As winter gathers pace around Europe, ski resorts around the Continent from France to Italy are starting to open, and we’ve never been more ready to hit the slopes — or the gluhwein. But as well as getting back to old habits and scouting out the coziest mountain restaurants to try, the new season is also about thinking how we can ski in a way that’s more responsible towards the planet.
For starters, we can rethink the way we travel to the slopes in the first place. The Eurostar is now one of the best ways to reach the French Alps, an overnight train dropping you off in the mountains just in time for a full day’s skiing. Getting you to much-loved resorts such as Meribel, contributes 2 percent of the CO2 pollution of air travel.
Once you arrive at the Alpine destination of your choice, there are scores of eco-friendly hotels to bed down in. From remote pods to luxurious lodges, here’s our edit of the best.
One of our favorite hotels in the Eighty Four Rooms collection, The Omnia is one of Zermatt's finest as well as progressive. Set high among conifer trees in this car-free Swiss village with views of the majestic Matterhorn, The Omnia was designed by New York architect Ali Tayar. A modern interpretation of the classic mountain lodge, it has been shaped from all natural materials from the local area. Don’t forget to book lunch at Chez Vrony while you are there.
If you want to experience a bit of a glamping adventure in the mountains, Whitepod is just the thing. Sitting pretty at the foot of the Dents-du-Midi mountain range where the Swiss Alps begin, it’s a collection of 18 pods and Swiss-style basins at 1400 ft. When you arrive, you’re given a backpack, headlight, snowshoes, and walking sticks to help you with the 20-minute hike to your pod. As well as your luxurious lodgings, there’s a restaurant, sauna, and massage room as well a slew of activities, from skiing in Porte du Soleil to raclette picnics and wine tours.
Hafling, South Tyrol, Italy
San Luis feels more like a private retreat than a hotel. Set in the middle of 40 acres of unspoiled Italian Alpine nature and not far from Merano, it has a collection of lakeside chalets and treehouses that seem to float above the ground in the spruce and larch forest. It’s all about slowing down and going back to nature here: whether that’s simply luxuriating in the quiet of your private treehouse balcony or making the most of the thermal spa. Food is sourced hyper-locally and the team is dedicated to sustaining biodiversity — the retreat is surrounded by four hectares of vegetables, rare spices, and batteries that all make their way into the fantastic menu. The Avelengo/Halfling area is a snow-lovers paradise too, with skiing, snowshoeing, and ice climbing all on offer nearby.
Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites, Italy
At the entrance to the UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site of the Dolomites, at 1,910 meters above sea level, on the almost car-free Alpe di Siusi, lies the ICARO - an architectural gem on the Schlern high plateau. The ICARO takes the privilege and responsibility of being located in the middle of a natural reserve very seriously. In 2010, the ICARO became the first climate-neutral hotel in the Dolomites. Sourcing its green electricity from hydropower, heating with gas, using environmentally friendly cleaning agents, and compensating for CO2 emissions through certified climate protection projects, the hotel was awarded the EU Ecolabel for its sustainable and environmentally conscious management. Nature and the landscape around the ICARO – the Sella, Sassolungo, Sassopiatto, Pallaccia, Molignon, Rosszähne, Sciliar, Ortles, and Puflatsch – are an extension of the main architectural body, protruding as if it were a balcony onto the world. Everything is within easy reach. Guests who like to move around on foot, on e-bikes, or skis, will revel in the Alpe di Siusi in summer and winter. Head from the slopes to the overlooking pool during the cold season, then in the warm months, enjoy the spectacle of the setting sun and lush mountain views.
San Genesio, Dolomites, Italy
A luxurious eco hotel in a small hilltop village in Bolzano in Italy’s South Tyrol, Hotel Saltus is on a mission to help you relax and get back to nature — in the most respectful way. An appealing rooftop ‘sky’ pool and a pretty breakfast garden are married with a giant sauna surrounded by pine trees and a minimalist approach to decor that lets the mountain views do the talking. With a Norwegian architect, its cabin-like structure is made from natural materials from the region: larch wood for the facade, clay, and lime for the floor and walls. Its loyalty to locality extends to the food: head next door to the Tschögglbergerhof restaurant for an authentic South Tyrolean inn, which rolls with the seasons, surrounding mountains, and local farmers and producers.
Sauris, Carnic Alps, Italy
Set in the Carnic Alps in Italy, this family-run mountain lodge is small but perfectly formed, with a slow-living ethos and breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks and green pastures at every turn. Helmed with passion and love by Viola and Rocco, it’s located in the peaceful village of Sauris, which moves at its rhythm and is known for the welcoming warmth of its local people. Eating in the restaurant feels like dinner in a family home, with a traditional Fogolâr fire crackling away and local wines from the Friulian and Italian vineyards. After a blast of fresh air, hide away in the spa with its Finnish sauna, Turkish bath, and even an igloo with aroma showers. A slice of heaven and self-care at 1400 meters.
Val di Non Valley, South Tyrol, Italy
The Gasthof Zum Hirschen is a historical retreat, a refuge to switch off, recharge your batteries in nature, and consciously enjoy. The ingredients are sourced always fresh and exclusively local. Even the breads they serve are sourced from a craft bakery in the village using their own organically-grown grains.
Leogang, Salzburg Alps, Austria
To the owners of the Rupertus in the mighty Leogang mountains, not far from Salzburg, Bio is completely normal and is indeed something quite special. Normal, because they have never lived their life any other way. Special, because organic is not about having to do without, or a feeling that you ought to do without. In the Rupertus, you get to experience what luxurious simplicity means. You can take advantage of their green package for all who want to make the world of tomorrow a little better. Your vacation is not only 100% organic but also climate-neutral. You contribute significantly to a small CO2 footprint.
- Especially for your green vacation: 1-day use of the BMWi3 Stromer.
- Green arrival by train to Saalfelden or Leogang and free train pick-up.
- Region card with free use of public transport and lift ticket for more mountain experience included.
- If you arrive by car there is the possibility to make your arrival and departure kilometers climate-neutral on for example Atmosfair. For the time of your stay, we take care of your car keys. Don't worry, it will be safely stored with us.
84 Rooms recommends: The Most Beautiful Alpine Lakes To Visit This Summer, and An Insider Guide To The Swiss Alps In Summer.