I found on the website that they had a 3rd night free offer, half board included. I had my travel agent book us a Superior Jr. Suite, which with the third night free worked out at 495 euros a night.
I emailed the hotel prior to arrival, but did not hear back from them for some time. I later discovered that it was because the hotel was closed until April 15th. They did email me back around April 12th or so, prior to the hotel opening. I asked if they could send me copies of the restaurant and spa menus, but they apparently had not quite prepared them for PDF form. I never did receive copies before arrival. Of note, on their website they advertised a complimentary boat tour each day. However, upon asking the concierge they informed me (actually rather unapologetically) that the boat tours did not start until the 15th of May. They did, offer me some rather pricey excursions through their own hotel boat....
We arrived at CTA from MXP via LH (Italy). CTA is a fairly small airport, but fairly busy. I had booked a transfer with New Travel Services (65 Euro, Mercedes E Class), who was waiting patiently for our arrival. It was about 50 minutes from the airport to the hotel.
THe hotel is located at one end of Mazarro beach, which affords itself some tranquility and privacy from the rest of the beach. Mazarro beach is connected by cable car to Taormina, which ran every 15 minutes until I think midnight. I like the beachside location because it was away from the bustle and tourism of Taormina itself. The hotel offers a complimentary shuttle service to its sister hotel, the Grand Hotel Timeo, which is well located next to the Greco Roman Theater.
We were greeted by a doorman as our car pulled in, who asked our name and helped with the luggage. He escorted us to the front desk, stating that "Mr and Mrs TDW to check in". Check in was quick, the usual passport formalities for Italian hotels, but that was it. We were not asked for a credit card or anything. They offered a welcome letter from our travel agent and one from the general manager, and noted that they had upgraded us to one of their exclusive suites. There was no mention of Virtuoso benefits. A tour of the hotel was offered and accepted, which was quite nice. We were then led to our room where our luggage awaited, as well as welcome treats and a bottle of sparkling (prosecco? spumante? I forget)
I counted this as a 4 category upgrade, looking at their website. We were upgraded to an exclusive suite; it even had a name (which I forget).The picture here is of the suite we stayed in. It was located on one of the ends, overlooking the outdoor bar/restaurant area and the beach and sea. A very expansive view indeed! Unfortunately at night, we picked up noise from the piano bar, which could be quite loud. It had a large terrace, containing sun loungers and a seating area covered with a gazebo. I enjoyed reading in the morning on the terrace. The suite also had a nice sitting area, with a full size couch and coffee table, as well as a TV/mini bar unit. The bathroom was curiously located off of the living room, containing a dual vanity, separate tub, bidet, toilet, and rainfall shower. Of note the shower stall had a rather cheap looking plastic framed door and plastic pan. Given the amount of marble used in the bathroom, I'm not sure why the treatment didn't extend to the floor of the shower. In addition, I think a frameless glass shower door would have been more appropriate. The bedroom was nice size, with a separate walk in closet that was the size of most bathrooms in Europe. An iPod dock connected to a sound system that played throughout the suite. There was also an exit to the terrace, as well as a balcony. The king bed was quite comfy and more than enough pillows were provided.
Food and Beverage
Given that we were on half board, we had lots of opportunities to try the food. It was mostly good. Things that stood out as great were the chocolate gelato (the best we had in Italy) and the mozarella cheese (very very nice and fresh). Given that we were on the sea, there were a lot of seafood choices. Unfortunately, we aren't huge seafood fans so we only sampled one or two seafood items. The fish of the day always looked excellent though. For the half board, most of the items on the menu were included except for the lobster which required a supplement. The difference in room rates per day for half board vs non was 70 euros, and given the prices I think that that was a good deal. Starters were typically 12-16 euros, Entrees (or mains) about 28-35 and desserts were 10 euros. The food was good, but if it hadn't ben half board, I would not imagine eating there. It was quite pricey, even by European standards. A bottle of water was typically 6 euros (ouch! and nobody drinks tap it Italy) and our wine by the glass was about 13 euros. One night, I decided to order a glass of scotch: 1960 Stratisla which was one the menu for 22 euros. I thought I was getting a deal until I received the pour.. let's just say it probably worked out to about 3 euros a sip... Our bill for dinner was typically about 50-60 euros, which was only for wine and water... Breakfast was a nice spread of fruit, cold cuts, cheeses, pastries, with options available cooked to order as well. There was only one supplement for breakfast: a caviar/champagne breakfast. Either of the half board options can be taken in the room as well.
No fitness was taken by either of us, but the fitness center appeared to be adequate. 3-4 cardio machines and a set of weights. I never saw anyone in there. They also note that their sister hotel's fitness center is larger and available to use as well. We both had massages which were quite nice. Good pressure. 110 euros for 50 minutes.
The beach was private and appeared well tended. It was not a fine grained sand beach but I did see the attendants groom it each morning. It appears to get the most sun in the morning hours and by afternoon the shade has taken over completely. Available further down the beach are excursion boats, which are quite nice. 25 euros/person gets a 50 minute trip around the area, including a visit to the grotta azzura... The pool is where we spend our time, and I can imagine that during peak season lounger space is scarce. There were probably 12-16 loungers present, with most of them occupied throughout the afternoon (the pool did receive afternoon sun). My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the infinity pool, which although small was heated to a perfect temperature. The view was amazing...
Easy. Our bill did contain the Virtuoso hotel credit, which was pointed out.
Best for last! We were always greeted by name. On our second day there, at breakfast, one of the waiters who greeted me with "Hello Mr. TDW and happy birthday as well." I was shocked to say the least. We also received a cake as well later that day and a special dessert at dinner. Everyone was very friendly. One night we had room service for dinner and I think the language barrier resulted in an incorrect dish, which was apologetically replaced quite quickly. One slightly negative was the noise from the piano bar. Two nights we called about it, and the complaint was addressed appropriately. In addition, the general manager apologized as well as adjusting our bill a bit.
A very nice, wonderful stay. A little noise from the bar, so I would recommend asking for a room away from the bar. All and all the positives much outweigh the negatives.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.