There really is nothing quite like the Villa d'Este and Lake Como. I have been exploring Italy now for over 15 years and it is definitely one of my favorite spots in Italy, if not the world. Now I have a lot of traveling to do and places yet to see, but this ranks number one on my list so far.
This hotel, staff, setting, food, guests….it has it all – and they know it. But despite the style and sophistication there is most definitely and underlying feeling of family with the staff. Again, as in most of my travels in Italy, I have the same staff, waiters and bartenders every year. It really makes it special especially when you return a year later and they remember your cocktail and how you like it. Now that is service.
The hotel is fabulous but so are the grounds and gardens. Spectacular!!! Set alongside Lake Como the gardens gracefully dance up the hillsides while spectacular water features trickle every melodically down the Italian cypress lined alle’s. Pictures, as beautiful as they are, cannot come close to capturing the splendor of the experience.
Well, after a 5 -7 hour drive, my travelers were ready for a little R and R. The rooms are exquisite and have the roll down black-out shades on the windows. So with these down you have no clue what time of day or night it is when you wake up. I remember once in a hotel in Barcelona nearly losing a whole day because of the black-out shades. Isabel and I slept in until 9:15 which was very nice. We awoke to beautiful hazy lakeside sunshine. We made our way to the hotel dining room for a lovely breakfast and hellos from our travelers as they slowly drifted in to start their day.
Nothing was on the agenda for the day with the exception of a surprise 5 hour cocktail boat ride on the lake to Belagio and then dinner on an island in the lake, Evelyn Jung, who runs my business and so expertly choreographs this trip each year, texted me the surprise final addition to the trip itinerary! My travelers were excited but truly had no clue as to what they were in for, Evelyn, who had went on last year’s trip and put together Isabel and my surprise wedding, obviously knew how I like to end these trips with a grand finale’ and this year was going to be no exception.
After a relaxing day of massages at the spa – compliments of Isabel as an anniversary gift – napping, shopping, and lunch at the poolside veranda, it was time to rendezvous at the terrace bar for cocktails and then to board our boat. We boarded at 6pm just as the magic hour of sunlight was dancing on the hills. We made our way northward in the lake past the houses of Sir Richard Bransom, Dolce Gabanna and of course, George Clooney. Slowly we made our way to the village of Belagio as the last glow of indigo light teased our senses in contrast with the golden twinkle of the lights of Belagio, Magical.
The boat ride home was beautiful with the darkness broken only by the gold twinkle light of the villages smattered on the hills, the moonlight, and the revolving beacon from the lighthouse on the hill. It all seemed like a dream – and yes it was a dream.
The next day was more the same, sleeping in, enjoying some downtime and then a wonderful farewell cocktail on the terrace and dinner in the dining room of course with none other than George Clooney himself…. J