Passo Tonale ski resort is set in the Italian Alps, on the Lombardy/Trentino border. Our little family spent our first Christmas away from home there, at Passo Tonale’s Grand Hotel Paradiso, together with D’s Mum and Dad, and his brother’s family. Crystal Ski invited us to stay for a week at the Grand Hotel Paradiso, one of their 13 hotels in Passo Tonale Ski Resort. They had no editorial control over this feature.
Crystal Ski at Passo Tonale
Our hosts, Crystal Ski, offer packages in several of Passo Tonale’s hotels. Grand Hotel Paradiso is the only one where families can just nip downstairs and take advantage of Crystal Ski’s childcare, on the ground floor of the hotel. You can read more about Crystal Ski childcare here.
Sixty cm of snow had fallen just before we arrived. The hotel foyer gleamed with understated opulence. Sparkling wreaths and giant golden baubles in the foyer made us feel pretty festive, and were a cheery sight after our early start from London. After unloading our cases from Crystal Ski’s coach, we stamped the snow off our boots inside the vestibule, before walking through swooshing automatic doors into the toasty-warm interior.
As a family hotel, we found Grand Hotel Paradiso comfortable, and in a good location, right in the centre of the resort. You could ski in to the hotel, and the lifts to the pistes were only a short walk away. The Serodine chairlift was behind the hotel. This gave access to the beginner slopes and linked to the Ponte di Legno gondola. The Paradiso gondola, which whisks you up to the Presena glacier, was a two-minute walk over the road.
The hotel’s heated locker room was a busy thoroughfare first thing, when everyone kitted themselves out in boots and skis. The rest of the time, the hotel felt spacious, calm and quiet.
Rooms at Grand Hotel Paradiso
Grand Hotel Paradiso offered a range of accommodation, from basic single or twin rooms, up to Princess suites for four. These were set over two floors, with two separate bedrooms, a lounge, two bathrooms and a hot tub. We poked our nose inside one that some friends we made on the trip were staying in. It looked fantastic!
All rooms had their own toilets, and separate bath or shower facilities. We stayed in a deluxe twin room with a balcony, which had phenomenal views across the valley and onto the Adamello mountain range. The children slept on a pull-out double sofa bed at the foot of our own double bed.
Our room came equipped with a safe, as well as a reasonable amount of storage space. The mini fridge was just big enough to store a few snacks and drinks from the local convenience store (including light, frothy Prosecco, which we picked up for the bargain price of €4).
It was a real treat to pop back to the room at different times during the day, and watch the light playing across the mountains. The large balcony window framed the scene like a painting.
Restaurant at Grand Hotel Paradiso
Crystal’s ski packages at Paradiso are half board, with breakfast and dinner both served in the hotel restaurant. The hotel restaurant was set on the first floor, with a staircase of curved marble steps leading up to it. Panoramic windows ran along the entire length of the room, so everyone could look out onto the mountains they’d soon be skiing down.
When we took our ski trip (Christmas 2017), breakfast and dinner was served as a buffet, which gave plenty of choice. In the morning we tended to fuel up for the day with warm chocolate croissants, a medley of fruit, and scrambled eggs on toasted local bread.
Dinner in the restaurant
The evening buffet was full of regional specialities, like beef cheek in red wine with polenta, deer stew or truffle soufflé. Grand Hotel Paradiso provided a separate vegan menu, which you had to ask for. Vegetarians could choose from at least one hot option, and a wide range of salads, including mixed beans, grilled aubergines, quinoa, salad leaves and tomatoes. The cheese board was local fare at its finest. It was heaped with mountain cheese, as well as a gorgonzola, which was colossal at the start of our holiday, and grew smaller and smaller as the week wore on.
Mealtimes at Grand Hotel Paradiso
The restaurant served meals at set times, from 7pm in the evening. But mealtimes were more flexible on the first and last day of our stay. On the morning we left, when we had to drag ourselves onto coaches at 6am for the airport transfer, breakfast ran from 4am. And on the first day, dinner was served at 6pm rather than the regular 7pm, so the children could eat and get into bed early after their long journey.
Christmas at Passo Tonale
For our Christmas in Passo Tonale, the restaurant served the main Christmas meal in the evening. Everyone dressed up for the occasion, and it was exciting to walk up the curved staircase to the restaurant, where the staff greeted us with glasses of franciacorta, a local fizz which tasted a little like cider. The kids were treated to pink grapefruit juice.
Traditional Italian food
Grand Hotel Paradiso’s Christmas meal was a merry feast. Arranged in a beautiful display were salads with aubergine and grilled vegetables; speck, rocket and orange; couscous, rice or beans. These starters were followed by a choice of main courses, like cannelloni with ricotta, mushroom risotto, pork cheek with apple sauce, and potatoes with rosemary.
It was the desserts that were most impressive. A stomach-groaning range of around thirty different cakes and sweets were lined up to choose from, including panettone: with fruit, pistachio, chocolate or cream; flans, soufflés and mousses in flavours of coffee, chocolate and vanilla; and sponge cake drenched in chocolate. I wish I could have sampled them all…..
You can read some tips on spending Christmas at a ski resort with kids here.
Spa and bars at Grand Hotel Paradiso
For an extra €50 per room per week, or €15 per person per day (prices correct in 2017), guests could access Grand Hotel Paradiso’s spa. This included a wellness centre with a hot tub, a Finnish sauna, aromatherapy suites, a fitness centre and a small grotto-style pool.
Like most ski resort spas, the facilities were busy on the ‘snow days’, when heavy snowfall made skiing tricky and most people stayed indoors. If you went towards the end of the day during dinner hours, you could end up almost having the place to yourself. From 5-8pm, under-12s weren’t allowed in to the spa.
Three different bars provided a bit of aprés ski entertainment. Ombrella, at the foot of the slopes next to the hotel, served the scrummiest thick hot chocolate and warm, spiced wine. It stayed open until late afternoon. Inside the hotel, the movie-themed, quiet Lounge Bar usually had a handful of customers at lunchtime eating paninis fresh from the counter. And the lively Vinae Franciacorta hotel bar was set out in the style of a cosy wine cellar, with delicious local tipples on offer.
Grand Hotel Paradiso was a comfortable place for a family ski trip. Its wood and stone decor was fresh and polished rather than cosy and intimate, but the staff more than made up the warmth quotient. Most of them went out of their way to be helpful and charming, even down to noticing our daughter’s cough one morning, and offering to make her a special honey drink. With the exceptional Crystal Ski childcare on the ground floor, which made our stay SO much easier, it was a place we’d definitely return to as a family.
This Passo Tonale hotel isn’t suitable for people with reduced mobility, and it was pitched at a particular demographic: families, with children ranging in age from toddlers to teenagers. There were very few older skiiers there, unless they came as part of a large family group, like ours. Because of this, D’s parents said they wouldn’t choose the hotel on one of the own ski trips without the rest of the family. But for a trip with extended family, where people ranged from five to 75, I felt that Grand Hotel Paradiso was a good choice.
How to get to Passo Tonale Italy
There are six airports within three hours’ drive of Passo Tonale, including Bolzano, Brescia, Innsbruck Airport, Milan Linate, Milan Malpensa and Verona, which we flew to from London Gatwick.
Grand Hotel Paradiso is in the middle of Passo Tonale. Address: Via Case Sparse del Tonale, 51, 25056 Ponte di Legno BS, Italy
You can see more of Grand Hotel Paradiso in this video:
Ski packages to Passo Tonale and the Grand Hotel Paradiso are available from Crystal Ski. We travelled as guests of Crystal Ski. All views are my own.
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