When you think of the north east coast of Sardinia, it is ‘Costa Smerelda’ (Emerald Coast) running north of Olbia, that tends to grab the limelight; this idyllic coastline of marinas and villages was created by Prince Karim Aga Khan IV in the 1960s and remains the ‘go to’ vacation destination of the super-rich.
However, this enchanting cluster of marinas, villages and countless bays, coves and sandy beaches continues south of Olbia city and one does not need to be an oligarch to enjoy it. Set your compass 20km south heading towards San Teodoro, and arguably the best beaches in all Sardinia can be found alongside crystalline waters and a natural oasis full of unique flora and fauna, without the glitz and glamour.
It is within this setting you will also find the ‘Paradise Resort & Spa’, intimately located within ‘the Marine Protected Area of Tavolara’. Under the stewardship of General Manager Luca Cagliero, the hotel is a place that really captures the essence of Sardinia, both culturally and geographically. Luca bears the responsibility of providing a serene and luxurious experience for guests, balanced with sustaining the needs of the unique and delicate ecology in which it sits.
The stunning natural environment plays a pivotal role in the overall design concept by respecting the unique landscape and culture of the Gallura region. Gran Maria Torno (TornoTeam Architecture and Design) whose previous clients have included Dolce & Gabbana, were tasked with the project. The low contours of the buildings conform to the soft gradient of the hillside, and the use of granite stone and red terracotta tiles allow the building to melt into the Gallurian countryside as if centuries old rather than years.
Reception & Design
Large Jackson Pollack style paintings within the minimalist design of the reception, is the first part of the hotel to catch the eye on arrival. These sudden bursts of colour that contrast cleverly with the white-washed walls add vibrancy and energy to the space. They are from the hand of a Neapolitan artist Lola Vitelli and are just one of many clever design touches imagined by the hotel’s interior design team Antonio+Sandro. Stylish beige modular furniture and shelves of ceramic and glassware divide up a very open and light space.
Restaurants & Bar
All parts of the hotel are connected by sandstone coloured paths, edging verdant lawns and shrubbery that emanate Mediterranean aromas and all lead toward the cluster of buildings which form the beating heart of the park. This encompasses the Reception building, Verandah and Piccola Cucina restaurants, Sunset Bar with rooftop terrace that all look out towards the main pool and sea beyond. As the name suggests, Verandah offers Al-fresco dining with candles, drapes and table service. In the early morning and evening, the drapes filter golden light upon diners creating a fine setting to enjoy the cuisine. The weekly highlight is a buffet of Sardinian specialities that include ‘Il Porcetto al Forno Profumato a Mirto’ – Sardinian Roast Suckling Pig scented with Myrtle.
The resorts 111 villas, suites and rooms provide the perfect bolt-hole to retreat away from the sun soaked days ever present in Sardinia; they are contemporary, spacious and are decorated with a palette of colours that match the resorts natural surroundings. Soothing colours of creams, blues and greens adorn the walls and tiles throughout. The Villa Suites have a very sizeable balcony which continues the connection with the outdoors allowing you to view the morning sunrise that casts great orange shadows across the sea, silhouetting the sails of boats passing the bay. A separate dressing area, bathroom with walk-in rain shower and bath tub adds a touch of opulence.
Wellness & Fitness Centre
Luca Cagliero’s suave and relaxed demeanour belies a pride and focus to elevate the property from a four to five star classification and he has already undertaken a number of innovations and renovations to that end. Local craftsman and materials, such local Orosei pink granite that Luca states ‘can be found in the Empire State Building’, has been used to create the new spa and gym area. State of the art Technogym machines, sit close to a selection of treatment rooms offering a range of organic treatments that compliment a dedicated private spa with Turkish baths, saunas, ice fountains and emotional showers, all standing shoulder to shoulder.
Hotel’s Natural setting & Beyond
To reach the white sands, clear and warm waters of Lu Impostu, guests leave through a gate at the metaphorical back door of the hotel. With lizards scampering away from every passing step, guests walk beside a grove of olive trees, macchia scrub and walk over a pontoon bridge that covers part of the wetland lagoons that are home to herons, flamingos, cormoronts and wild orchids. The reward is a Tahiti-esque scene of white sands in an arching bay sweeping its arms around the cobalt blue waters that open out to the dark blue of the ocean.
Nature is such a highlight here that there are two excursions nearby the hotel, worth putting on your bucket-list. If you look inland from Lu Impostu beach, San Teodoro’s tallest peak Mount Nieddu is visible. Guests can organise a 4×4 Landover excursion to this very peak via Casa Pitrisconi and nearby rock pools perilously peering over granite gorges and boulders below. The tour brings out the naturalist in everyone, as our tour guide stops intermittently to pluck handfuls of myrtle, lavender, thyme, and Sardinian Arbutus en route. At Casa Pitrisconi a traditional Stazzo (meaning Shepherds cottage), our guide pours the Cannanou red wine, slices the Pecolina cheese and splits the ‘Pane Carasau’ thin bread, as an energy boost before ascending the mountain for wondrous views towards the coastline.
The lagoon of San Teodoro, is both serene and bursting with aquatic marine life and that can be explored with ‘Orrizzonti di Gallura’. Striking out on a deck boat drifting slowly across the water allowing time to admire the wildlife, the boat silently passes the gaze of flamingos, kingfishers and even kestrels common in this part of Italy. Each passenger rests binoculars on their nose provided by the on board guide to zoom upon the lagoon’s unusual and rare habitat.
This is a real gem of a place that is on the cusp of becoming a five-star property. Whether you want to spend the entire vacation sat next to the pool and lazing on Lu Impostu beach or you intend to use it as a base to explore the Galleria region, Paradise Resort & Spa is a savvy choice. The true highlight is the wondrous Sardinian nature and this alone marks out Paradise Resort & Spa as a superior resort hotel for a diverse range of clients looking for a little piece of Sardinian Paradise and a slice of La Dolce Vita!
Update: This resort has been rebranded as Baglioni Resort Sardinia
- Room reviewed: Villa Suite – From Euro 220
- Website: www.baglionihotels.com/branches/baglioni-resort-sardinia-san-teodoro/
- Address: Loc. Lu Impostu – San Teodoro, 08020 San Teodoro (OT) – Italy
- Phone: +39-0784.1908000