Our Favorite Things: Bella Vita’s 2023 picks

It is very, very had to pick a favorite. A top hotel, a great restaurant, one of our spectacular tours – there are so many experiences we had this past year that were outstanding. What sets Bella Vita apart from other travel planning services is that we do these trips ourselves. These are accommodations we stay at, places we dine and drink at, tours we take and streets we wander.

As 2023 winds up, we wanted to share some of our favorite experiences of the year. Bella Vita travels quite a bit. This is to ensure that the places we send our clients are up to our discerning standards. We check, and check again, your trips personally before sending you there.

We have so many favorite places as a group. This is a long list and certainly doesn’t include all of the places we went to this year. As all of our trips are tailor made to your travel dreams and wishes, these are just a few of the ideas that we can put together for you. From family travel, to travel with kids, couples and groups of friends, we have done it all this year. We cannot wait to share our favorites with you – this week, starting with our favorite hotels.

Christine, our social media manager and travel expert, shares her favorite hotel

The Six Senses in the Douro Valley of Portugal was a hotel I’ve been dreaming about for a while. It remains my favorite experience of this past year. I went on a girls trip with my favorite travel partner, my 4-year old little girl, Lilia. Though some people might think traveling with kids solo is impossible, with the right planning, it is a true joy to expose children to the world. And the Six Senses made that even easier – and even got me some time to relax!

To start, the hotel is nestled in a vineyard overlooking the spectacular river that gives the valley its name. Our room, a vineyard suite, had a gorgeous sunny terrace and more than enough room for a family! The touches for my daughter were amazing, as well. Stuffed animals and coloring books, babysitting service, and also kids activities like nature walks and art classes. The hotel also has two friendly dogs who greeted us every morning.

For adults, this is the place to be for wine lovers. We visited several local wineries with our amazing guide. The hotel also has a wine bar where you can swipe a card and do your own tasting. The food in the restaurants was amazing. But my absolute favorite? The spa. The treatments were personalized and the spa menu incredibly varied. The pools were gorgeous and Lilia and I really loved them – and I loved even more the saunas (several) and other details. In the summer the property comes alive, but in the early fall, the colors were truly enchanting. From the beginning to the end of our stay, the Six Senses was just perfect.

Luigi, our head of Italy operations and vendor relations, shares his favorite hotel

Casa di Langa is a very special 5 star in Cerreto Langhe in Italy. They have around 45 rooms from classic to suites, all beautifully done, from the dimensions to the design and the furniture. The bathrooms are amazing, all with beautiful showers and some with a gorgeous bathtub.

The view, however, is the star. Located in the middle of a forest (which is property of the hotel), there is a breathtaking view of the hills and vines of Piemonte up to the mountains in the distance. It is isolated in the most perfect way – meaning that it is quiet but still is close enough to visit the towns and vineyards of this incredible region of Italy. A rental car, however, is essential.

They have a fantastic restaurant with a huge open kitchen. Being in Piemonte, we are here for the wine – and the sommelier (really everyone) is incredibly kind, professional and well prepared. They also have a modern glass cellar for the wine where they do personalized wine tastings. 

The hotel can also organize an unending list of activities for clients, from horseback riding to a walk in the private forest with an expert forest guide, truffle hunting, an e-bike rental, or even a local cooking class.

Megan, our founder and luxury travel expert, shares her favorite hotel, Cali Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos has two faces, in my opinion. On one side, there is touristy, excruciatingly expensive beach clubs, and cruise ships littering its port by day. Then, there is the other side (both figuratively and literally). Rural and rustic countryside dotted by whitewashed villages and their blue domed churches, pristine coastline with gleaming Aegean blue sea and a laid back, relaxing vibes that pulls you in to complete paradise. Cali Mykonos lives on that side of Mykonos, in every way.

This sanctuary is above its own private beach and has a total of 40 luxury suites and villas. Many with pools and plenty of private outdoor space. Meanwhile, the interiors are graced in soothing natural colors of white, grey and blue and amazing showers.

As for around the resort, there are dining options with cuisine prepared by Greece’s first Michelin-starred chef. 

There is a modern fitness studio offering pilates, yoga, a full gym. And coming this spring, is a beautiful spa with steam, infrared sauna and ice rooms, as well as Hammam and treatment rooms. There is also the majestic infinity pool which curves around the property suggestively like a women’s silhouette – simply stunning!

There are spectacular views of the Aegean from every point of the resort. The sea can be enjoyed by Cali’s own a fleet of yachts you can book for private charters. The Cali team is headed by the magnificent Matilda Botsi (Clef d’Or level concierge). They can help you organize tours and excursions such as cooking lessons, wine tasting and helicopter rides.

It isn’t just the property that makes Cali Mykonos so special. It’s the people. The staff is warm, wonderful and very professional. The resort was the project of Kyriakos Mourkakos (otherwise known as Eric and one of my absolute favorite hoteliers!). He managed to realize just what sublime, subtle and simple luxury can truly be. Cali Mykonos is just that, and I cannot wait to send more and more clients here (and return my self!).

Kate, our sales expert and luxury travel specialist, shares her top hotels

This year the list of ‘favorites’ was long and impressive. Edinburgh’s The Balmoral, a Rocco Forte hotel; London’s 45 Park Lane and the flagship Dorchester hotel (also on Park Lane); the Das Achental in Bavaria, Germany, and Munich’s Beyond by Geisel all stand out for their extraordinary hospitality, comfort, locations, and luxury. Each had its own charm and unique qualities, but if I have to pick a top hotel, I’ll have to say that it was the Four Seasons Park Lane in London.

The area of Mayfair in London is home to some of London’s most luxurious hotels (including the dreamy Dorchester and the sleek 45 Park Lane). Just west of Buckingham Palace, and within walking distance of the main sites and museums this elegant area of the city is the perfect spot to base yourself for your London stay. 

The Four Seasons Park Lane is a cozy hideaway, on a side street away from the traffic. My gorgeous Executive Conservatoire Room was spacious, airy, and had a seating area outside. Unfortunately, it rained the whole time I was in London, so I wasn’t able to enjoy it – next time! The top floor of the hotel has a gym and spa with floor-to-ceiling windows which look out over the entire city. It was fun to look out and spot all of the landmarks. I travel yearly to London, and always have a packed list of things to do: the changing of the guard, at least one West End show, a walk around Covent Garden, and a museum visit or two. This time though, I also scheduled some time to enjoy my very comfortable hotel room (and delicious room service dinner) and that seemed like a vacation on its own.

Our favorite hotels

We hope that some of our personal hotel picls have given you inspiration for an upcoming trip. What makes us stand apart (or one of the many reasons) from other travel planners is that we form our own opinions based solely on location research. Our vast network of contacts, suppliers and providers, along with our decades of personal expertise, means that we can plan your dream trip and execute it perfectly.

Contact us today to start planning!

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