I know what you’re thinking as you read this review, sat at your desk as your boss sends you yet another ‘high importance’ email. You’re thinking wouldn’t it be great if you could go somewhere where the simple things in life remain just that, without all the complexities of city living? Somewhere where you can watch the sunset without electricity pylons splitting it in two, a place where the water is so transparent that Evian’s clearest would find it hard to compete, and a place where ‘rush hour’ doesn’t exist.
Well, I didn’t know such a place could exist either, until the 26th of June that is, when I stepped off of a two and a half hour flight from London to Olbia and then took the 55km journey to one of the eight, family run, four and five star hotels under the Delphina group – the Valle dell’ Erica Hotel.
We strolled through the reception area, which sparkled white and featured a rather random enormous bowl of green apples. Slightly more exciting though, were the displays of Cristal behind glassed cabinets – I hoped they would form my personal supply. ‘Welcome,’ said our host Tamara, ‘to Valle dell’ Erica Resort.’ We stood in silence for a minute, taking in the stunning 180 degree panoramic views. With the gently waves of the ocean in the background, Tamara led us to the buffet. Over fresh seafood, cured meats, Sardinian bread and all the fresh fruit you could think of, we were given the low down – the hotel has four pools, five restaurants, 252 rooms, 1 Thalasso and spa, around fifty intricate pathways and a hammock or two, dotted among the trees for good measure. I was almost certain I’d get lost fumbling along the pathways. However, right on cue an Italian man whirled past on a golf buggy. It turns out you don’t walk along the pathways at Valle dell’ Erica – you take a golf buggy instead. You know a place is legit when they ride around in golf buggies, so I was already looking forward to the rest of my stay.
Next, Tamara introduced us to the groundsman who she told us had being with the hotel for many years. All of a sudden it was clear to me what set Valle dell’ Erica apart from the crowd. This isn’t just another mass produced hotel, with mass produced staff members. At Valle dell’ Erica, the luxury of care, loyalty and time came before the luxury of the spacious pool areas and cushiony mattresses. The former is something that London hotels don’t always have and this is what makes Valle dell’ Erica Hotel truly special.
The rest of the day passed in a blur of food, seafood and more food – Valle dell’ Erica offers complimentary cookery lessons for adults wanting to learn traditional Gallura Cuisine, where guests can come into the kitchen and cook with the chef. So if you’re the kind of person who likes to cook on holiday, you can have the opportunity! The fresh oysters we ate at sunset made you feel like the sea was trickling down your throat. I was so relaxed that if my heart rate was reduced any more I may have been declared dead. Once we had recovered from our food comas, we danced the night away listening to Cuban music and drinking rum cocktails, with the ocean in the background. It was all very amorous, but alas, language barriers meant that my holiday fling just wasn’t meant to be. Luckily for me though, the bed in my hotel room was comfy enough with just me in it. The room had fluffy blue and terracotta walls and was a good size – plenty of space to dance around in your pjs!
The next day, we took a trip to Porto Cervo. We walked in to the shopping arena and were greeted by designer names elegantly dabbed along the orange stone that covered the place. These included Versace and Cartier, making this a great place for some extravagant holiday shopping. Yes, these stores are all available in London too, but there’s something about buying your designer goods in a foreign location that just makes them even more worthwhile (and it’s not just the exchange rate).
Later on, we caught one of the hotel’s boats, decked out in their signature blue and white colours, to one of the many private beaches the resort has to offer. With my Champagne glass in hand and the sun gently tanning my skin, I felt like I was in paradise. There was a cool breeze which rocked the boat and sent me to sleep. I started to wonder if London even existed at all.
I expected to be able to see the resort from where we were, but all I could see were green trees blowing on the shore. ‘Ah’ said Tamara, ‘the owner made it so that Valle dell’ Erica blended in with the coastline.’ Of course they did. This is just another example of the hotel’s attention to detail and their social responsibility – yes, this is a hotel that obviously makes money. However, it is also a hotel that is grounded in being authentically Italian and family ran, as is reflected in the hotel’s values. You only have to look as far as their eco -friendly ethos, with the aim of protecting their own coastline, to see what I mean.
While London remains the place to be (well, duh) Sardinia offered a welcome break from the chaos and bustle of old London town. I cannot recommend the Valle dell’ Erica hotel enough and that isn’t just because they plied me with alcohol and great seafood…although that did help. The Valle dell’ Erica is a truly luxurious and sophisticated hotel, but one that has an undercurrent of family values and a personalised experience. After all, this is a family run business and I can certainly say that I left Sardinia feeling like one of the family.