Nestled just below the main town of Taormina in Messina Italy is Villa Sant’Andrea, A Belmond Hotel; a dream establishment resting on the pebble shore of Taormina Mare. Once a private home built for an aristocratic family in 1919, the extravagant villa retains all the charm of a family home, just three minutes from the city center by cable car. Travelers flock to this Sicilian gem that welcomes guests with luxurious hospitality, allowing them to relax and tune their heartbeats to the slow, dreamy beat of the bubbling Sicilian waves.
We spoke with the lovely hotel staff at Villa Sant’Andrea, and they summed up the hotel lifestyle beautifully. “Belmond promotes the idea of ’villeggiatura’ — an intrinsic Italian concept about slow, sultry summers, and Villa Sant’Andrea is no exception. The hotel has a reputation as one of the most romantic hotels in Taormina and is built amongst gardens that make it feel like a private residence. With its own private beach and bay-side infinity pool, it is truly a sun-drenched sanctuary. Hotel guests are those who also want to live according to the “villeggiatura” and appreciate the experience of serene luxury.
What do you consider to be the best room in the property?
While every room at Villa Sant’Andrea is gorgeous (and most have ocean views and balconies), the Presidential Pool Suite is its own private paradise. With two bedrooms, a lavish separate living room, two bathrooms, stunning sea views and a private terrace, the suite measures just over 860 square feet. Outside, guests can enjoy a sanctuary of bliss furnished with a gazebo and seating area. It also has a private heated swimming pool and a wooden solarium furnished with chairs, sun loungers and umbrellas.
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What is the starting price for the Presidential Suite with Pool?
The starting rate for the Presidential Suite with Pool 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 free scheduled shuttle to reach the 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 has performed for guests!
During high season, many customers had problems with their luggage at the airport and landed in Italy without their bags and most of their belongings. The wonderful concierge staff would immediately step in and give them a courtesy kit including pajamas, toothbrush, toothpaste and other essentials in addition to the slippers, bathrobes and flip flops that are already in the room. The concierge staff have worked miracles all season to ensure guests have a peaceful stay while retrieving their belongings as quickly as possible.
How would you describe the guests and the atmosphere of the hotel?
Belmond promotes the idea of ”villeggiatura” – an intrinsic Italian concept all about slow, sultry summers, and Villa Sant’Andrea is no exception. The hotel has a reputation as one of the most romantic hotels in Taormina and is built amongst gardens that make it feel like a private residence. With its own private beach and bay-side infinity pool, it is truly a sun-drenched sanctuary. Hotel guests are those who also want to live according to the “villeggiatura” and appreciate the experience of serene luxury.
The hotel is also perfect for family adventures or relaxing stays with the little ones. In addition to bottle warmers and high chairs for children, the hotel offers a children’s menu that meets their needs. The hotel also has a special collection of children’s equipment (small backpacks, beach buckets and shovels, etc.) and the concierge desk offers Xbox consoles and controllers, DVDs, toys and snorkeling equipment. for days at the beach. From May to October, children aged 4 to 12 can enjoy supervised games and activities at the Smile Club.
Do you have any special features that guests should check out during their stay?
Guests of Villa Sant’Andrea have access to the Grand Hotel Timeo, a sister hotel located in the heart of Taormina, right next to the Greek Theatre. Until December, the Grand Hotel Timeo welcomes the Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou who colors the world with two renewed artistic installations around the grounds. The installations are part of a partnership between Belmond and the internationally acclaimed art gallery Galleria Continua titled MITICO. The collaboration celebrates the talents of four prominent artists, as they are showcased in some of Belmond’s captivating iconic gardens across Italy.
The artist returns “Roads to Paradise”i.e. the Path to Happiness, a colorful path from the hotel’s grand entrance, through six acres of the property’s gardens to the magnificent 3rd-century Greek Theater, inviting guests to explore the spaces enchanted exteriors. All around the path are four crystal sculptures titled “Crystal Totem,” human-sized totems, each with unique characteristics and personalities. Dressed in elements of various origins, these embody the process of creolization – the mixing of different peoples and cultures.
Are there any special experiences guests should request upon arrival?
The hotel offers free boat trips around the beautiful Sicilian coast during the summer and a regular shuttle to sister hotel Grand Hotel Timeo. The concierge can also arrange a visit to a local clam farm with a dinner of freshly harvested clams, or a tour of local wineries where you can sample rare Etna vintages. A helicopter ride is a unique experience that can be arranged by the hotel. Fly over smoking volcanoes, idyllic islands and even Mount Etna, Europe’s largest volcano, before heading to Stromboli and Vulcano.
Is there an item on the restaurant menu that you can’t miss?
Sant’Andrea Restaurant is one of Taormina’s most revered restaurants, offering fresh caught fish, homemade pasta and colorful salads. Seafood on the menu makes up most of their signature dishes, never failing to impress with its simplicity and freshness. The signature dish, however, is the traditional fish couscous from Trapani. A Sicilian specialty, the dish dates back hundreds of years when Tunisian and Trapani fishermen shared the secrets of gastronomy. Chef Agostino D’Angelo’s recipe is authentic and delicious with his fragrant fish broth and fresh local fish.
What sights, shops and restaurants near Villa Sant’Andrea should visitors visit this year?
A cable car whisks guests downtown in just three minutes where they can catch concerts at the Greek Theater, take a ride in a three-wheeled Ape Calessino, or shop at the local boutiques. In Taormina, Piazza IX Aprile is a wonderful square with cafes and gelaterias. It is home to two ancient churches and features diverse architecture. Nearby Corso Umberto offers the perfect slice of shopping therapy, whether you’re looking for the latest Italian fashions or locally made handicrafts. Head to Bam Bar for mouth-watering Sicilian delicacies.
What is one thing about the hotel that you think first-time visitors will find surprising?
Upon arriving at Villa Sant’Andrea for the first time, visitors are amazed by the view and proximity to the sea, as the hotel overlooks the beautiful bay of Mazzarò and has a private beach with six private cabanas that can be rented for a very special beach day. Access to the beach is of course included in the price of the room for guests of Villa Sant’Andrea and Grand Hotel Timeo.
What do you think gives the hotel such a unique identity?
The staff surely make the difference at Villa Sant’Andrea, with their Sicilian genuineness and authenticity that makes guests feel at home from the start. From the hour of arrival until the very end of their stay, every moment is made special thanks to the personal touch of the people who are dedicated to the guests.
Which local attraction do you always recommend to guests?
The Greek Theater is right next to the Grand Hotel Timeo and it’s not to be missed. The great historical monument is one of the first things you think of when talking about Taormina. It is an archaeological treasure that still hosts concerts at sunset with a beautiful backdrop of the Calabrian coast. The concierge at both hotels can provide a schedule for upcoming events.
When is the best time of year to travel to Taormina?
Taormina is not only a popular spring and summer break destination, the autumn months still offer warm weather to enjoy the sea as well as alfresco dining. In addition, being very close to Etna, the concierge can organize a private visit to different wineries where it is possible to taste the wines of Etna and enjoy breathtaking views of the fall.
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MaryKate Boylan is Town & Country’s Senior Fashion Editor, writing about all things fashion and jewelry.
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