The Hotel Gardenia is a large property built in the traditional style at the east end of Via Nazionale, the main street that runs through Passo Tonale. The public areas of the hotel are generous and nicely done out in simple carved pine. There's a large dining room, a comfortable lounge (the 'green room'), a TV room, a games room, and a bar leading off the reception area. A lift serves all floors, although beware that there are guest rooms below the ground floor as well as above. Those concerned about noise and natural light may do well to request rooms on the upper floors.
Our room was a generously proportioned corner room with two balconies facing south and west. The room was spacious, clean and simply decorated. The bed was very comfortable (although perhaps a bit on the soft side). A small wall mounted LCD TV had a good range of free to air and SKY Italia channels. There are simple net curtains covering the windows, but (as is usual in Italy) external shutters can be closed for complete privacy and to help moderate temperature. The bathroom was clean and comfortable but did not have a bath. The fixed hairdryer was very poor and guests would be advised to bring their own. The provided toiletries were welcome but fairly low grade, and the towels could have been fluffier.
The room had ample storage space and a good sized wardrobe - essential on skiing trips! Room security was good. There was a safe, and the rooms used modern card locks - although you need to ask specifically if you want a second keycard.
The ski room was spacious but simple, accessible from the street. The door was mostly open so those concerned about security would be advised to take a padlock or skilock. However, we had neither and encountered no problems. There is a heated boot rack and individual ski storage racks, numbered for each room. I think there were some tools and a workbench and it was clear that some people serviced their own skis there.
Much has been written on Tripadvisor about the quality of the food, sometimes negative. I found the food to be a very pleasant surprise. There is a selection of three choices for each course (for half and full board guests) - the selection is made the day before. There is a very ample self service buffet of cold vegetables and some savouries (e.g. small bits of pizza). The courses themselves were typical northern Italian cooking, well done (if not exactly 'gourmet') and we enjoyed dishes like Cottoleta Milanese, Spaghetti Carbonara, Minestrone etc as well as various veal, pork and beef dishes with a more typical Trentino slant. It was all delicious and plentiful. Drinks were well priced (€2 for a litre of mineral water, €2 for a small beer, bottles of reasonable wine from €14) - you sign for them then pay at the end of your stay - so budget accordingly. Once a week (Thursday, from recollection) there is a typical Trentino dinner. This was a lavish and fun affair with entertainment and audience participation. It's perhaps not everyone's cup of tea but most people got into the spirit. A €2 raffle in the dining room to win a nice new pair of skis helped with the excitement... The food itself was interesting and mostly very tasty - and lots of it - but in this part of the world 'speck' (dried ham) rules so if you don't eat pork you might feel a bit cheated. Vegetarians should generally have no problem (although choice will be limited) and beware that Italians don't often consider pork and chicken to be 'meat' so you may have to examine salads, soups, etc. carefully. This is typical, though, and not specific to the hotel. One final word about meals - the advertised meal times tended to belie the rather narrower time range that one was expected to dine in. There was an early dining culture among most guests and coming late to breakfast or dinner normally meant limited choice and more rushed service.
One of the highlights of the hotel was the very friendly staff, who appeared to work tirelessly from breakfast to dinner. The minibus driver was also unfailingly helpful and cheery and seemed to go out of his way to help guests get to whichever skilift they wanted; advise on passes and hire; etc. We had a car and therefore tended to drive ourselves to the lifts (being a bit lazy) but in all honesty the hotel is not far too walk for the Valbiolo lifts - a bit further to the glacier lifts and Ponte di Legno gondola, but there's a free skibus and the helpful Gardenia minibus.
Car parking is free although you may need to leave your car nearby if the hotel's own forecourt is full. There is a payable covered garage but we did not use it and most people did not seem to. Midwinter might be a different proposition.
The hotel has wifi coverage and an internet terminal just off the lobby. Cards can be purchased - they're very reasonable. €5 gets you a 10 hour pass, which can be used as and when (the credit lasts for 3 months), but they only work on a single device (laptop, iphone etc) and can't be shared.
The hotel has a small spa area with sauna and turkish bath (free) and some paid-for things like jacuzzi. It's a nice facility but not one we used every day. There's no problem using the spa with swimming costumes (unlike some other places in the German speaking world).
Finally, the Gardenia appears to be a great hotel for groups and families. Lots of kids were in the hotel and the seemed to be having a great time and to be well catered for - I think there may be a free creche and there's a big 'taverna' games room with pool, Wii, etc in the basement. The hotel seemed to put on various activities geared at families. But the 'welcome cocktail' was a rather disappointing plastic cup of some aperitif, so be warned if you're expecting an Old Fashioned by the fireside.
All in all, a good hotel and very good value for money especially if you can get a deal with the ski pass included.
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- Also Known As:
- Gardenia Hotel Passo Tonale