When you think of Tuscany, you might be dreaming of Florence, Siena, or Chianti but have you ever got off the beaten track and visited more local areas in the south of Tuscany such as Orbetello and Porto Ercole? I escaped to the region recently and discovered the tranquil charms of Argentario Golf Resort and Spa and the surrounding historic towns.
This stunning dragon-fly shaped hotel was inaugurated in 2008. It’s not hard to see why this resort has been winning plaudits after famed interior designer, Andrea Fogli from Milan, was tasked with creating an elegant, original construction, and that he has certainly achieved. Instead of the traditional rustic, sun-baked look with crumbling stone patios, you have a black and white motif that has a slightly retro, Bond villain-lair feel, especially with the smart fluorescent lighting in the reception area that glows brightly at night. The ginormous Ottoman-style white, fluffy seating delivers that added sense of theatre to the reception area.
One of the founding principles is respect for the environment, hence you will find the hotel is built to blend in with the landscape rather than jarring with its surroundings. You will still find plenty of the native olive trees present on their well-respected 18-hole golf course; it is also the only property licensed by the Professional Golfers Association and you might even come across local wild boar, deer, and hares whilst you are hiking or golfing around.
The four floors are neatly organised into their separate room categories. The fourth floor is ideally where you want to end up with seven ultra-luxury suites which have been individually designed to suit a particular theme. The sporty ones should book the spa loft with their own Kinesis Technogym and Turkish bath whilst the home suite has all your at-home luxuries, including a free-standing tub in the bathroom and a breakfast room with a coffee corner and the largest terrace space (75 m²) amongst all the suites.
However, if you are visiting with a large family or a group of close friends, then the resort’s plush villa options would be the dream choice. The most impressive being Hills Lodge which includes five bedrooms, four bathrooms, a living room, kitchen, and patio, sitting at 220 sqm. You have the exclusivity of being away from the main hotel, yet you still have the convenience of hotel service along with complimentary use of their golf buggies, and if you have the right budget, they have exclusive villas up for sale too.
There are two main options to choose from when it comes to dining at the resort. For a more relaxed, casual experience, you should head to the Club House restaurant which includes classic staples such as the clubhouse sandwich, healthier options such as a smoked salmon and avocado salad or simple Tuscan dishes such as pasta with fresh tomato sauce and a dash of olive oil produced on-site. If you happen to visit during olive harvest time around October, you will get to try their fresh batch of olive oil which is unlike anything you will ever buy from the supermarket. The bitter, spicy notes are much more intense, and flavours of grass, fruits, and vegetables will flood your palate.
The fine dining option is the Dama Dama restaurant, which is open daily during high season. Chef Emiliano Lombardelli, who is local to the region, has reinterpreted local classics to give them a more modern twist. Buttons of Caldaro is a signature dish that is essentially a bouillabaisse-like dish with button-shaped pasta that has fish both inside and outside and the intense richness of the flavours is unmatched even by the finest restaurants from the likes of Milan. The artistry of their kitchen team is undeniable when you have a chocolate dessert that is painstakingly worked to resemble the shape of Tuscany. This is one restaurant destined for Michelin-starred glory.
The forward-thinking nature of their hospitality team is also reflected at their Aper Bar, where you can try innovative twists to classic cocktails like Gazpacho Mary.
One of the key goals of the hotel is providing an exceptional wellness experience and that is very much in evidence when you visit their state-of-the-art Espace wellness centre with 2,700 m² spa space. There is a dedicated team of professionals in the MediSPA who specialise in nutrition and naturopathy and treatments are divided up into harmony, energy, and nature. You can enjoy anything from a simple, nourishing 25-minute massage (the soothing oil is heated up gently beforehand) to CARITA’s specific anti-ageing treatment.
Where do I start with so many options available? Golf is, of course, a key attraction and even if you’ve never played before, there are helpful instructors on the driving range who can get you swinging like a tiger. Other sports activities include football, tennis, jogging or you can take part in fitness classes including aerobics and aqua gym.
The resort can arrange off-site excursions, sailing trips, and transfers to a local beach club. In particular, I recommend a walking tour to the local town of Orbetello to watch locals going about their daily lives, and Porto Ercole to see the stunning yachts that line this picturesque port. And do travel up Monte Argentario to get a stunning panoramic view of the region as, if you are lucky, you might get a blessing from the local priest from the convent, which is based on the very top of the hill.
In a nutshell
For a golf break, a culinary treat and a wellness escape in one, Argentario Golf Resort and Spa is the place to go. They are open throughout the year and can be easily reached from Rome Airport.
Superior rooms start from 290 euros in low season and 500 euros in high season. Rate includes:
– Access to the wellness centre
– Access to sports facilities (tennis, mini football, jogging paths and golf practice facilities)
– Garage parking