When I think of Italy, I conjure up thoughts of sparkling coastlines, fine food and ancient history. Having never visited before, it seemed like the perfect destination for the second leg of my honeymoon.
Following the theme of romance, we start our journey where my favourite pair of star-crossed lovers began theirs in Verona.
As we enter the arrivals lounge, our hotel driver is ready and waiting to whisk us away to stop number one. After approximately an hour’s drive, including a brief Italian lesson, courtesy of our driver Raphael, we get our first glance of this beautiful country.
Perched high on a hillside on the outskirts of picturesque Gargnano village, surrounded by lemon trees and olive groves, Lefay Resort & Spa gives you the opportunity to escape from it all.
This breath-taking eco resort was designed to reduce its environmental impact and blends beautifully into 27 acres of surrounding natural park overlooking the lake.
Founded and still run by the Leali family, their philosophy is to create a concept of overall wellness. As part of this principle the whole resort was designed and created with the aim of achieving full environmental sustainability.
Thermal energy is produced using a wood chip biomass plant creating an annual Co2 reduction worth about 510 tons. Rainwater is collected and used for the irrigation of green areas while solar and photovoltactic panels produce about 60% of the demand for electric energy. It’s eco luxury at its finest.
Greeted with a refreshing welcome drink and hot hand towels, we gather our first impressions on the terrace whilst taking in the spectacular views, ready to relax in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.
This retreat has won numerous awards for its exceptional spa that offers a range of wellness experiences. Describing itself as a ‘Temple of Wellness’, it spans 3,800 square metres
Here, you’ll find everything from traditional treatments to wellness programmes that focus on improving sleep and posture. It fuses the principles of classical Chinese Medicine and Western scientific research through their dedicated programmes aimed to help you achieve your health and wellness goals.
Whilst hubby took time out to relax by the salt water infinity pool overlooking dazzling views of the lake, I have my very own “Discovery” health programme created for me. After a brief consultation with the hotel’s spa doctor, I am given my personalised itinerary for the next two days.
We discuss everything from my sleeping patterns to exercise regimes. After this I am prescribed a special herbal tea to be drunk three times a day, along with three treatments to tackle my blocked energy and a gentle yoga session to help me relax. At this point I am feeling rather pampered.
If that wasn’t enough, my husband and I were also given some time to spend in the salt cave. For 20 minutes we had exclusive use floating in this magnificent underground cave – just perfect for honeymooners like us.
Nothing is standard at the Lefay Resort, not even the rooms (all of which are actually suites). Sustainability and the surrounding natural environment were kept in mind when designing them, with just 93 suites the resort has an intimate and exclusive feel.
We stayed in a deluxe junior suite on the first floor, which came complete with a private balcony and beautiful views of the lake. Contemporary design, modern furnishings and high-end amenities compliment the resort’s plush vibe and distinct charm.
Bright and spacious, each room features a walk-in wardrobe, (which my husband was mightily impressed with), plus its own seating area, a large marble bathroom with a bath tub that peers right through the bedroom to share views of the lake, a walk-in shower and a separate WC.
My favourite addition to this room was the remote-control blinds, with the flick of a switch it could be day or night in seconds.
Also provided for us during our stay were Lefay’s white fluffy dressing gowns, slippers and a branded tote bag. No need to worry about getting changed five times a day, slip on a gown and away you go.
Describing its food as ‘vital gourmet’ cuisine, the gastronomic offerings at Lefay second to none.
The two restaurants, the rustic Trattoria La Vigna and the more romantic La Grande Limonaia serve up delicious dishes offering a modern take on the Mediterranean diet, only fresh and seasonal local produce is used. The menu is healthy without compromising on taste.
What I quickly fell in love with about Italy was the appetiser of crusty bread and oil served before each meal. Lefay produces its own extra virgin olive oil from the olive groves on site which you will get to sample before anything else.
We were lucky enough to experience both restaurants over the course of our two-night stay but not before taking a visit to the hotel bar, where you can enjoy an aperitif whilst listening to the resident pianist play your favourite tunes, it really sets the mood!
Although Lefay promotes health and wellness this is not a boot camp. If you want a glass of wine or the all carb pasta dish– have them. It’s all up to you.
This hotel is modern but with a touch of Italian charm. The resort’s staff are extremely friendly and attentive but not over fussy. After spending a couple of days in a mountainside retreat of luxury, not only did I feel calm and relaxed but ready to take on the next part of our adventure in Tuscany.
As day three approached we were a little sad to be leaving. After a buffet breakfast, we were collected by the hotel driver and waved goodbye to the gates of Lefay as we headed to the local train station to catch our train to Florence.
Address: Via Angelo Feltrinelli, 136, 25084 Gargnano BS, Italy
Phone: +39 0365 241800