[SARTÈNE, CORSICA] — I was having dinner by myself the first night, sitting back and grinning at all the natural wonder before me in this candle-lit treehouse of a restaurant hidden under the maquis trees.
Around the corner came a vision, the most perfectly tanned specimen on this planet. Valérie, the proprietress of this magic haven (and a former model and mother to four beautiful children). She floated on a cloud up to my table and I gulped.
“Bon soir, my name is Valérie. How was your dinner? Did you see your little friend?” with a nod behind me.
I swung around — not suavely, because the wine — and shrieked like a little girl. He snorted at first, which made me jump, just a metre behind me. A wild boar, standing in the shadows.
This is a working ranch and a hunting reserve. So wherever you drive around the immense property there are animals. You feel one with the land. Chianina cows, fluffy sheep, game birds of every feather, and boars. Wild boars. Dozens of them scattered about, often with their teeny baby boars in tow.
I was always taught to fear wild boars, they’ll lunge at you, rip your jugular out with their tusks and shake you ’til your bones fell out. And here I was, face to tusk with a grizzly guy. Trying to act cool.
Turns out he was totally mellow. Stopped by the restaurant every night just to say ‘allo, tentatively standing off to the side under the up-lit trees, with a solemn look like “You gonna eat that extra chop?” This paradise is so wonderful and calming, even the boars walk around like they’re bores wearing a smoking jacket. Carrying a snifter and a snort..
And that’s how this week in paradise at Domaine de Murtoli started. It got better from there.
Domaine de Murtoli isn’t really a hotel, per se, but a huge private hunting estate saddled between the sea and Corsica’s shark tooth interior mountains. And one of the coolest places I’ve ever stayed. Bar none.
In the same family for generations, there are only a dozen or so thick stone houses spread across all 5,000 acres, each only available to rent by the week or longer. From quaint two person former sheep bergeries, to larger rustic outbuildings fit for a family, each pristinely restored and decorated just like you’d want … and then some — which Conde Nast Traveller aptly describes as “Ralph Lauren meets Jean de Fleurette.” Couldn’t agree more.
The vast Domaine tumbles down to the turquoise sea, with a kilometers long sandy beach with hardly anyone on it.There’s another beach around the corner that is so private you can only go there if you are renting one of the houses on it. I so wanted to peek.About the only crowds you run into are when huge yachts and sloops pull in and everyone swims in to lunch. Giggling. Their matching dinghies shuttling their sarongs and sunglasses in for a lazy long meal. Once you pass through the locked front gates, you never have to leave the property again. Nor want to.
So with only 30-40 people spread out over all that land, there’s plenty of elbow room… and most people you never see, which is why this is one of the most coveted places for privacy.
So rather than call it a hotel, “domaine” seems just the right name for it.
After driving down the crazy curvy two lane road from Ajaccio, you must pay specific instructions in your pre-packet. There is no sign. Just a blind gate. You pull behind a building off the side of the road, busy with its own purpose and then follow a bumpy dirt road behind it — thinking it is where the trash truck must go. And then it is. An innocuous gate that looks nicer than the surroundings. This must be it. You see a buzzer and ring it. “Bon soir!”
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With only a dozen or more houses spread over 5,000 rolling wooded acres of pristine hunting lands, everyone pretty much gets their own hilltop or private canyon.
Some face the sea, some look over natural pine forests and others nestled between giant elephant rocks.
The visionary owner and moviestar good-looking Paul Canarelli, has spent the last few decades taking rustic old buildings on his grandfather’s farm and tricking out their humble insides with all the greatest creature comforts one could desire. Like mini La Cornue kitchens, Ralph Lauren Home-quality sturdy antiques, stone fireplaces and nice sheets.
But the greatest thing they have is privacy. Ain’t nobody around to see you walking around naked…😳
As if the houses weren’t cool enough, the restaurants are the best part. Three great restaurants spread out over the estate, one on the beach, one is a grotto and another on the farm. The design is like Elle Decor meets Swiss Family Robinson, with a little bit a Tarzan thrown in. (Some may have to google that).
Purple is the theme of everything throughout Domaine de Murtoli. The most perfect purple, ever. Cushions, table cloths, napkins, uniforms. It works so well.
You HAVE to check out the video on their website. It is the single sexiest video I’ve ever seen for any hotel or restaurant and totally captures the vibe and drop-dead atmosphere of the whole domaine. murtoli.com Watch that and you’ll see what I mean…then come back and follow the story… Good god is it good. Here’s a mention in Conde Nast Traveller UK’s website Gold List. And cntraveller.com calling the restaurant La Plage one the Best Beach Clubs in the World. And the US Conde Nast Traveler’s article on Corsica. And a Trips of their Dreams mention in Travel & Leisure. A beautiful listing on Scott Dunn’s awesome website. And another awesome article on Andrew Harper’s website. And a listing in Tatler as one of The 101 Best Hotels in the World. And a Pool Party in the Truffle Pig. And an article of Dream Hideaways in Forbes.
Last visited July 2015.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: I POSTED THIS SEVERAL YEARS AGO, BUT THIS…
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