The Handbook
The Handbook

Despite the likes of Heidi Klum, George Clooney and Bradley Cooper flocking to take advantage of its many beaches, Sardinia is still something of a well-kept-secret to British holiday makers. Home to expansive white beaches and aquamarine seas, it has, perhaps confusingly, been called the Caribbean of the Mediterranean. But while I can see the comparison in some respects, you can keep your coconuts; there’s a wild, rugged beauty to Sardinia that doesn’t no West Indian paradise can match.

So with Clooney firmly in my sights, I left my boyfriend back in England and headed for the island they named Sardines after, to discover the ultimate romantic hotel getaway, Capo D’Orso. Where craggy terrain sweeps down to meet the water, and across the tops of stark, granite cliffs, which make up the coastline, strange angular stone formations, blasted by the mistral wind you’ll find Capo D’Orso, or Bear Rock, one of the most romantic getaways in the Med.

Capo D’Orso is a resort developed with couples in mind; yes families and children are welcome, but there’s a definite grown-up, romantic vibe to the resort.

Wandering along the craggy, dramatic hillside which the hotel occupies, there are lots of hidden nooks and crannies, temptingly filled with hammocks and sun loungers. It feels like a grown-up hideaway; a sort of sexy adult-neverland. Hugging the crescent-shaped hillside and overlooking the Tyrrhenian, the resort is dotted with bars and restaurants, as well as a spa centre, so you can make the most of your stay. And yet, you’ll feel all alone together; during my stay the hotel was apparently chokka, and yet I hardly ever bumped into other guests.

Of course you won’t at all if you stay in your room, and with one whole side of my hotel room dominated by a huge plate glass window facing out to sea you suddenly realise you could just stay put and take it in. Even as you wash, the shower comes with a porthole, so I could look out at the sea while I lathered up. And the sea really is the star of this place; wherever you are, you can hear it, or see it, or smell it. It really is impossible to escape, but its so beautiful there’s no reason you would want to.

But if you do leave the luxury of your room, there’s plenty to do and Capo D’Orso isn’t all swinging lazily in hammocks. Take, for instance, the Thellasso spa. Concentric rounds of sea-salt water pools, each kept at a different temperature and with an assortment of jacuzzi jets, Thellasso therapy is apparently very good for you, and is said to promote all round wellness, allegedly improving everything from circulation, joint stiffness and stress. Whatever the health benefits, I have to admit it is lovely to sit in gently heated, bubbling sea water, with a blazing blue sky overhead, and only reluctantly force myself to complete the cycle – you begin in the warmest pool and progress down to the coldest – good for the body perhaps, but not quite as dreamy.

Elsewhere there’s a real emphasis on health, and as well as the pools each spa boasts numerous therapies including massages, scrubs, facials and more. I enjoyed a 50 minute sea salt scrub (even on a massage chair, you can’t escape the sea), and massage with Sardinian-herb infused oils, followed by a steam in the Turkish hamman and sauna. There is also a complimentary, 24 hour gym for guests, and Capo D’Orso offers al fresco yoga sessions among the cork trees in the mornings.

Sardinia is a country that revels in its past and it’s impossible to escape tradition at Capo D’Orso – the rooms are decorated with local materials and arts and crafts created by local artisans. The food is all local – the fish you eat at lunch was chosen that morning at a local market. I’m not the sort of person who would ever describe myself as a ‘foodie’ in general, but it’s no exaggeration to say that I was astounded by every single meal I had. It’s just all so delicious. The vegetables are vibrant, the pasta is soft and delicious, hand made at the resort, and the fish is incredibly fresh. Wine at each meal came from a local vineyard, Siddura, a “smart vineyard” which has ground breaking technology – the vines choose when they want water and when they’ve had enough. I can’t say I understand it, but the wine is so delicious you’ll wish you had the same level of self-control that the plants that made it enjoy.

As well as an emphasis on the local, the hotel’s ecologically minded. In 2017 Delphina, which Capo D’Orso’s part of, were the first Italian hotel chain to use 100% certified green energy.

“Wellness” is the term that I keep coming back to during my stay. With gorgeous scenery, beautiful beaches and crystal clear seas, it’s impossible not to spend the majority of your day outside, swimming or sunbathing, or swinging gently in a hammock. You might decide to take a rest from all that action to do a cycle of the Thallasso pool, or have a massage. If you feel energetic in the cool of late afternoon, perhaps you’ll visit the gym. And then you’ll eat a lot of food, but the sort of fresh, vibrant food which makes you feel satiated, but not bloated or stuffed. And then you’ll fall asleep to the sound of waves outside your window.

Okay, so I didn’t stumble across George Clooney, but even without his help I did manage to discover one of the most romantic spots in the Mediterranean. Capo D’Orso is the prefect place to book into with a loved one (or a highly favoured one, if you’ve not broached the L-word yet). The treatments, walks, food, cubby holes and, oh-so much sea make this a remarkable destination.