48 hours in…Sardinia
When Delphina Hotels & Resorts challenged us with its motto “5 stelle in libertà” (5-star in total freedom) it was time to pack the Birkenstocks and put Sardinian luxury to the test. From the glamour of Costa Smeralda to the history of Isola Rossa and Badesi, only a two-hour flight lay between London and “libertà” in the crystal waters and white beaches of northern Sardinia. Sat Bal
Stanstead airport’s Holiday Inn Express is a reminder that hotels represent a state of mind. IHG’s Holiday Inn is not opulent (it’s not supposed to be) but it is a functional holding point. An overnight stay here replaces the hassle of early flights with a few hours of extra sleep and a calm, unruffled transit to the terminal. Indeed, it’s easy to adopt the smugness portrayed by Lenny Henry in those ads for a hotel chain that IHG wouldn’t appreciate us mentioning.
This functional state of mind soon changes to anticipation: luxuriously appointed suites, the invitingly warm Mediterranean sea and a flamboyant cocktail - or two. Hello, Sardinia and Delphina hotels. Delphina owns and manages eight of the best 4/5-star hotels in Sardinia that attracts discerning family holidaymakers honeymooners, and business travellers. Here we explore why...
Valle Dell'Erica Resort
The Valle dell’Erica Resort is near Santa Teresa Gallura a popular tourist resort with views over the Straits of Bonifacio. Valle dell’Erica has prime positioning by the sea, a legacy of its status as the first tourist village created in Sardinia when it was still possible to build a few metres from the sea. The resort’s two 5-star hotels, Erica and La Licciola Hotel are ideal for the most exacting families, thanks to the numerous facilities available for children. Couples looking for exclusive stays by the sea also make the most of the sultry setting and high-end style.
Valle dell’Erica soon earned a stylish ‘cool’ during the sixties when royalty and notables would check in. Delphina’s full-scale refurbishment of the resort took the luxury to unprecedented levels for its discerning guests.
Just metres from a white sand bay the venue boasts some of the most picturesque natural scenery in Sardinia and its size means that privacy is promised, making it a haven for couples who can wander the numerous small bays on foot. Yet the resort also attracts families who value the large, secure green and garden areas where the kids can play and swim without disturbing the adults. ‘Ericaland’ features the resort’s free 24-hour nursery; a Baby, Mini and Junior Club accommodates age ranges up to 14 making it easier for parents to unwind with after dinner entertainment in the resort’s Plaza which hosts live music shows and events.
‘Le Thermae’ Thalasso & Spa Centre
The Spa at this resort was a blessing, offering a serene retreat from the heat of the day. It's well worth taking an afternoon to navigate its facilities. The areas include a Turkish bath, sauna, relaxation area and gym. The Centre is set out in a natural environment around imposing granite rocks and it features four multifunction sea water swimming pools at different temperatures for the Thalasso circuit. Thalassotherapy treatments, massages and beauty treatments take place across 15 stylish booths.
We opted for two treatments, neither of which involved much human assistance. The first was the Affusion shower which comprises a narrow water bed; very easy to stretch out and relax on. The shower system travels the length of the body spraying warm water. The water jets are just intense enough to allow a gentle water massage to slowly do its work and reconnect you with your body.
Next it was off to try the clinical sounding Medijet massage. Once again, the only human interaction involved a spa attendant ensuring that you lay comfortably on the bed, face up. The thin-membraned bed contained enough water below its surface to immediately induce a relaxing, floaty feel. Then at the press of a button a series of what felt like large snooker balls traversed the shins and mapped the body from toe to shoulder and back down again. Unusual but exhilarating and highly recommended.
It was mildly reminiscent of Mercedes’ new flagship S-Class ‘hot stone massage’ system which delivers from the driver’s seat back- but we say save your £90,000 and get the real deal with a Medijet massage!
Rooms -Erica Hotel & La Licciola Hotel
At Erica they start from Standard doubles and escalate to the President Spargi Vista. The exclusive space offers great views from large panoramic verandas. Top-end is the Benessere: six opulent rooms, some featuring bath and shower, which link to the Wellness Centre.
The new La Licciola Hotel area enhances the resort with a luxurious complement of rooms, a striking sea-water swimming pool, two bars and two restaurants. The suites to go for here are Senior Suite Family Sea View (86 m2 + 26 m2 veranda) comprising two Licciola Junior Suites with shared access, the President Razzoli Vista Mare sea view (85 m2 + 25 m2 veranda) exclusive with private swimming pool in the garden and the pinnacle Imperial Suite Vista Mare. This offers 154 m2 of style on two connected floors complete with private swimming pool in the garden and a fully equipped solarium.
Hotel Marinedda is just over an hour's drive from Alghero airport and 1 km from the village of Isola Rossa, a picturesque harbour enclave where fishing boats bob about. A few hundred metres from the hotel is the Marinedda beach so you can imagine the panoramic sea views from the venue.
The bars and restaurants of the hotel and the exclusive Thalasso & SPA Centre soon set the holiday mood aglow.
The Hotel Marinedda is primarily a wellness and relaxation holiday for couples and families who will no doubt appreciate the kids’ club and the pools of the Wellness Centre. The prestigious Thalasso Centre and Spa makes it ideal for uniting body and soul before returning to the Mediterranean sun.
The hotel’s spacious rooms and suites attract families and couples and range from the elegant standard rooms to the
President Suite Sea View. This luxury bedroom has a king-size double bed and an adjoining lounge. To give a sense of the space, up to four guests (age 17 max) can occupy this suite. Guests here get a commanding view over the Marinedda bay from their private terrace. The Executive Elicriso is a magnet for discerning couples who wish to luxuriate in privacy, king-size double beds and adjoining living room. It’s restricted to two adults only and features a terrace with private heated sea-water Thalasso mini swimming pool with hydro massage jets..
Dining at its Petra Ruja restaurant was always a delight, not least because of its scenic views over the bay. The array of food combined expansive buffets with regional and Mediterranean dishes.
Whether you’re a spa enthusiast or not it’s well worth a pampering at the Elicriso Thalasso Centres, one of the most renowned in the Med. Sardinian sea water of obvious quality forms the basis of Delphina treatments and stress relief.
The Centre’s 2500 m2 treatment area offers everything from a cardio-fitness gym to chalets for beauty, toning and treatments for him and her. There’s even a reception with medical surgery, specialist and dietician consultations.
Le Dune Resort & Spa
The 4-star Resort Le Dune lies on the sea of Badesi Marina, overlooking the Golfo dell’Asinara and around an hour’s drive from Olbia and Alghero. The resort occupies private grounds of 280,000 m2 comprising five different 4-star and 4-star superior hotels.
On a gloriously sunny day our arrival here is met with the fragrant scent of juniper and pine as we navigate the sun-dappled maze of foliage. The coast of Badesi Marina features a diversely inspiring topography of sand dunes and hills with Mediterranean scrub and vineyards.
The resort’s various hotels are aimed at specific customers. Two hotels, I Ginepri (completely refurbished for 2014), and Le Palme are family-friendly.The seclusion of Le Rocce hotel attracts adults while the new Le Sabine hotel, around the Wellness Centre, is designed for both adults and families. For a luxury stay head to the locale of La Duna Bianca which lies just metres from the sea and promises an exclusive service level.
Families with children will appreciate Le Dune’s reputation as one of the best spaces in Sardinia for kids. Fantasy Village and Duneland entertain the young while even teens up to 18 are catered for at the Teen Club where activities range from dancing to mixology lesson with non-alcoholic drinks. Intermediate ages from infants upwards are looked after by Le Dune’s professional carers.
All classes of customer will enjoy the Badesi beach which stretches for some eight km and is celebrated as one of the longest and most pristine beaches in Sardinia.
Cuisine is eclectic with Le Dune’s choice of 10 restaurants. Seven of these feature theme-based menus, one with international cuisine and one ("Il Romantico", reserved for guests aged 12 and above), for special dinners, with candle light, and a choice of extra fresh lobster.
Le Sabine Spa helps the unwinding with three outdoor heated pools; jacuzzi with whirlpool jets as well as hydro massage beds. Book into a chalet for treatments or sweat it out in the Turkish bath.
Hotel Capo d'Orso
This 5-star is located in the exclusive Cala Capra reserve In Palau by the sea from where we took a boat trip party in the archipelago of La Maddalena - and a much needed dip in the sea.
This is Red Carpet territory and the Costa Smeralda in particular has attracted stays by everyone from Greta Garbo to Harrison Ford and Sting. The private jet and helicopter service says it all.
The Pitch and Putt golf course at Capo d’Orso (nine holes with practice green) gives uninterrupted views over the island of Caprera and towards the Costa Smeralda. The beach trails between the little harbour and sundeck and the headland at Cala Capra.
Five timber-made solaria stand on the water facing the Island of Caprera and the lighthouse at Porto Cervo. Solitude is a real option here, swinging in one of the hammocks along the cliff-lined path. The outdoor fitness centre on the rocks, 20 high-end Junior Suites and the palatial Presidential Suite with renowned sea view give just a flavour of this hotel’s eminent status in Sardinia.
On the water daily boat departures from the small private pier spirit guests away to the islands of the archipelago or to the Costa Smeralda.
Book at :
Delphina Hotels & Resorts
Loc. Cala Di Lepre, 07020 Palau (OT), Sardinia – Italy