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After seven months of renovations, the former CastaDiva Resort & Spa in Blevio, Italy, relaunched in April 2019 as the five-star Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como. The sprawling lakefront property, set in a botanical garden and spread across nine villas, marries 18th-century details with luxurious contemporary design to create a harmonious blend of old and new.
“The renovation now provides guests with a true experience of what it means to be on Italy’s most famous lake,” said Roberta Amaro, marketing and communications manager for Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como.
Beyond the aesthetic changes, Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como has introduced a wholly different approach to service than what most grand hotels here offer.
“This is a completely new era of hospitality on the lake,” Amaro said. “We are the first luxury hotel group to arrive here, as nearly all of the hotels are privately owned. We bring an important expertise, with a high level of service that will up the game for everyone. And we represent a real change in attitude. We want our guests to feel at home, so the ambiance is stylish but casual; for example, you won’t need to wear a tie for fine dining.”
Prime Location and Rooms With a ViewSet on the eastern side of the lake, Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como, enjoys more sunlight than properties on the opposite side, as well as brilliant sunset views. It’s also positioned closer to Milan and Como town than many other resorts, requiring a drive of just 45 minutes and 10 minutes, respectively. At the same time, it’s easy to get to the lake’s many attractions, including Bellagio and Villa del Balbianello, via a scenic boat or car ride.
The main building, Villa Roccabruna, dates back to 1799 and was the former residence of Italian soprano Giuditta Pasta. Entirely revamped by designer Eric Egan, it houses the hotel’s reception area, sitting room, the Como Bar & Bistrot, as well as 10 hotel suites and a below-ground spa. The public areas have been redesigned with custom Fortuny and Fromental wallpaper, contemporary Italian furnishings crafted by local artisans, Murano chandeliers and Mandarin Oriental’s signature floral bouquets.
“In Villa Roccabruna, we took out a lot from the previous hotel’s decor, though we didn’t change anything structurally,” Amaro said. “The theatrical colors and heavy drapery were removed, and everything was lightened and brightened to showcase the building’s original characteristics: the coffered ceilings, the marble and wood floors, and, of course, the views.”
A new bar area was added, creating a cozy spot for cocktails, while the spacious lakefront terrace — an ideal spot for an alfresco aperitivo — now features a fountain. It overlooks the lush grounds, which were completely reimagined by landscape designer Patrizia Pozzi and are home to more than 50 species of plants and flowers.
Throughout the 75 rooms, suites, and two standalone villas, interiors have been updated with light taupe and cream hues; elegant, modern Italian furnishings; and custom artwork. The spacious marble bathrooms have not yet been renovated, but there are plans to do so in the future. Guestrooms offer lake views, partial lake views or garden views, and most have private balconies or terraces. They feature modern amenities such as HD LED Smart TVs, multi-socket adaptors and free Wi-Fi access. Some suites have kitchenettes, while the standalone villas offer full kitchens.
Tapping Many MarketsThe hotel’s myriad on-site offerings make it an ideal, self-contained base for a range of luxury-oriented clients.
For wellness buffs, the hotel’s 14,000-square-foot thermal spa is the largest on Lake Como, with a Himalayan salt room, an indoor pool with massage stations and chromotherapy showers. Though “renovations are in the pipeline,” according to Amaro, the spa has introduced Mandarin Oriental’s menu of signature rituals and treatments including one expressly created for the Lake Como property, where guests can make their own body scrub with plants picked from the on-site botanical garden.
For foodies, Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como, offers two main dining options: The hotel’s signature restaurant, L~Aria, is a light-filled space redesigned with soft colors, contemporary leather seating and custom ceramic serving plates made in Como. The menu features Mediterranean dishes with an Asian twist as well as ingredients sourced from small Italian producers that follow the principles of the slow food movement. A specially crafted tasting menu pays homage to Lake Como and the surrounding area, and includes lake fish and locally raised beef. The wine card features an assortment of Italian wines from small- and medium-sized producers — including two Lake Como varietals — as well as a selection of French wines.
The casual Co.mo Bar & Bistrot offers traditional Italian dishes that span the country’s 20 regions. Guests can expect a pizza menu with premium toppings sourced from Italy, such as mozzarella and organic tomatoes from Campania and oregano from Sicily.
There is also an afternoon tea, served on the terrace or in Sala Mandarin, which features artwork inspired by Chinese and East Asian artistic traditions. And the Pool Bar at the iconic floating swimming pool offers a relaxed, informal menu of sandwiches and salads.
Those who want to further explore Italy’s culture and heritage are surrounded by historic villages, while adventure-seekers can take advantage of the surrounding hiking trails, watersports, fishing and golfing — all of which can be arranged by the hotel’s concierge. There are also two hotel boats available to book for private lake excursions.
“We just opened, but we plan to add several more authentic Lake Como experiences in the future,” said Samuel Porreca, general manager of the property.
Corporate clients and groups can book any or all of the many indoor and outdoor event spaces, which include four function rooms of various sizes all equipped with state-of-the-art facilities. Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como, is also one of the very few venues on Lake Como licensed to hold civil weddings, and it can offer bespoke wedding services. Several private dining options are available, while at the spa, dedicated treatments and activities can be tailored to both wedding couples and corporate groups.
All Mandarin Oriental Hotels, including Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como, follow the industry practice of paying 10 percent commission on guestroom revenue to travel agent partners.
The resort, which is open seasonally, mid-April to mid-November, offers a variety of packages including a combined stay with the Mandarin Oriental, Milan, that includes a complimentary transfer by private car between the two properties.
The DetailsMandarin Oriental, Lago di Comowww.mandarinoriental.com