Locate about 1.5 hours north of Cagliari or 2.5 hrs. south west of Olbia is a (yet) unspoiled area of western Sardinia that combines tranquility, with great beaches, archeological sites and a good golf course.
This area reminds me of the Sardinia that I knew 20 years ago where there is plenty of tourism but the area and coastline has not been destroyed by a sea of cement.
The review is lengthy so I provided a brief summary for those travelers desiring a quick read.
For those seeking tranquility, this area is your destination;
The property is very expansive so even “full”, you are not feeling crowded;
With a car, you have an opportunity to see some fantastic archeological sites;
Also by car, the famous quartz beach at Mari Ermi beats anything in the Caribbean;
The staff in EVERY area is delightful and helpful;
The room was spacious and very clean;
The beach was within walking distance of the hotel;
The food was good;
o The wifi … but glad to do without it! ;
o A little extra padding on the mattress would enhance comfort
o Their main reservation and customer service center on the mainland was underwhelming;
Other Factoids … -
- Recommend excursions to be planned during your stay- in the vicinity Cabras- San Salvatore- San Giovanni di Sinis- Tharros- Mari Ermi with more details in the review;
- A longer excursion going north towards Alghero stopping by Cuglieri and the Grotte di Nettuno.
- Good on property golf course which is reviewed on T/A.
I will commence by excusing myself for the long soliloquy that will ensue. The reason for the particularly expanded review is that I have not visited a location in a very long time that combines a most tranquil atmosphere and surrounding with a good beach and golf course (both within walking distance), activities that relax the mind and body, together with archeological and historical sites to quench our life-long thirst for learning.
So, welcome to Narbolia and the Golf Hotel Is Arenas.
Carved into a pine forest, you will find the very inconspicuous resort hotel and golf course. In fact, from the road there a just a few signs and you definitely cannot see any buildings. You will travel about 5 km to actually get to the hotel through the pine forest, golf course and some condos (this road makes for a great jogging trail).
The property itself is very expansive with a variety of room choices- regular, small chalet, apartment villa (these later clustered in one and two story buildings) and separate villas. So, one can choose the best option depending on desired comfort and privacy. Additionally since it is spread over many acres, you do not feel at all crowded even when it is fully booked. The center of the hotel is the reception, pool and restaurant area where, if you have them, you will leave your golf clubs (at the caddie master), pick-up your golf cart, relax by the pool and enjoy an “al fresco” dinner with a nice walk back to the room as a digestif!
Access to “their” beach (please note that beaches in Italy are all public) can be reached by a 10 minute walk or by riding their regularly schedule golf cart. The beach facilities are very good. The beach bar with restrooms and a good menu for lunch and panoramic roof top views is a great place to find refuge from the hot day. On the beach itself, they have lounge chairs, beach umbrellas and towels along with a fresh water shower.
The water is shallow so you will need to go out a ways to find some depth. It is clean and clear. But be careful because if the water is rough, waves can be dangerous. Never underestimate the sea! I did not measure it, but did walk the entire beach, but it must be at least 15 km one-way! It’s a great walk since you have unspoiled scenery … you and mother nature … regrettably you do notice how much plastic stuff is washed ashore … it’s a shame that we cannot treat our mother any better!
The room was very spacious, comfortable and especially clean having all the comforts that you need including a refrigerator. During my stay, there was a tremendous heatwave making temperatures reach over 40 Celsius or 100 Fahrenheit. The combination of the pool, beach and great air conditioning were great antidotes. They offer evening turndown service and always replenish your water bottles.
The food is varied, flavorful and plenty. The breakfast is a very expansive buffet with all kinds of choices as well as the possibility to expressly order something. In fact, a nice healthy breakfast can pretty much carry the day until dinner. Where before dining, you can have a relaxing aperitif by the pool and adjourn to your table. The Sardinian buffet is particularly interesting since they present quite a range of local dishes from antipastos to desserts. The 5 mile jog that I mentioned earlier is a great way to consume these delicious injested calories!
As a golf enthusiast, I was very pleased with the onsite course which I reviewed in T/A. You can swing by the reception and the Caddie Master will have them ready on your cart. Antonio is most helpful. He has a wonderful and affectionate dog called Libera, the word free in Italian.
Speaking of the staff, they are all genuinely polite, helpful and interested in making your stay special and enjoyable. This is a very important sign, reflective of good management, superior staff and their experience, including many of them who were fluent in two to four languages.
In closing, but certainly not less important is the opportunity to take your car and plan some special excursions. The front desk can also assist with mapping out an itinerary. As mentioned in the introduction, the itinerary starting in Cabras (stop by the supermarket to pick up your food and drinks) for a late beach lunch in Mari Ermi will be a great tour. Depending on how much time you allow at each stop (definitely 1.5 hours at Tharros), you can leave around 10 am and leisurely return before 4pm. The stops after Cabras will include Ipogeo San Salvatore, the church of San Giovanni in Sinis, a ½ hour walk to reach the ruins of the ancient city of Tharros and the Spanish tower (and if you wanted to could walk to the other one at the tip of the coastline) with a refreshing swim and final stop at the beach in Mari Ermi. Here bring your towels and the lunch you bought in Cabras for a great culmination of your day.
The second excursion is much more demanding given the distances. It’s slightly over 100 km on the state road 292, 42 and 105 until you reach Alghero. You will need to drive slowly as you pass through small towns along the way and windy scenic roads (recommend stopping at Cuglieri and walking to the top where the Cathedral offers panoramic views of the coastline, Bosa with the Malaspina castle). So with a 2 + hour, excluding stops, one way trip, it will be a full day with the visit to the Neptune Grotto.
An important note must be made. The Sardinian roads are notoriously difficult for the uninitiated with plenty of hairpin turns, sparsely market road signs and very fast local drivers combined with slow moving tourists. Consequently be very careful. And when coming back from Alghero, preferably not at sun down or at night, you should take a different route going east towards Sassari on 127 and then catching 131 the super highway, called Carlo Felice going south towards Macomer/Oristano/Cagliari.
You would then exit at Tramaza to go back to the hotel.
In summary, this hotel allows you to have a very diverse schedule of activities where time will have flown by, you are relaxed and have no desire to pack your bags for the return trip home.
Now that’s a successful vacation!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A refined 5-star Resort in a modern and elegant style, notable for its unique location, immersed in the beautiful Is Arenas pine forest, a protected area of particular environmental importance. The pine forest is a Mediterranean microclimate that regenerates the spirit and warms the soul, and not just in the summer: 800 hectares of undulating cluster pine foliage that blend into a 6km stretch of pristine beach that slopes gently into the crystal-clear sea. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Is Arenas