This New Family-friendly Resort Overlooks One of Italy's Most Beautiful Beaches and Marine Reserves
The Baglioni Resort Sardinia offers the hard-to-find combination of serenity for parents and endless fun for kids.
"You're our first American guest!" multiple staff members at the new Baglioni Resort Sardinia told me excitedly as I entered. It was mid-June, and the resort, on the Italian island's northeastern coast, had only been open for two weeks. Italy, meanwhile, had only been allowing American travelers to enter without quarantine (and with strict COVID safety requirements) for four. The anticipation was palpable on both sides of the check-in desk.
Walking to my room over wooden bridges through lush greenery, a mountainous backdrop in the distance, it felt surreal to be back in Italy. Before COVID, I visited once or twice a year, but this was my first trip since 2019. It was possibly even more beautiful, but far less boisterous than the Italy I remembered: The long, inviting pool sat empty, lined with untouched lounge chairs; not a spritz was being sipped at the open-air bar.
Past the gym and spa, beyond the sunset terrace lounge, and down an unassuming nature path, was the resort's most stunning feature: its position on the Tavolara Marine Reserve and Spiaggia Lu Impostu, one of Sardinia's best beaches, where my partner and I found ourselves alone with the white sand and turquoise sea. It was nearly 7 p.m., but we couldn't resist jumping in with our snorkel masks and exploring the reef.
We returned to our room to get ready for dinner, still buzzing from our swim with schools of tropical fish and pink starfish, and found the property's most lively gathering place, by far — in classic Italian fashion — to be the restaurants at dinner time.
The hotel has two restaurants: the ritzier Gusto by Sadler, offering a tasting menu by Michelin-starred chef Claudio Sadler, and the equally scenic Ruia next-door, where we dined on Sardinian-style dishes paired with local wines.
It was here, over plates of spaghetti with clams and risotto with lamb, piles of crispy carasau bread and traditional suckling pig, that we got our first glimpse of other guests. Though for us, the spacious suites and quiet common areas made for a romantic yet practical remote-working couple's getaway, for most guests, it was an ideal family vacation destination.
The next day, as we hit the glass-walled gym (one of the best people-watching spots) before breakfast, the family-friendly atmosphere became even more apparent. From the wading pool to an indoor play space to the calm beach, the property is filled with activities perfect for young guests — all spread out, so there's no one loud, chaotic kids' area. Meanwhile, a luxurious spa, two cocktail bars, and bookable activities, from golf and diving to boat cruises and yoga, meant adults were taken care of too.
The parents we saw seemed truly relaxed, the kids comfortable and care-free, and I was struck with the realization that this shiny new resort, many of its rooms still unslept in, would likely become a special home away from home for these families for years to come. It was a cool feeling to watch traditions beginning — and even cooler to think I might one day be able to tell my kids I was the first-ever American to stay there.
Nina Ruggiero is Travel + Leisure's deputy digital editor. A New Yorker living in Los Angeles, she's happiest on a beach, a cobblestone street, or in a hotel bathtub with a view. Find her on Instagram @ninamarienyc.