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Vivosa Apulia Resort

Just back from: Salento & Vivosa Apulia Resort

Authentic eco-resort in undiscovered Italy

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12 October 2023 by Norire Arakelyan

Having recently returned from southern Puglia and the Vivosa Apulia Resort, Wexas Travel's Norire Arakelyan shares his experience of this all-inclusive eco-resort in a lesser-known part of Italy. Inspired by its ability to retain the authenticity of the region whilst offering something different for those opting not to self-drive, below he explains why Vivosa Apulia is the perfect option for families and couples looking for a more relaxed introduction to this undiscovered and unexpected region of Italy.

Diversity of Puglia

Puglia is usually associated with being the heel of Italy's boot, a place of whitewashed masserie, traditional Trulli huts and ear-shaped orecchiette pasta. While that vision may be correct, it also leaves out a great deal. Perhaps more than most Italian regions, within Puglia one can find a remarkable diversity in everything from its culinary heritage to its dialect; indeed, people from Lecce will be quick to point out that they're from Salento and not Puglia, in a dialect which is more similar to Sicilian than that of the northern parts of the region. And, as we were to find out, Puglia is known as the breadbasket of Italy, making it the source of some 80 percent of Europe's pasta and much of Italy's fish. It produces more wine than Germany and surprisingly more olive oil than all other regions of Italy combined. On top of this, it is a place that still celebrates traditions and authenticity in everything it does.

Typical Puglian vinyard

Vivosa: A marriage of relaxation and discovery

My trip began in Brindisi – one of two main airports in Puglia. Usually, from here it is a case of self-driving quietly scenic towns on the east coast of the region, featuring the notable highlights of Bari, Fasano and Ostuni as well as the traditional dry stone huts and conical roofs of Alberobello. Instead, we headed in the opposite direction through the less-frequented peninsula of Salento, past ancient olive groves, vineyards and fertile farmland towards the white-sand beaches of southernmost Puglia. Situated in Marina di Ugento, Vivosa Apulia Resort – an award-winning all-inclusive eco-resort – goes somewhat under the radar when it comes to international tourism. However, for those in the know, it is a perfect refuge from which to enjoy this unique region. In fact, the hotel has been voted the best Italian all-inclusive resort at the World Travel Awards in 2021 and 2022. Offering the alluring mix of tranquil sandy beaches, delicious locally sourced cuisine and close proximity to the likes of Gallipoli, Ugento and the capital of the province, Lecce, it is the ideal destination for those looking to mix relaxation, luxury and convenience with authenticity and laid-back discovery.

Rooms are spread out across Vivosa's beautiful gardens

Rooms & gardens

Built with Tufo, a typical Apulian stone, the resort is spaced out over 10 buildings (courts) and features around 300 rooms – all framed by scenic pine forests of Litorale di Ugento Natural Park – giving it a relaxed slow-paced feel. Even the walk through the perfectly manicured gardens from the reception to the rooms is delightful. Interiors of the rooms are light, airy and furnished in typical Mediterranean style, with a choice of a garden and terrace or a balcony overlooking shrubs and pomegranate trees. You'll find all of the usual amenities, and with this being an eco-resort, each court features its own 'acqua bar' station where bottles and jugs can be filled with still or sparkling water. As such, you will not find any bottles or plastic waste, so be sure to bring along a reusable bottle to fill up on-the-go. 

Indeed, the true uniqueness of the resort is its dedication to sustainability. The recycling bins around the property, aforementioned acqua bar, eco-farm, eco-park and commitment to use of biodegradable products (especially on the beach), as well as the materials used to build the property show a true commitment to environmentalism.

Superior Double Room

Authentically Italian dining

Nowhere is the focus on sustainability and authenticity more palpable than in the resort's dining. Unlike many all-inclusive properties across the world, here there's no compromise when it comes to the quality of the food. The overwhelming majority of the ingredients used in the cooking are either grown in-house in Vivosa's very own eco-farm, or locally sourced from the surrounding region. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served in buffet style at the hotel's main restaurant, Via Appia. You'll find varied cuisine rich in Puglian flavours and local specialties – think Orecchiette pasta, Capocollo, freshly made mozzarella and burrata, local seafood and stews. The hotel's more formal restaurant, "A Puteca" is ideal for those looking for a quieter more romantic dinner on the rooftop terrace, featuring a typical Puglian à la carte menu; this is available at an extra cost. The pool bar and lounge bar also offer local snacks and treats throughout the day such as Taralli, a ring-shaped wheat-based cracker popular in the region. 

A Puteca à la carte restaurant

Maldives of Salento

Located around 400 metres from the entrance of the main building and accessed by a scenic wooden walkway weaving through lush pine woods, you'll find the turquoise waters and endless fine white sands of Vivosa's private beach, known in the area as the Maldives of Salento, such is the beach's resemblance to those found on the Indian Ocean island. Vivosa guests can make use of included sun loungers as well as enjoy a selection of optional water sports (additional charge). The sea stays warm and calm right until the end of the summer season and gently slopes in depth, making it perfect for swimmers and water sports enthusiasts alike. At the beach, you'll find Scirocco Beach Bar which is the perfect accompany to a day of relaxation, serving international favourites and local specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks from early morning until sunset, all included in the hotels "Luxury All-Inclusive" concept. You'll even find breakfast, snacks, light lunches, fresh fruit and salads as well as ice cream. Occasionally, the hotel host outdoor show-cooking by the beach featuring the likes of fresh seafood stews.

The beach is backed by roughly three kilometres of protected Mediterranean scrub and forest, complemented by dunes, a series of tidal basins with connecting channels, imposing fossil cliffs with breathtaking ravines. In addition, there are plenty of pretty paths and signposted nature trails in the pine forest for scenic walks.

The turquoise waters of Vivosa Apulia beach

In-resort leisure & exploring the region

When it comes to keeping busy in the resort, there are no shortages of activities to keep you occupied. For sports, you'll find the likes of tennis and padel courts (tennis instructor available), a five-aside football field, a beach volley ball court, archery and an adventure park on the treetops for energetic kids. Activities such as yoga, pilates, hiit fit, spinning and meditation are all also included in the luxury all-inclusive concept. At the award-winning Vivosa Spa's wellness centre, you can make use of a Finnish sauna, bio sauna and Hammam as well as outdoor pools, sensory showers and a fully-equipped fitness rooms. Of course, should you wish, there are plenty of treatments and massages available at an additional charge. Vivosa's "eco-kids" programme arranges all kinds of kids activities including a range of green activities overseen by highly trained staff. The resort features a swimming pool area consisting of four basins of different depths as well as a seperate pool section with water slides for children.

Outside of the resort, you are perfectly located to explore the best of Salento's highlights. If you've chosen not to hire a car, the hotel can arrange return taxi services to any of the major locations dotted around the peninsula. Gallipoli with its famous seafood traditions and picturesque old town is just a 30-minute drive away, whilst the region's capital Lecce can be reached in just under an hour. History buffs will be particularly interested in the city's baroque architecture and sandstone cathedrals and piazzas and foodies will enjoy the delicious street food. Guided excursions are also a great way to get to know the region – due to the resort being largely frequented by local Italians, many excursions are guided in Italian, so do speak with your specialist so we can enquire for the possibility of an English speaking guide. There are plenty of kayaking and snorkelling boat trips available including the possibility to visit the Palaeolithic caves, as well as horse riding on the beach with the backdrop of a beautiful sunset.

Santa Maria di Leuca harbour, near the Palaeolithic caves

An up-and-coming destination

Ten years ago, Puglia on the whole was an up-and-coming destination. Despite tourism blossoming with the landmark cities and sights in the north of the region, the south has largely remained untouched. If Puglia is on your radar, and you're looking to avoid long drives or car hire in general, I would highly recommend a visit to the Salento region and using Vivosa Apulia Resort as your base. Whether you're visiting as a couple or a family, the resort and region provides plenty to keep everyone happy.

Related offers

Vivosa Apulia Resort

Vivosa Apulia Resort

7-night luxury holiday from £1,500 pp incl. flights & transfers

Located within the Ugento Nature Park, Vivosa Apulia Resort is a short walk through scenic pine woods and sand dunes to a private white-sand beach.

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