“It” hotels are always on my radar. They’re a major part of what I do for a living—crisscrossing the world’s coordinates in search of stylish stays. From surf hotels at the edge of the Sahara to urban sanctuaries towering over Hong Kong’s skyline, I’m constantly on the move, testing the plushness of pillows, the attentiveness of service, the creativity of minibars, and every minute or major detail in between.
For this reason, I’m thrilled to reveal my first Expedia Viewfinder Pick, a best-kept Italian secret set on a verdant volcanic island where remoteness and accessibility converge.
The place: Ischia
Ischia is an age-old wellness retreat teeming with thermal springs and tropical foliage. Here, water wins. Without an airport, the island’s 21 miles of coastline are only reachable by sea. While most holidaymakers arrive by hydrofoil or ferry service from Naples, the Amalfi Coast, or Capri, a select few arrive the Beyoncé way—by yacht or helicopter.
The hotel: Terme Manzi Hotel & Spa
My husband and I arrived in Ischia from Naples by hydrofoil, yet from the moment we were whisked to the hotel in their Mercedes car service, the staff at our new Italian home away from home made us feel just like celebrities who had arrived by yacht.
Viewfinder Tip: Terme Manzi Hotel & Spa is only open seasonally from April to October, during Ischia’s sunniest months, so plan accordingly.
The A-list treatment continued as we walked through the ornate-cum-comfortable lobby—adorned with Murano-glass chandeliers and an orchestra of orchids—and three front-desk staff simultaneously greeted us by name.
At Terme Manzi Hotel & Spa, every stay starts with an extensive tour of the 1863-built (and thoughtfully updated) property, which exponentially grows in beauty with every turn. While I can rarely report this at other hotels, not one napkin was out of place and every Carrara-marble and handcrafted-tile surface sparkled, prompting me to question if I was in a utopia or a covert Relais & Chateaux training facility.
Incredibly, this Italian hideaway doesn’t come with a billionaire price tag; rates hover around US$285 per night.
Utopian status was confirmed when I stepped into the 17,000-square-foot spa cocooned in wood and intricate mosaic murals befitting an ancient church. As a hotel guest, I was granted unfettered access to the facility’s Romanesque, Gurgitello springs–fed thermal pool, cold plunge, steam, sauna, light therapy room, and tropical showers, prompting me to turn to my husband and say with a wink, “Ciao. I’ll see you in a week.”
The more I visited the spa throughout my six-night stay, the more I became fascinated by its therapies. Its wellness reach extends beyond massage and facials into a doctor-helmed health retreat offering medical-grade care, as well as ancient healing therapies using the island’s mineral-rich water to combat everyday ills and its volcanic mud to remove impurities.
Feeling like I should probably peel myself away from the spa and enjoy the light of day, I moved on up to the blue-tiled rooftop pool. Here my husband got into a daily habit of ordering flutes of prosecco accompanied by petits fours. In retrospect, we should have just ordered a bottle, but the anticipation of these bite-size delights kept us ordering bubbly by the glass.
Bottles of bubbles were also available at breakfast (which was included in the nightly rate). This is where I seriously started to wonder if the staff thought my husband and I were famous. Clad in pressed shirts and black vests, the servers would not even let me carry my plate of tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella from the chichi breakfast spread to my table. Upon further investigation, I realized this is how they treat every guest.
When we yearned to leave the hotel (spoiler alert—which was not often) we’d take the complimentary shuttle to the beach. Since almost every swath of sand in Italy is covered by private beach clubs, the service-centric hotel went the extra mile to provide vouchers for loungers and an umbrella so we could experience the beach local-style.
We were only slated to stay for four nights. By night two, we were so smitten, we reorganized our vacation plans so we could soak in Terme’s hospitality and healing waters a little longer.
What hotels have made you want to stay longer?