Seeking Solitude: How to Explore Sardinia’s Southern Coast by Superyacht
by Risa Merl
Combining raw natural beauty with a touch of luxury Sardinia’s southern coast has plenty to tempt superyachts ashore. Risa Merl sets sail to the wild side of the island
During the peak summer months superyachts jostle for space in front of the high-end hills ofSardinia’s Porto Cervo. Celeb-laden tenders arrive in the docks and the cash registers merrily trill in the surrounding designer boutiques but for those that seek it there is a subtler side to Sardinian glamour. Nestled at the southernmost end of the Italian island, Forte Village is a place where you can relax fully in privacy, where the kids can play safely, and where Michelin star cuisine pairs perfectly with laidback living.
In this way, Forte Village offers the same sort of relaxed luxury that will appeal to the superyacht set, though blink and you might miss it if you’re passing by on your yacht. Tucked beneath the lofty branches of the elegant Italian stone pine trees and set against the pure cerulean sea, the sprawling resort does well to blend in with its natural surroundings.Carefully camouflaged by the surrounding nature is a resort that has 10 different accommodation options, 21 different restaurants – often helmed by celebrity chefs – and a long list of activities for kids and adults alike.
This wilder side of Sardinia invites guests to connect fully with nature. Upon arrival, I shake off the cobwebs of an early morning flight from London with a rousing hike along a picturesque coastal trail. The path begins at Chia Beach, which is regarded as one of the best in Italy, let alone Sardinia. The beach is overlooked by a tower, which our hiking guide tells us was originally built to fend off pirate attacks. The only thing I need fend off today, however, is the desire to take a picture at every single beautiful vista we see along the way – and there are many. The trail winds along the coast, and at the end through a flower-filled meadow.
The other way to appreciate these picturesque vistas is by boat so the next day I set sail along the same stretch of coastline, stopping in little coves of turquoise water that I only saw from above on the hike. I stop and swim further along the coast, marveling at the clear waters that make the sea seem more like a swimming pool as you can see the bottom so clearly.
Getting to Forte Village is easy from your yacht, simply arrange for the tender drop you off at the long dock that leads from the property’s beach. You can decide to step ashore for a few hours to sample the spa or the five-star dining, or perhaps instead you cap off your yacht holiday with a few nights stay before or after the cruise in one of the property’s myriad accommodation options. This runs from luxury beachside bungalows to sprawling private villas or even boutique hotels, with their own private grounds set within the resort. The Villa del Parco, for instance, is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World and offers another level of privacy and tranquility.
The Villa del Parco is also close to the Aquaforte Spa, which is considered one of the best spas in the Mediterranean. This is not your typical spa experience – though you can get all pampering treatments one would desire, of course, from Ayurvedic massage treatments to lush facials. But what makes the Thalasso Spa unique is its circuit of six therapeutic pools. Created in collaboration with the Thalasso Research Centre at Milan University, each of the six pools has a different salt density, which are designed to detox and soothe the body. The first pool is even saltier the Dead Sea – so don’t open your eyes in there, but instead float, quite easily thanks to the salt content, on your back and let the minerals do their work.
If you don’t want to share your salty spa experience, you don’t have to. Forte Village has just opened a new Private Spa. There are just three pools, but you have them all to yourself, as well as a private garden and dining area. The first is a sea oil pool, which combines magnesium with hot water to detox the body; the second pool is a saltwater whirlpool, which stimulates circulation in the body; and the third pool is of high saline density, which promotes the release of toxins from the body, and is also an ideal spot to have an in-water massage treatment. The Aquaforte Spa is inspired by the ancient Roman town of Nora, an important archaeological site which we visit during our stay that was once home to thermal baths.
While you soak up the healing waters of the spa, you can rest assured that this is a safe place for the kids to run free. The family-friendly enclave has a waterpark and its “children wonderland” kids club area, but what stands out above the rest is its sports programme. Kids can take part in trainings and courses with international champions in their field, such as the stars of the Chelsea Football Club who come to teach kids under 16 in the sporting academy. For sport families, this place is a dream come true, with everything from fencing and golf to tennis and watersports on offer.
The entire property exudes low-key glamour, but wander deeper into the Forte Village compound, and you’ll find some more overt glamour within in the Piazza Luisa. This plaza has high-end shops from Versace to Givency and Balenciaga to Brunello Cucinelli. There is also a lovely wine bar where you can have a wine tasting with Forte Village’s sommeliers and sample local Sardinian wines.
While exploring the wild beauty of southern Sardinia, Forte Village is the perfect place to pop ashore for a night out. First, there is the excellent dining, with a new restaurant by Michelin-rated chef Heinz Beck recently opened. Before dinner, stop at the waterfront, tiki-themed Mahiki for a custom cocktail and sunset views. Forte Village also hosts epic parties and concerts in the summer season, with the likes of Sting and Nile Rogers & CHIC appearing in the open-air Forte Arena theatre, which also serves as the stage for opera and ballet performances. Try a bit of your own dancing at the Discotheque, with DJs and bands taking the celebrations into the wee hours of the morning. It’s only a short walk back to the beach where your tender can sweep you away to the mothership.
Though northern Sardinia might traditionally attract the superyacht set, there is certainly something to be said for the wild and beautiful southern Sardinia, served up with a side of luxury, of course.
Get there: Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.co.uk; 01242 547 703) offers six nights at Forte Village Resort on a half board basis, with private transfers and return flights from £1,340pp based on two people sharing.