Find Well-Being at Italy’s Costa Smeralda

(Photo: Marriott International)

Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda has long lured luxury vacationers seeking to enjoy its emerald green waters and chic lifestyle. But the true indulgence here might well be Sardinia’s embrace of wellness, thanks to a combination of slow living, clean air, locavore dishes and some of the best waters on Earth.

In fact, the island has been ranked as one of only five “Blue Zones” in the world for its longer-than-norm life spans. Sardinia’s Gallura region, where the Costa Smeralda is nestled, is a nexus of natural beauty and well-being and is one of the top places in the world to recharge.

Here’s how to maximize your stay in 48 hours.

(Photo: Marriott International)


Arriving in Costa Smeralda is always epic — whether flying over its shimmering waters to Olbia or mooring a private boat at Porto Cervo, the area’s picturesque seaside town.

Book a sea view suite at the Hotel Romazzino, where you can enjoy a private beach and then let your true wellness begin with a treatment at Spa My Blend By Clarins, the hotel’s onsite spa. Spread throughout two floors, Spa My Blend has four suites and a wellness area with sauna, emotional shower, steam room, Pilates and yoga studio.

(Photo: Marriott International)

Opt for one of Clarins’ quintessential Art of Touch treatments, which focus on skin rejuvenation, then book one of the head-to-toe wellness treatments that combine purifying, massage and relaxation techniques to help reboot your sleep, reduce your stress levels and boost your energy.

(Photo: Marriott International)

As the sun sets, take in the view of the island’s twinkling lights while enjoying dishes at Romazzino Restaurant from the hotel’s Equilibrium Menu. This gourmet program was created by nutritionist and bestselling British author Amanda Hamilton, who collaborated with Romazzino chef Gianni Mallao and Hotel Cala di Volpe chef Maurizio Locatelli to develop health-focused dishes based on the flavors and traditions of Sardinian cuisine, with some produce selected daily from La Fattoria, Hotel Cala di Volpe’s vegetable garden.

Guests can find Equilibrium Menu dishes at Romazzino Restaurant.


Warm up the weekend with a personal yoga session on Hotel Romazzino’s private beach. And if you need a little more energy, join any of the property’s fitness activities, including muscle strengthening and elongation through Pilates, power workouts with boxing and functional training, and post-injury exercises, or ask to have one of the wellness gurus onsite create a bespoke workout.

Wind down the day at one of the Costa Smeralda’s famed beach clubs, like Cala Beach Club and Nikki Beach, for an afternoon of drinks, dining and dancing.


Kick it into high gear on Sunday at the Pevero Health Trail, an eight-mile hiking and biking trail.

(Photo: Marriott International)

Starting from the grounds of Hotel Romazzino, the trail includes pedicured paths that wind around the Pevero Golf Course. For those looking for a power workout, there are inclines and fitness stations at each kilometer.

When you’ve worked up a sweat, enjoy a swim in Romazzino’s freshwater pool or head over to Hotel Cala di Volpe for the afternoon. The iconic Hotel Cala di Volpe is a mecca for those who want to keep a low profile while enjoying the Costa Smeralda’s sun and sand.

With the afternoon cooling down, you’ll want to book a treatment at the hotel’s new Shiseido Spa as the perfect closure to a weekend focused on recharging and invigorating your wellness lifestyle.

Shiseido’s holistic approach combines Eastern traditions and techniques with the most innovative advances of the 21st century — and more importantly, the spa dedicates itself to treating the body as a whole, with personalized therapeutic scrubs and massages. Afterward, enjoy a dip in the hotel’s olympic-sized saltwater pool.

(Photo: Marriott International)

Sit for an aperitivo at the hotel’s Atrium Bar followed by dinner at Matsuhisa at Cala di Volpe, Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa’s Nobu-style Japanese restaurant with spectacular views overlooking a charming pier lined with jaw-dropping yachts.

This article first appeared in Marriott Bonvoy Traveller, July 2019.

Costa Smeralda for Every Type of Traveler

An aerial view of Hotel Romazzino, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda. (Photo: Marriott International)

Long before Italy’s Costa Smeralda became an iconic retreat for the rich and famous, the 12-mile stretch on Sardinia’s northern coastline was just another — albeit spectacular — corner of the region’s wild terrain.

It didn’t gain notoriety until a late-1950s visit by a committee of investors and architects that fell hard for the Emerald Coast, named for its beautiful translucent, emerald-colored water, and transformed 5,000 acres of land into Porto Cervo, the most famous coastline resort in Sardinia, if not the world.

A collection of coves, towns and beaches, the Costa Smeralda is a destination for those looking for an honest and insightful experience, whether they prefer adventuring or recharging, eating or meeting local artisans, or just enjoying that ever-so-easy Sardinian lifestyle.

From the remote quietude of Hotel Romazzino and Piccolo Romazzino to fashionable Hotel Cala di Volpe and Porto Cervo, the coastal area becomes a dynamic and international crossroads whose boundaries extend to the water, as the port itself is a floating city of hundreds of the world’s most enviable boats, yachts and super yachts.

Regardless of your travel tastes, Costa Smeralda will exceed even your steepest expectations.

Soak in the sun and enjoy azure waters. (Photo: Marriott International)

For Adventure Travelers

The emerald waters and natural terrain of the Costa Smeralda are meant to be enjoyed, especially by those who love the outdoors. Its mesmerizing waters are always just warm enough for snorkeling, scuba and free-diving, a centuries-old island hobby.

The region’s life aquatic includes dolphins, sea turtles, tuna, swordfish and sunfish, rare mobulas (Mediterranean mantas) and schools of whales.

Start your exploration at a beach like the one found at Hotel Cala di Volpe, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda, decidedly the most beautiful and exclusive location in Porto Cervo for its immaculate white beaches, incredible setting and lineup of activities from flora and fauna spotting to boat rides to Maddalena Island.

For land lovers, the countryside is lined with nature hikes, including the local favorite Pevero Health Trail. Starting from the grounds of Hotel Romazzino, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda, a series of pedicured trails circumnavigate Pevero Golf Course, with fitness stations, inclines and more.

Stroll along trails or play a round of golf. (Photo: Marriott International)

For Romance Seekers

By its nature, the Costa Smeralda is romantic. Any sunset will inspire a poem, or declaration of love at the very least. Though Porto Cervo is a hub of who’s who, it’s the quieter corners that are made for couples.

Spectacular landscapes of rolling hills and hidden coves are inspiration for stories, and as Italians will tell you, they are stories that you have to make.

Nestled in a grove of pine trees and cascading to the bay of Liscia di Vacca is the Emerald Coast’s best kept secret, Hotel Pitrizza, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Costa Smeralda, a sprawling complex of suites and rooms with its own private beach. You’ll find ample privacy for just the two of you.

Costa Smeralda heats up after dark. (Photo: Marriott International)

For the Fashionista

Expect to find luxury everywhere you look. Above all, stroll through La Piazzetta and La Passeggiata, the area’s most exclusive fashion hubs.

Boutiques here introduced the island to some of the world’s most innovative designers. You’ll also find a lineup here of the major fashion houses, while the Promenade du Port is a concept retail mecca with small boutiques and surprise pop-up shops.

Before the sun sets, the see-and-be-seen set will want to stake a claim at the Atrium Bar at Hotel Cala di Volpe for a cocktail, or head to Cala Beach Club and Nikki Beach for an afternoon of drinks, dining and dancing.

For Foodies

For decades, foodies have migrated to Porto Cervo to taste regional seafood dishes, which has inspired a dynamic food community in the small town.

Savor the many flavors of the region. (Photo: Marriott International)

Every year, Porto Cervo kicks off the summer season with its annual Wine & Food Festival, an exhibition of Italian food and wine products.

Chef Nobuyuki Matsuhisa launched a restaurant that has officially staked its claim at Hotel Cala di Volpe, overlooking an iconic pier and sparkling bay.

Meanwhile, the iconic Porto Cervo restaurant, Al Pescatore, has welcomed a partnership with the Nerano restaurant Quattro Passi, run by Michelin-starred Chef Tonino Mellino. A selection of Tonino’s signature dishes from Quattro Passi is now included on the Al Pescatore menu.

For Wellness Travelers

Wellness has always been integral to Sardinian lifestyle, and no more so than in the Costa Smeralda, which boasts some of Italy’s most beautiful coves and beaches and integrates holistic ingredients into a lifestyle that turns down the dial on vacation to a focus on relaxation and wellness.

The natural beauty and peaceful exclusivity make Hotel Romazzino, Piccolo Romazzino and Hotel Cala di Volpe the most coveted areas for total recharge, which can be as easy as taking a dip in their beaches’ emerald waters.

For a truly decadent way to unwind, make your way to Hotel Cala di Volpe’s SHISEIDO Spa and Hotel Romazzino’s Spa My Blend By Clarins, which each celebrate Sardinian wellness with beauty and fitness offerings. Both properties collaborate with nutritional expert Amanda Hamilton to curate bespoke wellness programs that include healthy menus, spa treatments and exercise regimes that include yoga, pilates and hiking.

This article originally appeared in Marriott Bonvoy Traveller, June 2019.

Spending Two Perfect Days in Sardegna


Spending Two Perfect Days In Sardinia

Spending Two Perfect Days In Sardinia - Forbes Travel Guide

Lovely Porto Cervo Photo Courtesy of ©iStock

~article first appeared in Forbes Travel ~

In the 1950s, Prince Aga Khan chose Sardinia’s Porto Cervo on the Emerald Coast to be a private getaway from over-trafficked Mediterranean resort towns. With agreements that limited development, Porto Cervo became an exclusive playland for the rich and famous. Its tiny harbor was pedicured into a charming piazza of shops, restaurants and Yacht Club Costa Smeralda and, since 1963, it has been a favorite docking ground for Bardots, Beyoncé and billionaires. Twenty-first century Porto Cervo still has its 1960s jet-set allure that attracts visitors of all tax brackets from all over the world — and so do its gorgeous beaches and small towns. With the newly renovated Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport, getting to Porto Cervo for a weekend jaunt has never been easier.

Day One

Head immediately to Hotel Cala di Volpe, a property that, for all intents and purposes, should be its own world. The Cala sits on the edge of an isolated cove of emerald green water and soft white sand, a kind of terra-cotta sand castle with curves. Beautiful rooms with even more splendid views and incredible sporting activities (horseback riding, fishing, sailing) mean you want to stay here all day, unless of course, you hire a boat for beach hopping. If you need a lunchtime bite, Cala’s Barbecue Restaurant serves grilled fish and meats such as veal and chicken breast in a terrace overlooking the cove.

Once the sun starts to go down, head to Piazzetta di Porto Cervo for late afternoon shopping and appetizers. The small retail area is home to some of Europe’s best boutiques, including the usual suspects Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Valentino, Cartier and Roberto Cavalli, along with top swimwear shops Eres and Miss Bikini. The piazzetta is also the perfect people- watching spot, so grab a seat at any of its three bars. At dinnertime, walk down to Il Pescatore for a traditional Sardinian meal with a focus on fish. No matter what you ultimately go with for your main entrée, make sure your meal includes an order of gli stagionati dell’isola, an antipasto of local salami and cheeses.

Day Two

If you don’t want to spend the day on a beach or a boat, take a drive around the Gallura, the northeastern region of Sardinia. The local landscape is a gray cascade of hills made of huge granite rocks and verdant fields. Take a morning trip to Siddùra or Surrau wineries (approximately 35 minutes from Porto Cervo) to learn about Vermentino whites and Cannonau reds. The wineries often organize tastings onsite, with delicious local cuisine such as zuppa gallurese (pecorino cheese and bread soup) and porceddu (roasted pork) to complement your vino.

Dedicate your afternoon to San Pantaleo, a small town made up of a single piazza surrounded by stone-built cottages, set in a stunning granite backdrop. Over the years, San Pantaleo has become an artists’ enclave where painters, jewelry makers, sculptors and others take residence and sell their work. While the area is known for its fairs and festivities throughout the summer — late July’s celebration of local saint San Pantaleo and August’s Festa della Birra Trinitaiese folk event are two of its most prominent events — the fall captivates with its own kind of charm.

After perusing the pieces, it is time to get back to Cala di Volpe and take another dip in the luminous waters. In autumn, the temperature is generally pleasant, no matter what time of day. Dinner plans should be local and informal, though in Porto Cervo, “relaxed” still means stylish. Il Pomodoro is the resort town’s up-and-coming restaurant for a chill vibe, though return visitors will probably book a table at Finger’s, an old-school favorite that’s owned by former soccer star Clarence Seedorf and overseen in the kitchen by Brazilian-Japanese chef Roberto Okabe, a man known for his flashy sushi creations.

It wouldn’t be Porto Cervo without mentioning the Billionaire Club, businessman Flavio Briatore’s nightclub founded in 1998 that helped put Porto Cervo on the international party map. Billionaire was epic in its heyday for its bashes overflowing with models — Briatore’s ex-girlfriend is Naomi Campbell — and over the years, has evolved into a chain of nightspots around the world. Briatore’s creation remains the area’s most famous hotspot, and is a worthy address to conclude a visit to Porto Cervo.