Go to the Hotel Continental... with someone you love

A movie that drew a lot of attention this year is the BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL. It is a film set in India about a hotel which falls short on how it is advertised much to the dismay of some elderly English folks with limited resources who still hope for life to be better. That this film is a comedy is a reminder sometimes the best way to cry is to laugh.

The reason I mention this is because for a number of years I have had a favorite hotel on the Italian Riviera that has never let me heart down and always recharged my soul. And such places should be noted in life because as the Italians would remind us: vite e breve/life is short.

The name of my magic hotel is the Hotel Continental in Santa Margarita. I asked my wife to marry me there and asked her in Italian. Though she speaks no Italian, I found that getting down on one knee, having the Mediterranean at my back, and whipping out a fair sized stone, she got the picture.

But the picture I want you to get is of a great hotel, not a huge hotel but a great hotel, with fabulous rolling lawn, easing down to the Mediterranean Sea with a volcano stone jetty where chaise lounges are laid out for you so you can fall asleep with the sea literally lapping at your toes and dreams beckoning.

Because I have found that when you discover something that is sweet to the senses you should pass the jam, when you find something great you should honor your discovery, and because I return to Italy almost every year, I have been back to the Hotel Continental, with my wife – yes, same woman – many times over fifteen years. The staff knows me, are wonderful unaffected folks amused by my heavily accented Italian, and never let their justified laughter interfere with the smile I always find waiting.

This is a wonderful hotel because I feel better for having been there. Here’s a tip! Go to the Hotel Continental with someone you love. And if you love yourself – you should because vita e breve – go there just for the romance, the relaxation, the unbelievable breakfast on the terrace backed by an impressionist’s pallet of colors.

While this is not the most expensive hotel in Santa Margarita, Santa Margarita is a diamond, and the legendary watering hole for the rich and famous, Portofino, is just one bay and a short water taxi over. But I’m laying this tip on you like an insider at a horse race just as long as you don’t try to book a room the same time I am going this year. And if you see me there, I bet you’ll want to buy me a drink, or you and your lover will wink at me over your morning double espresso against a background so beautiful you will be joyously caught in the land of ahhhh. Assolutamente!

Noah benShea
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