The Savory And The Sweet
Take a deep breath. Note the smell of burnt sugar—smoky and earthy, savory and sweet. That is immortelle, or curry plant, a rough bush with deep yellow flowers that grows wild all over Corsica. For Gian Luca Bertilaccio, the general manager of Hotel Casadelmar on the island’s southern coast, that fragrance means home—and he looks forward to sharing it, and the many other natural wonders of Corsica, with Casadelmar’s guests. “What attracts people here is, first of all, Corsica—their curiosity about this place that is part France, part Italy, but with its own strong traditions,” he says. “Then they see Casadelmar, and they realize that we have created something very special here: a place that blends in with nature and provides a heightened experience. And they come back again and again.”
Hotel Casadelmar is a labor of love and the fulfillment of the dreams of several visionaries. Fifteen years ago, the hotel’s owner saw a wild hillside site near Porto-Vecchio in southern Corsica, a land known for its rustic countryside, white-sand beaches, and spectacular hiking trails. He imagined a superb retreat—quiet, safe, and serene—and assembled his team: Gian Luca; Jean-François Bodin, an interior architect whose portfolio includes the Picasso Museum in Paris, and Jean Mus, a renowned landscape architect. Together, they created a magical world: Jean-François’ low-slung buildings of natural materials blend into the countryside and are all but invisible from the water or the road, while Jean’s gardens showcase the Mediterranean’s sweetest-smelling and most spectacular plant varieties, including Tuscan cypresses, Japanese pines, olive and orange trees, Corsican myrtle, and oleanders.
We have created something very special here: a place that blends with nature and provides a heightened experience.
Local Tastes And Traditions
The outside comes inside at Casadelmar, where the soaring entrance lobby, guest rooms and suites, infinity pool with poolside grill, spa and fitness center, and gastronomic restaurant all offer splendid vistas of mountains on the skyline and the lights of Porto-Vecchio across a turquoise bay dotted with pleasure boats. Casadelmar’s Italian chef, Fabio Bragagnolo, has won two Michelin stars—the only chef on Corsica so honored—with his creative dishes that fuse Italian and French cuisine and feature the fresh seafood for which the Corsican kitchen is known: his cannelloni of sea bass and spider crab is worth traveling across the globe to try. To finish, Casadelmar’s pastry chef, Claudio Pezzetti, combines the local soft cheese, brocciu (pronounced “broosh”), with local fruits and other Mediterranean ingredients to create sublime desserts.
While many guests choose to spend their entire stay in Casadelmar’s warm embrace, there are temptations offsite. The best beaches on the island, Palombaggia and Santa Giulia, are just a few miles away. Local attractions and activities include walking and quad biking in Ospedale Forest and hiking in the spectacular Alta Rocca mountains. For seekers of local tastes and traditions, the Route des Sens Authentiques, a touristic circuit, winds through the region around Casadelmar, taking in wineries, cheesemakers, and artisan jewelers who work wonders with deep-red Corsican coral.