Review: Borgo Egnazia
Posted on September 25th, 2015
After the birth of my daughter four months ago, travel has become an entirely different animal. Gone are the days of last minute travel with a carry on (for now). My packing routine has taken a dramatic turn; bottle sterilisers, stacks of muslin blankets and burp cloths have replaced Agent Provocateur bikinis, impractical wedges and fluttery false eyelashes.
Puglia is having somewhat of a moment, it’s not as manicured as other parts of Italy and unlike Positano in August, there wasn’t a busload of tourists armed with video cameras and fanny packs. I have stayed at Borgo Egnazia previously with my husband and thought it would be the perfect destination to take our young baby for a week of sun and carbs. Unlike many hotels, Borgo Egnazia have hotel rooms, two bedroom suites with a living room downstairs and private villas with their own swimming pools. Not one to do things by halves we decided to take the plunge and book a villa with our own pool (thinking this would be perfect for the baby).
Our villa had two beautiful bedrooms, a roof terrace, kitchen, living room, dining room, TV room and a third (windowless) bedroom in the basement making it bigger than most houses in Belgravia. The small pool outside was sadly neglected due to its arctic temperature (which I was told couldn’t be adjusted to accommodate my little lady). The decoration is white, clean and totally inoffensive. The bathrooms were so spacious that our shower actually had two giant shower heads. Before checking in I was contacted by the hotel to see if I needed anything, my request for a crib in the second bedroom was met as was a transfer with a carseat. This hotel is certainly equipt for little visitors.
Upon checking in (directly at our villa; a godsend when travelling with infants), we were met by Palma who would act as our concierge and point of contact during the trip. She armed my husband and I with her mobile number and said she would organise whatever we wanted, whenever we wanted. During out week she planned day trips to Alberobello to see the Trulli (a little bit disappointing to be honest), drivers to take us to hidden restaurants (thank you to Lauren of Bats Bazaar for the most wonderful recommendations), dinner at magnificent restaurant in the middle of an olive grove and finding us countless adaptors for the millions of gadgets we had brought with us.
The hotel itself is laid out like a traditional Southern Italian village with a central square that hosts a party once a week, the cobbled alleyways have street names and the rooms are laid out like tiny houses. Getting lost through the endless maze of streets was part of the charm of the hotel. Other than hotel rooms, there’s a large gym (which I went as often as possible to burn off the incessant pasta-eating) with an indoor pool, a spa which is straight out of Marcus Aurelius’ Rome and a boutique filled with Marysia Swim and Natasha Zinko. The lobby has a large covered terrace which hosts a lunch buffet and candlelit bar for pre/post dinner bottles of wine. Probably my favourite part of the hotel is their gigantic split level pool (adults only on the bottom). The water is freezing but refreshing and just seems to go on forever, my afternoons were spent here listening to a talking-book and munching on juicy watermelon slices.
Borgo Egnazia’s beach club (which is reached by driving through their lush golf course), Cala Masciola is a quintessential Italian beach. This is a far cry from Pampelonne Beach in St Tropez where the beach is a place to be seen and wear as much makeup and impractical garb as possible; here tanning is a serious business. One pieces, bottles of tanning oil, endless cups of coffee and a sea breeze make this spot rather heavenly. The water is crystal clear and unlike many Italian beaches has a sandy bottom. The beach restaurant serves fish that is so fresh it’s a shock it doesn’t jump off your plate, this was probably my favourite place to eat in the hotel (other than their pizza restaurant which leaves me salivating at the thought). Again, my baby was meticulously catered for; umbrellas were constantly being moved to keep her in the shade, bottles were warmed up, waiters were constantly cooing over her. This was the business.
Borgo Egnazia ticked all the boxes and makes the perfect place for a family holiday. There is something for everyone (and a kids club for those who are slightly older). My only disappointment was the Vair Spa. The treatments ran 50 to 70 minutes and in my experience this doesn’t seem long enough to wind down. The spa menu is slightly over-complicated making planning to have a simple massage a bit like completing the Sunday Times crossword puzzle. I had a wonderful massage followed by a facial (I was warned was a massage rather than masks, exfoliating etc) which was by far the strangest treatment that I’ve ever had; ten different oils were applied to my face which felt almost like I was being basted for roasting, not something I’d do again.
Puglia is a magical region and somewhere I’d love to continue to explore. The food is amazing with a huge emphasis being placed on homegrown, local ingredients. I probably had the best pasta in a black olive sauce that I’ve ever had in my life – that in itself warrants a trip back!
What to Pack:
– Vita Kin linen dresses