Hiding behind my oversized Warby Parker frames, I desperately attempt to conceal my tired eyes as we arrive in Milan. I don’t like to fly with my make-up on, but then again, I don’t like to leave home without composure. Once through customs, I pay a brief visit to the airport’s café. The cappuccino is obscenely good. It casts shame upon whatever flavored coffee pod I’ve been consuming this month. In my peripheral vision, I can see that my fellow café patrons are enjoying their hot beverages in an oversized ceramic mug, as any barista worth their beans would advise. I, however, stick out like a sore thumb with my paper take-out cup, served to me upon request. “Look at that American! Always on the go,” they’re probably thinking. Or maybe it’s just in my head, and no one has noticed, instead minding his and her own aromatic experience.
It is a touch over an hour in the hotel’s swanky SUV, but I barely take notice to the length of the ride, instead admiring the glistening winding roads of northern Italy and its chic, opulent homes. As I spot the posts that read “Lago di Como,” like most Americans that have visited before me, I attempt to guess which villa belongs to the region’s most famous resident, George Clooney. Once I have surveyed no less than a dozen homes that I have declared fit to be my own, the driver declares that we have arrived.
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo is nothing short of palatial. I had spent several weeks obsessing over its imagery- teasing myself- wondering if such a place could be on the level. Standing before me, it becomes clear that this was not the Photoshop job of the century. This was it. The real thing. How I wish my husband and daughters were here with me to see this with their own eyes.
Surely it is unfair of me to have landed myself before such beauty looking as slovenly as I do. Upon my arrival, I am greeted by genuine hospitality, as though each person I’d encountered, welcomed me into his or her home personally. I make my way to the T Bar terrace, whose work of art is the paralleled views of Bellagio across the lake. It is a mesmerizing sight for these tired eyes of mine. I sink into my seat and take it all in, embracing the scenery which surrounds me. I may even indulge myself in a delightful pastry or three, as I make the warm acquaintance of similar minded travelers as myself.
The queen of the castle herself, Valentina Di Santis, emerges, and she is a vision. Six months pregnant, she has a warm glow about her that radiates joy. As the owner of this not-so-humble abode, it is immediately apparent where the personal touch emanates from. We must have spent hours just lounging at T Bar, overlooking the lake. The atmosphere here is relaxed in a way I’d never seen before. I don’t know if it’s the intricate details or exceptional hospitality surrounding me, but luxury has never looked so uncommonly reposed. Before we part ways, I find myself wishing to take an extra moment to spend in the adjacent Sala Musica, a room adorned with period décor dressed in vibrant colors. Upholstered chairs and sofas crowd the space in a seemingly random context, yet as a whole, look to contain paramount purpose. The room reads like a jazz song written by Louis Armstrong himself; you don’t have to be a virtuoso to appreciate its context.
Alas, I eventually make my way to my rooftop suite. The furnishings are a harmonious blend of antique meets contemporary. From the cedarstone tiling of the powder room to the Jacuzzi on my private terrace, everything is state of the art. Awaiting me is a handwritten note with sweet sentiments; something I will come to anticipate each night of my stay. Between the oversized whirlpool bath and plush dressing gowns, I resign myself to the promise to indulge in a leisurely bath at least once each day. The all-consuming king size bed meets the standards of a mattress snob such as myself, and the pillows nearly swallow me whole as I declare: I’m never going home.
Soon enough, I am refreshed, reborn, and ready to regroup with my new friends and fellow travelers, hailing from various parts of the globe, from Alabama to Germany. Together we discover the shopping haven in the city of Como, the delectable nearby Swiss influence of Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s own L’Escale Fondue & Wine Bar, and the spectacular sites of Villa de Balbianello (a location that may look strikingly familiar if you have ever seen Casino Royale or Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones). We even make our way across the lake via a five-minute ferry ride, and acquire fine Italian silks and cashmere capes in the charming and authentic craftsmanship village of Bellagio. It is not long before we don ourselves the Cowgirls of Como, as we have the time of our lives, draped in splendor.
But this visit isn’t about my Italian getaway with the Como Cowgirls. It is but a piece of the puzzle where the mission is to discover the most beautiful locations around the world to celebrate love. This journey is about falling in love with your forever mate, and together, falling in love with Tremezzo. As grand as the palace may be, it doesn’t utter a hint of pretension. It is simply celestial. Lovers have come here to amorefor over 105 years. Limitless in its potential, the crowned jewel of Lake Como is the flawless choice for weddings both intimate and grand in size. The regal atmosphere overlooking the lake is more romantic than any great imagination could ponder. The luxury of this magnanimous retreat knows no bounds, from its floating pool resting on the lake’s surface, to the unforgettable cuisine of La Terrazza Restaurant and the hotel’s many other on-site eateries. And if all of this hasn’t yet sent you soaring for the Italian Alps, then I urge you to investigate the infinity pool at T-Spa. Spoiler alert: It’s both indoors and outdoors, and is paired with a view.
My tired eyes are rested, with no thanks owed to my friends at Laura Mercier. I have found heaven, and it requires no concealer, and no frames to hide behind. I am in my element here, and I can’t help but notice that everyone else is too.
As for the coffee, well, it is just divine. I think I’ll just order myself a cappuccino from now on. To stay.
"Lake Luxury" is a firsthand account story written by Samantha Sendor, originally appearing in the 2016 Edition of Sophisticated Weddings.