For a relaxing coastal resort not too far from home, north Sardinia holds the answer, discovers Lyndsey Hubbard
Just two hours from London Gatwick, north Sardinia feels like a tropical paradise. If you're looking for a European destination where you can relax and enjoy stunning beaches, delicious traditional cuisine and breathtaking views, then this is the ideal location for a romantic mini-moon.
With budget flights leaving London on a daily basis and landing in Olbia – an hour away from the resort I stayed at – it's an accessible destination for those not wishing to stray too far from home.
During my trip I stayed at the five-star Resort Valle dell'Erica Thalasso & Spa, owned by Delphina Hotels, overlooking the beautiful archipelago of La Maddalena. As our coach drove down the small windy road leading towards it, I got my first glimpse of the beautiful coastline that would be my view for the next few days.
My room was in the new Hotel La Licciola, which opened in May, 2013. The accommodation is set within the island's natural habitat, resplendent with greenery and blooms, with the scent of Mediterranean herbs, such as jasmine, rosemary and juniper filling the air.
The new development boasts three seawater swimming pools with interconnecting waterfalls, all with views across the ocean. For honeymooners, a section of the Hotel La Licciola is reserved exclusively for adults and children over six years old, providing guests with extra peace and quiet. The new area also features two restaurants, one of which serves traditional Sardinian cuisine, while the other is an enticing pool-side bar that you can swim up to.
Every part of the hotel is designed with views of the sea, from the windows in the showers to eating dinner on the restaurant verandas. Waking up to this panorama was a highlight of my trip, while relaxing on the sun lounger on my private terrace was definitely my idea of heaven.
The Le Thermae Thalasso & Spa Centre is a fabulous place for total relaxation and pampering. You'll be spoilt for choice if you want a chilled-out afternoon, with the spa offering a thalasso circuit of four seawater swimming pools at different temperatures, 15 rooms for massage and beauty treatments, a hammam (Turkish bath), sauna and relaxation area. I indulged in leg, neck and shoulder massages, and would definitely recommend booking a treatment or two during your stay.
During my time in Sardinia, I also visited a number of other hotels in the area, including the five-star Hotel d'Orso, another exceptional destination for honeymooners. This romantic location is surrounded by wild olive groves, junipers and enchanting beaches. There are 84 rooms, including achoice of 12 junior suites, one presidential suite and 20 executive and cardinal junior suites. The on-site L'Incantu Thalasso & Spa Centre is another enticing place for some much-needed pampering and relaxation.
However, Sardinia is much more than beautiful hotels, indeed the scenery is incredible. As you travel through the second largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, you’ll notice the enormous granite rock set in the hillsides, some of which was used to build New York’s Statue of Liberty. And due to the wealth of places to visit in north Sardinia, I’d certainly encourage venturing out of the hotel – no matter how luxurious! I took a boat trip around La Maddalena archipelago, a group of islands in the Straits of Bonifacio between Corsica and northeastern Sardinia. During the trip I stopped off at the town of La Maddalena for a couple of hours to explore the small cobbled streets, before sitting outside a café in the sunshine and soaking up the atmosphere. And if you’re a coffee fan, this blend was to die for.
I also visited the pretty town of Porto Cervo, a gorgeous location for a romantic stroll around the harbour where you may even spy a celebrity or two.
A spot of wine tasting at the Vigne Surrau followed where I was given a tour of the vineyard before sampling a selection of mouth-watering local tipples, while enjoying beautiful views across the fields. This is a good time to mention the amount of food the Sardinians like to ply you with. At the wine tasting I was given a selection of cheeses, meats and bread, and with each lunch and evening meal a spread of tasty treats was brought to my table before the main event. Just remember not to fill up too much on the appetisers!
A visit to the Ethnographic Museum of Aggius in the ancient stone village of Gallura was a fascinating way to discover more about the history and culture of the surrounding area.
The local people are what make Sardinia so special, as well as the relaxed way of life. There's plenty to explore and peace and quiet to be had, and if you're lucky you may stumble across a hidden beach tucked away ready for you to enjoy.
For more information, visit the website www.delphina.it
Taking a boat trip around La Maddalena archipelago. The adrenaline rush of our boat speeding along was exhilarating. Note: take a waterproof jacket and hold on tight! Lunch at the Hotel Capo d'Orso's Gil Olivastri resturant. The swordfish was the best I've ever tasted, and the tiramisu was out of this world. Massages at Le Thermae Thalasso & Spa Centre. Relaxing on the bed surrounded by tranquil music and candlelight was the most calm I've felt in ages. Sundowners on the terrace at Li Ciusoni – life doesn't get much better.
Where to StayResort Valle dell'Erica Thalasso & Spa www.hotelvalledellerica.com
Capo D'Orso Thalasso & Spa www.hotelcapodorso.com
There's no shortage of hotels in Gallura, but for the ultimate relaxing honeymoon experience I'd recommend either Resort Valle dell'Erica Thalasso & Spa or Capo D'Orso Thalasso & Spa.
Honeymoon packages at Resort Valle dell'Erica Thalasso & Spa
Each couple gets three free entrances per person (on reservation) to the Wellness Centre Le Thermae with use of the thalasso pools, Turkish bath, sauna, cardio fitness room and relaxation area. In addition honeymooners are given three golf lessons for beginners, a Delphina gift and a typical Sardinian silver wedding ring for the bride. There's also the possibility to spend a day at the Hotel Capo d'Orso Thalasso & Spa (reservation has to be made at the hotel, transfer not included).
If you're planning on a longer trip and are staying for more than seven days, you can also purchase a choice of two anniversary packages that include options such as romantic beach dinners, wine tasting and spa treatments.