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  • Jane Egginton

A Taste of La Dolce Vita, Sicilian Style

Jane Egginton

Something magical happened to me at the new stand out Adler Resort in Sicily. Sure, there was the spectacular, deserted beach and nature reserve overlooked by an infinity pool, sophisticated spa treatments and five star facilities, but there was something else. I could only describe it as feeling like family, which was really put to the test.

As for many people, last year was tough. But within hours of arriving at Adler, I felt my whole system relax. We all know that space, time and nature are the great healers and the resort in Sicily offers these in bucket loads. I’ve reviewed many first class spas and hotels over the years but this one is special. There is ancestry, tradition, heritage and real love here, which doesn’t come from nowhere. Adler is 7th-generation family owned.

I meet the great, great, grand daughter of the original owners at lunch in the al-fresco Osteria overlooking the sea. She explains that guests here may be treated like family, but many of them practically are. Adler has a loyal base of repeat guests – no less than 80,000. From the relaxed yet sophisticated restaurant, it’s a short buggy ride though a nature reserve down to the huge swathe of beach, which despite being peak season feels like a deserted Caribbean island. Beaches like this, especially in Europe, are usually on accessible by boat.

Taking a coastal walk with a marine biologist and local historian, I learn that the reserve is so significant that the World Wildlife Fund manage it. The young Sicilian guides tell me they are grateful that part of their island has been preserved from development and many locals enjoy visiting the area, so that it is not just the preserve of wealthy holidaymakers. I enjoy tales of plundering pirates and sightings of bone-white crabs in the sand as I paddle in the pristine water backed by limestone cliffs.

Within hours I am racing back to the airport to return home for a family emergency, and this is when I really get to experience the feeling of being supported and cared for as if by family. After frantically packing, I am given pizza, an airport transfer and even an offer to accompany me on the 4-hour round trip. It is followed by a smiling, even loving goodbye and the promise ‘you will just have to come back’.

On the plane on the way home I read a beautiful, informative book about the seven generations of the Adler family, learning not only about the history of these hotels but also of travel. Anemonie Adler trained in Indian philosophy, meditation and relaxation techniques in a journey that was not dissimilar to my own and introduced Ayurveda to the hotels’ spas. It was also a fascinating insight into wellness holidays, which were traditionally for those with weak nerves and nervous dispositions. I learn that tourism originally described any circular journey by a traveller who spent more than 24 hours abroad and realised this whirlwind trip had only lasted 36 hours.

Later in the year, I do return to Adler and one of the spa cabins overlooking the sea. Each of the cabins are named after Greek Gods. There is a rich history here in this landscape studded with ancient temples. The Sicilian massage I was due when I left for the airport involves being gently scrubbed from head to toe and massaged with orange and raspberry oils as if being bathed as a baby. I hadn’t wanted to leave the first time, but as the Adler motto goes, ‘family first’.


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