Dolomite Luxury: San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge

The definition of luxury changes depending on who is doing the defining, but one common element is that exclusivity is paramount. Stefano Barbini and his wife/partner Giorgia, the owners and managers of San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge in the Dolomites, visited Luxury Travel Advisor's New York offices this week to explain how by limiting guests at his lodge to one family at a time, he is able to ensure a top-tier experience.

First of all, he insists, the Lodge is not a hotel. The renovated (and historically protected) 16th century house only accommodates 10 guests at the maximum, and usually hosts fewer. Before each group arrives, the Barbinis discuss food preferences and and any other variables to make sure that all of the meals (which Giorgia prepares from scratch each day) and activities are what the client wants. (Culinary-inclined guests can even help prepare the meals with Giorgia in her kitchen.) There is no concierge or general manager other than the Barbinis, guaranteeing a one-on-one, completely customized experience.

Since the Lodge is surrounded by farmland, all of the food is locally sourced, and guests can learn how to milk goats (cows are too dangerous for novices, Stefano explains) and how to turn milk into the butter that they will put on their bread that evening at dinner. Visits can be arranged to farms that specialize in cheeses that are only found in the mountains, and guests can search the 17 hectares for porcini mushrooms. Similarly, the wine cellar only offers local Tyrolian wines, and guests can determine for themselves what they will eat each day.

San Lorenzo is the only lodge in the Alps with a private helipad, allowing guests to fly quickly to local golf courses or ski routes. While the lodge does not have its own dedicated golf course, a recreation of the 18th hole at St. Andrews has been developed by Ron Kirby, and guests can practice their swings and putts. And if they want to learn something a little more unique, they can also take some lessons in wood carving or even chopping. (Fireplaces seem much warmer when the wood has been chopped by hand, Stefano says.)

All of these experiences, Stefano says, are what make the Lodge special and a popular retreat for urban dwellers. The bedrooms don't have TVs (although there is a TV lounge) and the "restaurant," such as it is, is really a private dining room. Real luxury, he explains, is exclusivity, and if the experience has to be shared with other guests, it's not as special.

The San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge is located at 39030 San Lorenzo in Brunico, Italy. Visit www.sanlorenzomountainlodge.com for more information.

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