serenity of the outdoors inside by stylishly adorning natural products throughout. How the retreat gracefully uses wood and ambient lighting to nurture a feeling of warmth and calm will have you pining to create your own eco-chic living space at home.
Each of its eight suites allows an abundance of natural light to fill the room if guests wish. We stayed in the Loft Suite and our bed faced a massive sliding glass door that made it seem as if we could touch the forested slopes. Every night we fell asleep to the melody of a river and each morning awoke with evergreen hues flooding over us as first rays of light trickled through the trees.
After pulling ourselves out of bed, we made coffee and tea in our suite’s designer kitchen to start every day. We then sipped away the last whispers of sleep while watching the sunrise from our suite’s terrace. From our first day to our last, Fontis made cherished moments like these easy to enjoy.
We woke up one morning to find freshly fallen snow blanketing the mountain peaks. The trees mantling the mountains were powdered white as if the swirl of a snowglobe had just settled. It was one of the most picturesque wintry scenes we’ve ever witnessed in South Tyrol.
The retreat’s eco-centered character goes well beyond its appearance. Fontis was developed with a “green” eye on innovation balanced with timeless Alpine craftsmanship. The property is a certified ClimateHouse meaning it meets rigorous energy efficiency and sustainability standards. For example, Fontis achieves zero carbon emissions by harnessing the natural furnaces beneath our feet — a geothermal energy system handles all of its heating needs.
Even the pamphlets and bulletins the retreat uses to inform guests of services are eco-friendly. All materials are only printed with paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. In addition, Fontis makes it natural for guests to contribute to a healthier environment by providing special disposal containers in each suite so items discarded can be recycled or turned into compost for the farm.
Wellness in Bloom
Our well-thought-out suite was only eclipsed by the gorgeous Fontis pool and spa area. When the elevator doors first opened to the wellness garden our jaws dropped. It called to mind the moment when a theater curtain parts to reveal an elaborate production with a grand stage set.
A heated infinity pool flows into a crystal clear bio lake — a natural wading and swimming pool that possesses its own self-sustaining ecosystem — allowing you to soak in organically purified waters.
Beyond the lake is bucolic pastureland dotted with grazing goats and the sterling red steeple of the St. Martin parish church, which pierces the silhouette of the Dolomites on the horizon. Those not ready for a swim can unwind in one of many private lounge areas that sit above the lake. We sank into one with a bottle of wine and listened to fountains cascading into the water for quite some time.
Once the afternoon began to cool, we warmed up by wading into the infinity pool and then took a seat in the Fontis Finnish sauna. If it wasn’t for the intense heat, we could have sat there the rest of the day. The panoramic view of the Dolomites from the sauna is breathtaking. Especially when the setting sun makes the pale mountains blush.
After the sauna, we decided on another soak, but instead of the pool, we headed for the rooftop hot tub. From here the sight of the Dolomites is even more spectacular. The hulking mountains seem to be all yours.
We continued relaxing with fresh pours of wine and enjoyed a hydromassage that was unlike any other tub experience. The jets magically voluted streams of water up and down our spines. Any tension left from hiking earlier floated away with the steam.
The next night we repeated the same pool and sauna routine then opted to lounge in the Fontis Relaxation room in place of the hot tub. Entering this room is like walking into an enchanted realm. Warm wood accents serenely surround you and the pleasant fragrance of a pine forest after a morning rain reverberates through the air.
Soothing spa music, dancing candles and soft ambient lighting that includes hypnotic bubbling water towers amplify the chill vibes. We spent nearly two hours here relaxing on the room’s plush loungers and receiving infrared heat therapy from its recliners.
Nourishing Body & Soul
If Fontis’ only applaudable attribute was its gourmet breakfast buffet that alone would be enough reason to book a stay. Each morning we encountered a delicious spread seemingly of all of the glories of Earth.
Baskets of oven-baked bread, bowls of fresh fruit, platters of angelic Alpine cheeses and smoky cold cuts and an assortment of berry-forward pastry creations worthy of an art gallery await guests. If you can peel your eyes away from the culinary cabaret, you will also see a slow food-inspired show kitchen where you can order the dishes of the day to accompany your buffet selections.
Another dining highlight is the modern espresso bar where you can brew your favorite coffee concoction on demand, as well as prepare a steaming cup of tea from a medley of flavors. We polished off our morning libations with a field-to-flute Green Fontis Smoothie packed with the kind of healthy goodness that fully invigorates one for the day’s adventures.
Every afternoon, Fontis lays out another sumptuous buffet brimming with healthy snacks and desserts parading every degree of sweetness. These daily treats were so good we actually cut our hikes short not to miss them. Clearing our plates of heaven-sent apple strudel was a befitting way to ease out of rigorous activity into sublime relaxation at the Fontis pool and spa.
In the evening, Fontis gives guests the choice to dine on their own, enjoy a multi-course dinner at Hotel Quelle or dazzle themselves in their own suite by cooking pre-prepped fare. We absolutely adored the chance to cook South Tyrolean dishes in our suite. After a long day taming trails, sometimes you want to retire to your room without fretting about a night out to grab dinner. Fontis makes it easy to do just that.
After breakfast, we would browse a menu of available traditional Tyrolean comfort foods, place the order at the reception desk and then visit the herb garden to pick among 12 different herbs to cook with. By early evening, Fontis would deliver cooking instructions and fill our suite’s fridge with everything necessary to whisk us away on a gastronomic adventure.
On our first night of cooking, we began with a lush Chardonnay from the lovely Donà family winery and nibbled on the speck, mountain cheese and schüttelbrot Fontis left in our room as a welcoming package upon arrival. These homemade specialties were just one of the many delightful surprises we found awaiting us in our room each day. We then opened a scroll to find instructions detailing how to cook the knödel (dumplings) we ordered earlier.
We followed the cooking steps to a tee and then tried our hand at culinary creativity by sprinkling our plucked herbs atop the dumplings. The outcome would have made every Tyrolean grandmother proud! The knödel emanated a wonderfully enticing aroma and exhibited deep layers of flavor with each bite.
On our last night at Fontis, we cooked spinach spaetzle in our suite. This classic dish came with a sinfully savory ham cream sauce that we will crave for years to come. A grand garden salad complete with a homemade dressing also accompanied the spaetzle. The salad was a work of art. So beautifully prepared it seemed almost like a crime to touch it.
We finished our meal with another helping of Fontis’ lavish apple strudel then clinked our wine glasses a final time — cheering a wonderful stay and an authentic experience that made our time in South Tyrol truly special.
Tips for Your Stay at Fontis
As you can see from our stay, Fontis is an idyllic escape for those seeking an intimate, ecologically conscious wellness destination. We recommend it for wild-hearted explorers and couples longing to be rekindled by nature yet do not want to sacrifice the charms of modern comforts and heartfelt hospitality.
You will find Fontis makes a perfect base for exploring the wonders of Valle di Casies and nearby Val Pusteria, which holds the iconic gems of Tre Cime di Lavaredo, Lago di Dobbiaco and Lago di Braies.
We hope the following tips help you benefit from all that Fontis has to offer:
- Each morning review the Fontis Moments newsletter left at your breakfast table. Not only does it provide the weather forecast for the day, but also shares activity suggestions, fun health tips and insights on how Fontis operates its farm, which by the way you can help with if you wish.
- Consider the benefits of packing less. Fontis provides for rent at no charge backpacks, hiking poles, umbrellas, water bottles and more.
- Take full advantage of your suite’s designer kitchen by whipping up a Fontis meal or two during your stay. The daily surprises the Fontis team leaves in your room each day will help you create an unforgettable night staying in.
- Support the Fontis bees! Be sure to enjoy the pure honey provided at the Fontis buffet. It is a natural treat straight from the farm.
- Do not embark on a hike or bike ride without powering up with a Green Fontis smoothie each day. It will give you a much-needed boost of energy when the trail steepens…and in South Tyrol the trail always steepens.
- Try a new item or dish at the buffet in the morning and afternoon. You will undoubtedly find a new favorite or three.
- For a relaxing afternoon lounging by the pool, treat yourself to a Fontis picnic basket stocked with drinks and a variety of farm-fresh specialties.
- If you want a special night out, make a dinner reservation at Hotel Quelle. The dining experience at the resort is one to treasure.
- Consider pampering yourself at Hotel Quelle. You can book any of the treatments and massages available at the resort’s Spa Center.
- Wrap yourself in a cozy Fontis blanket and enjoy wine, coffee or tea on your suite’s balcony while listening to the cows graze. We consider the sound of clanging cowbells its own wellness treatment.
- Spend a day hiking to at least one of the many rustic mountain huts located amid the peaks around the village of Santa Maddalena. If you time your visit right, you will also be able to sit down to a hearty meal.
- For a riveting historical hike, spend a morning or afternoon exploring the 12th-century Welsberg Castle at the head of the valley.
- After a grueling day on the trails be sure to hydrotherapize your muscles in the Fontis rooftop hot tubs. Their specialized jets are divine.
- Give your knees a break from hiking and rent an e-bike for a day. Fontis offers them for a small charge.
- Before departing Fontis, browse the product display next to the reception desk. You will find many of the items you enjoyed during your stay available for purchase. You can even buy the specialized fragrance Fontis uses in its spa and fill your home with the enchanting scent.
- Finally, let your curiosity guide you during your stay. Not every moment needs to be planned. Simply let the free-range spirit of Fontis lead you to your next discovery.
Ready to nourish your body and soul by reconnecting with what really matters? Click to explore suite availability Fontis Luxury Spa Lodge.
Once again, we’d like to thank the Steinmair family for introducing us to the Fontis concept and experience! All opinions expressed in this review are our own.