TRAVEL

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)

Friday

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.

Saturday

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.

Sunday

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.

What does the Fox say? Cala di Volpe

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Foxy.

That is exactly the vibe I get when walk into the lair of Cala di Volpe, Prince Aga Khan's playground for the rich and famous.  The entrance alone sets the stage for my three days- sexy,  cozy and casual.  For Forbes, I called it a terracotta sandcastle with curves, and I meant it.  There is something dreamlike and nostalgic about Cala.  Maybe because it reminds me of St. Peter's weekend sunbathing with my ex-boyfriend Andrea and I while chatting up Nesta and Inzaghi the Younger.   Or maybe because its warm tones and beautiful lounges remind me of those 1980s Bain de Soleil commercials.  Or maybe because it is just that - dreamy.

My thoughts?

I love its style, color and its vibe.  The Cala is rustic yet sophisticated.  It reminds me of my imaginary home,  you know the one that is effortless chic, seemingly casual and meditatively colorful.  In brief,  the rooms are comfort caves with a view.  The rooms are decorated with Sardinian imagery, vibrant colors dominated by emerald green.  And almost every room has a terrace.  I could've spent most of my days on my terrace , or  in that cozy bed, if that gorgeous green water wasn't so deliciously inviting.

The Cala's location is fantastic-- it's an easy get-away and get-to.   Just 30 minutes by car from Olbia's airport to the hotel and just far away enough from Port Cervo that you can pretend you are on your own island.   And the little is oasis is set up for food and fun so you really don't ever have to leave.  The Professor's friend Christian runs all the water sports, and he's cute.  The hotel restaurants (the grill!) are obviously amazing but more importantly, throughout the summer they bring in Michelin-starred chefs for Eating under the Stars, and the hotel sponsors both Porto Cervo Wine Festival (May) and Food Festival (September).   If I had to be picky, I would say that only the  bathrooms need a pick-me-up but it did have a five-star hair dryer.  Here's my idea of a weekend in Porto Cervo.

JULY and AUGUST 2015:  Natalie ImbrugliaEarth, Wind & Fire Juy  26 luglio.  Robbie Williams August 13.

Cala di Volpe. Porto Cervo, Costa Smeralda.

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