In 1962, the Costa Smeralda, Sardinia's northeast coast, was without roads, electricity, water, and telephones. The land was devoted primarily to the grazing of livestock belonging to the native farmers who occupied the more valuable farmland in the interior of the island.
Enter a group of investors, including the Aga Khan, who bought 34 miles of coastline with plans to develop it in harmony with nature, strictly limiting development. Thirty-five years later, this stretch of the island's coastline is still one of the most beautiful in all the Mediterranean.
Today's visitors can expect beautiful, upscale resorts blending with the landscape, including five ITT Sheraton hotels, three of which (Cala di Volpe, Hotel Pitrizza, and Hotel Romazzino) are members of its Luxury Collection.
The first hotel built was the Cala di Volpe ("Bay of Foxes"), a gem of a hotel in which all 123 rooms have tile floors, private terraces overlooking the bay from which the hotel takes its name, and trompe l'oeil wall paintings. The hotel has an Olympic-sized, saltwater swimming pool set in an emerald-green lawn; a fitness center; and a private beach and harbor. The striking presidential suite occupies the entire third floor, and above that, located on the roof, is an open-air swimming pool and pool-side cabana for the exclusive use of the suite's guests.
At the northern extreme of the Costa Smeralda, the Hotel Pitrizza's 51 rooms and suites are scattered in several stone bungalows sited on a slope sweeping down to the sea. Each of the suites has a view of the sea and islands below. The central clubhouse, with its alfresco restaurant, is set next to the hotel's saltwater pool, which is carved out of the rocks and blends almost invisibly with the sea beyond.
The whitewashed 90-room Hotel Romazzino, the most family-oriented of the three hotels, is set on green expanses of a lawn that slopes down to the sea. Its arches, pergolas, and patios are surrounded by flowers, and its elegant, yet simple, rooms and suites each have their own private terraces. The Pervero Golf Club, with its 18-hole course designed by Robert Trent Jones, is just across the valley (and equally convenient to the Cala di Volpe--although from all the hotels, the course is an easy shuttle ride).