South Tyrol time out in the Dolomite region Three Peaks

Craggy rocky mountains above lush green alpine pastures, turquoise green shimmering mountain lakes, rustic huts and Italian-inspired dolce vita – you long for a time out in South Tyrol and are still looking for a special hotel tip? Then I might have something for you! Because with the Naturhotel Leitlhof in San Candido in the Puster Valley, I have found my feel-good base in South Tyrol and a good starting point for hikes in the Dolomite region of Three Peaks.

For such a long time I wanted to go back to South Tyrol, admire the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dolomites and finally tackle the Three Peaks circuit. In combination with the Naturhotel Leitlhof I could now fulfill this long-cherished travel and hiking dream!

Cozy, sustainable, impressive mountain panorama, beautiful garden with pool and spa, own farm and own cogeneration plant, very good South Tyrolean cuisine and an own hiking and biking guide are just a few points that provide in the Leitlhof for a high enjoyment factor and an all-round pleasant feeling of time out from everyday life in the midst of impressive nature. But see for yourself…

Naturhotel Leitlhof – cozy rooms with lots of wood and a warm atmosphere

Immediately upon our arrival we were warmly welcomed and our felt thousand questions about parking, guided tours, dinner, forgotten bathing slippers, etc. were directly clarified in a friendly manner. As soon as we entered the spacious entrance hall, a board immediately caught our eye, on which the individual activities for each day are written – from the guided sunrise hike to the e-bike tour. There are stylishly designed brochures on a large table at the reception desk, which also give tips on the hotel and activities – I immediately grab “Sustainable hiking experiences off the beaten track”.

Then we move into our bright, cozy room, which is just bathed in the evening sun in a really beautiful light. It is modern and furnished with lots of wood. This makes it somehow also smells totally good (I just love the smell of pine wood!). From our balcony with the deck chairs you look directly on the mountain massif of the Haunold – how beautiful.

The design of our room is not “hip”, but rather restrained. In general, natural tones and natural materials dominate throughout the hotel and radiate a rather dignified luxury. Nice to the many wood I find details such as the various patterned carpets that can be found throughout the house. The Leitlhof combines traditional with modern also in the architecture, as two traditional buildings were modernized for the hotel and connected with a middle building. Thus, even in the rooms there are the quite modern and the more traditionally furnished. I tested both and felt most comfortable in the modern “Alpine Superior” room – the room category that I would also recommend to you.

Relaxing with a mountain view in the pool and spa area

Actually, I’m not that much of a wellness person – I prefer to be out and about. Therefore, the hotel and spa area typically always come up short on my trips. However, there are those hotels where that would be an incredible shame and I secretly wish I had more time to just enjoy the hotel. So also in the Leitlhof: Thanks to a rain front, I was able to extensively test the pool and spa area included in the room rate and simply spend time in the hotel complex.

I especially liked the heated outdoor pool in the beautifully landscaped garden, where you can splash around with mountain views in all seasons. (And yes, independent as I am, I even did pool office there and report: This also works!). In the wellness area behind the pool, you’ll find a heated indoor pool, a whirlpool, saunas and steam baths, a relaxation area with mountain views, a sun terrace on the roof, and rooms for bookable spa treatments on several levels.

Also nice are the two slightly hidden log-cabin-style sauna cabins in the garden – again with mountain views. When I was there in September, the spa area and pool only filled up in the afternoon, before that everything was very relaxed and sometimes you even had the areas to yourself, which I found very pleasant. That makes you happy about a rainy day, doesn’t it?

Sustainable travel – possible at Leitlhof

If, like me, you value sustainability when traveling, the Naturhotel Leitlhof would also be something for you. The hotel follows a sustainable concept and is one of the few CO2-neutral and energy self-sufficient hotels in Europe. This is made possible by a combination of a solar system and its own combined heat and power plant, which I was able to see with other guests during one of the tours. The power plant is based on wood chips that come primarily from the hotel’s own forest and allows for more environmentally friendly energy production. As a result, CO2 emissions per guest per night have been reduced to just 12 kg, with the remainder being offset externally. In addition, the hotel runs its own organic farm with vegetable cultivation and cattle breeding.

By the way, you can also arrive by train: The hotel’s own shuttle service picks you up at the nearby train station in San Candido and takes you to the start of hikes in the nearby area, for example. In addition, bicycles are available for rent free of charge, as are e-mountain bikes (for a small fee).

Tastes like South Tyrol: Food at Leitlhof

I’ll keep it short: The cuisine at Leitlhof was truly excellent! The hotel’s sustainable concept is also reflected in the cuisine: for example, regional ingredients are always used whenever possible, and organic-quality vegetables and herbs come mostly from the hotel’s own garden and farm, the nearby Mühlhof. Here, the Leitlhof also runs its own cattle farm with Angus cattle.

Every day we were already looking forward to the multi-course menu in the evening in the hotel’s own restaurant. The chef and his team serve five courses every evening, which can also be combined and arranged individually. For the menu of the evening, there was always an alternative menu with South Tyrolean specialties such as dumplings and Schlutzkrapfen (delicious!), which you could exchange for individual courses, which I found well solved. In addition, there was always a vegetarian alternative and a great wine list.

I was there a total of four nights and must say that there was nothing that I did not like – everything was somehow totally aromatic and just delicious! However, for my taste, more vegetarian dishes could be offered (also vegan options have ich missing). In addition, the veggie courses could be marked on the map, since it is not always apparent where perhaps bacon or similar is in it – South Tyrolean cuisine just … In the morning, by the way, a really great, large breakfast buffet with egg dishes and specials (the pancakes are a hit!) awaited us. A highlight was definitely also the large dessert buffet Wednesday evening – it could be that I skipped some courses in favor of tiramisu and Co….

A really good South Tyrolean invention is the “Marende”, a snack that traditionally consists of Vesperbrettchen with ham / bacon, cheese and bread, and which is also offered at Leitlhof every afternoon between 3 and 5 pm. Instead of the Brettljause, you can also order other small snacks like a soup or a piece of cake. This made half board feel almost like full board (if we hadn’t already filled our stomachs with Schlutzkrapfen & Co. at lunchtime while hiking in the hut).

Guided hikes, hiking tips and bike tours

The Leitlhof is located in the Pustertal Valley in the Sesto Dolomites – a paradise for hiking and outdoor activities! Both the Fanes Sennes Braies Nature Park with the Braies Wild Lake and the Three Peaks Nature Park are virtually at the hotel’s doorstep. Since the Leitlhof employs its own hiking and biking guide, you can easily participate in guided hiking or biking tours of varying difficulty, which take place several times a week. Alternatively, you can get hiking tips at the hotel and go out on your own (there is also an in-house brochure with tips on this). I would have liked to join a guided hike or bike tour, but I already had another plan: I wanted to finally hike the famous Three Peaks Circuit!

Three Peaks Circuit

The 12 km long circuit of the Three Peaks (Italian: Tre Cime di Lavaredo) is considered an easy to moderate hike, which leads once around the famous rock massif of the Three Peaks and passes several huts. The scenery of this mountain landscape at an altitude of 2,300 to 2,500m and the views of the three rock towers are truly incredible! Alone you are not on this hike, which is why you should start very early in the morning. We set off at sunrise at the Leitlhof and after about 40 min drive we reached the starting point at the Auronzo hut. Since we were there early, we were able to drive up the pass road and get a parking space at the top (toll for low season: 30,- Euro in cash, but there are also shuttle buses from the valley to the start).

We had specially chosen a day with nice weather, were up there all day and really enjoyed it. Although there was a lot going on, it was more than worth it – not for nothing is the tour considered perhaps the most beautiful hike in the Dolomites! In general, the whole valley on the way to the Three Peaks is beautiful and offers mountain lakes and many other hiking opportunities.

Excursion to the Pragser Wildsee

The famous Pragser Wildsee (Lago di Braies) is only 25 minutes away from the Naturhotel Leitlhof and is a great excursion and hiking destination. Since I have never been there, I had to take a look at the famous lake, of course. Idyllically situated between towering mountain walls, the mountain lake is considered one of the greatest sights in South Tyrol.

irol (thanks to Instagram and an Italian series with Terence Hill, which plays here, among other things) and is therefore (unfortunately) also an absolute hotspot. In advance, I therefore had some concerns, but then we are on a slightly rainy weekday around 5 pm just go and what can I say: It was not much going on at all and the lake is really beautiful! If someone had just replaced the wooden rowboats against red canoes, I would have felt spontaneously transferred to Canada.

My tip: Make sure you do the 3.6 km round trip around the lake, it’s great! The further you get away from the boat house or the parking lot and hotel, the more beautiful and quiet it becomes and there are many beautiful spots.

Hike to Lago di Sorapis

Another hike that has been on my bucket list for a long time, and that we were also able to do from Leithof, is the tour to Lago di Sorapis. The beautiful, turquoise shimmering mountain lake is located high up in the Dolomites, surrounded by steeply towering mountains and can only be reached on foot. From Passo Tre Croci, which we reach after about 40 min. drive from Leitlhof, the varied trail leads over a total of 12 km and <500 hm up to the beautiful mountain lake. Partly the path is exposed and leads along the precipice (partly secured with steel ropes and stairs), so you should be sure-footed and preferably free from vertigo. I personally found the somewhat adventurous path very exciting and really beautiful – the vastness of the landscape without visible civilization give a feeling of pure nature and wilderness, which reminded me again of Canada.

My tip: Go also with this tour best very early in the morning, otherwise it gets crowded! Also the short round trip around the lake is recommendable. Afterwards you can always relax at the pool……

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