The Spirit of Sardinia

Robin Glover pays a visit to the sophisticated Italian island of Sardinia, to embrace all that this Mediterranean destination has to offer. With over 1000 miles of unspoilt coastline, beautiful beaches, lucid blue sea and enchanting rock formations it’s a tempting trip for us all.

y long-suppressed affection for holidaying in Italy, having been revived by visiting the fabulous Borgo Egnazia, (see summer 2012), ensured we enthusiastically looked forward to another experience, this time on the delightful island of Sardinia. We chose to spend time at the Lantana Resort, located on the outskirts of the charming village of Pula, nestling unobtrusively on the south-western corner of the island, only 24 miles away from the nearest airport at Cagliari. We were not disappointed, either by the resort, the location or the genuine warmth of the welcome.

The Lantana Resort, named after the indigenous shrub growing, and blooming, abundantly throughout the property, was conceived and built in 2003 and, since that date, particular care has been taken in order to create a lush, botanical garden for the guests’ enjoyment and the exotic flora now includes a cactus garden, a rockery and a citrus fruit orchard. The property has recently been completely and, beautifully, refurbished and thoroughly deserves its 4-star rating, as well as its reputation for providing its guests with a top-quality experience combining serenity, entertainment, relaxation and the opportunity to embrace the spirit of Sardinia. The resort is family-owned and managed and, as a consequence, visitors benefit from an attention to detail which leaves nothing to chance, each guest being made to feel ‘special’.

The resort is laid out in a cool, Mediterranean ‘hacienda’ style and comprises 25 spacious double bedrooms, 17 one-bedroom and 16 two-bedroom garden apartments, with each unit fully air-conditioned and having a balcony or terrace giving views either of the pool or the beautifully tended gardens. Children love the freedom to explore the grounds and play with their new friends and parents relish the knowledge that they are in such a safe environment, all the boundaries being totally secure. The children’s play area is equipped with swings, slides, rockers and toys and in the pool, games are organised twice a week with a fully-trained, English-speaking supervisor.

Within the hotel area children under four can even share their parents’ room, free of charge, including breakfast.

The option to ‘self-cater’, while taking full advantage of the resort’s swimming pools, putting green, exercise course and children’s playground, is particularly popular. If the pressures of the day prove too much, there is always the takeaway service, selected from the day’s menu, which is available from the hotel’s kitchens. The ladies seemed also to enjoy spending time taking health and beauty treatments at the ‘Gazebo’, set up in a quiet area of the gardens.

We ourselves were delighted with our room, decorated in soothing shades of terracotta and ochre and enjoying traditional local soft furnishings. Our terrace overlooked a section of the peaceful garden and, although the resort was full, we were never disturbed or inconvenienced by any noisy ‘activity’ despite the presence of many families with young children. Indeed, the stay was epitomised by the calm atmosphere throughout – even when busy the attentive staff (who all spoke fluent English) were never anything but cheerful and helpful. The noisiest area, around the pools, was also the most entertaining and the Italian fondness for the ‘bambini’, not just your own, became contagious, helping to break down international barriers at the same time. The staff may have been English-speakers, but many of our fellow guests were not!

The apartments are very well appointed, each having separate bedrooms, a lounge area with a sofa-bed, satellite television and free WiFi, and a generously equipped kitchenette with a dining area. Cots and cribs are available, on request. Families of all sizes can be accommodated with all the home comforts they could expect and there are, in addition to self-catering, various meal ‘packages’ which may be attractive to hard-pressed parents. In order to create some extra ‘me-time’ for parents, babysitters can be arranged at Reception.

Although there are golf courses nearby, we plumped for taking advantage of the free shuttle service from the resort to the nearest beach, Nora, as we wanted to sample the warm, Mediterranean waters. The long, wide beach was of soft, golden sand, immaculately clean and uncrowded, and the crystal-clear sea sloped gently into deeper waters. The usual refreshment facilities and conveniences are behind the beach but a walk towards the headland is rewarded by the opportunity to visit the bar and restaurant overlooking the bay. Everything on the menu is good, but the calamari were sensational. For the students of ancient history, the bonus is the site of a partially excavated Phoenician settlement dating, we were told, to around 800 BC. Talking in the bar later, we were told of other fantastic beaches in the near vicinity, at Baia Chia, Santa Margherita and Teulada, but requiring a hire-car to reach – another time, maybe!

A 15-minute, gentle stroll away from the resort is the lively central piazza of Pula, a delightfully unspoilt village with cobbled, winding streets, charming artisan shops, perilously narrow pavements and plenty of authentically Italian bars and cafés. Not much English is spoken here but the spirit (as well as the vino) is intoxicating and we spent many contented evenings ‘people-watching’ from the pavement-restaurant as the news kiosk closed, the birds roosted in the trees and small, over-excited children played familiar games in the now illuminated square. This is where, during the summer season, the villagers put on their musical singing and dancing shows, drawing large crowds. It is fair to say that if you are looking for the sort of clubs which promise ‘dancing until dawn’, Pula is not for you. But, if you are happy to sink yourself in the mood of the local people, you will love it!

We left the Lantana with many happy memories of experiences, people and places and buoyed by the feeling that, in this world of impersonal service, there is at least one resort where the comfort and pleasure of the guest is placed far ahead of the interests of the operators. ✿

Rates start from €1,079 per week for a one bedroom apartment and €240 per night on a half board basis for a double room.
tel. +39 070 924411