MASSE­RIA TRA­PANÀ, PUGLIA, ITALY

Red - - ESCAPES -

Ilove new ex­pe­ri­ences and fresh ad­ven­tures, so there aren’t many places I’d hap­pily re­turn to ev­ery hol­i­day for the rest of my life. But then I dis­cov­ered Masse­ria Tra­panà, a twin­kling oa­sis set amongst olive and lemon trees, nes­tled right in the heel of Italy. This is the one place in the world I would hap­pily re­book time and time again.

From the mo­ment my part­ner and I ar­rive at the prop­erty’s im­pos­ing 16th-cen­tury wooden door and step into the lan­tern-lit court­yard we feel like we’ve come home. Only to a much much bet­ter ver­sion, be­cause here cold glasses of cham­pagne are handed to you as you walk through the door, huge bot­tles of Ae­sop prod­ucts line the mar­ble shelves in the bath­room, there’s an out­door bath in your own pri­vate gar­den big enough for two and the beds are so im­pres­sive I have to take a run­ning jump to get in. In this home the rooms mag­i­cally tidy them­selves while you laze around the grounds or have a pri­vate yoga les­son in the gar­dens; big bot­tles of mus­cle­re­lax­ing mag­ne­sium salts are left by your bath, min­eral wa­ter ap­pears by your bed­side ev­ery night and there’s a di­rect line to the bar from your room. We book just one of the nine rooms (all have pared-back stone walls and lofty ceil­ings), but there’s the op­tion to take over the en­tire Masse­ria, mak­ing this a glo­ri­ous spot to hol­i­day with up to 18 lov­ingly cho­sen friends.

Aus­tralian owner Rob re­ally puts his guests at the heart of his prop­erty, too, but in the most re­laxed way. Don’t ex­pect ob­se­quious wait­ers, fussy ser­vice or for­mal­ity of any kind. Here you can pad bare­foot around the chic open-plan sit­ting area and eat break­fast when­ever you wake up (served un­til the last guest rises. Ru­mour has it one guest slept in un­til 3pm, so break­fast was served un­til teatime!). It’s big enough for peace and tran­quil­lity (there are enough ham­mocks dot­ted about the gar­dens for ev­ery­one to have an af­ter­noon snooze) but also small enough that staff re­mem­ber you like a skinny cap­puc­cino ev­ery morn­ing (which I do). Here the pres­sures of ev­ery­day life melt away on the lemon-scented air, you don’t even need to choose your evening meal, there’s a set menu each night served on the ter­race (all pref­er­ences catered for, of course) so you get what you’re given, just like at home.

For our trip we flew to Bari air­port, a good two hours’ drive from the ho­tel (taxis are ex­pen­sive so car hire is a must). The great news is that BA now flies di­rect from Heathrow’s Ter­mi­nal 5 to Brin­disi air­port which is only some 30 min­utes away, mak­ing a long week­end tan­ta­lis­ingly easy.

Should you wish to tear your­self away from the sanc­tu­ary of the ho­tel, the beau­ti­ful Baroque city of Lecce is a 10-minute drive away and two beach clubs Ba­cino Grande and Mora Mora around 40 min­utes – the ho­tel has a part­ner­ship with both and will ar­range trans­fers on re­quest.

But with the very ex­cit­ing news of a spa be­ing built un­der the ho­tel ready for early 2018, I in­tend to stay firmly be­hind that big wooden door, hap­pily holed up in my home away from home. OONAGH BREN­NAN

Oonagh at the en­trance to the prop­erty; and above, re­lax pool­side

All nine rooms of the Masse­ria can be booked out for up to 18 peo­ple

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