A Mediterranean island visit is high on the list of most people's dream vacations, however, Sardinia has never quite reached the popularity of islands like the Balearic's or the Greek enclaves which is a blessing in disguise if you want an escape filled with authenticity and warm local hospitality.
The fact that flights to Sardinia are relatively high when compared to long-haul flights might be one of the reasons for the relatively smaller number of tourists that visit the region. However, the gregarious, Sardinian hospitality more than makes up for this as we encountered during our stay at Gabbiano Azzurro hotel and suites. The hotel is situated in the scenic north-eastern quarter of the island in Golfo Aranci blessed with nature's best: sun, sea, and sand.
The hotel has a soothing turquoise and white palate that extends from the reception area to the comfort of your room. It is currently undergoing a gradual program of renovations, so as to bring a very modern experience to a family-run, independent hotel that has been operating for a number of years.
Budget-permitting, the jewel in the crown of the hotel are their luxury pool suites with your own 23m squared seawater pool and sunbeds where you can admire the sensational Sardinian landscape and the surrounding sea. Even if you don't opt for one of these suites, their recently renovated seawater hotel pool has been beautifully sculpted to blend in with the surroundings and you actually feel like you are swimming in the sea; if you don't feel like walking a few metres further down to their actual private beach. Their staff kindly explained to me they even have an “underwater museum” not far from the beach where you can dive and see ancient, historic sculptures.
The culinary experience is a must-try at Gabbiano Azzurro with the white restaurant serving the buffet breakfast as well as the half board all-inclusive dinner whilst the blù restaurant is an absolute gastronomic gem created by head chef, Daniele Sechi. You can discover many hidden Sardinian creations not often seen in continental Italy. They offer tantalising options such as purple prawns with asparagus and mayo; seafood is a major part of the island especially in the Golfo Aranci region where the first fisherman settlers came to from continental Italy. They use bottarga in a lot of their pasta dishes to add umami flavours and finally, there are many signature pasta dishes from the island such as homemade black fregula. You can finish the evening with a Mirto liqueur which is a local herb-based drink and they use the same herb to offer a fragrant smell for their shower gel.
What makes a stay at this hotel a unique experience is the sheer number of activities they offer. Pasta lovers can learn how to make Su Filindeu which is reputedly the rarest pasta in the world and even Jamie Oliver failed to make it when he took a trip to Sardinia.
Alternatively, you can take a day trip along the Costa Smeralda coastline and visit places like Porto Cervo which is the St Tropez equivalent on the island with multi-million-pound yachts lining the marina along with designer brands you would find in the chicest capitals of the world. Some of the most expensive houses on the island are based here although they are not easy to spot as they tend to be quite secluded. You can also visit the very up-and-coming local village of San Pantaleo with picturesque boutique shops.
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