Hot on the Heel
Tradition meets style — and of course luxury — in Borgo Egnazia at the foot of Italy
Midway between Bari and Brindisi in Puglia in the stiletto heel of Italy, Borgo Egnazia is not quite one of the seven wonders of the world, but close to it in luxury hospitality resort terms. It’s built like a traditional Apulian village, complete with honey-coloured alleyways, church and piazza, the backdrop for French Vogue fashion and Italian Architectural Digest shoots and bellissimo Italians at play. It’s surrounded by ancient olive trees and a 250-acre private estate of vineyards and fields bursting with cherry tomatoes.
Vair, the Borgo Eganazia spa, is a modern-day interpretation of ancient Roman baths — including a Tepidarium (warm room), Calidarium (hot room) and Frigidarium (you guessed it) — with private therapy rooms upstairs, toga-clad therapists and a haze of local lavender, mint and lemon scents. It’s 20,000 square feet, with thirteen single treatment rooms, three doubles, one spa suite with its own garden (and heated beds) plus steam room, saunas, steam bath and indoor swimming pool. Imagine a film set of church candles, calming creams and taupes and cool ceramic ‘towels’ hung on the walls as lampshades — then you’re halfway to capturing the spa’s beauty.
Calming creams and nautral light abound at Vair, the spa at Borgo Egnazia with a distinctly traditional influence
Romans and Milanese floating around in Alberta Ferretti and Pucci, and yummy mummies from London.
Ideal from the cool of autumn to the mild, crispy spring, when you won’t feel compelled to loll in the sun around one of the four ‘wow!’ pools or beside your own private villa pool. Or in late May, when the poppies are still in bloom.
Vair offers a new idea of wellness, all based on the popular traditions of Puglia — from ancient natural remedies to therapies inspired by local traditions. Everything is made in Italy and they use local citrus and olive oil and almonds as the foundation of many treatments, plus indigenous ingredients such as prickly pears, rosemary and mint. Even the treatment names are written in the local dialect.
Try their signature treatment U Mor, an enveloping massage inspired by rolling sea waves, carried out to the sound of waves and with products containing purified sea water. You can have a pink Apulian sea salt scrub. Or there’s a version of Tarant, based on an ancient therapeutic ritual of magical, cathartic dances used to cure women’s anxiety and depression. It embraces treatments, readings, teas and psycho-physical activities — the aim now being to help with self-confidence, inner balance and femininity.
Visit Alberobello, ‘the capital of trulli’ — with its alleyways and Hobbit houses with conical roofs, like so many sunbleached beehives. Enjoy nearby Ostuni (known as the ‘White Town’), with its Byzantine-style cathedral and citadel. Cycle ten minutes from Borgo Egnazia to the ruins of the important ancient city of Egnathia for pots, tombs, crypt and acropolis, some of it still unexcavated and dating back to the Bronze Age.
Staff with smiles the size of the Colosseum. The teens’ club and Trullalleri kiddies’ club, which has junior-sized bidets, soft play areas and a kingdom-sized playground, as well as English nannies who make Mary Poppins look like a psycho.
From around £4,250 for a seven-day stay and spa package, based on two sharing a standard room