White sandy beaches, warm shallow waters, charming ports and the scent of the maquis – Corsica is the perfect romantic getaway
By Selma Day
You don’t have to fly all the way to the Maldives or the Caribbean to find white sand and turquoise waters.
Much closer to home – and now with direct flights from the UK to Bastia, Ajaccio and Figari, courtesy of Air Corsica – is the beautiful island of Corsica.
In a secluded cove along the Gulf of Porto-Vecchio in the south, you’ll find the Grand Hotel de Cala Rossa. With the warm, shallow waters of the Mediterranean bordering a private sandy beach, you couldn’t ask for a dreamier setting – the perfect spot for a romantic getaway.
The hotel has recently undergone renovations, so you’ll find all the mod cons and refinement of a luxury retreat, without losing any of the warmth and friendliness of what has been a family house for four decades.
The rooms and suites are individually designed and vary in size. Honeymooners will love the cosy, one-bedroom tree house, called Bamboo, which is set on stilts amid the pine forest, with lovely views from the terrace out to the sea. It’s all wood and raw materials inside but with all the home comforts you need – bathroom with Italian shower and bath, television, internet, minibar etc.
There’s very little to do here other than simply relax, take in the scenery, enjoy a glass of wine or two and eat delicious food.
There are four restaurants to choose from. La Pinede is the place for sunny lunches by the sea and gourmet dinners under the pine trees. The menu here is very much Mediterranean in style and seasonal using fresh produce from both the island and Cala Rossa’s own vegetable garden. A daily chef’s menu is also available.
I Piattini offers small plates to share – ideal with a glass of wine or cocktail in the garden. For a more gourmet experience, chef Pascal Cayeux, assisted by Sébastien Chauchat, will create a bespoke menu inspired by flavours from the Med and using whatever ingredients they have picked from the vegetable patch that morning – although vegetable patch is a bit of an understatement. It’s actually a spacious garden surrounded by tall hedges, mimosas and tamarisks, where you’ll find lavender, fig trees, an abundance of aromatic herbs, along with tomatoes, aubergines, courgettes, arugula (rocket), peas and much more.
The garden, along with the fragrant maquis for which Corsica is famous, is also the inspiration for the hotel’s spa (The Spa by Nucca). With a Japanese-style interior, it houses seven treatment cabins, a sauna and a swimming pool with underwater music.
Cala Rossa is all about relaxation and old-school romance in one of Corsica’s most prestigious locations, but if you do want to explore, then Porto-Vecchio is well worth a visit. The walls of a 16th century Genoese citadel are the backdrop to the old town and offer views over the yacht-filled marina.
Shops, bars and restaurants line the town’s narrow streets and main square. It’s only a short drive from the hotel – just be sure to be back in time for sundowners overlooking the bay.
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