Spas are the one place in a hotel where you can count on adult-focused relaxation. When we (parents) finally have the time for pampering, we want the experience to be amazing.
Our Italophile readers will be happy to know that we feature a few excellent spa-focused hotels on Ciao Bambino. Kid-friendly in this case doesn’t mean kids are allowed IN the spa (no thank you) — but it means that these hotels provide kid-specific infrastructure to allow parents to visit the spa … guilt-free.
L’Albereta Luxury Spa Hotel
L’Albereta has been on my must-stay list for several years now. Known for extraordinary cuisine and a state-of-the-art spa, this is one of those luxury properties that has appeared consistently in top guides including Andrew Harper and Relais & Chateaux for years.
I finally had an opportunity to see for myself what the fuss is about over Valentine’s Day weekend.
Savvy hotel managers around the world understand that families make lucrative guests and are worth the extra resources involved in catering to them as they book the largest rooms, eat more food, and use more hotel services than the average couple.
Not many spa hotels cater to families. I find this deeply ironic. Who is more in need of a day at the spa more than frazzled parents? Who appreciates “the works” at a spa more than a woman who has just given birth?
L’Albereta figured out that the best way to give parents (new and old) the chance to take advantage of their world-class spa is to provide children-focused care and activities. Note, this doesn’t make the hotel a kid-centric Disneyland experience. Rather, the hotel offers top notch adult amenities in a kid/family-friendly way.
Henri Chenot Spa
When I reviewed the spa treatment list before our arrival, I knew this wasn’t an ordinary spa. In addition to the usual suspects, L’Albereta offers every wellness treatment imaginable from acupuncture, to diet analysis, to hydro-aromatherapy, to medical-grade peels, to a good old Swedish massage. The treatment list is so extensive that there isn’t a treatment I can think of that is not on it and many I can’t decipher, let alone pronounce!
To be honest, I had never heard of Henri Chenot before my visit to L’Albereta. What I learned is that his wellness methodology is highly-respected and combines the best of western and eastern practices. I was blown away by my sampling of treatments which included an energetic facial treatment and hydro-therapy session that left me glowing for days.
You can choose to book just a few treatments or opt for a full diagnostic work up that involves a comprehensive well being assessment by medical staff and a full dietary detox program. Not that I can imagine being on any sort of diet in Italy …
Spa treatments are complemented by a fitness center with a dedicated personal trainer, classes including yoga and pilates, as well as an outdoors fitness course onsite. L’Albereta also features one of the most appealing indoor spa pools I’ve ever seen.
The key to making the spa even a possibility for parents is Maty’s Club, their kids’ entertainment center for ages 3 and up (younger children can play there with a parent or babysitter).
The Maty’s Club kids’ facility here is not a comprehensive activity-based kids’ club where kids can go day after day and never do the same thing twice, but it is an entertaining and safe place for young kids to hang out for a few hours at a time.
Toddlers will want to play here forever. School age kids have a more limited array of things that are of interest, but the staff is creative and offers activities like art lessons and kid-friendly docent led walks around their glorious sculpture garden.
The kids’ center is well suited for a morning or afternoon session at the spa and then you can do an all-family excursion to nearby Lake Iseo or Lake Garda. There is also an indoor swimming pool that is perfect for kids (separate from the spa pool).
I didn’t try the diet-focused spa cuisine, but the other meals we had at L’Albereta were absolutely delightful and delicious. The restaurant is the ultimate Italian fine dining experience by Gualtiero Marchesi and they went out of their way to make sure we felt comfortable with our 8-year-old in tow.
For those with really young kids or not brave enough to bring their kids to a 3 hour meal, room service can be served in your room or elsewhere. There is also a lounge area serving lighter fare.
We also had Sunday brunch in their library with a spectacular array of fresh Italian goodies. The library features a billiards room which entertained the kids at the brunch. Perfect!
The nearby towns are local and picturesque. We liked combining an onsite dinner with a meal at a nearby village.
Ambiance and Setting
The ambiance and setting at L’Albereta is divine. Eclectic, decadent, modern, and cozy are all adjectives that apply. More than anything, it feels authentic and is uniquely decorated by the owner where many of Italy’s luxury properties look alike in one way or another. Not so here. Set on acres of vineyards, the leafy grounds are absolutely idyllic.
Working L’Albereta Into an Itinerary
Located just 1 hour from Milan and 2 hours from Venice — L’Albereta is an easy stop on any Northern Italian itinerary.
Have 7 Days?
Milan for 2 nights, L’Albereta for 3 nights, and Venice for 2 nights is a nice combination. Or, you can skip Milan and hit Lake Como for 3 nights, L’Albereta for 2 nights, and Venice for 2 nights.
Have 14 Days?
If you have 14 days, you can easily combine this Northern Italy itinerary with Tuscany. Florence is a 2.5 hour train ride from either Milan or Venice.
Big city trains work well in Italy — you can even combine this itinerary with Rome (fly into Milan or Venice, train to Rome, and fly out from there). See Jessica of WhyGo Italy’s recent train travel in Italy tips post for the latest scoop and must-read travel information on Italy train travel.
Photos courtesy of Amie O’Shaughnessy and L’Albereta. Ciao Bambino received complimentary accommodations at L’Albereta; we were not asked to express any particular point of view.
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Oooh, what a fun article to research! Great tips, I may have to check one or two of these places out next time we’re in Italy.