Porto Cervo was built in 1960s by Prince Karim Aga Khan as a retreat for the rich and continues to draw an international crowd of jet setters for its seductive promise of secluded luxury and bountiful yachting facilities, including the prestigious Yacht Club Costa Smeralda. The man made glamour gilds the magnificent natural beauty of the coastline and glittering aquamarine waters to create a calm, laid-back resort that’s charmingly Italian.
With a population of only 200, Porto Cervo’s facilities are more limited than some of the more sprawling, flashy equivalents on the Italian Riviera, but here everything is five star, fine dining and elegant. Hotel Cala di Volpe (Bay of Foxes), on the outskirts of Porto Cervo, has long been the favorite with the resort’s famous guests. Designed by Jacques Coulees to resemble an ancient Sardinian fishing village, with a collection of picturesque villas and a covered wooden bridge, the hotel has a rustic, even homely vibe that pays tribute to Sardinia’s romantic heritage. Check in to the most sought after room on the coastline: the Presidential Suite, with three rooms, a steam bath, a private heated swimming pool and jaw dropping ocean views. Hotel Pitrizza follows a more contemporary style of design with spacious grass-roofed rooms that blend seamlessly into the landscape. Choose from an elegant collection of suites and villas, each with their own private swimming pools.
To experience Porto Cervo proper, take up residence in the Yacht Club; the natural habitat of films stars and celebrities and founded by Aga Khan in 1967. Make use of the private pool in between the prestigious regattas that run throughout the summer. The club’s restaurant, Aqua Lounge, caters to those who want to see and be seen, with ceiling to floor windows framing the vast yachts outside and a buzzy atmosphere in the evenings when the boating crew round off their day with a cocktail or two. Outside the club, restaurant Da Giovanni is at the top of the Costa Smeralda’s gastronomic offerings, serving fresh fish and seafood in a romantic, understated setting. Else head inland to the humble, whitewashed cottage of La Sasima for hearty alfresco dining under the stars. Then make like the Italians do and stop by Sa Conca for old-fashioned gelato. Here you can also pick up delicate chocolate dipped fruits, biscotti, lemon tarts, cream puffs and fruit tarts to nibble as you wander whimsically along the waterfront.
For drinks, Buenavista Cafe at Abbiadori, high above the sea at Cala di Volpe, is enchanting with panoramic views whilst the Grand Hotel’s beach cum club, Orange (once Nikki Beach, renamed after a sophisticated revamp) offers cabanas and laid-back DJ sets right on the water front. Located on the cliffs above the Gulf of Pevero, Billionaire is the favorite haunt for celebrities, famed for its all-night dance parties and enviably stylish guest list. Just a short walk from the village’s piazza, you’ll find You Porto Cervo with a series of elevated terraces from where you can sip champagne whilst watching the sun dip beneath the waves.
During the daytime, wander round the designer shops and jewellers before making your way to The Blu Mediterraneo Spa. The members-only club is one of the resort’s hottest attractions as one of the two spas in the world that uses exclusively Acqua di Parma’s products. Post treatment, feeling refreshed and fragrant, you can join the likes of George Clooney, Julia Roberts and Jay Z on the terrace for an ice-cold limoncello. Or there’s Pevero Golf Course, stretching nearly 4 miles between the Gulf of Pevero and Cala di Volpe, with some of Europe’s most beautiful fairways and very smart club house.
With translucent seas, days of endless sunshine and the best equipped port on the Mediterranean, Port Cervo is the closest you’ll come to a yachter’s paradise.