Europe

Rigopiano's seclusion was part of hotel's charm

The hotel in summer - a white, L-shaped four-storey building with green gardens Image copyright Hotel Rigopiano
Image caption The Hotel Rigopiano was a luxury resort and retreat for tourists

The remote, idyllic nature of Italy's luxurious Hotel Rigopiano was part of the reason it was so highly rated by tourists escaping to the mountainside.

But the same remoteness became an obstacle to rescue when an earthquake struck, and the hotel was destroyed by a powerful avalanche.

Rescuers struggled to reach the Rigopiano, nestled in the beech forests near Farindola.

In the past, guests had adored the seclusion.

Image copyright Hotel Rigopiano
Image caption The hotel and spa lies nestled just beneath the mountain slope
Image copyright Alpine Mountain Rescue
Image caption On Thursday, the entire complex was covered by the avalanche

"If you enjoy beautiful vistas, mountains, forests and great spas then this place is for you," one Canadian reviewer wrote on TripAdvisor.

Another, from Liverpool, reviewed it just three weeks before the tragedy as a "fantastic spa hidden in the mountains of Abruzzo".

The hotel and spa complex is a four-star hotel, offering not just rooms, but a full restaurant and spa service.

Image copyright Hotel Rigopiano
Image caption The hotel's recognisable guard dogs were widely admired by guests, and had recently had pups

The hotel staff are also known for their friendly character - as were the venue's two Abruzzese guard dogs, Lupo and Nuvola, who had just given birth to a litter of pups.

In another post from just a few days before, staff posted a slow-motion video of the heated outdoor pool steaming at night, during a heavy snow flurry .

Image copyright Hotel Rigopiano
Image caption The resort's heated pool meant guests could bathe outdoors - even during snow
Image copyright Hotel Rigopiano
Image caption Some rooms, decorated in earth tones, looked out upon the mountain landscape

Hours before the avalanche collapsed the roof of the Rigopiano, hotel staff posted to their Facebook page that their phone lines were out of service due to the bad weather - and encouraged guests to contact them by email.

Image copyright Hotel Rigopiano
Image caption The luxury spa occupied the lower level of the complex, beneath the hotel proper

The resort's Facebook page is now flooded with comments from well-wishers and those concerned for people they know.

"You and your staff are special beings that don't work for mere profit, but for passion," wrote one member of the Italian public.

"You gotta hold on, I'm begging you."

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