Cala di Volpe, or the Bay of the Fox is a seductive, secluded, sultry enclave hidden in the eastern corner of Sardinia. Its where its namesake, the Cala Di Volpe Hotel, was born, during the hedonistic era of the sixties; a playground for the Aga Khan and his equally exuberant friends.
Designed in 1963 by Jacques Couelle, the hotel is a Gaudi-esque masterpiece, permeated with colour. The steps leading to the first floor undulate in rainbow-coloured stone. The walls are silky cream, dusted with an orangey pink. Dark beams wrap around the ceiling. Smooth round edges and bubble-like windows frame the view of the bay, all through light enhancing stained glass. Gaudí said that colour was the expression of life, and here it is in abundance. Exclusivity doesn’t come much better than this.
The drive from Olbia airport takes twenty minutes. Twenty minutes through gorse-covered mountains with breath-taking views of the turquoise Tyrrhenian Sea. Along the Costa Smeralda luxury hotels shimmer like diamonds on Marilyn Monroe’s décolletage. Its sparkling, exuberant reputation is still intact.
Arrive, bracing yourself for the stimulating views, disarming your city-buzz right from the lobby. Gaze past the masterpiece flower arrangements to a miniature port and the magnitude of richesse becomes apparent. Some of the world’s most expensive yachts are moored, basking in the bay; while their owners sip prosecco, no doubt conjuring up the means to secure their next million.
The check-in is efficient, modern. Touchscreen means you are ready for the pool at a quicker than normal pace. The smell of fresh orchids envelops you, a jar of Lindt filled chocolates beckons. The lobby is furnished with exclusive boutiques, an arcade of temptation. Vintage Prada bags and precious diamonds draw you in. De Grisogono of Geneva, one of the world’s finest jewellers takes pride of place, complete with beefy security guards. If you need it, the cash machine is hidden behind a pretty, wooden painted box, keeping the vulgarity of cash to a minimum.
Open your room and smell the fresh orchids, alongside a very welcome bottle of Astoria Prosecco and succulent plump strawberries. The rooms are fresh, pretty, delicate. The weighty metal doors contrast perfectly with the light painted walls and Italian paintings. There are wooden mirrors, whitewashed walls, terracotta tiles, chests of drawers on wheels, with painted fish and boats and of course the fox logo on the rugs. The wardrobes are painted in triangle mesh, greens and yellows, cool white sofas and black metal lamps are eloquently placed.
A brilliant blue link door nestles in a yellow archway on the ornate orange balcony. You get the idea, colour is everywhere. As a perfect finishing touch, Aqua di Parma is in the bathroom alongside handmade ceramics. Now that is classy.
From the balcony, the view of the bay and pool is memorising. The largest salt water pool in Europe is set in luscious green manicured surroundings, with soft padded deck chairs. An outdoor barbeque and bar is available for refreshments alongside a mini outdoor gym with views of the Bay. It enables you to run and stare at the superyachts at the same time – contemplating where it all went right.
A boat leaves every twenty minutes from the pool side to go to the private beach. The beach is five minutes away – you could walk, but a boat ride is much more in stylish. In the evening, a piano player serenades you in the lobby bar. Indulge yourself with a cocktail from their vast collection and debate the iconic architecture.
Dinner at the Cala Restaurant is exceptional. The waiters dress in cravat noire, short-waisted jackets with fox pins in their lapels. Riedel glassware adorns the tables. The view stretches out as far as the eye can see, framed with flickering gaslight.
Begin with the marinated swordfish antipasti, followed by the prawn risotto with peas. Seafood is the order of the day, seabass fillet, dorade with mandarin and lavender sauce. Traditional caviar is available on request. Finish-up with the delectable tiramisu, or the Italian gelato, naturalemente. Attention to detail is exceptional.
There is an indoor gym and a beauty salon on-site. Or, why not try the wine tasting at La Cave, with over 400 bottles of the world’s finest wines to sample, you could be there for hours, possibly on your back after one.
If you choose to venture further up the Costa, you can dine with exceptional experiences also on offer; maybe sample a day out in an elegant lobster boat, navigating the waters of the Mediterranean.
The Cala di Volpe hotel is sleek and stylish, outfoxing its competitors with its grandeur and style. What the lion cannot manage, the fox can do; this is certainly true of this small but exquisite Sardinian retreat.
Stays at Cala di Volpe start from €420 / £360 per room per night in June and September and from €1,360 / £1,160 per room per night in July and August, based on two people sharing a Classic Double room on a B&B basis. www.caladivolpe.com; +39 (0789) 976111