BY SALLY STILEMAN, RESERVATIONS MANAGER
This summer I got to experience Sicily in total luxury, staying at two of the best properties on the island; one at the beach and one in town, which both offered very different experiences. The elegant Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo is a beautiful hotel located centrally in the cobbled-street town of Taormina, built on the hillside with stunning views over the sea, gardens and magnificent Mount Etna, as well as the amphitheatre behind the hotel. Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo has an air of 50’s glamour about it – the likes of Sophia Loren and Liz Taylor have stayed there - and it’s certainly a place to be seen. This is wonderfully located for exploring the local town and being close to great restaurants.
I then stayed at Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo’s sister hotel on the beachfront, Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea, a former private villa that has been restored & extended so it’s really spacious and modern. The hotel has a stunning private beach with new Cabanas to hire, and the atmosphere here is noticeably more relaxed and family-friendly, with a well-rated children’s club. One evening an absolute must is the traditional Sicilian dinner at Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea – a 12-course feast sampling lots of delicious foods such as Granita and Cannoli. Although the beach location is fabulous, going into town for dinner by cable car can be a bit of an effort, particularly for younger families. The real benefit to these hotels is that guests can use facilities of both, offering an even more varied experience of the area.
I would highly recommend an Island tour to visit Noto, Raguso and Modica – amazing cities where you can learn about their rich cultural history. The town of Taormina is certainly worth exploring by foot with a wealth of great shops, restaurants and an impressive amphitheatre. I would love to go back to Sicily to explore further as the region has a really great climate (the best time to go is April – November), and there is so much to explore and see: fantastic wine tours, explorations of Etna, and a visit to the underground city that was buried after the Etna eruption in 1693. The excursions here are fascinating and are all on my list for next time