With its innovative design and beautiful natural surroundings, Italy’s newest wellness resort, ADLER Spa Resort Sicilia, is the perfect place to indulge in a rejuvenating vacation. With cutting-edge architecture and eco-friendly practices, the resort blends into the stunning Sicilian coastline. The resort’s design and construction was a passion project of the Sanoner family which, along with their longstanding partner architect Hugo Demetz, created one of the most unique wellness destinations in Europe.
The resort is less than a quarter-mile from a private beach and sits atop grounds peppered with wildflowers overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and one of Italy’s most precious nature reserves — Torre Salina. The nature theme flows throughout the entire property, creating an instant sense of calm. Add on the ADLER group’s dedication to providing guests with five-star spa treatments, wellness facilities, and outstanding cuisine, and it’s impossible to leave not feeling rejuvenated.
How to get to ADLER Spa Resort Sicilia
The closest airport to ADLER Spa Resort Sicilia is Palermo, Italy, on the northern tip of the island of Sicily. It’s about an hour from the resort by car and guests can organize a transfer through the resort. The journey, through the countryside of vineyards, ancient temples, and pretty villages is a wonderful way to introduce yourself to the history and natural beauty of Sicily. If you’d rather travel via rail, you can opt for a train to Cefalù. From there it’s a short seven miles by car to get to the resort.
When you settle at ADLER, you might not want to leave. But if you do, there’s a huge amount of nearby attractions and daily excursions bookable through the resort. In keeping with ADLER’s dedication to being as sustainable as possible and protecting the local ecosystem, electric cars and bikes are available for guest use.
About ADLER Spa Resort Sicilia
I visited in November, the grandmother’s summer in Europe. It’s one of my favorite times of year to be on the continent. It’s still warm enough to sit outdoors in the fall sunshine in a t-shirt and only a light cardigan in the evening, and it avoids the summer crowds.
On arrival, I was struck by how understated the resort is. Vivid yellow, orange, and lilac wildflowers of lavender, fennel, and violets carpet the grounds, and a maze of stone pathways connect the pools, spa, eateries, reception area, and suites. The lavish and sprawling property was built with natural materials, and the liberal use of glass creates a seamless combination of sleek modern buildings that fit into the Sicilian coast. And that’s exactly what the Sanoner family had in mind.
“Everything we do is informed by a non-negotiable principle: our resort has to blend in with the landscape without altering its natural balance and beauty. Bio-architecture was the only way forward. We opted for a dispersive layout of single-story buildings alternating with botanical oases,” shares the family.
Unlike many large-scale wellness resorts, ADLER’s commitment to the environment means the business has, in my opinion, enhanced the wild cliffside area. The resort’s 90 suites are low in structure and sit above lawns with outstanding panoramic views.
Huge, heavy sliding doors open out onto private terraces where guests can enjoy the view from plush day beds. The warmth of the Sicilian countryside is mirrored in the stylish decor of the open-planned suites. Brunt orange, mustard, and a juxtaposition between cedar wood panels, velvet, and rougher natural textiles are luxuriously understated. A king-sized bed sits in the center of the room and looks out onto the manicured gardens and the ocean beyond. Drifting off to a chorus of cicadas and waking to a warm fragrant Sicilian breeze is one of my most cherished memories of the property.
Wellness facilities at the resort
It might not come as a surprise that the spa is the heart of the resort. Sami Aglietti, general manager of ADLER Sicilia, expressed that having five-star facilities is one of the core principles of the hotel group.
The subterranean complex of 13 treatment rooms is built into the cliffside and all have sweeping views of the coastline. The journey down the wooden stairs is an experience in itself as guests are welcomed by the scent of pine, citrus, and lavender, paired with calming music, and soothing, natural decor.
The team of professionals at ADLER set the bar incredibly high, making this currently one of the best spa resorts in Europe. And although the group is famed for hiring local staff members to support the regional economy, the level of expertise is world-class. I can attest that I had one of the best massages of my life.
There’s a huge variety of treatments to choose from. In fact, the more-than-25-page spa menu is the most extensive I’ve come across at a resort. You can select individual therapies ranging from relaxing massages to facials, Ayurvedic offerings, body treatments, and hydrotherapy, or opt for a package. I indulged in the calming 50-minute “Essence of Sicily” massage with Sicilian almond oil, after which it took me an entire afternoon of lounging on my day bed to come back to my senses.
There are three Swedish saunas, all of which vary in temperature and humidity levels. The daily Aufguss (sauna ritual) is a highlight. A timetable for the experience is available outside the sauna tower, and the performance is not only relaxing and detoxing, but also highly entertaining.
Water is another celebrated element. There are three pools, all of which offer very different experiences and healing benefits.
The Thalasso infinity pool is above the spa and is a must-do experience, especially at sunset when the pool water seems to drift into the crimson sky. The heated saltwater pool is a respite from muscle and joint aches and pains.
The larger of the three pools is split into three sections. Guests can enter the saltwater pool, housed within a dark, wooden structure, from a stunning relaxation room. Swim-up glass doors open automatically to the outside pool, which is warm and surrounded by palm trees. The final section of the pool is what ADLER call the “sweet water pool,” and is slightly colder than the saltwater pool.
The third pool is outside the fitness center and is a cold water lap pool. It’s ideal for those who want to do some cardio after a gym session.
Gym and fitness facilities
You might well never want to leave the resort, but if you would like to explore the region and enjoy the outdoors, there’s a huge range of activities on offer. From nature hikes and yoga on the beach to bike tours, guests can select excursions from the reception area’s large blackboard detailing the daily offerings.
The state-of-the-art gym has everything you need for a personal workout. There are cardio machines, slam balls, battle ropes, free weights, weight machines, you name it. The cardio machines have a superb view down the coast, making a morning run an absolute pleasure. Adjacent to the gym is a yoga and pilates studio with group exercise classes ranging, including full-body weight programs and various styles and levels of yoga. Classes run throughout the day and the packed schedule is posted at reception and inside the gym door.
Something I didn’t expect on arrival at ADLER Spa Resort Sicilia was the private beach. You can reach the beach on foot in 10 or 15 minutes, depending on how relaxed your pace is. The walk is a leisurely downhill stroll, and at the shoreline, you’ll be treated to a self-serve soft drinks bar, a beach towel, and a sun lounger. There’s a lifeguard on duty during the day, and staff on-site to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. On the way back up the hill, you can hop on one of the electric buggies to the resort if you’d prefer to not break a sweat. Believe me, the resort has thought of everything.
Restaurants and dining options
It would be remiss for a resort in one of the most fertile volcanic regions on the planet not to take advantage of local produce, and ADLER did not disappoint. Herb and vegetable gardens provide a daily harvest and regional specialties pepper the well-thought-out menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Giuseppe Schimmenti, head chef at ADLER Sicilia, is originally from Sicily and shared that he was overjoyed to come back to the region and celebrate the outstanding local ingredients.
“ADLER’s philosophy of sourcing regional produce is a perfect match for me,” shares Schimmernti. “This is my home, so I know these products and the people who work hard to cultivate the land.”
There are two restaurants; an outdoor Osteria for lunch and an extravagant two-storied bar and eatery.
The Osteria is on a decked area under a large umbrella and offers views of the gardens and coastline. The daily buffet-style lunch plates an array of fresh salads, local seafood (including Sicilian red prawns), pizzas, pasta, fresh local cheeses, and cured meats.
When the sun goes down, guests can feast in the beautifully lit, colossal, and somehow still-chic restaurant. The nightly buffet of Sicilian appetizers changes daily, after which guests can order from an a la carte menu. It’s here, on the restaurant floor, where the professionalism and level of knowledge of the staff truly stands out. Each ingredient has a story and every plate can be paired with a local wine. It’s a testament to ADLER’s dedication to hiring from nearby villages and towns and training its team to the highest of standards.
Attractions near ADLER Spa Resort Sicilia
One of the many excursions offered is a trip to the historic town of Siculiana. The town has grown into an important cultural and artistic hub in Sicily, with local artists regularly creating masterpieces adorning city walls and public spaces. Many of these masterpieces draw inspiration from Sicilian traditions and culture, showcasing the history and beauty of the area through art. A tour here will take you through centuries-old streets, passing baroque and Renaissance monuments and picturesque Sicilian gardens.
The Valley of the Temples
Another must-see historical landmark is the UNESCO World Heritage Site: The Valley of the Temples, or Valle dei Templi in Italian. It’s a short 40-minute drive from the resort and is one of the most impressive temples in the world.
The Valley is home to seven monumental Greek temples built between 510 and 430 BCE as part of a large-scale urban planning project by the local rulers of Akragas (Agrigento). All seven temples are dedicated to different gods, including Zeus, Apollo, Persephone, Demeter, Hera Lacinia, and Athena.
Today, the Valley remains an important archaeological site and the ancient remains are very well-preserved. We visited at night to experience the magnificent valley at sunset and adorned in light as the sun fell behind the towering stone structures.