Colonna Park Hotel, Porto Cervo ****
The Costa Smeralda in northern Sardinia is a ten-kilometre strip between the gulfs of Cugnana and Arzachena. Developed by a consortium of businesses (and famously headed up by the tycoon Aga Khan), this stretch of the coast is full of Mediterranean villages and luxurious holiday homes. View hotel
Double rooms from €108
Hotel Citti, Arzachena ***
The imposing, modern Hotel Citti lies just outside Arzachena on the road to Palau. Just a short drive from the glamorous Costa Smeralda with its dramatic rocky coastline and pale, powdery sands reaching down to clear turquoise waters, this is a long-established retreat for celebrities from all over the world. View hotel
Double rooms from €30
Hotel Dolcevita, Porto Cervo ****
The Costa Smeralda is one of the most lovely stretch of coast in the Mediterranean. This northern shore of Sardinia fringes the region of Gallura, whose raw red and wind-sculpted granite mountains imbue the area with an edge-of-the-wilderness feeling. View hotel
Double rooms from €0
Porto Cervo is the main town on the Costa Smeralda (Emerald Coast) and on the gulf of the same name in north-eastern Sardinia. The Costa Smeralda is a fairly recent creation of course, as evidenced by the fact that of the Porto Nuovo (new port) and Porto Vecchio (old port) that make up the town, the old portion only dates back to the 1960s. This whole stretch of Sardinian coast was developed by the Aga Khan, who was bowled over by its extraordinary beauty and realised there was enormous tourist potential. It's a rather lovely construct though, with the village designed by famed Italian architect, Luigi Vietti. A mooring place for the yachts of the rich and famous, the marina has its village hub with squares, shops, a newsagent and a supermarket. There are bars, restaurants and nightclubs, the yacht club and cafes, while the housing comprises upmarket villas with dry stone walled gardens with palm trees and Mediterranean vegetation. All is immaculately cared for.
Porto Cervo has a Yacht Club, some exclusive hotels and restaurants, such as the renowned Cala di Volpe, great shops and numerous night bars and clubs. Check out the Stella Maris church, one of the few vestiges of old Porto Cervo. There is also a quite superb golf course. Set between the bays of Pevero and Cala di Volpe, Pevero was designed by the doyen of American course designers, Robert Trent Jones, and has been described as 'the most beautiful place to play golf in the world'; it's a very demanding course too, and visitors are welcome. The Costa Smeralda meanwhile, if no longer undiscovered, is still unspoiled.