South Tyrol, Italy: Sights for sore eyes
To reach the Cipriani in Venice, you take a short ride on a private launch from San Marco to Giudecca island. It's a memorable entrance. So is the one to the Vigilius Mountain Resort in the South Tyrol: you arrive 1500 meters up the mountain via cable car—the only type of car you'll find here. Ahhh.
Depending on the time of year you visit, there's skiing, hiking, mountain biking, and tobogganing to fill your days. But that's missing the point a little. Not to go all koan on you, but the point of the place is really to unfill your days. Sightseeing is as far away as the nearest door or window.
Matteo Thun's design for the place is based on the idea of a tree that has fallen in the woods—so there's a lateral flow, an easy transition between nature and the manmade, and serious eco-awareness (in terms of materials and efficient energy use) applied to the modern style. For a tree fallen in the woods, this one doesn't make a sound.
All that beauty is certainly a sight for sore eyes. For other parts of the body needing rejuvenation, the spa does yeoman's work, helped by the natural spring water found here.
Rates for rooms start at about $400, which isn't all that bad, but once you add in spa treatments and meals, this is no cheap holiday. Unlike a lot of places, though, the Vigilius will stay with you long after you stay with it.