Get away from the White Lotus crowds at Sicily’s picturesque Verdura Resort

Rocco Forte Hotels’ upmarket Verdura Resort on Sicily’s southwestern coast is a private escape all year round

Verdura ResortAt the Verdura Resort in western Sicily, the landscape steals the show. Its low-rise, earth-toned residences blend seamlessly with the rocky coastal landscape and glassy Mediterranean, letting the glorious scenery do the talking. 

Surrounded by two and a half golf courses of thrumming bright green, the car-free 23-hectare resort is a five-star sanctuary where palms tower overhead, shrubs of all types explode with colourful blooms and exotic giant cacti remind us we’re not in Britain anymore. Out of nearly every window there’s a gasp-inducing view of the Med. 

Yet the Verdura Resort also possesses the reassuring pizazz you’d expect of a Rocco Forte Hotel – its main building features sleek marble, high ceilings, eye-catching lighting. Guests are invited to be wowed by the contrast between the natural beauty of this discreet corner of Sicily and the high style of its interiors, starting with a grand reception area that offers a glimpse of the sea out back.

Rocco Forte Verdura Resort

We checked into a suite that had been recently redecorated in sophisticated style by Forte Hotels’ head designer, Olga Polizzi, the sister of Sir Rocco. Although Sicilian sun and sea enticed us from the room’s floor-to-ceiling windows, the room beckoned us to stay indoors. It had a chic 1960s vibe, with chairs of burnt orange velvet complemented by soft furnishings in ochre and burgundy, all brought together with a gorgeous geometric area rug I was so taken with, I enquired about buying one for my own house. The shaded balcony provided restful views when the sun beat down a little too fiercely. 

The décor showed a subtle appreciation of Sicily. An iron-framed desk made locally was topped with a patchwork of Maiolica tiles, a rustic twist on the standard mahogany. A sleek, brutalist bathroom of polished concrete and marble with bath and walk-in shower was stocked with Irene Forte bath products made from ingredients like prickly pear and almonds sourced from the resort. The bed was a whopping four-poster canopy-style that provided many restful nights. Service was on the nose: the room was cleaned immaculately each day and our Nespresso machine (which I’d emailed to request ahead of time) restocked daily with coffee pods. 

But on the doorstep of the Med, the resort’s stunning location is its USP. Every vista offers a marvellous eyeful of the sea and mountains and al fresco dining includes a glorious sunset and sight of the nearby town of Sciacca turning into a bank of twinkling lights. 


Verdura Resort GolfVerdura is a magnet for golf nuts, offering two 18-hole and one nine-hole golf course. We followed the lead of the golf widows (and widowers), lazing away the daytime hours by or in the water next to parents whose kids were having a whale of a time in the kids’ club’s kitchen or exclusive pool. 

We paddled and dozed under beach umbrellas at the private beach, enjoying the sight of more energetic guests trying to keep their balance on water jet boots that elevated them, superhero style, about ten feet above the water. Boat trips, kitesurfing and jet skis are also on offer, as well as tennis, golf and football academies run by professionals. 

Our needs were much simpler. Long afternoons slid by as we did easy laps in the glorious 60-metre outdoor pool, a social hub flanked by the pool bar and ringed by sun loungers and umbrellas under swaying palms. We bathed in the warm, salty waters of the four thalassotherapy pools at the Forte Spa, with its intimate sundeck overlooking blooming shrubs and velvety golf links. Airy massage rooms are available for treatments, and for those who like to get a sweat on there are single sex Finnish saunas, a giant unisex Turkish bath and a gym.

As we whizzed from beach to pool to spa and restaurants on the free bikes dotted all over the resort and enjoyed leisurely early morning pedals around the grounds we discover a little distance away the Forte Village Villas – a mini-estate of 20 three- and four-bedroom villas for rent or purchase overlooking the sea and offering peaceful courtyards and swimming pools and a complementary golf cart for guests’ use during their stay. 

We kick-started our days with a feast at the Buongiorno restaurant, where tables spill onto the pool terrace and waiters spring to your side with coffee and glasses of fresh orange juice. The breakfast spread offered an impossible choice between warm baguettes, cheeses, meats, smoked fish, tarts, pastries, cereals and Sicilian delights like cannoli and fruity granita (an upmarket Sicilian slushie). 

After a morning’s gentle paddling we’d often cycle over to Liolà, the family friendly pizzeria and trattoria decorated with colourful tiles and traditional Sicilian plates. On its seafront terrace we carb-loaded on fluffy homemade foccacia as we waited for our Neapolitan-style pizza – try the Siciliana, topped with salami, pepperoni, fresh anchovies, mozzarella and pangrattata (fried breadcrumbs) for extra richness. 

For aperitivi we headed to Granita, a chic bar-restaurant on the main building’s upper terrace serving fantastic cocktails and boasting a buzzing atmosphere provided by a jazz singer and three-piece band. Its signature drinks are concocted with fruits and plants from the resort – my favourite, the Spritz Siciliano, made of fresh orange juice, Aperol and local fizz, was gone before I knew it. 

Much of Verdura Resort’s cuisine focuses on that day’s catch plucked from the Med cooked in inventive ways, making dinner an event. Meals at beachside restaurant Amare are accompanied by the sound of waves lapping outside, even among the convivial hubbub. For the first (but not the last) time I sampled the local delicacy, Sicily’s famous gambero rosso (red prawns) served raw, in a ceviche with avocado and tomato, a perfect contrast of buttery prawn and piquant salad. We chose our fish from an iced display case, with red snapper for two cooked immediately and filleted at our table. It was superbly fresh and flaky and went beautifully with the white wine, a crisp local Grillo.

Dinner at Zagara, the fine dining restaurant boasting crisp white tableclothes and a large potted orange tree (Zagara means ‘orange blossom’), was a particular highlight. Head sommelier Nando Papa brought us beautifully creamy Terrazze Dell’Etna fizz to sip as we watched the sun dip over the horizon from the outdoor terrace. From a menu of delights, my ‘raw of the day’ starter deserves special mention – made of those red prawns rolled flat into a pancake and topped with stracchiatella cheese and basil cream. Rich and creamy, it was utterly divine. I left room for a melting fillet of mahi-mahi served on a bed of crushed potatoes and my husband for seabass served with truffles, an unusual combination that he pronounced perfect. 

Everywhere at Verdura Resort, the service was spot-on. Sicilians have a reputation for friendliness, and it was borne out in spades by a style of hospitality that was efficient and warm but never intrusive. 

Days slid by and, by the time we left Verdura Resort’s pampering and feasting, I felt renewed. The place is an ideal spot to unwind, a secluded oasis of upmarket luxury in which guests are brilliantly catered for. 

Back on the plane, I opened my book to find that our room cleaner had even put an official Forte bookmark in my paperback in place of the crumpled serviette I had used to mark my place. It made my very warm feelings about the Verdura Resort burn a little hotter. 

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