The Dolomites in Italy are some of the most spectacular alpine mountain landscapes you will ever see. Loved for their awesome beauty, they are also treasured by sports enthusiasts. If you’re planning a trip to the Dolomites, Holimites are the ultimate local experts in cycling and all mountain sports activities in the region.
This is an interview I have wanted to do for a long time. If you follow the @Holimites twitter account, you can see how much fun they have, and how much passion they have for what they’re doing. Here we get to chat and have some fun with Igor Tavella, one of the founders of Holimites.
1. Ciao Igor, can you tell us how and why was Holimites created? Can you give us a brief background on you and your partners?
Once upon a time… no it was not that far in the past, but thinking about how far we have come it really looks like we started ages ago. Holimites started as a little ‘rebellion’. At the time in year 1999, we were 5 friends with some things in common: we loved outdoor activities, we were all under 25 years old, and all of us were working in our own family business in the accommodation sector. This last point was what made us think to start Holimites. We all had to fight to promote our ideas in the family business, the way we saw the future of tourism in the Dolomites and the way we wanted to do it, focusing on the sport passion of guests visiting the Dolomites. Of course none of our ideas were ever considered and that’s why, after a chat one night in one of our houses everything started. In 6 months we had the name Holimites, that is composed by the words Holiday + Dolomites, and we went online on December 21st 2000. In the beginning we made every error that was possible, we struggled some years until just 3 of us remained and from one year to the other things just started to work the way way we wanted.
2. Growing up and living in the Dolomites full time, Holimites is certainly the local expert on cycling in the region. What does this allow you to provide to cycle tourists, compared to other tour companies that visit the region just once a year?
It’s like reading a book, your eye follow letters, words, phrases, lines. You see the ink on a white page. We are the ones that know what’s hidden in the white part of the page.
3. Since 2003 you’ve been the official tour operator for the Maratona dles Dolomites. What are some special perks you offer with a Maratona tour package?
With over 30,000 requests and just 9,000 places the Maratona dles Dolomites doesn’t have the necessity to rely on other companies to sell registrations. So the question is: why we became the official tour operator of an event that sells by itself. The reason is simple, like there will be cyclists that struggle to find a place to sleep for just 1 or 2 nights in the Dolomites, also the organizing committee had the same problem to find rooms for all the external staff like press and external workers. The solution was to guarantee the partner hotels of the event an average overnight stay receiving back in exchange some rooms for just 2 or 1 night stay. That’s the way we started to manage all packages for the Maratona dles Dolomites where cyclists book through Holimites and get the guaranteed registration to the event with the overnight stay in a nice hotel. There is really no need to add extra perks because a cyclists that wants to ride the Maratona dles Dolomites and comes early in the week can join all kind of organized cycling tours during the week preceeding the event. On request we arrange the trip to go and ride the Passo Stelvio or Zoncolan, but believe me there are enough roads to ride just out of our doors here.
4. Aside from the Maratona, what are the other cycling events in the region that tourists should add to their lists?
Of course there are many, but one that should not be missed is the Sellaronda Bikeday. Seeing over 16,000 cyclists each year riding the passes around the Sella massif just makes you realize how beautiful the cycling world is. During this event you may see families with kids trying to conquer a single climb or people riding them with an unicycle. It’s a huge party.
5. Tell us about your Dolomites Cycling Weeks. What level of cycling ability do you cater to?
The more we guide groups through the Dolomites passes the more we see that cyclists overestimate their strength to ride the passes. It’s common to have cyclists that during the year ride over 10,000 km struggle up the passes and having a hard time. There are so many factors to consider where altitude is one of the most important. That’s why participating at our Cycling Weeks you can choose to ride in 3 different groups and you can switch between them without any problem depending day by day how you feel. So you can ride with the SPEED group that I usually guide, that’s for the ones that out of a cycling holiday want also do some training and learn how to ride downhill on the Dolomites hairpins. But there is also the GOURMET group where the ride is not important, but the stops to nice bars or restaurants and there is always a van ready to take you back to the hotel. So what makes the Dolomites Cycling Weeks really special is you can choose day by day what group level to ride.
6. From all the activities you do – cycling, MTB, CX, trail running, trekking, skiing, which one is your favorite?
If you are visiting an amusement park you can’t just ride the whole day the roller coaster. Growing up in the Dolomites is the same, you have the opportunity to do all kind of outdoor activity starting at an early age. I enjoy every kind of activity the same way as soon I get the opportunity to be outdoor and practice it.
— holimites (@holimites) September 14, 2014
7. What is your all-time favorite Dolomites cycling route? Which is your favorite single climb and what makes it special?
Without any doubt it is the Passo delle Erbe loop (Strava link: http://www.strava.com/activiti
— holimites (@holimites) September 11, 2014
8. I love the Holimites Twitter feed. The photos are phenomenal and your groups seem to have the most fun while doing some really tough sports. What is it about Holimites and the Dolomites that create so much joy?
Maybe that’s the ‘white’ of the page I told before. First our staff is all composed by friends we grew up with since kids and we know each other really well. Then all of us had, and some still have, a competitive sports background. So that’s best now to share our passion for sports and love for our places with our guests.
Without any doubt a nice piece of Apple strudel. Well I’ve it easy, strudel get’s prepared at home on a daily basis so after a ride I just go to our hotel kitchen and get a bite. Also on my long bike-rides, unless I ride on unknown terrain I don’t take any food with me, a 10 Euro bill is enought to have a couple of stops on the way to some local bars and get a piece to continue the ride. Here is the proof:
10. Do you ever take a vacation? Or do you already live in the most perfect place?
My vacations are usually planned based on some sport activity to do. It may be a Granfondo or also a trail run. Important is to have some sweat sessions planned in the vacation. It’s also important to travel and see other places, only this way you realize that I really already live in the most perfect place.
— Jered Gruber (@jeredgruber) June 14, 2014
Ciao and thanks Igor!! That was fun!
Have you taken a trip with Holimites? Let us know how it was, here in the comments.