Design-led Food & Travel
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La Coluccia – Sardinia, Italy

A member of the exclusive Design Hotels portfolio, La Coluccia has a lot to live up to.  Its sleek low-rise design and chic interiors ensure it stands out amongst the traditional bland hotels that Sardinia generally has to offer and the location is outstanding: just enough north of the Costa Smeralda to avoid the bling, yet right on the doorstep of some of the finest beaches the island has to offer.  The hotel looks out onto the Arcipelago della Maddalena – a  group of islands granted National Park status in 1997 – and is only a 25 Euros cab fare away from the pretty northern port of Santa Teresa di Gallura and the jumping off point for Corsica.

Rooms are simple and contemporary but do verge on the small side.  The open-plan style bathrooms are intimate to say the least:  apart from the toilet, they are essentially configured within the actual bedroom meaning that the round shower wall provides the divide between sleeping and washing spaces.

The small team of staff are very friendly and happy to help whatever the query – look out for Marina at Reception during the day and Andreas on night duty.

SCENE:
The feel of the hotel epitomises grown up, Italian designer beach chic; the gardens are manicured within an inch of their lives, the pool and sun beds are perfectly styled and the lobby oozes dark, atmospheric lounge music.  An international mix of mostly European thirty and forty something lounge lizards, almost no children (surprising given it was the UK’s half-term week), couples on their first holiday with a new baby, several honeymooners and the odd elderly couple, made up the clientele.

FUEL:

  • Restaurant – Breakfast 8-10am; Lunch 12.30-2.30pm; Dinner 7.30-9.30pm.  Don’t even think about tipping up late, even by five minutes!The food is very good.  Breakfast is buffet style offering up all the usual suspects and while the lunch menu is short, it consists of delicious Italian staples such as melt-in-the-mouth mozzarella, juicy tomato and basil salad and fresh lobster linguine, along with nice surprises like an excellent croque monsieur.Dinner is a feast.  The evening’s set menu changes daily and consists of four courses with each course comprising two or three tapas size portions of different local dishes.  A starter might involve an out-of-this-world puff pastry log filled with pecorino cheese, aubergine and sausage pizzette and grey mullet bottarga.  If you can’t or don’t wish to eat everything, you can always opt for larger portions of just one or two of the dishes.Second course tends to consist of two small dishes, again on the same plate; perhaps a seafood risotto along with penne pasta in a delicious herby, red pesto sauce, while the third course might be something heavier like roast beef with mushrooms and grana cheese or suckling pig, plus a portion of local monkfish with capers and olives.  If that sounds hard to beat, it’s nothing compared to the pudding plate featuring three exquisitely presented portions of desserts like honey and walnut parfait, yoghurt and meringue mousse, plus chocolate and banana profiterole.

    Wine is specifically and knowledgably recommended depending on the menu with wine by the glass also noted, paired ideally to each course.

    Wine by the bottle is pricey with the cheapest local white coming in at 33 Euros but the good news is that if the bottle hasn’t been finished by the end of dinner, it’s labelled and kept aside to be polished off the following evening.

  • Bar – The über-friendly bar manager, Riccardo, will mix any cocktail expertly, bring drinks to anywhere in the hotel grounds and prepare delicious brushetta and great Italian sausage baguettes from 10am until midnight.  He’s also the man to know when you accidentally miss dinner.  With his 1950’s film star looks, flair, local knowledge, service-oriented patience and friendliness, Riccardo is surely La Coluccia’s Manager-in-waiting.

PLAY:

  • Pool – Open from 9.30am until 7.30pm, the resident Bagnino dishes out beach towels, keeps the sun beds in perfect order and presumably saves lives should they need saving.  Except between 1-3pm when he’s at lunch of course!
  • Spa – If you like your spa experience to feel like a return to the womb – warm, dark and relaxing enveloped by a mass of beautiful bizazza mosaic tiles – this one will hit the spot.  Open from 9am until 1pm, then 3pm until 7.30pm, the treatment list is concise with only one facial, a body scrub and five body massages available and prices start at 50 Euros for a 30-minute vital leg massage.
  • Boat hire – New, high quality and easy to operate Lomax/Yamaha speed boats are available to hire from the beach allowing you to visit the incredibly beautiful islands which make up the Maddalena archipelago and their stunning beaches and limpid waters.  Budelli, the Eastern side of Spargi and the Northern and South Eastern side of Caprera, are simply idyllic.  Giovanno can sort you out: full day (9am-5pm/160 Euros) or half day (1-5pm/100 Euros), cash only.
  • Car hire – The hotel uses Avis; prices are around 80 Euros a day for a small car (Fiat Punto).

VISIT DATE:
24 – 30 May 2009.

WEATHER:
Warm and sunny, 24/25°C. Breezy, with strong wind on two days but blue, cloudless skies.  Evenings often fresh and called for a cardigan or long sleeved shirt.

ACCESS:
Two-hour flight from London Gatwick to Olbia (easyJet), followed by a one-hour taxi ride (90 Euros) or a two-hour and ten minute flight from London Stansted (Ryan Air) and a further two-hour taxi drive (160 Euros).  Taxis are definitely pricier than the Rough Guide suggests!

CONTACT DETAILS:

  • La Coluccia – Localita Conca Verde, 07028 Santa Teresa Di Gallura (t : +39 0789 758 004 / lacoluccia@mobygest.it / www.lacoluccia.it).

TOP TIPS:
The hotel is pretty isolated so take plenty of Euros for taxis and boat hire – there’s a cash point at Olbia airport.  Always agree prices in advance for things like airport transfers and check for hidden costs such as the additional cost of petrol used when hiring a boat, or before accepting a glass of wine from the hotel following a missed dinner.  The cost of Wi-Fi can be reduced significantly by agreeing a package with Nadia, the hotel’s officious Manager.

THE FAT MOUSE VERDICT:

  • The Good – Chill out heaven.  The gardens are large and utterly peaceful, leading down to La Coluccia‘s private beach.  The views and proximity to the Maddelana islands are unparalleled and apart from booze, boat and car hire, there’s really little else to distract from the tough business of relaxation and enjoying the sunshine.
  • The Bad – Wi-Fi costs an astonishing 10 Euros an hour.  The restaurant could be more flexible – flights are late, people sometimes get times confused, dietary requirements are becoming more and more the norm – and the beach really needed a seaweed sweep before the new season kicked off.

MACARON RATING:
O O O O 1/4

2 comments

1 sandra407 { 09.09.09 at 3:34 pm }

Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

2 Divine { 04.14.11 at 1:18 pm }

Love the dark tall planters/pots in the picture and the way they contrast with the white simplicity of the walls. I doth think a holiday in Sardinia beckons.

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