Top Travel News from Italy

The land of food, wine and culture is a perfect blend of historic gems and modern luxury. Here's what's new in Italy this year.

The Starwood Luxury Collection has been hard at work restoring four landmark properties in Europe, with a total price tag of $200 million. Spain’s Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville and the Hotel Maria Cristina in San Sebastian reopened last year to much fanfare, while The Gritti Palace in Venice just unveiled its restoration this month. (Last but not least: The Prince de Galles in Paris is expected to open its doors in May.) The Gritti Palace has long been a landmark on the Grand Canal in Venice, within walking distance of Piazza San Marco. The 15-month restoration project brought some of Italy’s best craftsmen to the 16th century palace, where they worked on original Rubelli Venetian textiles, terrazzo floors, handcrafted Girandole mirrors and antique Murano glass chandeliers. (The hotel even set up a blog to recount the details of the project.) Perhaps the biggest news is the addition of the The Redentore Terrazza Suite, a two-storey suite on the palazzo’s top floor equipped with a sprawling terrace (the perfect spot to host a cocktail party). Accessed by private elevator, the suite also has a small pool overlooking the Grand Canal.

This month marks the seasonal reopening of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on Lake Como in Italy. This seasons the luxury hotel is showing off a series of updates, notably to the T Spa and T Beach, along with a brand new Honeymoon Suite. The Suite sits within the fully renovated fourth floor of the Palace. A Music Concierge has also been put into place. Debuting for the first time last year, the hotel unveiled a newly renovated Rooftop Floor, made up of eight suites. The fifth floor of the palace now includes three Rooftop Junior Suites, three Rooftop Corner Suites and two Rooftop Front Suites. Each has its own private terrace, outdoor heated Jacuzzi pool, butler services and views of the lake.

We’re big fans of the J.K Place hotels in Capri and Florence, so we’ve been keeping a close eye on the sister hotel that will be opening this summer in the heart of Rome. Occupying a historic building at Via Monte d'Oro 30 just off the Via Condotti, within walking distance to the Spanish Steps, the J.K. Place Roma will have chic, contemporary interiors. At the helm is General Manager Samuel Porecca, who created such a successful vibe at the J.K. Place Capri. Rooms come with rosewood canopy beds or handmade fabric beds, spacious marble bathrooms, plus complimentary mini bar and free wifi. The J.K. Master Room is the largest at 540 square feet. Composed of a living room and separate bedroom, the suite is decked out with custom furniture by Architect Michele Bonan. 

Last fall, Rocco Forte’s Verdura Resort in Sicily unveiled a new wellness center called Vita Health, upgrading its already stellar spa, which is a beautiful indoor/outdoor space with hydrotherapy pools, hammams, and cocooning treatment rooms. (Luxury Travel Advisor was there after the resort first opened in 2009, and we were quite impressed with the spa.) In launching the wellness center, the Rocco Forte resort teamed up with Dr. Nyjon Eccles, internationally recognized for his contributions to the medical field, in designing programs that promote a balanced approach to wellness with clinical assessments and nutritional consultations. In short: These aren’t your average detoxification and anti-ageing programs. A recent article in The Financial Times provides an excellent assessment of Vita Health, and describes the “fundamental paradigm shift at the top end of the spa industry over the past few years – one that has seen conventional regimens of massages, facials, and low-calorie meals complemented (and in some cases replaced) by medical analysis and treatment, cutting-edge light and laser technology, hormone and intravenous infusion therapies, and surgical procedures.” Prior to arrival at Vita Health, the guest undergoes medical tests, before getting a pre-arrival consultation with Dr. Eccles by phone or Skype. While at the resort, guests enjoy meals devised by executive chef Fulvio Pierangelini in partnership with nutritionist Amelia Freer- with most produce coming from the resort’s organic garden. The Financial Times concludes “it is on the nutrition front that Vita Health has a real ace up its sleeve.” We say: a divine setting to kickstart your health resolutions for 2013 (and beyond).

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