Archive for the ‘italy hotels’ Category

Truffle Hunting, Wine Tasting, and Bike Riding in Piedmont!

That's a truffle. Don't get any funny ideas.

That’s a truffle. Don’t get any funny ideas.

A Truffle huntin’ we will go, a truffle huntin’ we will go!

Who wants to wine taste, bike ride AND hunt for truffles? Who wouldn’t?

Ciclismo Classico, a leading outfitter of cycling vacations around the globe, is offering a food and wine focused Italy cycling tour in which guests stay in family-run luxury hotels, dine at the best local restaurants, and pedal through the vineyards and villages of Piedmont.



The most important vineyard centers of Gavi, Acqui Terme, Alba, lower Monferrato and Turin serve as the focal points of this eight-day tour. On exclusive winery visits, local experts discuss the tradition of winemaking and the nuances of the area’s many microclimates that give the wine its prized sophistication. Who wouldn’t want to learn about wines in Italy too? With great wine comes cuisine that includes a blend of Northern Italian and French influences, with the truffle and mushrooms as seasonal key players. Other highlights include: hunting truffles with local truffle hunter, biking emerald valleys & vineyard-laden hillsides, exclusive wine tastings and sumptuous dinners.

Riding through vineyards

Riding through vineyards

This tour happens Oct 12 – 19, 2013 and starts at $4,395 so it’s not too late to get on it!

This intermediate Piedmont bike tour covers 250 total miles and averages 40 miles per day. The trip starts with a ride from Gavi to Acqui Terme, passing Castles of Monferrato, a hilly area where each village is protected by a castle. The vineyards of Dolcetto, Cortese, and Moscato are the landmarks of this area. Fantastic food, fine wine, and a daily workout really makes this an ideal Italy holiday.

Guests cruise the vineyards of Barolo and Monforte, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Langhe Area. Along the way, Carlosa local truffle hunter will give a special demonstration with his loyal dogLara. The months of October and November see the frenzy and competition of truffle season as both hunters and buyers compete to find the wonderful fungi. Alba is the truffle capital of Italy and throughout each weekend of both months, it hosts truffle mayhem with the White Truffle World Auction and the Truffle of the Year. The International Truffle Fair is happening Oct 12 – Nov 17, 2013.

Ah, Piedmont...

Ah, Piedmont…

The landscape offers a patchwork series of vineyards as well as fruit and nut tree farms. Guests continue riding north, entering the round hills area of Monferrato. On the final day, riders head west toward Turin, capital city of Piedmont. Along the way, the route offers a rollercoaster ride up and down the lower hills of Monferrato. The last climb approaches Superga, an important monument in the hearth of all the “turineis.” From here a magnificent panorama of the 2006 Olympic site appears.

For more information check out: Italy cycling tours or visit

Sicily’s Eco Steal

Relais Torre Marabino - Sicily, Italy

This just in! Essential Italy is offering reduced rates in May at this fantastic eco-hotel in Sicily. For stays from May 15th -31st. If you  stay 5 nights and pay 4 nights on all types of rooms.

£135.00/night for 4 nights and £110.00/night for 5 nights B&B

(FYI – Usual price is £145/night)

Relais Torre Marabino

This small hotel is just a short distance from the sandy beach at Pozallo. The building dates back to the 1500’s and is now home to an eco-friendly and intimate hotel where all 7 rooms have been furnished and decorated originally; with each one given a different name of a wine produced in the cantina at Torre Marabino. The views across the Sicilian landscape from all rooms are, in one word, enchanting, and produce from the hotel’s farm is used in the kitchen. Did we also mention that they make their own fabulous organic wine – yep, the label is Torre Marabino.

Location: Ispica 3km, Siracusa 60km, Catania 110km, Palermo 302km, Modica 18km, Taormina 165km, Noto 22km, Pachino 20km

Italy on Valentine’s Day, Anyone?

Puglia, Italy

Here’s one amazingly cheap and romantic Valentine’s Deal in Italy!

Essential Italy are offering a Valentines Offer for January, February and March at this beautiful B&B in Puglia. Just £70 per room per night on a B&B basis for a minimum 2 night stay.

Masseria Due Torri, Monopoli, Puglia

A traditional 17th century stone farmhouse set in the heart of the Pugliese countryside which has been converted into a wonderfully comfortable B&B with apartment accommodation.  The elevated location is perfect with fantastic views of the countryside and the sea. The recently finished room renovations are surrounded by lovely gardens with impressive age-old olive trees which encompass the pool.

Price: £70 per night B&B per room for a couple with private use of the main hall and sitting room with log fire, and a bottle of the finest Prosecco and chocolates on arrival. During Jan, Feb and March for a minimum stay of 2 nights. Packed lunches, suppers and taxi services also available.

Flights: RyanAir fly from London Stansted to Bari. Return prices start at £90 per person.

Location: Monopoli 4km, Castellana Grotte 6km, Fasano 12km, Alberobello 10km, Bari Airport 50km, Brindisi Airport 70km

Essential Italy

Tel: 01223 460100

Taking Detox to New Heights

While hunting out the best design properties with a unique twist, we came across a little gem hidden high up in the alpine forests of… Italy!

Blending almost invisibly in to a landscape of snow-capped peaks and deep valleys, Vigilius Mountain Resort, an alpine hotel created by star architect Matteo Thun, offers the ultimate in eco-spa retreats. Only accessible by cable car or on foot, this 35-room eco-luxury hideaway benefits from a remote location with fresh mountain air, stunning vistas of green valleys studded with vineyards, pools filled with spring water and complete… silence.

The large spa follows a five pillar concept: The seclusion of the mountains, the use of pure Vigilius water, the professional spa team, the personal trainer team and the cuisine with fresh and healthy ingredients. The interaction of these five pillars is referred to as the “vigilius lifestyle” which helps guests achieve a healthy and holistic way of living.
For those in need of some legitimate serenity and detox, here this: the spa provides: 11 treatment rooms, a hot tub, an indoor pool, a sauna and a Turkish steam room. Large windows draw nature into the rooms and blur the boundaries between inside and outside, revealing unlimited views of the Dolomite Alps. The outside spa area features a sun terrace and the paradise garden, a small courtyard with 100-year-old larches.

Combining local and Asian spa traditions with premium products, there are over 40 treatments using products such as Sodashi, a range of all natural skincare products (and developers of a fabulous jet lag recovery gel). Massages and facials include unique treatments like a hay bath with local herbs and a polenta peeling with South Tyrolean apples, corn and honey. There are regular yoga workshops or lessons with the aforementioned personal trainer who carries out exercises outdoors. Of course!

The hotel is certainly a sight to see… created by focusing on the hotel’s relationship with the surrounding nature and landscape.

The principle of “organic architecture” is expressed in elements such as a grass-covered roof and the use of natural larch wood throughout. Outside, the hotel’s wooden and glass facades blend with the environment, while inside eco-friendly design prevails. The hotel has been awarded several prizes for sustainable tourism with an ecological based concept, including five green stars from Eco Hotels of the World in 2009. With 35 rooms and 6 suites the resort also features a library, piazza lounge and two restaurants with South Tyrolean and Italian contemporary cuisine.

Vigilius Mountain Resort is within driving distance of Milan, Venice, Munich, Zurich, Verona & Innsbruck and 20 minutes from Bolzano, Italy. There are 3 flights per day with ‘Air Alps’ via Rome to Bolzano and 3 flights per day via Munich to Bolzano.

So what do you say? Time for a little detox… at 4,000 feet?

Rates at around €245/night

Park Hyatt’s New Bicycle Valet Program

Ride like the wind, baby!

Eco-Hotel: Park Hyatt's Bicycle Valet Program

So we’re noticing a growing trend among hotels and resorts these days and, we must admit, we likey.  With Park Hyatt’s new Bicycle Valet program set to launch in August, you can get some fresh air and keep it eco-friendly (just make sure you take your eyes off the skies and watch where you’re going, Greenie). Park Hyatt, a fan of ours ever since they launched healthy dining options and art programs at participating properties, are now offering free bike rentals that last up to four hours, allowing plenty of time for a scenic ride, and perhaps a picnic lunch.  Park Hyatts are known for being in the best neighborhoods, just steps from a city’s defining landmark, so guests can find themselves spinning by Sydney Harbor, Piazza del Duomo, or cycling up the Magnificent Mile. Whether heading for the hills or sticking to the city streets, the new hybrid bicycles are said to be ‘comfortable and sturdy.’  The concierge will also be sure to steer you on the right path with a city biking map, bike lock, helmet, kickstand, and bottled water.


Available at participating Park Hyatts worldwide:

Moscow · Sydney · Beaver Creek · Beijing · Toronto ·Paris ·Milan · Dubai · Mendoza· Goa · Hamburg · Zurich · Washington DC · Saigon · Istanbul · Seoul · Melbourne · Buenos Aires · Chicago · Tokyo · Canberra ·

Venice, Italy: The Gondola Massage: Hotel Cipriani

l’amante. i baci. i fiori.
lover. kisses. flowers.

While perusing the latest luxuries in some of the most romantic cities in the world, we spotted this entirely unique Venetian experience, perfect for the swanky solo traveler, blushing newlyweds, or any hot-to-euro trot couple. The new “Gondola Massage” at Hotel Cipriani, one of the finest hotels in the world, is offering a 40-minute massage focusing on the back, shoulders, neck and face in a private venue near a hidden corner of the Venetian lagoon. A specially-designed mat has been embraces the shape of the gondola for comfort while the hotel’s appropriately named ‘Casanova Spa’ therapists have blended together a special oil – rich in vitamin E and F with a high SPF sunscreen, coffee oil and peach milk – to protect the skin under the sun. The experience ends with a foot massage and the opportunity to relax in the hotel’s garden with iced tea or a glass of crisp pinot grigio.

How’s that for romantic, il mio tesoro?

From $590, booked directly through Hotel Cipriani’s Casanova Spa.

Italy: The Flower of my Secret

Shhh… Italy is…
The flower of my secret.

That’s Georgia O’Keeffe’s ‘Black Iris’, but it sure does draw you in, doesn’t it? She may have found her inspiration in Santa Fe, but we’re finding it in Italy. Which reminds us of flowers, Limoncello, beauty, and a few botanically-inspired programs taking place in the country of fine wine and pasta right now (such passionate paramours of all things flowery, green, and leafy, we are). Whispered about among the upwardly-mobile artistic set, these petal-pushing programs are sure to bring out the inner O’Keeffe in you too.

HOTEL SPLENDIDO: The Discovering Herbs Package
Portofino, Italy

The word ‘love’ doesn’t capture the affaire de coeur I have with the Italian coast. Sweeping, terraced, cobbled, and cozy, it’s one of the most romantic spots on earth; reason enough to believe in true love and eternal bliss. Surreal in it’s majesty, endless in it’s scope, there’s simply no other place I’ve seen that quite compares to Italy’s fine homage to love and living.

The days, the nights, alone, or in love, Italy can be sipped slowly or downed in one long lascivious gulp. Greedy, sensual, ravenous, needy, when you leave you’ll want to cry yourself into the fetal position and ask yourself, “Why???” It’s painful to leave her no matter what you do.

Originally a Monastery, Hotel Splendido in Portofino, is among the finest accommodations in the area. A luxury villa that stands majestically on a hillside overlooking the Bay of Portofino, it’s surrounded by four acres of tropical terraced gardens of palm trees, yews, sea pines, mimosa and olive groves while the nearby harbor is full of cafes, shops, gorgeous men (whoops, did I say that?) and restaurants. So grab a girlfriend, your mom, or your husband, and see an Italian coast that’ll make you swoon. Get creative and break the botanical babe in you free.

You’ll spend two days and two nights learning how to recognize the spontaneous herbs of Liguria and their use in cookery. A course lying midway between gastronomy and botany, based on the aromas of the herbs typical of the Tigullio region. Here’s the itinerary:

Day One: A gourmet dinner for two based on local herbs, in either the Splendido Mare’s “Chuflay” restaurant or in the Splendido’s “la Terrazza” restaurant.

Day Two: Guests set off on foot at 10am for a half-day excursion on Monte di Portofino, accompanied by a botanist guide, who will explain the uses and properties of spontaneous herbs for cooking, health and beauty.

Prices start at US $1,719* per person, for a double sea view room, including flowers, full American-style breakfast and all the activities in the program.

Reservations at: or 1800 237 1236.

In addition to classes on the Italian coast, you can discover a renaissance in botanical art at properties around the world with painting classes at almost all of the Orient-Express hotels. By the end of each class, you’ll have completed a number of sketches and color works.

Fun, fun, fun!

The program for 2008 includes a variety of options. Since today we’re daydreaming about Italy, I pick:

Venice, Italy

You know about the gondolas and the city among the sea, right? There’s really not much more to say, but… look at that photo! We vote for a few days in the middle of that ancient Italian lovestory that is Venice. Go paint. Suck, or be amazing. Who cares? Just know this… if you go alone, you better have something to do. Like paint some flowers, take a big rosemary-filled breath, and drink some wine. Just don’t say I didn’t tell you so when Massimo tries to feel you up during your 80 minute massage.

Fondamenta Vetrai, Murano 50,

Tel: 041 2737211

Flower Painting Master Class: “Autumn fruits and foliage”
Sunday, October 5th – Friday, October 10th, 2008
Package price is Euro 5,365 (approx USD $7,980) plus 10% VAT. Rate for two persons, student or not, sharing a room.

Students can discover a worldwide renaissance in flower painting at an exclusive Master Class at the Hotel Cipriani taught by Siriol Sherlock.

Student Program Includes:
• Welcome at the airport or railway station by hotel representative
• Transfer on arrival and departure
• Italian Champagne and flowers in the room
• Get-together cocktail party on arrival and welcome dinner
• Daily painting Master Class
• Five nights deluxe accommodation with full American Breakfast
• Lunch and dinner daily (beverages not included)
• Farewell dinner
• Diploma

Reservations: or 1800 237 1236.

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