History Cala di Volpe Present Cala di Volpe

Even the boatdeck reflects the uniqueness of the setting, To the right the Aga Khan, the prince of our little the fairy tale.

Cala di Volpe

image We are thoroughly trained to expect backgrounds and historic context. This hotel presents one of the rare exceptions in the list of The Most Famous Hotels in the World. Here, the brain doesn’t immediately reach the right conclusion. When we see the Cala di Volpe, we look at an old fishing village. Or a 15th century castle. Architect Jacques Couëlle loved the question of what it was before it became a hotel. It takes you a while to realise that this mottled collection of houses, towers, terraces, stairs and arches is not an ancient fishing village created long before every standard building codex would have prevented most of it. It still looks as if it were inhabited by villagers in fierce competition with one another, all painting their houses differently, while some of them couldn’t afford the paint at all. No, ladies and gentlemen, all you see is new. Where you are standing or sitting or lying right now there was nothing but a barren valley back in 1960, so remote from any place that you wouldn’t have liked the idea of spending a night here. It was called the cove of the foxes, Cala di Volpe. It opened opened in 1963.

How the Stage was Set HISTORY IN BRIEF

1962, 14 March: A group of Sardinian landowners including the Aga Khan formed the Consorzio Costa Smeralda, with the objective to carefully develop a tourism infrastructure on the island.

1960s: The Cala di Volpe became he new hub for high society during the summer months.

1990s: The Aga Khan’s Italian company Fimbar was in deep financial trouble. He had to give up the control of CIGA and its hotels in six countries, which also included the hotels along the Costa Smeralda.

1994: Sheraton took over the Cala di Volpe. Evetually the American real estate kings Starwood would venture into tourism and buy the whole lot.

2003, 19 June: Starwood sold the Cala di Volpe, Hotel Pitrizza, Hotel Romazzino, Cervo Hotel & Conference Centre, Porto Cervo Marina and Shipyard, Pevero Golf Club, a 51% stake in nearly 6,000 acres of undeveloped oceanfront land, and some ancillary facilities to Los Angeles-based Colony Capital in a 290 million Euro deal. Starwood manages the hotels under a long-term contract and retains a 49% stake in the undeveloped land.

You are on an island in Italy called Sardinia (capital Cagliari), the second largest in the Mediterranean sea; in its north Eastern province of Sassari, on the Costa Smeralda (a derivation from the Italian word smeraldino, in English emerald green). And here comes the sort of stuff that makes you irresistible during dinner small talk: Genetic research proves that small percentages of the inhabitants of Sardinia are of Phoenician origin. In 1926 Sardinian Grazia Deledda won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The 1994 Miss Italy Alessandra Meloni came from Sardinia. Actor Franco Columbu is Sardinian (Arnold Schwarzenegger’s training partner and best man). The Costa Smeralda is only a few hours by boat away from the French island of Corsica and 120 km from mainland Italy. In 1996 Italy won its first Admiral’s Cup. Parsley originated in Sardinia (say the Sardinians). Sardinian pasta includes shell shaped malloreddus (saffron flavoured), fregula, pillus (and seven dozen more). Also important: Panadas (salted eel or game stuffed cakes. The canning of pilchards, a herring, was developed here (sardines). Cala di Volpe means Cove of the Foxes. Be aware of Giane, a Sardinian woodland spinning spirit. In co-operation with NASA the Italian space agency is building a giant dish on Sardinia. And finally, there is an other Sardinia in South Carolina, US (near a ctiy called Florence, yes, it’s true!). And to show off before dessert arrives, stand up at the dinner table and recite Pompey (saying to Caesar): ‘You have made me offer Of Sicily, Sardinia; and I must Rid all the sea of pirates; then, to send Measures of wheat to Rome; this greed upon, To part with unhack’d edges, and bear back Our targets undinted.’ (Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare), Act II, Scene VI.). Small print: The hard, wild Sardinian landscape is characterised by mountain chains hiding impressive caves with stalactites and stalagmites, tablelands (plateaux), and Campidano plains; and by rivers, golden sandy beaches, mortises and cliffs, covered by Mediterranean scrub, oleasters and ficodindia. If, in your rare spare time, you desire to acquaint yourself with culture, or the remains of it, various museums in the region take you to ‘Mineralogico’, ‘Archeologico’, ‘Garibaldi’. And on a snowy winter morning, when you find that the summer is over, you might like to trot to the ‘Biblioteca Comunale’ to get a second book. ++++++++++

Boatpeople, again. They fall into the Cala at lunch or at night. After sailing out there on the boring Mediteranean for days without any diversion, they decide to anchor in front of the Cala di Volpe. The moment the anchor reaches sea level the phone at the Cala restaurant rings and maître Mario Lutzoni receives a request for a small table for 30 of the yacht owners closest friends at the terrace for an apéritif and later at the restaurant. Sometimes they arrive especially for a gala night like a Lionel Ritchie concert (previous pages), always a sell out event with around 1000 guests. There are modest requests for a tête-à-tête candlelit dinner, but there is also president Bush who needs a table for 41 people right now. A request – given the strong US navy presence in the era – that is immediately complied with. Security is of course a major issue. The Cala di Volpe has its own security manager on duty, but the real big fish arrive with their own team. Sometimes there are more security men in the party than guests, but that’s of course only a sign of true importance. Truly great names do without all this – Princess Caroline, for instance. Just as she left her apartment a paparazzi pointed his tele-lens at her from across the bay. Her husband at that time, Stefano Casiraghi, who was just fixing something on his boat, saw the photographer, ran around the bay of the hotel’s little lagoon and caught the hapless chap. The camera landed in the water. The King of Jordan arrives under the same unexpected circumstances, and after dinner the charming Queen Noor dances in the lobby with a local folk group. Jacques Chirac, Bill Gates, Barbara Streisand come through the same gate, while Sarah Ferguson had to call the manager at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong who called his colleague at the Cala di Volpe to secure a table at the hopelessly outsold restaurant (luckly that day a King from Saudi Arabia cancelled half of the tables of an elegant reception as he suddenly decided that he wants to dine with men only). An anecdote with a less happy ending belongs to Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed, who spent their last day on a boat in front of the Cala di Volpe. +++++++++

A setting so ideal is naturally a perfect backdrop for a movie. Cubby Broccoli produced his James Bond movie ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ partially at the Cala di Volpe. The Pontile Bar was even transformed into 007’s suite. Roger Moore, Barbara Bach (above) and the team spent over 20 days at the Cala di Volpe. Remember the flat white Lotus Esprit, used in the movie as a multi-combat vehicle? It even turned into a smart submarine firing a water-air missile at an helicopter overhead. The preceding chase scene almost ended in disaster, when the helpful Sardinian police rushed off to close a stretch of road, only for the high-speed filming convoy to come face-to-face with a truck, a bus and a car leading to phenomenal annoyances. It was discovered that the two police motorcyclists had closed off the same end of the road. They had been hidden from each other round a corner when they radioed in that the road was secure. Famous hotels were the favourite set for this Bond movie: more scenes were also shot at the Mena House, next to the Great Pyramid.
Managed by: Starwood - The Luxury Collection
120 Rooms
5 Suites

High speed Internet access (charge) Sea view Private balcony or patio Non-smoking room Satellite channels Cribs Fresh flowers Cable channels Television with remote control Rollaway beds 24-hour room service In-room safe Telephone Video library Wake-up service Alarm clock Air-conditioning Data port Deluxe bath amenities In-room movies

The Aga Khan Suite, # 120 and the President's Suite on the rooftop.

When you cater for the leaders you must be the leader yourself. I have rarely observed such a large team of top professionals with such a profound gastronomic knowledge. Compiled of the best chefs and waiters they perform day after day at the highest possible level. There is so much to tell you and so little time: Did you know, for example, that the Sardinians roast ‘mallori de su sabatteri’ (in the language of Nuoro), putting one animal inside another, like a Russian doll. Hence, inside a calf you get a goat which in turn contains a suckilng pig. Of course, it does take time until the quail is well done, but I've been told it's worth waiting for. The chef of the house is Franco Guardone. His pâtissier is Antonio Vallana, whose soufflés are world famous. These facts lead to two major contests per day requiring the full attention of guests and waiters alike: 1. Lunch with its barbecue buffet service 2. dinner. At lunch the helpful hosts take the plate from you once you have chosen from salads and cold cuts, fish and pasta, and carry it back to the table for you. Dinner is still a very elegant affair, and we’d like to keep it that way, wouldn’t we? This is the moment people dress up, while others don’t. It is your chance to wear the jewellery you have brought all the way from home, and it is the place to wear the real one. My personal credits go to Renate H., who made it a point to dress beautifully night after night, and I thank her for this. After all, when you have a stage, it would be a waste to leave it to the extras. The waiters are the other part of the show. The art of presentation, of carving, filleting, cutting and preparing at the table is of the finest quality. Like the good old Musketeers, it is one for all and all for one – teamwork as taught in the best hotels, and yet so rarely achieved. Mario Lutzoni, who works with over 40 colleagues, recalls the days when his guests had to sit on the fancy designer chairs (left, the green ones) soon nicknamed ‘the Sardinian torture’. Rarely had one seen such an elegant crowd seated so uncomfortably. One unnamed client brings it to the point: ‘I know many restaurants; some of them have a good location, some a great kitchen, some wonderful service. Here we have it all.’ from the book "Meet You at the Cala di Volpe", by Andreas Augustin

Visit the Pontile Bar, dance until the early morning.

The hotel for younger children is the Romanzzino, but teenagers like the Cala di Volpe for its sports facilites.

All water sports, including the hotel's own water skiing school. Nino di Vento (below is the hotel's legendary tennis pro (three courts, floodlight)

Casual at lunch, elegant at dinners.
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Our Select Member Hotel

Cala di Volpe
Country: Italy
City: Porto Cervo
Opening date: 1963

Note from the Host

General Manager

Marco Milocco

Concierge: Gabriele Garbati


07020 Italy, Porto Cervo
Tel: (39)(0789) 976111

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