FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

Como, Italy, Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni

Feb 1, 2007
2007 / Feburary 2007

If you’re going to a spa in Europe, you can’t be shy. I thought about this as I awaited the Cradle of Olos, La Culla, in Italian, treatment at the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni spa.

I was lying face-up on a heated treatment table. Covering the table was a gel-filled mattress that allowed me to imagine myself drifting lazily upon nearby Lake Como. Covering me? Not a lot, to be honest. No, you can’t be shy.

Maura, the spa therapist, slathered me top to toe with botanical oil from the Italian product line Olos Natura. It smelled vaguely like sugary lemon, but she told me later it was derived from strawberries. The treatment lasted one hour, during which Maura worked tirelessly, alternately moisturizing and exfoliating. At one point she affixed a frame over the treatment table and spread it with a drape to create a tent that enveloped me in warm moist heat. At another juncture, Maura lowered the motorized table and used a gentle spray to remove the gritty exfoliant from my skin.

The treatment concentrated on my face a bit too much for my taste. (I’m not a fan of facials.) The massage strokes were soothing, but didn’t penetrate enough to remove the cricks and cramps from my flight. Still, I reflected as I peeked blearily at the pin-dot lights in the ceiling, it was an original treatment and my skin did feel awfully soft.

I collected my clothing from the locker room, co-ed, with individual changing rooms for privacy, and wore my bathrobe back to my room. If anyone disapproved of me padding through the stately lobby in slippers, I didn’t notice. And I was too tingly to care.

The spa in its current location, in the lower level of this sprawling villa hotel, opened in 2001. There are six multipurpose treatment rooms, plus one reserved expressly for La Culla. Each is painted in its own soothing motif — floating clouds on a blue sky, leaping dolphins, sprays of peachy-pink flowers.

The hotel itself, with roots that trail back to the 18th century, was originally a staff building for the gardeners who worked at the main villa up the hill (now owned by the Rockefeller Foundation). The place is glorious. Many of its gilded and frescoed ceilings are original and maintained by 78-year-old master painter Severino Castelli. The entire hotel, which has been owned by the Bucher family from Switzerland since 1918, receives an annual sprucing when it closes for the winter — November through March.

The vast, high-ceilinged, antique-filled guestrooms have modern conveniences including TV, spacious bathrooms and air conditioning. You can even use your laptop, and many guests do because the hotel does a brisk business in meetings, conferences and incentive trips. But truly, this is a place to relax. Given the choice between checking your email and gazing at Lake Como, which would you prefer?

The charming lakeside town of Bellagio is at the hotel’s doorstep. Just a short walk away is the ferry that takes you across the lake to visit Villa del Balbianello, an 18th century residence that was bequeathed to FAI, Italy’s version of the National Trust, in 1988 by its last owner, polar explorer Guido Monzino. It’s been a setting for a number of movies, most recently “Casino Royale.”

Two days after settling into Bellagio’s easy pace, I returned to the spa for the Pindas treatment, a massage done with aromatic oil and heated, fist-sized sacks filled with sea salt, dried seaweed and lavender. Placed on key points, including the solar plexus, shoulders and the top and base of the spine, the heat from the sacks penetrates and loosens the muscles. When Antonella, the therapist, used them to massage in sweeping or pouncing strokes, they made a satisfying crunch like soft footsteps on gravel. The treatment is similar to hot stone massage, but the sacks have a more pleasing texture and allow for more versatility.

Spa director Daniela Barindelli works with the staff to develop the treatments offered at the Grand Villa Serbelloni spa. Together, they achieve a level of originality that’s clever without being gimmicky. Plans for the future include the addition of two treatment rooms in 2008 to focus on wet treatments such as seaweed wraps and thalassotherapy.

Besides the spa, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni has a well-equipped fitness center in a building separate from the main hotel. There’s a squash court, scheduled fitness classes, a whirlpool, steam room and sauna with a cold plunge pool in addition to the usual stationary bikes, treadmills and weight machines. There also are indoor and outdoor pools, and in the early morning you’ll encounter hotel guests jogging through the quiet streets of the town.

For an old hotel, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is remarkably forward-thinking. Chef Ettore Bocchia earned a Michelin star for the hotel’s Mistral restaurant with his high-concept “molecular gastronomy” menu. The dishes take food chemistry to new heights by blending the acidic and sweet, the creamy and tangy, to create combinations that ping on the palate. Ever tried Sicilian red prawns with guacamole ice cream? How about a dessert of robust strawberries with a frothy mint meringue that, given the chance, would float right off the plate?

It’s an art to provide an experience that’s good for you yet still feels decadent. From its food to its creative spa treatments to its fine accommodations and glorious views of Lake Como, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni does it well.

GRAND HOTEL VILLA SERBELLONI
Bellagio, Como, Italy
tel 39 031 950216, fax 39 031 951529
http://www.villaserbelloni.com

Introducing

FX Excursions

FX Excursions offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in destinations around the world.

#globility

Insta Feed
Daily
Sep 17, 2021

Hotel del Coronado Reveals New Lobby, Front Porch

Legendary Hotel del Coronado reached another milestone in its $400 million Master Plan reimagination, with the completion of an extensive, historic restoration of the hotel’s front porch and lobby; a redesigned main entry and drive experience; new guestrooms in The Views area; and refreshed retail concepts.

The Future of Hamad International Airport

Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.

September 2021
Sep 16, 2021

Philadelphia’s Fairmount Boasts Impressive Collections and a Friendly Vibe

As a native of the Philadelphia region, I’m quite familiar with the drive in and out of the City of Brotherly Love. Even as the city’s skyline continually transforms, my favorite views of Philadelphia have always been along Boathouse Row, with the Philadelphia Museum of Art rising in the background, before looping around the museum to the flag-lined Benjamin Franklin Parkway. Home to many of Philadelphia’s incredible and world-renowned museums, the Fairmount neighborhood is fittingly aesthetically pleasing and practically synonymous with fine art.

Daily
Sep 16, 2021

Rosewood San Francisco to Open in 2026

Set to open in 2026, Rosewood San Francisco will be the last skyscraper developed in the downtown region for the foreseeable future. The projected 800-foot-tall property will host a hotel, residences, office and rental spaces. The brand’s third property in California will join Rosewood Sand Hill in Menlo Park, and Rosewood Miramar Beach in Montecito.

Register Today for the Most Important Gathering of Business Travel Professionals

The Global Business Travel Association’s (GBTA) Convention 2021 will be unlike any other convention before it, as we come together in person for the first time since the business travel industry drastically changed and look forward to rebuilding and reshaping the future. GBTA Convention 2021 will bring all of us together to learn from experts and each other, in-person at Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, Nov. 17–19. The safety of our attendees is our top priority. View health and safety protocols.

September 2021
Sep 15, 2021

Slow Down and Unwind in Easy-Going Phuket

It’s not even 9a.m. in the sleepy fishing village of Rawai on Thailand’s famous Phuket Island, but already the turquoise waters of the Andaman Sea swarm with local fishermen casting their lines and releasing their nets from the bows of rustic long-tail boats. The scents of lemongrass, incense and sweet pandan leaves season the air as the villagers slowly rise from their beachside bungalows to start their day. In just a few more hours, the fishermen will return with their catches, filling the stalls of the iconic Rawai Seafood Market with buckets of shellfish and displays of fresh filets. Visitors line up each afternoon for the catch of the day, selecting their fish with care before hauling their purchases across the well-worn road to the restaurants opposite the market to have the fish cooked for 100 Thai baht per kilo.

eFlyer Deals
Sep 15, 2021

A Master Class in Tuscan Wine at Grand Universe Lucca, Autograph Collection

Tuscany’s Lucca is home to Grand Universe Lucca, which brings the region’s best wines front and center to its guests. The hotel features three immersive Tuscan Wine tasting experiences: Montalcino, Montecarlo, and Super Tuscan and Chianti Classico.

Greece: Destination Luxury

Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.

eFlyer Lead
Sep 15, 2021

Puerto Rico Reiterates Its Commitment to LGBTQ+ Community with New Initiatives

Discover Puerto Rico reiterated its commitment to the LGBTQ+ community with strong participation at the 2021 International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association Annual Global Convention, where it provided insight into a variety of new efforts to foster inclusion on a local and global scale.