Remember when winter was coming? Well, winter has come, which is great news if you are a woodland creature with an extra-thick fur or a winter-sports enthusiast. To stave off the gloom of the cold season, we suggest you start thinking about your next Incentive Travel plan. As it happens, we have a destination to recommend. The Dolomites are an impressive mountain range in the Eastern Alps, they span across three Italian Regions (Trentino Alto Adige, Veneto and Friuli Venezia-Giulia) and they comprise 18 peaks – some of which measure over 9800 ft. They are extremely popular among tourists of at least two varieties: the brightly-coloured, snow-loving crowd of skiers and snowboarders that manifest themselves in wintertime, to slide down the ski-slopes and hang out in the fancy bars and clubs of Cortina d’Ampezzo and St. Moritz, and the summertime crowd of trekkers, climbers, paragliders and kayakers that believe mountain sceneries are best enjoyed in a mild weather. The Dolomites, for the unique characteristics of their geology and native flora and fauna, have been a UNESCO world heritage site since 2009. In later years, they are also enjoying a growing reputation as an incentive travel destination. This is partly due to the fact that several hotels and establishments, particularly around the area of Lake Garda, offer the ideal facilities for business travel, but it has also much to do with the fact that most mountain sports (both the summer and winter variety) have proved excellent team-building activities. If you are thinking of treating your team to a week’s worth of hiking, adventure trails, canoeing, snowboarding and sheer beauty, you might want to check out our tips.
You could have a year’s worth of vacations to spend on the Dolomites, exclusively exploring the beauties of each peak and pass, each waterfall and valley, and you still wouldn’t be able to do much more than scratch the surface. When it comes to the Dolomites, we can only assume that Mother Nature was either in a particularly good mood or just wanted to show off. Nature trails are, for obvious reasons, among the favourite activities of tourists that visit this region. There are as many options available for expert trekkers as for total beginners. If you want to start off with something soothing and relaxing, rather than challenging, you could visit the Adamello-Brenta Natural Park, which offers plenty of options for environmentally aware holidays and different trails for different seasons. You will be able to visit quaint and fairytale-like villages whose architecture is entirely stone- and wood-based, experiment with eco-friendly transportation options, go “nordic walking” in the woods or the nearby valley and visit the lovely “malghe”, the alms where the local herds of farm animals are moved over the summer. If you want to experience Nature not in her “soft and motherly” expressions, but in her wildest and most majestic ones, you should choose the Panaveggio Natural Park, on the mountain range known as Pale di San Martino. The increased physical effort of hiking up the trails here, will be rewarded by the sight of one of the most breath-taking sceneries in the world: a vast, spectacular alpine valley opening before you. Speaking of Nature’s great spectacles, the Paracines Waterfall is a feature that relatively few tourists visit and that will reward the effort of getting there with the impressive sight of the highest waterfall in the region (over 320 ft high) crashing from the Ziel river onto massive stone steps below. Did we mention that you need to climb a rather steep wall to get there? Well, now we have.
Sports holidays on the Dolomites
We have observed from our past professional experience that incentive plans and team building activities that involve sports tend to be extremely popular. The Dolomites make for an ideal incentive travel destination in this respect, since the local natural features present perfect conditions for the kind of sporting activities that most people rarely have the opportunity of engaging in. Even more common sports, such as cycling, turn into a completely different experience here. A bike tour along the Brenta river with its 106 miles of incomparable scenery, might prove a fascinating challenge even for expert cyclists, particularly if you ditch the plain, bike-lanes-lined family trails for the proper mountain-biking tour. If you want to try something completely new and unfamiliar, however, you might want to wait for the properly cold season and go snow-tubing. This unusual sport is popular in different locations on the Dolomites, such as Plan de Corones – also a favourite spot for skiing and snowboarding. The great thing about snow-tubing is that you don’t have to learn how to do it or be in any way good at it. It is basically a modern-day version of tobogganing, which employs a large, inflatable donut rather than a sledge. The only things you need in order to make a fantastic afternoon of it are the right equipment and a safe slope. If, however, slopes are not quite your cup of tea (but skiing is), you could try cross-country skiing. The Dolomites are in fact uniquely suited for this winter sport. Vast, spectacular forests and immense valleys, with trails that will meet your needs and level of expertise and, most importantly, plenty of cottages in which to rest with excellent local food and a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Another sporting activity that never fails to entertain even the less apt novices and help create bonding among members of a team is ice-skating. The sense of freedom that gliding on ice can offer is well worth a falls and the subsequent bruises, as long as it is done in a safe and controlled environment. On the Dolomites, particularly in the area known as Alta Badia, you will find plenty of ice-rings, both indoors and en-plein-air. We suggest you choose the latter for a night-time glide: the starry sky and the twinkling lights against the dark profile of the mountains will make you wish the morning will never come.