Luxury Hotels

And sustenance, at the super-luxury ForteVillage Resort

Mackerel tartare

In 1995 Lorenzo The Magnificent – also known as Lorenzo Giannuzzi – arrived back at what is now undoubtedly one of the world’s most amazing luxury destinations, ForteVillage Resort Sardegna. In those days there were five dining options. Now there are 21 restaurants, plus numerous bars and snack places and even a Champagne room. During her far too short stay, the gal ate magnificently, and every meal, it seemed, produced different etceteras. Look at the bread presentation, above. That was dinner outside on the terrace at Belvedere, atop the three-floor main building of the resort’s Villa del Parco hotel. Oh, that was a sensational dinner. Chef Antonello Arrus started our meal with mackerel tartare with vegetables cooked in sea-water.

Turbot, to be filleted table-side

The entire resort is half-board, though unlike cruising here you pay for alcohol (I adored the local wines, especially Tuvaoes Vermentino di Sardegna DOC and, for red, Santadi ‘Terre Brune’ Carignano del Sulcis Superiore). Many also pay extra, supplements for dining at three of the restaurants, including Gordon Ramsay’s. In addition  70% of staying guests, who have all had the opportunity for really copious breakfast buffets, and quite late if they want, then pay to eat lunch. Personally I would certainly do lunch (the seafood is SO fantastic). I would alternate, lunching first in Beach Comber and then, the following day, in Fish Market. Both are right by the beach, with open sides and lots of sea breezes. Both have sensational salad bars, where you point to what you want and a server fills an enormous bowl with, in my case, varieties of greens and the local tomatoes that are, say many, one of the keys to Sardinia’s longest-lifespan of the whole of Italy, rivalled only by a few Greek Islands.

Fritto misto

Next the fish you have already chosen from a display of today’s catch is brought, cooked as you want – one day I had breaded calamari, the next it was fillets of turbot. I lived on fish, here. One dinner I had to have the local specialty, fritto misto, with a veritable who’s who, or what’s what, of fish varieties (do the 1,200 people who work here also eat well? None seems even a pound overweight and yes, they work hard but they have a good life, which includes a regular Friday night staff barbeque). Guests could well put on weight, especially with the icecream and cookie stands around, and with a regular programme of eminent visiting culinarians. And the hotel’s own chefs are sometimes taken elsewhere to spread the word on ForteVillage’s fine cooking levels: last winter, the resort ran Gildo’s pop-up at Gstaad Palace from December through to March, and hosted a gourmet festival in Kiev this March.

A store of bottles

Pommery is main sponsor of the resort’s cooking school, but sadly there was no occasion to drink any bubbles, even Prosecco, during my stay. There was so much I did not do. On the list for next time is to find out about Barbie world, and to visit the Mahiki nightclub. I guess I should take a Deejay lesson, and watch Marvin Berglas the musician, and Anatoly Karpov teaching chess. I might even take a cooking class – see the video, below, of Gordon Ramsay teaching there. Honestly, the thing about ForteVillage Resort is that you just DO need to come back again and again and you still cannot keep up with what it has to offer. I am one of the many who simply love this place.

AND NOW FOR THE VIDEO OF GORDON RAMSAY AT FORTEVILLAGE RESORT

 

Read more
Luxury Hotels

Staying in one of the world’s most comprehensive luxury resorts

The first of the six thalasso pools

The idyllic resort that has something, or lots of things, for everyone, also known as ForteVillage Sardegna is in large part the creation of Lorenzo Giannuzzi, who is always coming up with something new. He did, admittedly, inherit a thalassotherapy spa when he arrived in 1995, but he has made what is now Aquaforte significant, says the gal – already 20% of adults staying in the total 750-room complex make at least one visit to the facility, and that number is growing every year. The team of professionals includes chiropractors, nutritionalists and such personal trainers as Ruben Tavares, who seems to relocate here from his London base for part of every summer. The gal was intrigued by many of the offerings.

Spa treatment rooms feel akin to nature

Although ForteVillage traditionally closes during winter, Aquaforte is staying open right up to December 10th, 2017, to get enthusiasts in perfect shape for the festive season (the spa’s director, Dino Mitidieri, told me how he is working with nutritionalist Elisabetta Orsi to change his body shape, purely by his diet). I did not need that, but I did have time for the six-pool thalasso sequence. This started with floating on a blue neck pillow in brown water at 37-38°, especially high in magnesium salt, with saline density 30Bè. I progressed through pools of sea oil and aloe, and trace elements, and via jacuzzi jets, finishing in pure seawater at around 26°. I felt marvellous, so full of energy, and then it was time to lie on a waterbed, with constantly changing lights, for a salt scrub followed by being massaged in honey (who was the philistine who subsequently said what a waste of all that honey?).

Look up, at nature

I love the way the entire wellness complex is indoors-outdoors – the two treatment rooms I was in both had all-wall windows looking straight into Mediterranean undergrowth. This area of Sardinia has what many say is Europe’s most ideal and temperate climate, so it is perfectly plausible to think of operating nearly until Christmas (Villa del Parco resort, just a few metres away, is staying open to accommodate determined spa-goers). As you would expect, I made good use of the hotel’s main Technogym, which has all-wall windows that open completely, overlooking the Olympic pool beneath. There are also gym pieces, along with Pilates and full assessment items, in the Performance Centre. What was this? Well, I had a balance assessment, with eyes open, eyes closed and then with teeth firmly closed, producing a printout, above, showing that a one-time gammy right foot today results in six more kilos of body weight being put on one leg.

Performance Centre assessment room

If a luxury resort, like any luxury product, makes those who interact with it feel better for the experience, ForteVillage gains 100%, no dispute. In my short stay I learned more about my body. I slept magnificently – loved having my own garden (see the video below) and I began to understand just a little bit more about how hospitality is second-nature to Italians. Could I have a coffee maker, I asked, of course saying please. Literally within 15 minutes a Segafredo machine was brought, the container was filled with a litre of water, and it was plugged in, all ready to go. I also had 20 cups and saucers, and the same number of sachets. Italians do not do anything in short measure, and this is certainly true of the food and drink at this place. Read on… BUT FIRST SEE THE VIDEO OF ROOM 150-L AT VILLA DEL PARCO

Read more
Luxury Hotels

ForteVillage Resort, Sardinia, embodies luxury lifestyle

Look up, to blue sky, Mediterranean pines

ForteVillage Sardegna (Sardinia) has something in common with Alibaba, whose creative founding CEO Jack Ma thinks he is running a country rather than a company. Well, this luxury holiday complex is similarly akin to a country, although at 63 acres it is still short of the 109 acres of the Vatican, the world’s smallest nation. Anyway, run with presidential style by the superbly inventive Lorenzo Giannuzzi, Forte Village has 750 bedrooms spread over eight resorts: especially during the peak season, August – which has a five-night minimum stay – occupancy is 100%, with 80% repeats, some for as long as three weeks. Add to this the fact that 600 of ForteVillage’s 1,200 workforce also live on-site and, says the gal, this really is a sizeable destination.

How about this for lunch?

About 65% of the hotel rooms are taken by families, so many will have more than two occupants, so it is fair to say that about 1,500, including children, are sleeping on the complex most nights. I was undoubtedly the only single-occupancy during my stay, and I was in ground-floor villa 150-L, my ideal of all the room styles. It is in Villa del Parco, with a quick entrance, via the hotel’s gorgeous back garden, to the spa and, super-important, the gym. Sports facilities are available by the dozens, a good thing as you can spend a tremendous amount of time, and consume a lot of calories, in eating magnificently. There are 21 venues in all, plus stands and kiosks in the resort’s shopping area. I arrived on the direct British Airways flight from London Gatwick and was really hungry. What a delight to go straight to a fish market, choose what you want, in my case calamari, with a superb salad buffet to start.

The 5,000-person arena prepares for Mamma Mia!

Yes, this really is a state of heaven, a small country which is always innovating. One recent addition is an arena which can seat thousands – they were rehearsing, that night, for Mamma Mia!, sorry I would not be able to stay for it (coming up are three classic-crossover singers, and then, on August 13th, 2017, Charles Aznavour). Lorenzo Giannuzzi first worked here, on reception, when he was 22 but he returned, as GM, in 1995, since when he has masterminded transformation and expansion. I likened Forte Village to one of my favourite books, Nevile Shute’s A Town Like Alice. According to the author, Alice Springs started with a generator to power the icecream machine to please the workers constructing what would become that city, in the middle of Australia. Here it all started with Mussolini planting pines to ward off mosquitoes, and later came Lord Forte, then simply Charles Forte, to build a single hotel.

Lorenzo Giannuzzi hits hard

Lorenzo Giannuzzi is forever growing his empire – coming up is an aquapark, I suspect similar to Wild Wadi at Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. In the last year he has added more retail, and yet more sports. Come to this luxury resort and, regardless which of its eight hotels you stay in, you have a choice of what he calls academies, say chess, led by Anatoly Karpov; cycling, with Cipollini; football, working with Chelsea; rugby with English international stars Will Greenwood and Austin Healey; table tennis, with Michael J. Fitch, and tennis, led by Australian coach Rocco Loccisano. As we drove past the array of tennis courts on a general recce of this entire luxury complex, there was Lorenzo Giannuzzi hitting as hard as he could – that young man is truly amazing, as we will find out…. MEANWHILE, HEAR HIM TALK, BELOW

 

Read more