Leaving the small town of Siusi in search of Bad Ratzes, the road winds uphill past green meadows and into an ancient pine forest at the foot of the Dolomites. When at last you reach it in a clearing, the hotel, large and modern, looks disconcertingly grim, but the warmth and enthusiasm of the Scherlin sisters - Eva and Waltraud - will put you immediately at ease. Inside, the decoration is comfortable 1970s Southern Tyrolean style. Public areas - including a formal sitting room with open fireplace, a children's playroom and four dining rooms - are extensive. All but four of the spotless bedrooms have balconies.
Food is important at Bad Ratzes: local dishes are carefully prepared and pasta is homemade. One of the sisters bakes regularly, and her recipes are recorded in a little booklet. This is one of a group of family hotels in the area and there are many thoughtful and child-orientated extras: pots of crayons and paper on the dining tables, a booklet of local bedtime stories, walks for children, a special menu and so on. Adults are not neglected; there is wonderful and varied walking in the neighbourhood and a free ski bus runs to the slopes in winter. A recent visitor could not praise this 'superb, family-friendly hotel' highly enough, and was thoroughly charmed by the Scherlins.