Photography by Annie Fitzsimmons.
I met Valentina de Santis, CEO and owner of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo
, before I visited. She was so smart, kind, full of life, and passionate about her family’s hotel and its location on Lake Como that I knew how special the hotel would be. I’d heard similar sentiments from Virtuoso advisors and Italy specialists.
There is a great, romantic sense of arrival – on one side, it’s a battle of the blues: the piercing sapphire of the lake set against the hotel’s bright turquoise floating swimming pool, seemingly fused together on the lake. On the other side is a gleaming art nouveau facade, which feels straight out of a whimsical Wes Anderson movie. In the lobby, there are soaring ceilings, a grand staircase, and red-cushioned couches, but also jars of candy and the sound of glasses clinking at the bar. General manager Silvio Vettorello buzzes about like a master of ceremonies, even personally calling local restaurants to secure hard-to-get reservations.
Here are five more things I loved about the Grand Hotel Tremezzo:
- Their Famous Torta Valentina: – I had read in Virtuoso Life that the hotel’s pastry chef made the cake for Valentina’s first birthday, and her father (then the CEO) declared it the hotel’s signature torta. When I asked our server about it – it wasn’t on the menu – he smiled and disappeared. Twenty minutes later, he presented the cake, specially made for me just then. Dense and rich, cut into small squares on a white plate festooned with berries, the cocoa-and-almond cake, coated in chocolate, was absolutely worth it. You expect delicious food in Italy, but there is an element of fun in top-level dining here – fondue at L’Escale, an outdoor pizza oven by the pool, hit-the-spot lunch dishes and bar snacks, plus fine cuisine at La Terrazza.Torta Valentina.
- The Bellagio Suite: The eight Rooftop Suites come with private Jacuzzis, expansive terraces, and butlers. I loved the Bellagio Suite, a cocoon of contemporary cool with views of the pale pink and yellow villas of the famous hamlet for which it’s named. This particularly romantic view best elicits the “I can’t believe I’m here” feeling.
- View from the Top: Ambling up the hotel’s Panoramic Trail behind the property, through the botanical beauty of tulips, geraniums, and rare magnolias, is a must-do. After a leisurely 20-minute climb, you’re rewarded with riveting views: Bellagio across the lake, Villa Carlotta next door, and the regal Grand Hotel Tremezzo below. Say hello to Bobo the Bear at the top – the stuffed animal belonged to Valentina when she was a child. The gardens were designed by Emilio Trabella, a renowned landscape architect who worked on George Clooney’s nearby estate (and yes, tales of what Clooney did, ate, and drank follow you in Lake Como). The top of the hotel's Panoramic Trail.
- A Newly Expanded Spa: New for 2016 is a beautiful expansion of the hotel’s T Spa, which occupies three stories of a historic building. There is an authentic Turkish hammam and the most beautiful nail bar I’ve seen, with a floor adorned in mosaic patterns. Perfect for couples is the new Suite Emilia, with private access to the spa. Don’t miss the indoor infinity pool – and, if you’re brave, a dip into the icy cold plunge pool, one of five hydrotherapy areas, guaranteed to spark a new energy source.
- A Leisurely Italian Boat Ride: The sound of a cork popping is festive anywhere, but against the backdrop of Lake Como, on the hotel’s historic lancia boat, it sounds even better. The charming captain pops Champagne and zips you around the lake, showing off otherworldly sites such as Villa Balbianello, where scenes from Star Wars: Episode II were shot, and dropping you off at Bellagio for a shopping sojourn, if you wish.
Virtuoso travelers receive breakfast daily, 25 minutes of ESPA experience at T Spa, an Italian wine tasting, and free entrance to Villa Carlotta.
Posted by Virtuoso's Annie Fitzsimmons on June 7, 2016.
Follow Virtuoso on Twitter
Follow Annie on Twitter