Positano is a majestically situated coastal village, terraced into hillsides with luxuriant lemon gardens, and expansive vistas over turquoise waters. But this, perhaps most desirable holiday terminus on the Almafi Coast, is in fact a relatively recent phenomenon. It was John Steinbeck’s essay on the now legendary destination, published in Harper’s Bazaar in 1953, that changed its status from a fishing village in an enclave in the hills to a glam resort town. Steinbeck wrote, “It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”
Positano’s most feted resort is unquestionably Le Sirenuse, which opened in 1951, when the Sersale family turned their summer palazzo into a charismatic hotel overlooking the bay. Today, the hotel is still owned and managed by the members of the Sersale family, who have transformed this family’s home into one of the world’s most personable properties. Their passion and good taste is evident in both the hotel’s sparkling atmosphere and eclectic furnishings.
Amongst a sea of pastel-hued houses with seared auburn roof tops, the cheerfully red and unambiguously white exterior of Le Sirenuse makes it an easy target to spot. The hotel’s colossal pool terrace is adorned with a long line of lushes lemon trees, and freesia blooms. The majolica tiled rooms are filled with museum-worthy antiques, hand-picked mostly by the patriarch Franco Sersale, and furnished with all the comforts of a luxury hotel while maintaining the feel of a private home. The Champagne & Oyster Bar, located on yet another terrace with a view, is filled with pink Mary-Rose shrubs, and fragrant frangipane flowers. Walking through the hotel immersed in all these sweet scents of the Mediterranean is truly an olfactory bliss – it’s no surprise that the family has also created their own distinctive fragrance, EAU D’ITALIE available for purchase at the hotel’s spa.
The Sirenuse Spa was designed by an eminent Italian architect, Gae Aulenti, whose portfolio includes a sequence of large-scale museum projects, such as Musée d’Orsay in Paris and Palazzo Grassi in Venice. Her work is modern and vital, focusing not on the ephemeral, passing trends, but long lasting values. As such, the spa is a contemporary white space with rustic stone and wood essentials, and an inimitable zen incidence. It’s a textbook spot for an afternoon of aromatic massages and detoxifying facials.
Le Sirenuse is a brilliant place from which to enjoy the humble pleasures of Positano and the almighty Amalfi Coast.
For information on rates and availability, visit www.sirenuse.it/