Borgo Egnazia, Italy
Soothing spa hotel for joy & wellbeing in the Puglian countryside
Family-owned Borgo Egnazia is a soothing, vanilla-stoned hotel in Savelletri di Fasano, set amongst millennial-old olive trees between the Itria Valley and the Adriatic Sea in Puglia. Inspired by the shapes, materials and colours of a typical Puglian village, it comes complete with an impressive piazza and, though vast, has a quiet, calm, candle-lit and intimate feel. Come for decent treatments and wellbeing retreats at the Vair Spa, dramatic pop up events and dinners in the piazza, a round of golf, or sea swimming, fish dining and daybed relaxing at the private beach club.
It’s easy for adults to find quiet, child-free spaces here, and for children to find areas where they can run free. Whoever you are, just wandering and being here feels restful and creative. Everything is the calming colour of vanilla, from the walls and streets made from the local hand-cut “tufo” stone to the staff’s linen dresses, the candle lit nooks and the giant cushions and drapes that grace most public spaces. All of which is set off by a bike basket packed with lemons, a cart stacked with seasonal veggies, a tree filled with lights, large baskets of local almonds and the brilliant pink of cascading bougainvillea you see at every turn.
The bedrooms in the Borgo townhouses are beautifully designed to reflect Puglian villages but can feel a little small and dark compared to the rest of the property – go for bedrooms at the Corte if you want light and space, though note these don’t accept children during peak holiday months.
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Kick back at the spa, go walking into the countryside, cycle to the beach club, play a round of golf, hang out by one of the four pools or reclaim your joy at a seasonal festive event. There’s something here to help everyone relax and rejuvenate, including a range of inventive, eclectic wellbeing retreats that mix treatments, activities and nutritional advice in the pursuit of different wellbeing goals.
Swim in one of the four pools, go for guided or solo walks in the countryside, borrow a bike and cycle down to the beach club for a sea swim, or play a round of golf at the sea-facing San Domenico Golf. There’s also a fully equipped gym in the Vair spa, and a personal trainer on hand for those who need.
At the spacious soothing Vair spa there’s a huge range of treatments on offer, from Roman thermal baths, flotation tanks and cryotherapy in impressive facilities to scrubs, facials and massages carried out with care. Beauty rituals use the hotel’s own locally made natural products, N&B. Ask for long-standing therapist Thomas for the best deep tissue massage.
Available all year round on a private basis, the 3 to 6 night happiness retreats take a science-based approach and combine laughter workshops, walks of trust and fitness activities in the great outdoors with aromatherapy, nutritional advice, spa treatments and sessions in the Roman Bath to help individuals reclaim their joy. The tailor-made programme is based on an Aroma Intro, used as a sensory key to identify the potential and needs of everyone, and a Pro Happiness questionnaire.
Available on set dates four times a year, Borgo Egnazia’s Blue Zone Retreats are a blend of food habits, movement sessions, workshops and experiences that mirror the healthy living habits of what National Geographic Fellow and New York Times best-selling author Dan Buettner has identified as the five cultures of the world – dubbed blue zones – where people live the longest and are healthiest. The retreats are certified by the BLUE ZONES Institute®, which is rooted in Dan’s work. The blue zones are Okinawa, Japan; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya, Costa Rica; Ikaria, Greece, and Loma Linda, California, where Dan found people move naturally, have purpose, down shift, practice the 80% eating rule, eat mainly plants, socialise with a little alcohol, have a community they belong to, put loved ones first, and mix with the right tribe.
There’s a 4 night Tarant retreat for women based around the phenomenon of tarantism – a century-old purifying ritual. According to local legends, women who had been bitten by a spider (the “tarantula”) had to soothe internal vulnerabilities, and on this retreat you’ll do just that with a range of treatments and wellbeing activities.
Borgo Egnazia offers three different types of accommodation beautifully spaced out across the property.
La Corte: La Corte is the main building, a gorgeous contemporary reinterpretation of a traditional Masseria, with 63 rooms divided into three categories. It’s an adults only space during peak season. At La Corte, La Egnazia is a simply gorgeous suite Queen of Retreats reviewers would go for if we were alone or with a loved one or female friend, and comes complete with a spacious living area and bedroom and an extensive roof terrace.
Borgo: At the centre of the property, there are 92 stylish “casette” or townhouses with rooftops, courtyard gardens and small bedrooms in the Borgo, which is inspired by ancient rural villages with its entrance arches, narrow streets with Puglian names, amazing Piazza, iconic clock tower. Families tend to stay here.
Villas: For absolute privacy, choose one of the 28 villas, which have larger private gardens and small pools.
Ask ahead for them to put a teapot in your room if you’d like to make your own herbals, as only coffee machines are provided. As well as joyous seasonal events, some private events take place in the piazza – these can be hugely exciting to witness, though one night we were woken by fireworks after midnight so ask check ahead to ensure a 100% peaceful stay if that is what you need.
When to Go
Time your visit to coincide with a seasonal festival held in the splendid Borgo square. There’s the Festa di Primavera in Spring, the Festa del Borgo in Summer (rediscover the ancient art of preparing “tomato sauce”); the Festa d’Autunno to celebrate the warm colours and flavours of Autumn, and Christmas markets in Winter.
The weather is generally warm and temperate all year round, with short mild winters and hot dry summers. Spring comes early and it is warm and sunny (temperature around 20°C); Summer goes from May to the end of September and it is very hot and dry (temperatures 30-35°C); Autumn is generally still quite warm (temperatures around 18°C); Winters can be a little rainy but never freezing and the temperature never drops to less than 5°C.
The focus here is on using locally sourced produce, including fruits and vegetables grown onsite in the kitchen garden, fish caught in the Adriatic Sea and extra-virgin olive oil made by Masseria San Domenico.
Buffet breakfast feasts at La Frasca restaurant have everything you could want, from fresh fruits and cereals to a juicing station, eggs any way you like them, fish, vegetables and home made treats.
The spa offers fresh juices and healthy dishes during the day. Cala Masciola at the private beach club serves excellent fish dishes – cooked or served in the local ‘crudo’ (or raw) tradition – mainly for lunches, and for both lunches and suppers in peak season. During summer, Il Cortile is a pleasant open-air restaurant dedicated to sharing plates such as bruschetteria and scarpetteria. There are home cooked pizzas available at Mia Cucina, or dress up and head to the Michelin starred Due Camini, where children older than 12 are welcome too.
Suppers of rustic, traditional Puglian dishes are served inside or on the terrace at La Frasca restaurant – expect eclectic choices such as Traditional meat roll with mashed potato, Bread and aubergine balls with savoy cabbage broth, Orecchiette with turnip tops, Stewed octopus and Fried salted codfish and Carob gnocchi, pumpkin and caciocavallo cheese.
Everything you could want to drink is available, from fresh smoothies to fine wines and good coffee.
Borgo Egnazia is on a mission to eliminate all single use plastics. They have their own natural cosmetics line that uses natural locally sourced products, and all their staff are local.
Strada Comunale Egnazia – 72015 – Savelletri di Fasano (Brindisi)
Airport: Brindisi & Bari
Transfer time: 30 mins by car from Brindisi, 45 minutes by car from Bari