Costa Smeralda: a must see spot!

- Sarah Glyde, Regional Vice President Hotel Relations, EMEA for Kiwi Collection

Sardinia is rugged and very unspoiled in many areas – the sea is so clear you can see the fish swimming along! But there is one small corner where raw beauty has been accessorized by unique architecture, designer dresses and fantastic yachts. (Pictured: Director of Sales & Marketing for Starwood Costa Smeralda, Stephanie Greger, and myself)

The Costa Smeralda, named after the emerald colored water, is stunning, luxurious and decadent. In short: this is a place you need to visit at least once in your lifetime!

Just 90 minutes direct from London, you can hop on EasyJet if you don’t want to take your private jet.  By the way, the 20kg luggage restriction can be a challenge – even just for a week – to start with, you need at least 21 bikinis! Why 21 and not seven?  Because you will be expected to change your swimwear at least three times a day, and heaven forbid you wear the same one more than once!

August is when the really “hot” guests arrive, from designers (Roberto Cavalli), to models (Naomi Campbell) to film stars (Leonardo DiCaprio) to Royalty.  Picture this: there I was, enjoying a delicious caprese salad and prosecco at the Hotel Cala di Volpe, and in walks HRH Prince Andrew, The Duke of York.  Had he ever picked a good spot for a bite to eat! The BBQ restaurant at the Cala di Volpe is right beside the pool (reportedly the largest sea water pool in Europe) and you can watch all the beautiful people walking past in order to board the hotel’s private boat to the beach – which is just ten minutes away.

When perusing pictures of this hotel, you might recognize it from the 1977 James Bond movie, “The Spy Who Loved Me” with Roger Moore.  Sadly, staying in that particular suite is not an option as it is actually one of the hotel’s bars. A good alternative, therefore, is to order a Bellini, relax in the bar, enjoy the stunning view and pretend that Miss Moneypenny is available on your speed-dial!

The Cala di Volpe has two fantastic concerts for guests every summer. Past performers include Duran Duran, Craig David, Lionel Ritchie, Andrea Borcelli, Donna Summer… the list goes on and on. Simply Red and Anastacia were the stars this year.  Both were fantastic and everyone was on their feet dancing and singing the whole time, although I think a few Laboutin heels were causing pain by the end!  The performance for 2011 is still a secret, but you need to book early to get a room. I suggest taking a chance and booking before the performers are announced. You will not be disappointed!

Admittedly, August is also when the beach’s ‘spiaggia’ can get a little busy on Sardinia. There  are some small coves and bays that you can access by foot from the road that are usually very quiet, however.  Otherwise come in June or September, when the weather is still great and your surroundings will be far more peaceful.

Another way to escape the busy beach is to hire a boat and sail along the coast, stopping wherever you fancy. So we hired Maxi Dolphin’s newest powerboat.  It was then that I discovered this fact: white boats are SO last season! The more up to date vessels are aqua, gray, beige, matte gold, purple shot with green (Roberto Cavalli’s superyacht of course! Pictured above) and ours… well, it was burnt orange. Initially, we thought it was us that people were admiring as we cruised past, but I think it was actually the color of our boat!

Our skipper, Marco, took us to this small island Mortorio, where the water was the brightest green and the little beach whiter than white – oh, and it was empty: perfect!  After lunch we moved down the coast to check out Liscia Ruja (or Long Beach) before ending up moored in the harbor for aperitivo – I have to say, Bellavista Prosecco tastes even better when the sun is setting and you are gazing at a great view of Porto Cervo.

Where to go in the evening after your busy day at sea?  The choices are endless – especially in August.  Fingers – in the new Promenade d’Port – serves up the most delicious Japanese cuisine, and you can walk along to the newly opened Boujis afterwards – the original one in London is fantastic and Carlo and his team have recreated the fun in Porto Cervo!  After a few drinks here it was off to Flavio Briatore’s club, Billionaire’s, which is really where you see  people party. Bottle after bottle of champagne and vodka went by, heralded in by guys holding giant sparklers aloft…. subtle, hey?

The next night we were invited by Federico Versari to the Hotel Romazzino for a simple beach BBQ. Simple according to him, that is, and ended up being anything but. I actually lost count of how many choices of fish and meat there were for the main course, and the dessert selection was amazing!  After our feast we went to You bar, before ending the night dancing at Sottovento with a slightly younger, more funky crowd, complete with the ever present giant sparklers!

The Hotel Romazzino is very beautiful. Built in the shape of a starfish on the crest of a hill, it has spectacular views over the sea and a great small beach that makes it very popular with families.  If you want something slightly more romantic, then the Hotel Pitrizza is perfect.  Small, intimate and with the most breathtaking pool carved into the granite – this hotel is charming and undoubtedly a hidden gem.

Sadly, it was then time to return to London, but Costa Smeralda certainly lived up to its reputation. It was fun, decadent, a little over the top, but most of all it was beautiful. I, for one, will be back next year….

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