Verdura Resort, Sicily, offers the perfect way to relax and replenish after the trials of the last year, writes Editor Harriet Shephard.
I was lucky enough to visit Verdura Resort, Sicily last summer, and the memory of that blissful trip has helped me get through the dark, golfless winter that we are finally emerging from.
So, as I'm sure all of you are more desperate than ever to escape on a golf break this year, I'd like to share why Verdura Resort, Sicily is an incredible choice for your summer/autumn 2021 golfing escape.
It might sound a bit cliche, but this resort really is like your own private piece of paradise.
After cruising through the hour and a half drive from Palermo airport, my travel companion (my sister) and I we were beyond giddy as we meandered along the long, narrow winding drive from the security gates, to the reception.
Exceptionally private and tucked away on its own tranquil piece of Mediterranean coastline, Verdura feels exclusive, peaceful and totally removed from the usual touristy spots on this sundrenched island.
Indeed, when the Google summit was held here a few years ago it hosted a line-up of the most eco-conscious rich and famous, including President Barack Obama, Prince Harry, Leonardo DiCaprio and pop star Katy Perry.
But despite being literally fit for royalty and Hollywood stars, Verdura isn't overly lavish or snobby.
This is a welcoming, family-friendly resort that blends into the natural landscape and set amongst endless olive trees, orange groves and fragrant rosemary bushes.
The dining options are suitable for a range of budgets and tastes too, with hearty burgers in the bar, pizzas and light bites in the vibrant clubhouse, fine dining seafood right on the beach and more, all available without having to leave the resort.
Meanwhile the breakfasts, served out on the terrace with the wonderful sea breeze to cool you, were genuinely some of the highlights of the trip. Make sure you're up in plenty of time before your tee time to try local delicacies such as smoked swordfish and Sicilian cannoli filled with creamy ricotta.
Yes we like cake for breakfast on holiday? What of it?
The palm-fringed infinity pool is the ultimate place for Instagram-shots, while the creative cocktails from the master mixologists in the rooftop bar are made for sipping infront of the endless, gorgeous Sicilian sunsets.
Sunworshippers can also relax on the private beach, while the more active can try out the watersports, tennis courts, expansive fitness suite, outdoor gym, rental bikes and of course, the golf (see below).
Whether you're away with the girls or your other half, a visit to the thalassotherapy pools is an absolute must, too.
No idea what that means? Don't worry we didn't either.
Thalassotherapy is a natural therapy that uses the power of seawater to cleanse and detoxify the body. Offering four outdoor pools set amongst the most glorious flora and forna, with each providing a different combination of jets, temperatures and affects, we left feeling totally revitalised, refreshed and relaxed.
Golf at Verdura
Teeing off at Verdura was like nothing I've ever experienced, and certainly the opposite to the boggy freezing trudges around my local course that I've endured this winter.
You might lose a fair few balls to the waves from the fairways that hug the coastline, but with views of the turquoise sea from nearly every hole, who really cares? Where ever you turn you're greeted with scenes of stunning beauty, so make sure you set out with a fully charged phone to get lots of photos.
The 18-hole championship course is designed by Kyle Phillips, famous for the mighty Kingsbarns in Scotland, while the 9-hole par 3 is tonnes of fun and ideal if you're on a tight schedule (after all, there is LOADS to do in Sicily).
For those new to golf, the Green to Tee Programme at the onsite academy does exactly what it says on the tin. You start learning how to putt and chip around the greens, and work back to the tee shots.
You'll really struggle to find a more spectacular place to learn this great game.
I played a super nine holes under the expert tuition of Verdura's Director of Instruction, Tom Foster, who previously worked with Ladies European Tour players such as Russia's Maria Verchenova and India’s Sharmila Nicollet.
Needless to say I provided slightly different challenges to the LET stars, but I really felt like I had improved by the end of my session under the blissful Sicilian sun.
The charming local area
One of the biggest perks of Verdura is that while it feels totally disconnect from the rest of civilisation, it's actually just a 20-minute drive from the charming town of Sciacca.
Head there around 6pm to join the locals for a traditional aperitivo sat in one of the quaint squares, before trying one of the exceptional seafood trattorias and gelato shops (I still dream about these creamy scoops to this day).
Or, if you're there in the day time, it's well worth stopping by Piazza Angelo Scandaliato, the focal point to this characterful coastal town, to admire the panoramic views of the bright blue Mediterranean sea.
Unreal levels of luxury
Each of the rooms and suites come with their own unique charm, and we particularly loved the little touches like the hammock on our veranda (overlooking the course), four poster beds and the real lemon trees in our suite's private courtyard.
However, if you really want to live your best life, the first 20 of the ultra-luxurious Verdura villas are now available for bookings.
Situated up on the hillside, boasting private pools, landscaped gardens and overlooking the shimmering bay, prices start from € 1,760 per night, including two green fees when you book before March 31.
Verdura reopens to tourists on April 1, and it is taking reservations for all the rooms and suites (not as pricey as the villas don't worry), right now.
To find out more visit www.roccofortehotels.com.