Villa des Oliviers: Designer Jacques Garcia’s Sicilian Paradise
The joys of Sicily are not confined to its towns and cities. One of the most beautiful options for accommodation on the island is Villa des Oliviers, a five-bedroom villa on a vast estate owned by famed French interior designer Jacques Garcia. After many years taking on renovation projects at some of the world’s most glamorous hotels, including the legendary La Mamounia in Marrakech, Mr Garcia now has one of his own in welcoming guests to the extraordinary Villa des Oliviers, located as its name indicates in the middle of an enormous olive grove. The villa was in fact the processing room for the extraction of oil from the olives; in great disrepair when purchased by Mr Garcia several years ago, what was then a roofless shell of a building has been transformed into an extraordinary home. The main part of the villa consists of two bedrooms, one off each side of an expansive living room. A further three bedrooms are accessible directly from the beautiful veranda that runs the length of the house.
This being one of the most personal of Jacques Garcia’s accommodation projects, the living room and bedrooms are full of books and artworks from the designer’s vast collection. A section of the living-room floor is transparent to allow appreciation of the ancient Greek mosaic beneath it. There is a state of the art kitchen, of course; the villa is rented out with full staff to look after guests’ every need. The large main bedroom is a world unto itself, with books, works of art, and a piano to entertain guests the old-fashioned way, with style and sophistication rather than electronic gizmos. The second bedroom is another treasure trove of interesting objets d’art; similarly, the three other bedrooms are tastefully decorated and artistically charming. The outdoors can be amply appreciated on the estate, with walks on the property a relaxing way to take in the views of the surrounding hills. Afterward, a dip in the chic swimming pool surrounded by exotic vegetation can be enjoyed amid the sublime gardens created by landscape architect and frequent Garcia collaborator Patrick Pottier. In the long evenings of the Mediterranean summer, outdoor dining amid centuries-old olive trees is a delightful option for dinner before stars fill the pollution-free sky.
Villa des Oliviers is the first villa to be completed on the property Three more are planned, though each villa will be far enough away from the others so that privacy and exclusivity remain uncompromised. For large families or groups of friends travelling together, the Jacques Garcia Resort makes an ideal sanctuary for personal revitalisation in an exclusive retreat. The resort is located six kilometres west of Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that figures among Sicily’s most beautiful cities. Celebrated in equal parts for the exceptional Baroque architecture of its main thoroughfare and its reputation for wonderful gelato and desserts, Noto is well worth a visit. Villa des Oliviers serves as an ideal base for exploring southeastern Sicily’s many interesting cities such as Modica, Ragusa, and Siracusa as well as farms and archaeological sites sprinkled through the region.