Mark Davidson from Oasis Travel in Howard Street fell under the spell of the magical island of Sardinia when he visited as guest of the superbly stylish Azure Collection.
The stunning Costa Smerelda on the northern shores of the enchanting island of Sardinia has long been a favourite destination of the Jet Set and no hotel captures the essence of luxury like the uber-gorgeous Relais Villa Del Gofo, winner of the Conde Nast Luxury Award last year.
This is an amazing property, sensitively designed to echo the traditional architectural styles of a typical Sardinian village, and cleverly built into the hillside in order to take full advantage of its fabulous location overlooking the stunning Bay of Cannigione.
To say I loved this hotel is an under-statement, but I should perhaps admit from the outset that it isn’t for everyone. Its hilly location means that it just wouldn’t work for anyone with mobility issues and it doesn’t have its own beach so guests must choose from a sunbathing platform on the water’s edge a few minutes’ walk downhill or opt for one of the nearby beaches where the hotel has facilities for guests.
The ambiance here is best suited to those with a taste for authentic setting and understated elegance and the really good news is that it is surprisingly well priced in comparison with some of its competitors. Meals and drinks are actually in line with UK prices, if not slightly cheaper, which is particularly good news for holidaymakers.
The accommodation choice at the Hotel Villa Del Golfo ranges from standard doubles to private suites with their own plunge pools or a separate three-bed villa, each decorated in simple yet elegant Sardinian style and all incredible views. The hotel has its own small spa with an indoor swimming pool.
The hotel’s excellent restaurant is the MiraLuna, renowned for its grill and super-fresh fish and seafood, but you would be missing a trick if you didn’t use your stay in Cannigione to discover some of the region’s wonderful eateries, indulging in Sardinian specialities. One not to be missed dining experience is at La Colti, which is the hotel’s private farmhouse, serving up fresh, organic, local Sardinian fayre in a family-style setting … a step back in time, with a traditional dinner under the Sardinian stars!
The town of Cannigione with its bars, restaurants and small shops is a pleasant 15 minutes’ stroll away but I would recommend hiring car so that you can explore the wider area, discovering the delightful coves along the coastline and finding out a little more about the region’s rich culture and history.
Cannigione itself is a characterful little destination, with an attractive seafront area where you can enjoy an Italian Gelato or a cold drink and simply watch the world go by. Fishing was once the main activity here, but today tourism is at the heart of the local economy and the boats in harbour are more likely to be hired out for leisure cruising than busy fishing. From the port boat tours are available to of the island of Caprera, to the Maddalena Arcipelago, stopping at the Manto della Madonna (Cloak of the Virgin Mary), or taking in the dramatic coastline of the Costa Smeralda, stopping at the Island of Mortorio.
The pace of life is laid back here, but never boring. The area has plenty to intrigue the curious traveller and lots to delight the hedonistic. Villa Del Golfo is also one of those rare hotels which you simply don’t want – or even need – to leave in search of diversion. On request, cooking classes and wine tastings can be arranged and I found hotel staff wonderfully helpful in helping to plan excursions, advise on shopping trips, recommend restaurants … even organising diving!
Flights operate to the Northern Sardinian airport of Olbia through Manchester or London where a good connection can be made with BA over Terminal 5 in the high season. This was my first visit to Sardinia, but I am already determined that it won’t be my last and I will certainly be recommending it to my clients as a stylish escape.