Here at GLAMOUR HQ, sustainability runs through everything we do and promote. We applaud beauty brands reducing their plastic packaging, praise high street stores launching conscious collections and champion activists making a real difference for the future of our planet. So where exactly does that leave travel? We do, of course, understand that travelling abroad isn’t the most sustainable of activities, which is exactly why any destination that helps us reduce our carbon footprint and makes efforts to better the planet deserves a spot at the top of our bucket list.
It’s no secret that our planet is in crisis. Climate change anxiety is a worrying mental health endemic plaguing Gen-Z; more plastic than fish is set to populate the ocean by 2050 and temperatures are at historical highs due to global warming. Sustainability isn’t just a trend, it’s a way of life we need to adopt… fast.
Enter Resort Valle dell’Erica Thalasso SPA: a 5-star resort in Sardinia that was recently named the best green resort in Europe at The World Travel Awards and one that’s proudly trailblazing the future of sustainable travel.
Part of the Delphina collection, Resort Valle dell’Erica has been championing eco-friendly initiatives and sustainability for years; the rest of the world just hadn’t caught on yet. Just four days at this exquisite haunt taught me so much about sustainability that I returned to England not only with a wealth of eco knowledge, but feeling the healthiest I have in a long time and determined to live a more eco-conscious lifestyle as a result.
As soon as I set foot in the resort’s lush private park, rife with local vegetation, and set eyes on the panoramic views of unspoilt, Sardinian coastline, I instantly felt ‘well’ – a state I’ve struggled to achieve over the last six months. Meandering through the resort and breathing in the delicious wafts of helichrysum, myrtle and rosemary was a far cry from the fumes of central London.
The sustainable nature of the hotel is immediately apparent, with our wonderful host, Tamara, informing us that the very rug we are stood on in reception has been hand-spun by local artisans in a nearby village. The hotel also uses 100% green energy produced by renewable sources and the golf buggies that ferry the guests across the resort are electric and recharged on site. So far, so very sustainable.
The resort comprises two hotels: the Resort Valle dell’Erica Thalasso SPA and Hotel La Licciola, each equally as impressive. We were fortunate to split our time between the two. Hotel Erica has 148 rooms, which have been thoughtfully decorated by local craftsmen and have a more traditional ambience. Hotel La Licciola is much more modern in design and has nods to Gallura via pieces courtesy of local artists, ceramics and fabrics. No matter which part of the resort you’re staying in, you’ll feel positively pampered. When an unexpected storm broke out, brand new umbrellas were lovingly left outside every single room, whilst thoughtfully-placed bottles of after-sun are a welcome treat after hazy days in the Sardinian sunshine.
The resort’s green initiatives are instantly apparent: eco-bio and paraben-free products, perfect for sensitive skin, are available in the bathroom, ecological paper with mineral oil-free inks adorn the room and the cleaners use only Ecolabel cleaning products. It’s these concerted efforts by large corporations that will really make a long-term difference to our planet’s future.
It’s not only the resort’s sustainable efforts that make the Resort Valle dell’Erica a place to write home about; the hospitality, Instagram-worthy saltwater pools and immaculately preened gardens are what make this destination worthy of a spot on your wanderlust list.
The restaurants (there are 7 in total) place huge emphasis on seasonal products that are preferably zero kms, plastic straws have been abolished and replaced by biodegradable straws, whilst plastic bottles are being phased out in favour of returnable glass bottles.
The most impressive breakfast buffet I’ve ever devoured, both hotels offer a remarkable selection of eats to kickstart your day. Eggs every which way, incredible freshly-baked breads smothered with indulgently salty hand-whipped butter and honey you can literally spread fresh from the hive, a plethora of cheeses, cold cuts and olive oils to rival a local deli were washed down with fresh vegetable juices, fruit-infused waters and far too much truffle-infused balsamic oil. In fact, if it wasn’t for my hand-luggage limitations, countless bottles would have been smuggled back to England.
If one hasn’t overindulged at breakfast, I highly recommend lunch at Li Zini – a wonderful seafood restaurant set a stone’s throw from the sea. Seafood and shellfish from the aquarium are served alongside fantastic local wines (the Vermantino slips down far too easily): think succulent lobster, fresh mussels doused in a zingy tomato sauce and catch of the day nestled in a bed of soft potatoes and juicy tomatoes. More casual lunches can be enjoyed at the various pool bars where bruschetta and Aperol Spritz are the order of the day.
As for dinner, there are plenty of choices in this ‘ticks every box’ resort. Family of four looking for a relaxed but delicious buffet dinner to suit everyone in your party? Pop into Nautilus or Les Bouches for turbot served from fish to plate by one of the hotel’s dedicated chefs, classic Spag Bol and the most impressive selection of pastries we’ve witnessed this side of Paris. Romantic and unforgettable meal for two? Head to Li Zini for a barefoot seafood dinner on the sand in one of the small coves of the resort. Seeking a slice of traditional Sardinian cuisine in the most jaw-dropping of settings? Li Ciusoni offers Gallura specialities whipped up in a traditional wood-fired oven (which makes for fantastic fanfare). After enjoying a glass of complimentary Prosecco upon arrival whilst watching the sun set across the enchanting islands of the La Maddalena Archipelago, you can fill your boots with cold cuts from the surrounding countryside, local pickled vegetables and the best ravioli we’ve ever tried, before enjoying tantalisingly tasty suckling pig roasted before your very eyes. Not exactly sure what you’re after? Satisfy everyone’s tastebuds at Grecole – a beautifully set restaurant with sweeping views of the East of the Straits of Bonifacio serving up a daily 5-course menu of beautifully prepared local cuisine with the most hospitable service. Grecale is unarguably ‘fine dining’ yet with the familiarity of your favourite local; we returned several times.
After eating and drinking your way through the resort, it’s certainly worth considering an excursion, which have been carefully curated to promote awareness of Sardinian nature, history and archaeology with guided tours by locals that shine a light on the island’s nature, history and communities. We took a boat ride across the Archipelago waters and swam in the crystal-clear sea.
An afternoon in The Le Thermae Wellness Centre is also a must. An oasis of peace and tranquility with incredible views of the ocean, the centre focuses on Thalassotherapy, which uses the principles found in the marine environment to achieve relaxing and revitalising effects for both body and mind. Guests are invited to splash around in 5 dedicated sea water-filled pools which are designed to enhance lymphatic circulation, eliminate toxins, improve muscle and joint capacity and generally leave you feeling, well, ‘well’.
In fact, feeling ‘well’ is a recurring theme within this review and one I owe to my wonderfully relaxing time spent at Resort Valle dell’Erica Thalasso SPA. Not only did I leave feeling I’d done good for the planet, I knew I’d done good for myself, too, and that’s something you really can’t put a price on. I truly hope other resorts will be following in its green footsteps.