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At Heaven’s gate

A “power place” is a place in nature that strengthens the soul and frees the mind. A perfect example is the Ploseberg in the Dolomites, the location of the recently opened five-star Forestis Hotel, where the materials and design idiom seek to be firmly in harmony with the surroundings.
Text by Anna Moldenhauer, Photos by Patricia Parinejad | 9/18/2020

Clear spring water, oxygen-rich air and a magnificent view over the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Dolomites: These are just three advantages of the location of the Forestis at 1,800 meters above sea level. You have to climb beyond the fog line on the Ploseberg to find the hotel, which was recently comprehensively expanded and renovated by Stefan Hinteregger and Teresa Unterthiner with the help of Asaggio Architects. “We wanted a very linear, restrained design language and a sustainable approach,” explains architect Armin Sader. “Architecture begins with an homage to the place,” is the firm’s guiding principle, and Sader believed it was very important to model the structure with the highest aspirations of sustainability, so that it might slot seamlessly into the natural landscape. Three identical towers were built from dolomite stone clad in wood, with a natural filler made of rock flour, water, loam and beeswax used in the process. The three new towers appear like tall, branchless tree trunks coupled with a flatter structure for the pool, which boasts indoor and outdoor sections. “The aim was to use local materials, but we didn’t want any alpine kitsch,” says Teresa Unterthiner.

For the energy supply too, they decided to use renewable sources: The towers now house 44 suites, each of which is 55 square meters and boasts a south-facing balcony from which guests can enjoy the broad view over the UNESCO World Heritage Site in all its glory. On the roofs of the outer two towers sit the two penthouse suites, which have their own pools. Floor-to-ceiling windows allow in ample light, which illuminates the interior wood furnishings made to measure by a local carpenter. Even the walls and ceilings are made of spruce, which also serves to maintain a balanced temperature within the rooms. “Thanks to the vertical and sustainable design of the Forestis, the use of native wood, the recycling of the dolomite removed for the construction, and the fabrics woven in the Trentino region, we have established a connection with the landscape, nature and our culture while nevertheless reflecting the spirit of the times,” says Teresa Unterthiner.

The special climate in the location, which the Hinteregger family selected ten years ago for the construction of its hotel, is supposed to have been a restorative place for many decades: Emperor Franz Joseph planned to build a tuberculosis sanatorium there in the early 20th century with the help of architect Otto Wagner, but the turmoil of the Grand War meant the project had to be stopped after the completion of the first building, and even that was only used briefly. Abandoned amid nature, over the years the site became overgrown. That was until Stefan Hinteregger’s father discovered the building by chance and forged the first plans for a hotel. The heritage-listed building now houses 16 suites and adjoins the new towers in traditional style. Even the coronavirus distancing measures have not been too problematic for the hotel thanks to the spaciousness of the site. The holistic approach at the Forestis includes healthy, high-quality food made with products from the region: starting with the clear spring water from the Plose, the source of which lies only around 50 meters above the hotel, and which flows down into the hotel’s own fountains and conduits. With a pH value of 6.6, it is one of the lightest and purest waters in the world.

The wellness program for body and mind includes the first-rate “Waldküche” cuisine by Roland Lamprecht as well as the drinks in the Rooftop Bar atop the middle of the three towers. Local herbs, pine tree needles and berries are all put to use here and give the guests a taste of the forest. The almost 2,000-square-meter spa complex provides for further relaxation: Various saunas, cosmetic treatments for skin, soothing massages and rooms for fitness and yoga are all available. An uninterrupted view of nature is naturally part of the package –and it would be criminal not to explore it during a stay at the Forestis: From hikes and bicycle tours in summer to winter sports during the colder months, the magnificent landscape offers ample opportunities for exercise.

Contact Hotel

Palmschoß 292, 39042 Brixen
Dolomites, Italy

Architecture & Design