Italy has no shortage of adventurous and luxurious destinations for incentive travelers. One of the most enticing, however, is Lake Como in northern Italy, which is known for its tranquil waters, palatial villas, quaint towns and mountainous terrain — not to mention its five-star resorts, many of which rival the homes of celebrities like George Clooney, Madonna, Donatella Versace and Sir Richard Branson, all of who have opulent homes there.
One of those resorts, CastaDiva Resort & Spa is under new management courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, which announced today that it has taken over the resort's operations and will rebrand the property as Mandarin Oriental, Lake Como effective next spring.
Located approximately an hour from Milan, in the village of Blevio, CasaDiva dates back to the early 19th century, when it was the home of Madame Ribier, a French dressmaker who made her fortune dressing wealthy women when Milan was under French rule. The house was rebuilt in the early 20th century and belonged to a cotton magnate from Turin until the 1950s. It remained inhabited for another 50 years after that before becoming a hotel in 2000.
Situated on the shores of Lake Como, where it's surrounded by botanic parkland, the property has 76 guest rooms and suites across nine separate villas, two of which are available for buyouts by guests and groups. There also are four restaurants and bars, a spa with an indoor pool, an outdoor floating pool on the lake and four meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 250 people.
"We are delighted to be extending the Mandarin Oriental brand to the shores of Lake Como, which has long been a destination of choice for luxury travelers," said James Riley, CEO of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, which already has a hotel in nearby Milan. "We look forward to bringing the group's exemplary service to the resort and to working with our partners to create one of Italy's most exclusive properties."
Four More Places to Host Incentives on Lake Como
CastaDiva's transformation into a Mandarin Oriental resort won't be complete until spring 2019. Until then, here are four other Lake Como properties that are ideal for incentive groups:
• Grand Hotel Tremezzo: One of the oldest and prettiest hotels on Lake Como, Grand Hotel Tremezzo is an authentic Art Nouveau palace that dates back to 1910. Like most Lake Como resorts, it's closed every year from November to March. During the on-season, however, it offers everything one could want from an Italian holiday, including 90 guest rooms and suites, three swimming pools, a spa that occupies its own 18th-century villa and has its own hammam and yoga studio, a clay tennis court and five acres of lush gardens, not to mention access to the botanical gardens of Villa Carlotta next door and views of Bellagio on the other side of the lake.
• Villa d'Este: Originally built in 1568, Villa d'Este has been one of Lake Como's favored destinations since 1873, when it became a hotel. Located amid 25 acres of parkland, the lakeside property has 152 guest rooms and suites that are spread across two historic mansions, both of which are adorned inside with antiques, silk brocade drapes, oil paintings and Como silk furnishings. The property also boasts four private villas, six bars and restaurants, a spa, a putting green and golf simulator, a floating pool on the lake, an indoor pool, tennis and squash courts, a fitness center, a jogging track and nearly a dozen meeting rooms.
• Il Sereno Lago di Como: Il Sereno is among Lake Como's newest and most contemporary luxury hotels. Opened in 2016, it's located on the edge of a cliff in the town of Torno, where it offers just 30 suites. Along with interiors by noted Italian designer Patricia Urquiola, who infused it almost exclusively with furnishings from Italian companies, the property — which is available for buyouts — boasts two vertical gardens, a Michelin-starred restaurant, a spa and fitness center that's located in a former boathouse, two meeting rooms and two all-wood motorboats that were designed by Urquiola for taking guests on trips around the lake.
• Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni: Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is the only five-star hotel in Bellagio, one of Lake Como's most beloved villages. Once a vacation destination for Milanese aristocrats, the property originally was built in 1852 as a private home but has since hosted such notable guests as Clark Gable, Winston Churchill and John F. Kennedy, among many others. Immediately recognizable by its yellow walls and red tile roof, the hotel has 95 guest rooms and suites — each of which is outfitted with period furnishings, antiques and art — as well as: five bars and restaurants, one of which has a Michelin star; expansive outdoor gardens; a spa and fitness center; two swimming pools, including an outdoor pool overlooking the lake; and six meeting spaces for groups of up to 400 people.