Sustainable Travel in the South Tyrol: Adler Resorts


You’ll be retracing Freud’s steps when you visit the Adler Lodge Ritten. A known lover of nature, and incredibly proud of his gardens in the UK, the walks he took with his wife in the South Tyrol are now mapped out for the visitor, and it is here I headed to investigate if his ideas on preserving nature were being honoured by the team behind my hotel stay in the region.

Known for their passion for sustainability, the Adler Lodge Ritten stands as a cathedral of glass and wood, perched on the border of the Lichtenstein and Italian Tyrol, the five-storey floor-to-ceiling glass reflecting the drama of the Dolomites. Its vast swathes of window embrace the surrounding valley of wildflower meadows and acres of spruce, larch, linden, beech, elms, chestnut and mountain ash. A hidden drive, lined with poplars, makes the breath-taking quality of the location and architecture even more impressive, as if opening nature’s curtain for the theatre to begin. Even more extraordinary when you consider that it’s inspired by architecture experienced by the family on a visit to Namibia.

Sustainability and regeneration are at the heart of the philosophy not just in their building design, but the products they use, the food in the restaurants, and how they give back to the local community. They actively fund local nature projects, minimize architectural impact on the surrounding environment and only use local and environmentally friendly materials. Furniture, floors and rooms are made of local larch and oak, and local craftsmen are used. There are no plastic bottles, rooms are only turned down on request, and recycling bins are carefully separated. There has been incredible attention to detail.

It is tempting spend all your time in your room. Windows offering mountain and meadow views from your bed, a free mini bar with excellent local products, not to mention the in-room saunas and steam rooms, will leave you feeling you don’t need to explore further, but with countless walks, including one outside the resort gates famous for Sigmund Freud taking strolls there with his wife, you’ll want to embrace your surroundings. And there are other ways, too, besides walking.

There’s a forest sauna area, where yoga is practiced in the mornings, and is good for all levels. There’s a larger studio if numbers extend the space. A glass cube, I found myself practicing tree pose mirrored against the tallest of linden trees. Another sauna hosts the Aufguss, a ceremony where you sit, ice balls of aromatherapy oils (in this case, eucalyptus, mountain herbs) are thrown on hot coals and the heated scent fanned over you. It is becoming very de rigueur in all the resorts now.   Take a shower and then take a dip in the cold plunge pool (about 8 degrees). With all these options, as you might expect, the resort vibe is extremely relaxed. Visitors are encouraged to walk around in their white robes and flip-flops provided.

Food here is excellent, almost entirely locally sourced and seasonal, and the spaces to eat make it an experience to relish. The salads at lunch are particularly inventive. All the restaurant tables for breakfast, lunch and supper have that mountain view which leave most people gazing mesmerised over the plates into the distance. While I was there, fennel and artichoke were in season and although the region is literally a land of milk and honey, vegetarians, vegans, gluten and lactose freers are well catered for.

Bolzano, the nearest town, known as the gateway to the Tyrol, is pleasantly captivating, offering good shopping, restaurants, museums and excellent markets for food and local crafts (the woodwork is especially good), and concerts in the summer months make the town more than simply a gateway destination. Perhaps more enticing is that with its two cable car services up to the Colle and Renon regions, you can hop off near the lodge, making it possible to have a completely car-free experience – not to mention being able to arrive in a rather unique way.

The experience from the moment you enter to the time you say your goodbyes, offers a home from home experience, albeit one with a unique sensibility, a very luxurious, stylish, pampered one. It feels intimate, and uncrowded even when full.  From the warming fireplace in reception to the warmth of the staff you encounter from those who clean your rooms, waiter at mealtimes, to the last goodbyes at reception, Adler Lodge Ritten over 95% return rate from guests. I understand why.

Prices from €291 per person, per night – half board in a Junior Suite. For more information, including details of offers and retreats, as well as other properties in the portfolio, please visit