Sleepover: Grand Hotel Punta Molino Terme
A bed for the night on Ischia
Sunday 20 February 2005
Set in a pinewood park on the east coast of the island of Ischia in the Bay of Naples, overlooking the fortress island Castello Aragonese.
A good-value, five-star sleepover with a thermal spa and beauty centre. Many of the treatments - such as fangotherapy, hydromassage, inhalation therapies, thermal baths and acquagym - exploit the mineral-rich waters bubbling out of the island's volcanic springs. A touch of radioactivity, unique to this part of the island, is thought to make the water particularly beneficial for troublesome joints and muscles, skin complaints and respiratory problems. Luxurious beauty treatments based around the hotel's own-label thermal products, leave skin ultra-soft and radiant.
The comfort factor
Built in 1974, the hotel has a modernist exterior that features sinuous white curves and a multi-level flat roof. There are three pools - two thermal (one indoors) and one large freshwater - plus a private beach and tranquil gardens. Indoors, the lobby and salon are furnished with an eclectic mixture of antiques and tapestries. Bedrooms offer modern comfort and sparkling cleanliness rather than high design. Do ask for a seaview.
The usual luxuries - fluffy robes, power showers etc - are jazzed up by the presence of local, hand-painted ceramic tiles. Some of the more expensive rooms feature hydromassage bathtubs that soothe the bones with ozone-rich waters. Ask, if you want one.
The food and drink
Tempting half-board prices, and light, Mediterranean cooking ensure a full dining-room most nights. Guests can choose from an à la carte menu or opt for the buffet, which offers more than 60 types of antipasti, vegetables, salads, grilled meat and fish. At 12.30 every day, pareo-clad diners gather around the poolside barbeque. After dinner, guests take to the floodlit dance floor around the pool.
August sees bourgeois Italian families on their summer beach holidays. In spring and autumn, older Italians come for the curative waters. There is also a growing number of young British couples in search of a good-value, Mediterranean spa break.
The island's verdant, mountainous landscape is carpeted with wild flowers and unspoilt by high-rises thanks to fierce building restrictions. Just two minutes walk from the hotel, Ischia Ponte looks like an old-fashioned fishing town yet buzzes with bars, restaurants and shops. Stock up on fashionable beachwear and pretty, local ceramics. For a day trip, take the CD 2 bus from nearby Ischia Port to the Poseidon Thermal Gardens on the west of the island, a spa-lover's paradise with 12 outdoor pools and a sauna grotto. Entry €18 (£12.50)
Too many steps make it unsuitable for wheelchairs.
Double room on half-board basis from €125pp (£87), depending on the season. Citalia offers seven nights at the Grand Hotel Punta Molino Terme from £899 per person from 1 April-5 May 2005. Based on two sharing, the price includes dinner, b&b accommodation, return flights from Gatwick to Naples and return transfers. Alternatively, three nights costs from £613 per person.
Grand Hotel Punta Molino Terme, Lungomare C. Columbo, 23, 80070 Ischia. Tel: 00 39 081 991 544; www.puntamolino.it
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