Garda Bike Hotel opened its doors in 2005 as the first and original bicycle hotel in the Lake Garda and Verona region. The brothers Alberto and Nicola Verdolin have created unforgettable, high-quality and tailor-made cycling holidays in Italy with daily guided bike rides and excursions along a variety of flat, hilly and mountainous routes for all levels of cycling enthusiasts, from recreational to competitive.
Consequently, Garda Bike Hotel had long been on my bucket list. After all, as most readers already know, the CEO of Eventonline is a true bicycle aficionado. The hotel is also an icon in its own niche. The fact that a former world champion opts to stay at this hotel every year says it all. So, I had to find out myself.
Don’t judge a Book by its Cover
Upon my arrival at the hotel I didn’t really know what to expect. The facade of the hotel seemed a bit outdated, but once past the door this first impression was completely gone. The interior of the hotel is completely contemporary, fresh colors, sleek and yet stylish. It is also a four-star hotel. I had booked a standard room and was soon told by the lovely lady behind the reception desk that I was upgraded to a room with a pool and garden view.
The Garda Bike Hotel gives a high guarantee of a quality cycling holiday, and you experience this from the very start.
After a short briefing about the hotel, a much longer briefing about the cycling holiday followed. After this briefing, I met Roberto Verdolin, one of the two owners. He introduced himself as the ‘bike manager’ and guided me to the basement where the bicycles have individual storage with a camera and alarm.
Hospitality is in the blood of the Verdolins because Alberto and Nicola are third generation Verdolin who traded the normal hotel business with a niche putting the bike and cycling aficionados at the center of their hotel.
Garda Bike Hotel is committed to quality. The rooms are neat and equipped with all facilities, but for me it was all about cycling, so I was already looking forward to the next day, a guided 90-km ride.
I start the day with a hearty breakfast, everything available, special focus on a breakfast for cyclists. A briefing followed at 08:45. Everything is done in a very professional way. Via a large map of the region around Lake Garda I got an explanation of the itinerary of today’s ride. Then a short material check follows and also allows me to quickly get supplied with bananas and sandwiches. We are leaving at 9 am punctually. The small peloton is accompanied by 3 guides, 1 in the front and 2 in the back. The region around Lake Garda is very busy, but the supervisors know it inside out and in no time they guide us away from the busy city center. As soon as the center is behind you, you are in the mountains fairly quickly, and cycling heaven starts. Pay attention though, because the road surface is not all of equally good quality.
The highlight of my three-day trip was undoubtedly the climb to Monte Baldo, a climb of 24 km, with a peak of 2,218 meters. Admittedly, I was impressed by the Monte Baldo, with breathtaking panoramas and a high degree of difficulty. I mark Monte Baldo in the very best category, together with Stelvio, Ventoux, Tourmalet, etc. In short, unprecedented cycling fun!
Garda Bike hotel is highly recommended if you want to discover the region around Lake Garda in a safe way. And as I always proclaim: ‘sport connects people’, it has been proven once again, I have met fellow cyclers from Australia, Brazil, the UK etc.
Even after cycling, everything remains at a high level at the Garda Bike Hotel: the buffet after the ride, the evening meal, the wines, the service …
If you are a cycling fanatic, then you should definitely put the Garda Bike Hotel on your bucket list.
During my stay I had a short interview with Nicola Verdolin about the origin of the hotel.
“Between 1994 and 2012 our family managed the Hotel Veronello, close by in Calmasino. While we were working with our father, we realized that we had some of the best cycling roads in all of Italy, right in our own back yard, and we were in a position to share all this with other cyclists. That’s how Garda Bike Hotel came about in 2005,” says Nicola.
However, the first impetus for the Garda Bike Hotel came about a decade earlier. “In 1996, the coach of the national mountain bike team asked us to host the team for a training camp prior to the Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The team stayed in our hotel for a month. Paula Pezzo, a mountain biker from the region, became the Olympic champion and we became a ‘mandatory lucky stop’ for many professional cycling teams. In 1999 we had the cycling championship in Verona and the German national team was staying in our hotel. It booked the entire hotel for a whole week. Later, in 2004, they returned again. Hence, we made the decision in 2005 and became a real cycling hotel when we also started to receive cyclo-tourists.”
Land Down Under
The first real cyclo-tourists of the hotel came from the ‘Land Down Under’. “Our first cycling tourists were from Australia. The group of Australian cyclists grew steadily and after a few years our fame in the worldwide cycling community grew considerably,” says Nicola. “Fifteen years later, we welcome around 1,000 cyclists per year to our hotel. Amateurs, but also professionals such as Peter Sagan. At the moment we are attracting many cyclists from the United States. However, we also continue to receive a significant number of guests from Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom. We are currently doing a lot of promotion in South America, because that is a new large potential market.”
Small groups and full service tailored to the customer are at the basis of the success of Garda Bike Hotel. “We set a limit of a maximum of forty cyclists a day first. We also prefer smaller groups to give everyone the necessary attention. We do not want more than seven cyclists per guide. A tailor-made program and a great deal of attention for guests make our hotel very popular in the international cycling community. There is also a culture of hospitality, delicious food and we have a top brand such as Pinarello as a partner for the rental of bicycles,” says Nicola.
Garda Bike Hotel, together with four other Bike Hotels, forms a small group of five select bike hotels, namely ‘Biccemoremio’, each in a different region. An excellent idea to get to know Italy via the most beautiful cycling routes. I thought it was fantastic! Recommended! – Wood Approved!
P.S. A nice extra from Garda Bike Hotel: the free laundry service for your cycling clothing. In the evening you throw the sweaty bike outfit in a laundry bag in a specially provided laundry basket and the next day in the morning everything is neatly washed, and you start the day with a fresh and clean outfit!