Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda, Italy
Luxury eco spa resort with breathtaking views over Lake Garda
Open all year round except for three weeks in January.
From €230 per room per night solo occupancy and from €290 per room per night double occupancy including breakfast. Programmes and treatments extra.
Best for: Anyone looking for a wellbeing break with five-star trimmings and some eastern philosophy thrown in.
Not for: Anyone in need of a strict health regime.
In a nutshell: Set high up in the hillside with expansive views across to the craggy peaks of the Dolomites and out to a glittering expanse of the great Lake Garda, Lefay Resort & SPA Lago di Garda offers rejuvenation programmes and a menu of wellbeing and beauty treatments based upon traditional Chinese energetic medicine and western science. It has a strongly Italian flavour, best sampled in one of its restaurants. There’s a therapeutic garden to enjoy, a huge outdoor hydrotherapy pool and infinity pool, an extensive spa and walks from the door in the surrounding 30 hilly acres of national park.
The outdoor infinity swimming pool is 25 metres of bliss with magical views to the hills and out to the lake. There’s a consistently high quality of treatments based on the principles of Chinese medicine, gently administered by a caring team. The spa reception staff are expert at advising what you might need and accommodating changes to any of your choices as your stay progresses.
We were bemused that for an eco resort, the little knickers they suggest you wear are wrapped in single use plastics, and that during the facials the therapist abandons you with a mask on your face and goes out of the room for ten minutes rather than massaging your feet or similar. It might be difficult to come here to lose weight or follow a special diet while others enjoy the delicious Italian meals!
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Come to stay and just relax and indulge, or book onto a wellbeing programme that combines Classical Chinese Medicine with Western scientific research and offers spa treatments (60 of which are Signature) alongside Lefay SPA Method health programmes from 3 to 10 nights to help you with general wellbeing, weight management, detox, sleep, posture or beauty. There are four qualified staff doctors here experts in the various holistic disciplines and lots of excellent therapists.
The Discovery programme is a 3 night taster that includes a Lefay SPA full board treatment, medical consultation, an energy personalised massage, facial treatment, a hydro-aromatherapy session and energy fitness class. Or opt for longer programmes filled with advice and treatments themed around beauty, weight management, sleep, fitness, posture, detox, osteo-physiotherapy, mothers-to-be, wellness for children and men’s wellness.
You can fill your day with therapies and beauty treatments picking from the extensive a la carte menu, or you can ‘do as the Romans’ and lounge by the pool, hang in the pool bar or heated whirlpool or the indoor relaxation areas which include five types of sauna and hammam, floatation salt ‘lake’ and meditation dome.
Treatments on offer include Energy Body and Face
Energy Massages, Beauty rituals and non invasive beauty treatments such as acu-lifting, Thalassotherapy and Thalgo rituals, Pregnancy body and face treatments and medical treatments such as naturopathy, moxa, acupuncture, phytotherapy (herbs), osteopathy, physio and psychological consultations.
For the active guest, there’s a state-of-the-art gym furnished with Technogym equipment, a 2 km fitness trail with stations to improve muscle elasticity and free classes each day in the likes of yoga or qigong. If you want to leave the cocoon of Lefay and its rambling therapeutic energy garden, there’s a free shuttle bus to Gargnano, the local town, where you can hire mountain bikes, paddle boarding and boat trips on the lake. Trekking in the Alto Garda National Park can also be arranged.
Cultural trips can be arranged to visit the traditional lemon houses of the Upper Garda region, to Vittoriale Degli Italiani (the house of the Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio) and to opera or sightseeing in Verona. It’s worth a trip to Limone, about 20 minutes north, for shopping and to walk the wooden pathway right alongside the lake. The village of Gargnano on the lakeside is a 10 minutes drive - the resort offers a complimentary shuttle bus to the village during the day.
Bedrooms: All the 93 ensuite bedrooms branch out from the central spa and face outwards with views across the lake and a grass terrace. The temperature is naturally regulated by thermal water panels in the floor and ceiling, so on hot nights you don’t have to choose between stifling or icy cold. Decor uses local materials like olive wood for the floor and gorgeous fabrics sourced within Italy. They all have large, very comfortable beds, big round bath and separate shower a separate closet for the loo and a walk-in clothes closet. Artwork is specially commissioned and inspired by the famous lemon houses of the area.
Private suites: The Royal Pool & SPA Suite is 600 sqm of private suite with its own infinity pool, garden and spa. The decor is inspired by Roman mythology, and it’s regularly booked by Italian celebs.
Meditation stations: Enjoy one of the five meditation stations in the energy garden, have a massage in a gazebo in the zen gardens with a view of the lake, or head inside to the spa where you’ll find several silent areas where you are required to switch off your devices and digitally detox, including a turquoise grotto with relaxing beds.
Lefay is an upmarket Italian spa and most guests dress for dinner, so leave your tie-dye t-shirts and fisherman’s pants at home and bring something smart; not forgetting to get a nice pair of shades and wide brimmed hat for lounging by the pool.
When to Go
The resort is at its busiest and the climate at its hottest in June, July, August and September. October is a beautiful month to visit, or choose February, March or November for the most tranquil spa experience, when the resort isn’t crowded and the Mediterranean Winter is kind. Lots of people come in December for Christmas. You can swim in the internal-external pool all year, while the infinity pool is open from April till October.
Food for the Mediterranean meals here is organic and locally sourced where possible, always seasonal, and usually delicious. Try it at the top floor formal restaurant, La Grande Limonaia, which overlooks the lake, or at Trattoria La Vigna, the smaller and more relaxed brasserie where you can eat in your robe during the day. Both serve excellent Italian food and wine, so there’s really no need to go elsewhere.
You’ll find the best of a Mediterranean diet here with authentic flavours of the region, including extra virgin olive oil, citrus fruits from the lake and locally grown herbs. The main kitchen is run by a highly rated young chef who composes inventive gourmet dishes and spectacular puddings. Or you can be an epicurist, choosing from dishes like snail and wild mushroom bake or river prawn ravioli followed by fresh lake Perch or cuts of wild goat.
If you’re on a weight loss or detox there’s a spa menu which offers low calorie and raw options such as carrot and ginger soup, light fish and roasted veg, as well as a vegan menu. It is really up to you whether you combine the spa experience with gastronomic indulgence. There’s an extensive wine list, and in fine Italian tradition, there’s even a cigar room for the chaps after dinner!
This luxury spa resort with inspiring views over Lake Garda offers a five star experience with treatments and wellbeing programmes while staying true to its environmental values.
Food is organic and locally sourced where possible, and the resort’s substantial energy requirements are almost entirely generated from an on-site energy plant with biomass processor and other clean energy sources such as photovoltaic panels. There’s an attention to water consumption, rain water is collected and recycled for the park, and there’s a clever way around using air con in the rooms. The spa is certified organic, and there’s not a plastic water bottle in sight, though on our recent visit spa knickers, hair nets and apple rings were all wrapped in single-use plastics; we’re told they’re attending to this.
Via Angelo Feltrinelli, 136, 25084 Gargnano, BS, Italia
Airport: Verona (88kms - 1.5-hour drive), Milan Linate (150 km - 2-hour drive) or Malpensa (2.5-hour drive)
Desenzano del Garda (37 kms) or Brescia (50 kms)
Transfer time: 30 to 50 minutes