Glass Explores Sardinia’s Sunkissed Southern Beaches

IT’S A short, steep climb to the Torre di Chia in southern Sardinia but the views from this medieval tower – built to protect the island from invaders – reveal exactly why Chia’s sun-kissed beaches are frequently billed as Italy’s most beautiful. Crystalline turquoise waters and a six-kilometre sandy stretch of dunes fringed by verdant forest make this sleepy corner of Sardinia picture-perfect – and a sight that more than justifies my temporary departure from the shores below.

Monte Cogoni Beach in Chia, Italy

This is about as strenuous as things get during my stay at the five-star Hotel Laguna. Set just 700 metres from the beach and with sweeping views across a lagoon that harbours a languid flock of pink flamingos, this is a setting blessed with beautiful views. The most exclusive of a collection of four hotels that comprise the Chia Laguna resort, all sharing a central piazza, Hotel Laguna masterfully treads the line between luxurious and laidback. Its clean-lined, marine-hued interiors are pleasing on the eye while rosemary, olives and bougainvillea add colour and charm to its tranquil grounds.

Sun Terrace at Chia Laguna Resort

As the afternoon heat subsides I return to the hotel to watch the sun set over the lagoon from my private decking. Hotel Laguna’s 75 comfortable rooms – including the luxurious garden suites that boast their own alfresco Jacuzzis – feature warm Mediterranean tones, wooden beams and mosaic tiles, and prove as characterful as they are comfortable. Having removed all signs of sand and sun cream, I venture to the bar for a campari spritz and fennel-infused salami and contemplate the evening’s dinner options.

Deluxe Room at Chia Laguna Resort

The resort has nine restaurants ranging from beach bars and buffets to high-end dining, with perhaps the most intriguing menu found at Hotel Laguna’s La Terrazza, with its focus on authentic Sardinian cuisine. From appetisers of bottarga – shaved mullet roe, otherwise known as “Sardinian gold” – and local cheeses to fregola or tallutzas pasta and maialino sardo, or suckling pig, the island’s rich culinary tradition is served up here in style, and you’ll find Sardinia’s most celebrated grapes on the wine list, including zesty vermentinos and the ubiquitous cannonau. Elsewhere, the sleek lines and modern decor of Whiteluna make it a sophisticated spot for a wide range of Mediterranean fare, while fresh seafood and wood-fired pizzas are among the highlights at the laidback Le Dune, which is just seconds from the beach.

Le Dune Restaurant

The following morning, a few laps of Hotel Laguna’s angular swimming pool provides a gentle, sunkissed start to the day. Flanked by loungers and with panoramic views of the coastline, the pool terrace is a popular spot for a moment of downtime and the Bioaquam restaurant serves a virtuous range of dishes for those not heading to the beach. For more serious wellness-seekers, the resort’s sophisticated spa offers Turkish baths, saunas and a circuit of hydrotherapeutic pools as well as a vast range of treatments, with my hour-long massage – using locally produced honey and olive oil – leaving me suitably relaxed.

Natural Spa at Chia Laguna Resort

Not that this sensation lasts too long after an afternoon’s boat trip exploring Chia’s beautiful unspoilt coastline. After speeding past dramatic limestone cliffs, hidden bays and the Spartavento lighthouse, which marks Sardinia’s southernmost point, we stop for a snorkel and meet some of the island’s underwater inhabitants – easily visible given the clarity of the turquoise waters. Windsurfing, kayaking and banana-boating are all on offer, while Chia Laguna’s significant sporting programme also extends to tennis, hiking, cycling and a football academy. Families are well catered for and a full entertainment schedule unfolds at the central piazza during the summer months, meaning there’s never a dull moment.

Chia Sa Colonia Beach in Chia, Italy

Yet for all the diversions on offer at the Chia Laguna resort – enough to keep the restless enthralled for weeks – perhaps its greatest allure is the chance to do very little, surrounded by a landscape stunning enough to live long in the memory.

by Ben Olsen

All images courtesy of Chia Laguna Resort.

Nightly rates at Hotel Laguna start from €308 per person based on two adults sharing a superior room on a half-board basis. To find out more, visit here