The night air smelled of wood smoke and myrtle as an outdoor suckling pig spit-roast slowly turned over open flames. A griddle sizzled with locally-made sausages and thickly sliced bacon, while a chef kneaded fresh pasta into gnocchetti sardi, the typical Sardinian conch-shaped pasta. The wood-smoke had drifted out onto the dining terrace turning the diners into hazy shadows; far from being an irritant, it simply added to the atmosphere. This was Li Ciusoni, Valle dell’Erica’s traditional Gallurese restaurant and I was loving every minute of it.
Resort Valle dell’Erica occupies a mile of pristine Gullarese coastline and is one of eight luxury destinations from Delphina hotels and resorts owned and run by the Sardinian Muntoni family.
The resort is actually comprised of two five star hotels, Hotel Erica and the Hotel La Licciola, both share 70 acres of private grounds and if wasn’t for the Mediterranean lapping the coast, you would almost be within touching distance of Sardinia’s famed La Maddalena Archipelago. It’s the wow factor for the resort, a factor sadly lost on me as I arrived very late from Olbia airport. Needless to say, the view the next morning from the breakfast terrace, while I sipped a cappuccino, was nothing short of sensational.
That said, my junior suite in La Licciola was pretty easy on the eye too. Soft textured pastel tone interiors, spacious open plan design, deep couches, lovely private terrace, king bed, high thread count linens and a luxury bathroom with a bath and shower. There was also a distinct nod to local traditions with the lampshades and wall hangings. The location of the safe proved to be an impressive challenge. It simply refused to be found. If I couldn’t track it down, how would a potential thief find it? I was so convinced about the safety of my valuables now I really wanted to use it if only I knew where it was. Eventually, the mystery was solved following my discovery of a hinged wall picture. Case closed.
This is an extraordinary property that uses its vast natural landscape and lush vegetation to keep the development almost below the radar. Rooms are spread all over in clusters and each cluster is a stone’s throw from an outdoor pool, a bar or a restaurant. Or you can walk down toward the sea and find a secluded cliff top or hit the beach and discover a myriad of hidden coves. I felt a distinct village vibe in the evenings with pockets of live entertainment and a choice of over eight different restaurants; each one with a distinctly different food offering from buffet style to full silver service and with half-board as standard, you’ll have ample opportunity to try them all. There’s even a romantic beach-side setting at Li Zini.
Fresh from my room safe exploits, I joined a half-day cruise excursion around the La Maddalena Archipelago on one of Valle dell’Erica’s fleet of seven motor yachts. It’s a decadent way of seeing this outstanding collection of uninhabited islands that make up the Bonifacio Marine Reserve. Small wonder this coastline was chosen by the Agha Khan in the 1960s to develop Porto Cervo into his exclusive playground for the rich and famous.
Valle dell’Erica is a luxury resort complex first and foremost, but it’s also owned by a group with a conscience. Sustainability lies at the heart of everything it does. In 2018 it won the UK’s PEA Travel Award as the first Italian hotel chain to use 100% certified green energy and in 2019 won the prestigious World Travel Award as Europe’s Leading Green Resort.
The green concept also translates into green products in the Thalasso Spa, a 1,600 square metre wellness complex. Thalassotherapy implies all treatments and therapies are exclusively taken from the marine environment with essential oils from local aromatic plants and herbs. Thus, I was provided with a completely guilt-free massage session that left my yin and my yang balanced in perfect harmony.
Back amongst the smoke and the delicious traditional food in Li Ciusoni, I reflected on Valle dell’Erica. It’s a resort that appeals perhaps more to families than couples, although it is more than capable of hosting both. However, for a more romantic stay, Delphina has Hotel Capo d’Orso in its portfolio. Set on a hillside, hidden amongst olive and juniper trees above a beautiful secluded cove, it is an exclusive peaceful haven for adults. Then again, if well-being and tranquillity are your focal points Hotel Marinedda Thalasso & Spa has one of the largest wellness centres in northern Sardinia at its beating heart.
As for me, I was intent on finishing my traditional evening on a high and that meant tucking into a plate of seadas (small pancakes filled with cheese) and a gulp or two of mirto a potent Sardinian berry liqueur.
Restaurant images (c) Andy Mossack
Tell me more about Resort Valle dell’Erica Thalasso & SPA, Sardinia
Resort Valle dell’Erica, Santa Teresa Gallura, Sardinia, Italy
T: +39 0789 790316 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Resort Valle dell’Erica Thalasso & SPA has rooms from €160 / £ 145, per person, per night in half board (breakfast and dinner included). other packages including full board are available.
The resort yacht excursion described above carries a fee and dependent on availability.
Getting there: easyJet runs regular flights to Olbia from Stansted and Gatwick. Resort Valle dell’Erica is one hour from the airport.
Gatwick Express has a high-frequency, non-stop shuttle service to London Victoria in the heart of London. There’s a new Gatwick Express Lounge and the introduction of Oyster and Contactless payments on the route. Book online at Gatwick Express for a 10% discount.