Four dream Mediterranean escapes


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Le Mas à la mode

The renovated interior of the poolside restaurant at Le Mas Candille, Mougins
The renovated interior of the poolside restaurant at Le Mas Candille, Mougins © Matthieu Salvaing

Le Mas Candille, just outside Mougins in the Nice-Cannes hinterland, has traded for decades on its lovely setting and a destination restaurant majoring in refined-but-classic bistro fare. Perfectly comfortable, but not breaking any style ground. In 2022 it was acquired by the Courtin-Clarins family and JP Cartier, a French tech entrepreneur-turned-hotelier, who undertook a complete renovation; a couple of weeks ago the Mas debuted its new face.

Sunloungers by the pool at Le Mas Candille
Sunloungers by the pool at Le Mas Candille © Matthieu Salvaing
The California-inflected interior at its restaurant La Table des Pins
The California-inflected interior at its restaurant La Table des Pins © Matthieu Salvaing

Le Mas Candille

Priced: From €413

Click: mascandille.com

Cartier hired Franco-Mexican residential interior designer Hugo Toro to imagine a new design scheme that blends a bit of California gaiety into the Côte d’Azur cool. The palette is grown-up combinations of natural greens and earth tones in both restaurants, the bar, and the 46 rooms and suites, with lots of clubby dark wood and an overall effect recalling Hollywood’s Sunset Tower hotel (a good thing). Sounds like the Mas will hit its wellness note too: Clarins cousins Prisca and Virginie Courtin are personally overseeing the construction and development of the dedicated Clarins spa, called The Glow House.


A hidden Puglian gem

The private garden of a suite at Hotel Piccolo Mondo, Puglia
The private garden of a suite at Hotel Piccolo Mondo, Puglia

Hotel Piccolo Mondo opened in the 1960s, and has been run by three generations of the same family ever since. It’s perched on a bluff near Castro Marina, on the Adriatic coast south of Lecce, and its 32 rooms fill several terraces at different levels, connected by stone paths and staircases.

A view of the stone stairs on the cliffside that lead down to a private bathing cove
A view of the stone stairs on the cliffside that lead down to a private bathing cove

Hotel Piccolo Mondo

Priced: From €226

Click: hotel-piccolomondo.it

Inside, they’re devoid of extraneous fancy: you get a few pretty tiles, white sheets, an antique table or two, and panoramic views of the sea. The saltwater pool at the cliff’s edge has a bar and daytime outdoor restaurant. There is a tennis court and bowling green, and an outdoor cinema from June to September. Winding steps – 193 of them – lead down to a private bathing cove. This is old school as best school, proving charm trumps a huge spend.


High style in Sicily (with Etna on the horizon)…

The swimming pool at Villa Arboli’, south of Catania
The swimming pool at Villa Arboli’, south of Catania

Once upon not so long ago, Sicily was still Italy’s vacational outlier – an island that, bar the well-known resort of Taormina, was the preserve of the more adventurous breed of traveller. How quaint that seems: today it’s one of the country’s most sought-after destinations. Best-in-class villa specialist The Thinking Traveller started out here, and one of the first properties it worked with was Tenuta di San Giuliano, a gorgeous noble palace and heritage garden between Catania and Syracuse.

Dining out on the shaded terrace
Dining out on the shaded terrace
One of the ensuite bedrooms at Villa Arboli’
One of the ensuite bedrooms at Villa Arboli’

The Thinking Traveller

Priced: From €8,000 a week

Click: thethinkingtraveller.com

New to its portfolio this month is another house on the same property, with a style entirely its own. Villa Arboli’ is a single-storey, 200-year-old casa rustica given a chic and colourful design intervention that’s anything but rustic, from the lemon-yellow kitchen and turquoise-tiled fireplace to the burnt-orange walls. Four ensuite bedrooms abut a living-dining area that gives onto a terrace shaded by a date palm. The T-shaped pool overlooks orange groves; Etna sits on the distant horizon, ringed in its signature haze.


To Taormina’s new place to be

A view from the sunloungers at Villa Sant’Andrea
A view from the sunloungers at Villa Sant’Andrea © Greco Giulio Fotografo

Taormina, meanwhile, is still contending with its post-White Lotus notoriety, but look to the right bits and you’ll find its charms intact. A good place to start: Villa Sant’Andrea, the Belmond beauty on the beach whose 67 rooms and suites and public spaces marry old-school and 21st-century cool (see the very chic bar the hotel inaugurated in April).

The bar at Villa Sant’Andrea’s beach club Lido Villeggiatura
The bar at Villa Sant’Andrea’s beach club Lido Villeggiatura © Greco Giulio Fotografo
A table overlooking the sea at Villa Sant’Andrea
A table overlooking the sea at Villa Sant’Andrea © Greco Giulio Fotografo

Villa Sant’Andrea

Priced: From €1,000  

Click: belmond.com

The hotel has just launched Lido Villeggiatura, its beach club. Beyond the sunloungers and umbrellas, there are a half-dozen cabanas (bookable all day, or for lunch or spa treatments), along with a full bar and bar menu on offer across the Lido’s shady sitting areas or at your lounger. All summer there will be programming, from morning yoga on the deck to DJs, live music and board-game nights on Sundays.

@mariashollenbarger





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