A LEGEND ON LAKE COMO, AND AN OPPORTUNITY TO INDULGE IN THE DOLCE VITA LIFESTYLE.

After spending 3 days in Lake Como, situated in the foothills of the Italian Alps, I quickly learned why JFK said “It is the most beautiful lake of the world.”

Forming an upside-down Y, Lake Como is an hour’s drive north of Milan.

I had the privilege to stay at the elegant Villa D’Este in Cernobbio, designated one of the best hotels in the world by Travel & Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler and Forbes Traveler.

It is truly challenging to describe how beautiful this resort is.  Upon checking in at the Cardinal Building, I was told I would be staying in the Queen’s Pavilion, both together offering a total 152 rooms and suites.

The villa was originally built in 1568 as the summer residence for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio and was the playground of an Empress, an English Queen and aristocrats. In 1873, it was transformed into a luxury hotel and all rooms were individually decorated and furnished with antiques, silk brocade drapes, oil paintings and Como silk furnishings.

 

While being escorted to my room, I quickly became in awe of my surroundings.  To the left, 25 acres of luxuriously landscaped gardens complete with 16th-century mosaic monuments with the lower part of the gardens from the Renaissance period. To the right, the lakeside terrace and unique floating swimming pool facing the picturesque mountains.

My room overlooking the lake was classic elegance.  No two rooms in either building are alike in size or décor and are furnished with every comfort.

This hotel is the definition of sophistication; no wonder why the romances of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner, The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles began here.

This hotel is more than just a villa, it is a destination.  Upon reaching your room, you might not want to leave.  However, there are an abundance of water sports to choose from as well as the Sporting Club.  Located in the Cardinal Building this club is connected by a secret passageway offering a fitness center, sauna, squash court and much more.  Outdoors, there are hiking trails, a tennis center and trademark floating pool to choose from.  One can also enjoy playing a round of golf at the beautiful Golf Club Villa Deste, considered to be one of the most challenging par 69’s in Europe.

 

 

Have a Bellini lakeside as the sun sets before moving to the Veranda for world-class dining.

I am still dreaming of my early morning wake up calls.   Doorbell rings, and the waiter rolls in a gorgeous white linen table bearing silver pot of coffee and fresh flowers, as I glance at the morning newspaper, the windows open, in a room with the ultimate view.

For more information on weddings and honeymoons at Villa D’Este please contact Nancy Barkley, Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways.  215-793-4808.
All images courtesy of Villa D’Este.

 

 

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I INVITE YOU TO INDULGE IN THE DOLCE VITA LIFESTYLE.

After spending 3 days in Lake Como, located in the foothills of the Italian Alps, I quickly learned why JFK said “It is the most beautiful lake of the world” Forming an upside-down Y, Lake Como is an hour’s drive … Continue reading

Yachting about Italy and Croatia!

Lying back in a wooden rowboat together and entering the magical Blue Grotto in Capri Italy.

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Romantic sunset gondola ride on the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy.

 

Wine pairing at a family run winery in Sicily.

 

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Exploring Montenegro with its twisting byways, Byzantine architecture, and pitched mountains plummeting straight into the Adriatic Sea.

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Walking the medieval walls that surround Dubrovnik and then exploring what lies within the white old city.

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Visiting Split Croatia with its bustling harbor lined with cafes and Diocletians’ Palace in the center of town.

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Strolling through the streets of Rovinj, Croatia where hints of Italy are everywhere, in the signs, in the language, in the cuisine, thanks to having spent more than 500 years under Venetian rule. Romantic, quaint, and captivating, it’s Istria’s most beloved town.

 

Trip of a lifetime, you bet!  Memories that will last forever, indeed!  Can you experience this?  Absolutely, call Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways today!  215-793-4808

www.honeymoonsandgetaways.com

 

Love, Italian Style!

  1. Learn from the celebrities. Many engaged couples want to emulate the lavish celebrity weddings held overseas in some of the world’s most romantic locales. These types of celebrations are not necessarily out-of-reach of the average couple—ask local tourism boards or suppliers to recommend wedding and reception venues. You might be surprised what’s available.

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  1. Italy reigns. No surprise, Italy continues to be at the top of the list of wedding locales, with its culture, stunning landscapes and rich history—not to mention the excellent cuisine and wines. Venues range from luxury villas to medieval castles, renaissance palaces to ancient monasteries. One of the most desired locations is Chianti, in the Tuscany region, known for its stunning rolling countryside, vineyards, medieval villages and Renaissance churches.
  2. Take over an entire property. More couples are choosing to buy out an intimate venue for a weekend for the exclusive use of the wedding party and guests. During a buyout, all hotel amenities (including restaurants, lounges, spa, etc.) are open only to the wedding party and guests, assuring an exceptional, unique, unforgettable and private celebration.

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  1. Eloping is still an option. Perhaps surprisingly, more brides and grooms are choosing to run away secretly to get married. But make no mistake, this is no hurried affair, it is a sophisticated event — just one without invitations and guest lists. Today’s elegant elopements often include elaborate photo shoots in gorgeous locations and stunning wedding gowns.
  2. Fuse cultures and religions. The trend toward interfaith or multi-cultural weddings shows no signs of slowing down. You can help your clients combine and personalize the ceremony with different traditions, foods, dance, music and attire. They can recite vows in multiple languages, before officiants of differing religions. Such joint ceremonies can honor both religious and ethnic traditions.

Nancy Barkley/Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways/215-793-4808

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Highlights of Costa Rica, Mayakoba Mexico, and St. Lucia

Today’s post is by travel agent Nancy Barkley, of Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways. Nancy just returned from visiting Costa Rica, Mexico, and St. Lucia and shares with us a hotel that especially impressed her at each of these destinations.

I would like to highlight a resort from each of the three remarkable destinations I just visited. All are perfect choices for honeymooners, destination wedding couples or your next vacation.

Costa Rica

Wake up to this view from your window at The Springs Resort and Spa

Wake up to this view from your window at The Springs Resort and Spa

I am a huge fan of Costa Rica and the country’s abundance of flora and fauna, national parks, volcanoes, cloud and rain forests. Costa Rica truly offers something for everyone, the adventuresome, the wildlife lover, the sporty, and those who would like to relax and unwind in the natural hot springs.

My highlight hotel is The Springs Resort and Spa. We arrived in the evening and immediately went into their 18 mineral laden Hot Springs. When I awoke in the morning I was greeted by a picture perfect view of the Arenal Volcano. The food was exceptional as was their 14, 0000 foot spa and fitness center.

Now open is the first phase of Club Rio Outdoor Center, located directly below the resort on a beautiful stretch of the Arenal River. It is truly “a must” offering Inflatable River kayaking, river tubing, horseback tours, and more. What I liked best about this resort, in addition to the 5 star accommodations, and relaxing hot springs, were the staff. Everyone there made you feel at home and wanting to return.

Mayakoba, Mexico

Rosewood Mayakoba

Rosewood Mayakoba – on the way to breakfast

Riviera Maya, Mexico has so much to offer travelers, warm Mexican culture, perfect beaches, Mayan Caves, or shopping and dining on La Quinta Avenida.

I stayed in Mayakoba Mexico at the astounding Rosewood Mayakoba. This truly luxurious resort is surrounded by jungles and white beaches offering guests privacy, extravagance, and beauty. Villas are accessed by boat and I was greeted by my butler who checked in on me twice daily.

During my stay, their crown jewel was unveiled, Casa Laguna. This two-level villa is truly for the most discerning guest offering a chef’s kitchen, three bedroom, two master suite, and media room. Outside, 3,000 square feet of outdoor space offers private pool, show and dining deck.

The Mayakoba Complex connects 3 enchanting hotels, Banyan Tree, Rosewood, Fairmont and 18 hole Greg Norman golf course.

St. Lucia

The spa at Viceroy Sugar Beach, St. Lucia

The spa at Viceroy Sugar Beach, St. Lucia

I fell in love with the island of St. Lucia, and could not help but notice some similarities to Costa Rica, the rain forests, volcanoes, hot springs, zip lining and windy roads. St. Lucia has something for everyone as well in part because of its varied landscape and diverse culture and cuisine. I thought St. Lucia to be a truly romantic destination and the Piton Mountains are just breath taking. My highlight hotel is Viceroy Sugar Beach. Yes, I heard all the hype–Matt Damon just recently had his vow renewals at this resort and all roads were closed for some time in and out of resort. But having visited, I have to say, this resort lives up to the hype and then some. Our first visit was to the spa…think Robinson Caruso. All of the treatment rooms are in trees in the middle of the rain forest, an ideal location, very tranquil and peaceful, just the sounds of the birds in the trees. The resort has two white sand beaches with a variety of water sports. All of the accommodations, from the standard king to the four bedroom villas offer truly are truly deluxe offering lavish amenities. I don’t think you can beat the location of this resort, overlooking Sugar Beach and beneath the peaks of the twin Piton mountains, just jaw dropping.

St. Lucia is simply beautiful.

Nancy on her way to the hotel in St.Lucia, with the Pitons in the background

Nancy on her way to the hotel in St.Lucia, with the Pitons in the background