Posted in Projects on 22 June, 2024

All five senses are indulged at a new spa resort overlooking Lake Garda.

Resting at the edge of a heated infinity pool, gazing across Lake Garda towards the mountains as the setting sun rippled across the water, I couldn’t have wished for anything more. For all that a hotel has to offer in great service, comfort, design, and fine dining, that one pure moment of blissfully communing with nature was the favourite takeaway of my stay at Cape of Senses.

Words by Karen Bamford
Photographs courtesy of Small Luxury Hotels of the World

Which is not to say that the rest of it is unimportant. As I floated in the outdoor pool appreciating the awesome view with the hotel behind me, I understood that the fundamental purpose of this building’s design is to quietly support the landscape. It is there as a platform from which the surroundings can be best enjoyed in luxurious peace and comfort.

DemetzArch built into the natural landscape, allowing the Lake Garda views to remain centre stage.

With every terrace and window facing the lake, and through an indulgent use of space and generous but uncomplicated furnishings, the architecture and design at Cape of Senses elevates the experience of being at this exquisite location. As General Manager Alina Deutsch said, “The show is outside.”

Designed by DemetzArch led by father-daughter duo, Hugo and Alessia Demetz, the gently curved structure is built into the hillside 200 metres above Lake Garda on the east side, overlooking the picturesque village of Torri del Benaco, near Verona.

The hotel’s understated entrance faces uphill and, windowless, shields the eyes of new arrivals from the delight to come. Stepping inside, there’s an instant sense of calm and beauty thanks to the warm, neutral colour palate of the lobby, lounge, and bar where wall-to-wall, full-height windows and sliding doors by Tip Top Fenster allow the natural surroundings to take centre stage.

I was struck the serenity of Cape of Senses having arrived immediately after visiting the wildly contrasting Byblos Art Hotel Villa Amista nearby. The exterior of that elegant 16th century villa belies its extravagant, colour-drenched interiors and vast collection of important contemporary artworks. Both properties, while unrelated to each other, are part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World’s portfolio of ‘independently spirited hotels’.

There are no challenging artworks at Cape of Senses, although I’m told the family-owned property, which opened in July 2023, is in discussions with various artists. The team are taking their time getting to know the hotel to understand where artworks would best fit and which artists align with their vision.

The aesthetic here is all about respecting nature rather than attempting to compete with it. During the resort’s construction, workers dug up and protected many olive trees before replanting them in the olive garden. In keeping with the natural flora of the area, lavender and rosemary are planted generously around the vast grounds, giving off a relaxing aroma. Bar manager Michele uses them in cocktails, while chef Francesco and his kitchen team have an entire herb garden at their disposal.

Inside, neutral tones and minimal furnishings are brought to life as soon as the sun sets.

The hotel’s roof is equipped with a concealed photovoltaic system, making for a more efficient and sustainable build. Additional energy-saving technologies include heat pumps and rainwater collectors. All building materials are from the local region and the natural stone used throughout the project was sourced from stonemason Bagnara, founded in Appiano, Northern Italy, in 1948.

Elements of the surrounding environment are blended with the architectural design to create a seamless transition between the interior and exterior spaces. This includes soaring carved wooden pillars – reminiscent of palm tree trunks – on the exterior that can also be seen from the inside through the gigantic windows.

There are 55 suites although this number could have been doubled had the hotel been willing to compromise on space. Happily, they chose not to so even when fully booked, the adults-only resort feels pleasingly exclusive, with wide green spaces, plenty of sunbeds inside and out, a vast gym and cavernous spa.

“Luxury is time and space,” said Alina. “That’s what we want people to experience here.”

I stayed in a junior suite, and it was enormous. I particularly enjoyed the fact that being at garden level, the ubiquitous sliding glass doors opened onto a private terrace from which I could step directly onto the garden to soak up more of the glorious lake view.

There are six suite categories and upgrading gets you moved higher up the property to achieve even better views, more space, and bigger terraces. The sky pool suite and sky pool suite deluxe both offer outdoor beds for sleeping under the stars and private infinity pools.

All 55 suites are orientated towards the lake to continue the connection with outside and are furnished simply but elegantly with furniture from Italian brand Oltremdo, which also supplied the spa, bar, and restaurant. Delectable linen from Prima helps ensure a great night’s sleep.

Clever use of interior glass walls and windows keeps shower rooms light and bright, and means the scenery outside can be enjoyed even while performing ablutions – aided by a Simple Human vanity mirror and stylish lighting from Lichtstudio, whose lamp installations were also evident elsewhere around the hotel, including the lobby where a plethora of tiny bulbs dripped daintily over the reception desk. Appropriately, the suites’ WCs are in a separate cubicle for privacy. I appreciated the walk-in wardrobe, which kept my belongings out of sight but easy to reach.

Throughout the property, the connection between indoor and outdoor spaces is upheld seamlessly. Underscoring this is the infinity pool, which crosses the building’s threshold. Indoors, I stepped into the warm water, swam up to a low door that swung open as I approached and then continued outside to swim amid the crisp fresh air, with the mountain landscape ahead.

The 2,000sqm Senses Spa also includes an outdoor sports pool, a range of saunas, treatment rooms and relaxation rooms, including a library, and herbal tea and snack area. Sunbeds from Talenti are spaced comfortably apart and, of course, facing Lake Garda. A yoga platform and daybed in the garden are simple but effective ways of making the most of the surroundings.

Spectacular Mediterranean cuisine is served at two restaurants on white plates with plain or textured finishes against a backdrop of indoor plants and outdoor views, or on a rooftop terrace adorned with potted lemon trees.

Cape of Senses is conveniently close to another hotel in the SLH collection, and I’d recommend combining a stay at one with a visit to the other for a perfect blend of relaxation and sightseeing. Equally luxurious and comfortable, with excellent service and dining, the 16-key Vista Palazzo Verona is the only spa hotel in the romantic city centre. The basement spa is relatively small, but the pool boasts a unique submerged window to the Roman ruins beneath the city, known as Romeo’s Well. The décor is opulent and there’s a rooftop terrace above the intimate restaurant offering panoramic views.


Join our mailing list

Click here to Join
  Join our mailing list