Hotel Of The Week: L'Albereta, Italy
So you're striving for a fit and fresh new you... That doesn't mean you can't indulge just a little. At L'Albereta, in Italy's Franciacorta, they know all about wellbeing - and luxury
Sunday 30 April 2006
One of northern Italy's little-known gems, the Franciacorta area's lush, undulating landscape, studded with castles and abbeys, is the ideal backdrop for L'Albereta. A rambling 19th-century villa, covered in Virginia creeper, the hotel seems to rise organically out of the vine-covered hills on which it stands.
Home to a world-class restaurant and equally impressive spa, L'Albereta's approach to a luxurious break covers all bases. Yet despite the grandeur of the setting, the atmosphere is homely - probably because both the hotel and the vineyards that surround it are owned and run by a family. Papa Moretti tends the Bella Vista grapes while his daughter Carla runs the hotel. (Guests can take wine-tasting tours.)
At the helm of the restaurant, which has two Michelin stars, stands the legendary Italian chef Gualtiero Marchesi. The L'Albereta's spa, meanwhile, is the province of Dr Henri Chenot, who is also a leader in his field.
Detox, diet, hydrotherapy, massage and beauty treatments are the principal ingredients of the spa's menu, but the set packages - and Chenot likes his guests to choose one and stick to it - coverweight, stress, anti-ageing and overall health.
The spa's unique selling point is the bio-energetic testing; guests are wired to a computer via their "energy points", and the results, claims Chenot, reveal the toxins in their bodies.
L'Albereta stands just above the small town of Erbusco, 5km west of Lake Iseo and 60km east of Milan.
The comfort factor
Expect no-details-spared luxury translated into Mediterranean-ethnic style. There are Sardinian lampshades, warm rugs on wooden floors, refreshing frescoes of vineyards and a soothing array of contemporary art. All 57 rooms are individually decorated and all 17 suites have four-poster beds. The ultra-swish Honey Room even has a retractable glass roof.
Outdoors, the landscaped garden is overlooked by an indoor pool, Jacuzzi and sauna complex, with teak sunbeds on a terrace providing a pleasant place to relax.
Jacuzzi baths, super-fluffy towels and pleasantly musky products from Italian fashion house Etro make for a super-deluxe soak. Those in the Lake Tower have showers which double as Turkish baths.
The food and drink
Marchesi's dishes look like Avant Garde artworks yet retain their Mediterranean flavours. Highlights include the sculptural amuse gueules and saffron risotto topped with a generous flake of gold leaf.
However, clients following the spa packages are recommended to stick to one of the diet menus proposed by Mr Chenot - think low-fat and salt-free with a tisane instead of a pudding.
There are foodies, Milanese businessmen and bankers, Italian footballers and their molls, plus young couples treating themselves to a child-free weekend.
Go online and visit stradadelfranciacorta.it for some useful wine-tasting itineraries in English. For a freshwater-fish lunch, head to the shores of nearby Lake Iseo. The national park of Capo di Ponte is home to a group of 8,000-year-old rock paintings.
There are lifts but no other facilities for visitors with disabilities.
From €230 (£160) per night for a double room. Breakfast is an extra €27. A Spa Weekend four-night package is €1,818 per person with full board, including diet menu and spa programme. The three-night Honey Room package costs €1,190 per person, including b&b, massage, a light lunch and a day trip to Venice with a private boat tour of the lagoon. All rates are based on two sharing. A three-course dinner at Gualtiero Marchesi costs €100 a head with a bottle of house wine.
L'Albereta, Via Vittorio Emanuele 11, 25030 Erbusco (Brescia) Italy (00 39 030 77 60 550; www.albereta.it).
LIKED THAT? TRY THESE
* The Park Hotel Kenmare (00 353 64 412 00; www.parkkenmare.com) combines old-fashioned Irish hospitality with the cutting edge Samas spa.
* Le Mas Candille (00 33 4 92 28 43 43; www.lemascandille.com) is an 18th-century farmhouse with an award-winning spa near Mougins on the Côte d'Azur in France.
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 4 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 5 Why you're almost certainly more like your father than your mother
The best time to book flights – region by region
The Atlas of Beauty: Photographer travels around the world to capture cultural diversity through stunning portraits of women
The 10 Best lightweight luggage
The 10 Best hiking boots
Singapore named the most expensive city in the world for second year running
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...
£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...
£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...