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Nestled just below the main city of Taormina in Messina Italy, is Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel; a dreamy establishment resting on Taormina Mare’s pebbled shore. Once a private home built for an aristocratic family in 1919, the extravagant villa preserves all the charm of a familial residence, just three minutes from the town center via cable car. Travelers flock to this Sicilian gem that greets guests with luxurious hospitality, allowing them to unwind, and tune their heartbeats to the slow, dreamy pace of the bubbling Sicilian waves.
We spoke with the lovely hotel staff at Villa Sant’Andrea, and they encapsulated the hotel’s lifestyle beautifully. “Belmond promotes the idea of ‘villeggiatura’ — an intrinsic Italian concept all about slow, sensuous summers, and Villa Sant’Andrea is no exception. The hotel enjoys a reputation as one of the most romantic hotels in Taormina and is built among gardens which gives it a feel of a private residence. With its own private beach and an infinity pool on the edge of the bay, it truly is a sun-soaked sanctuary. Guests of the hotel are those who also want to live by ‘villeggiatura’ and appreciate the experience of serene luxury.”
What do you consider the best room on the property?
While every room at Villa Sant’Andrea is stunning (and most offer ocean views and balconies), the Presidential Pool Suite is its own private paradise. With two bedrooms, a lavish separate living area, two bathrooms, stunning sea views, and a private terrace, the suite is just over 860 sq ft. Outside, guests can enjoy a blissful sanctuary furnished with a gazebo and seating area. It also boasts a heated private pool and wooden solarium furnished with chairs, sun beds, and umbrellas.
What is the starting rate of the Presidential Pool Suite?
The starting rate of the Presidential Pool Suite is €6,400 EUR ($6,478.02 USD as of 9/12/22) + VAT, including daily full American breakfast, access to the private beach and fitness center, a complimentary scheduled shuttle to reach Grand Hotel Timeo in the center of Taormina, and of course Wi-Fi and daily bottled water.
Tell us about some of the miracles your concierge staff have pulled off for guests!
During the high season, a lot of guests had trouble with their luggage at the airport and would touch down in Italy without their bags and most belongings. The wonderful concierge staff would jump in immediately and give them a courtesy kit including pajamas, a toothbrush, toothpaste, and other essentials in addition to the slippers, bathrobes, and flip flops that are already in the room. The concierge staff have been performing miracles all season to ensure guests a peaceful stay while retrieving their personal belongings as quickly as possible.
How would you describe the guests and the vibe at the hotel?
Belmond promotes the idea of ‘villeggiatura’ — an intrinsic Italian concept all about slow, sensuous summers, and Villa Sant’Andrea is no exception. The hotel enjoys a reputation as one of the most romantic hotels in Taormina and is built among gardens which gives it a feel of a private residence. With its own private beach and an infinity pool on the edge of the bay, it truly is a sun-soaked sanctuary. Guests of the hotel are those who also want to live by ‘villeggiatura’ and appreciate the experience of serene luxury.
The hotel is also perfect for family adventures or relaxing stays with little ones. In addition to children’s bottle warmers and highchairs, the hotel offers a children’s menu that corresponds to their needs. The hotel also has a special collection of children’s amenities (small backpacks, beach buckets and shovels, etc.) and the concierge desk offers Xbox consoles and controllers, DVDs, toys and snorkeling equipment for beach days. From May to October, children aged 4 to 12 can enjoy supervised fun and games in the Smile Club.
Do you have any special features that guests should check out while there?
Villa Sant’Andrea guests have access to Grand Hotel Timeo, a sister hotel located in the heart of Taormina right next to the Greek Theater. Through December, Grand Hotel Timeo welcomes Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou who is coloring the world with two renewned art installations around the grounds. The installations are part of a partnership between Belmond and internationally acclaimed art gallery Galleria Continua entitled MITICO. The collaboration celebrates the talents of four prominent artists, as they take the spotlight in some of Belmond’s captivating landmark gardens across Italy.
The artist reinstates “Les Routes du Paradis,”meaning the path of happiness, a colored path from the hotel’s grand entrance, through six acres of property gardens to the magnificent 3rd century Greek Theatre, beckoning guests to discover the enchanted outdoor spaces. Dotted around the path are four crystal sculptures entitled “Totem Cristal,” human-sized totems, each with unique characteristics and personalities. Dressed with elements of various origins, these embody the process of creolization – the mixing together of different people and cultures.
Are there any special experiences guests should ask for when they arrive?
The hotel offers complimentary boat tours around the stunning Sicilian coast during the summer and a regular shuttle to the sister hotel, Grand Hotel Timeo. The concierge can also arrange a tour of a local clam farm complete with a dinner using the fresh clams that were harvested, or a local wine tour where guests can sample the rare vintages of Mount Etna. A helicopter tour is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that can be organized through the hotel. Fly over smoking volcanoes, idyllic islands and even Mount Etna, the largest volcano in Europe, before heading to Stromboli and Vulcano.
Is there an item on the menu at the restaurant that is not to be missed?
Restaurant Sant’Andrea is one of the most revered restaurants in Taormina, offering fresh caught fish, homemade pastas and colorful salads. The seafood on the menu makes up most of their signature dishes, never failing to impress with their simplicity and freshness. The signature dish, however, is the traditional Trapani fish couscous. A Sicilian specialty, the dish dates back hundreds of years to when Tunisian and Trapani fishermen shared gastronomy secrets. Chef Agostino D’Angelo’s recipe is authentic and delicious with its fragrant fish broth and local fresh fish.
What sights, shops and restaurants near Villa Sant’Andrea should visitors check out this year?
A cable car transports guests to the center of town in just three minutes where they can attend concerts at the Greek Theater, take a ride in a three-wheeled Ape Calessino, or go shopping at local boutiques. In Taormina, Piazza IX Aprile is a gorgeous square with cafés and gelaterias. It houses two ancient churches and boasts diverse architecture. Nearby Corso Umberto offers a perfect slice of retail therapy, whether you’re after the latest Italian fashions or locally made handicrafts. Head to Bam Bar for mouthwatering Sicilian treats.
What is one thing about the hotel that you think first time visitors will find surprising?
Once they reach Villa Sant’Andrea for the first time, visitors are amazed by the view and the proximity to the sea, since the hotel overlooks the amazing Bay of Mazzarò and features a private beach with six private cabanas that can be rented for a very special beach day. The access to the beach is of course included in the room rate for both guests of Villa Sant’Andrea and Grand Hotel Timeo.
What do you think gives the hotel such a unique identity?
Surely the staff makes the difference at Villa Sant’Andrea, with their Sicilian genuineness and authenticity making guests feel at home from the very beginning. Starting from check-in time until the very end of their stay, every moment is made special thanks to the personal touch of the people who dedicate themselves to guests.
What is a local attraction that you always recommend to guests?
The Greek Theater is right next to Grand Hotel Timeo and it is not to be missed. The great historical monument is one of the first things you think of when talking about Taormina. It’s an archeological treasure that still hosts concert near sundown with a beautiful backdrop of the Calabrian coast. The concierge at both hotels can provide a program for upcoming events.
What is the best time of year to travel to Taormina?
Taormina is not only a popular destination for spring and summer break, fall months still offer warm weather to enjoy the sea as well as al fresco meals. Furthermore, by being very close to Mount Etna, the concierge can arrange a private visit to different wineries where it is possible to taste Etna wines and enjoy amazing fall views.
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