There are few places in the world more unreservedly beautiful than Sicily. Blessed with sun, sea, glorious food and the tang of lemon-scented air, it’s little wonder that its people are so proud of their beautiful land.
For many Maltese, Sicily has been a natural holiday destination for generations: its lush scenery, coupled with our close proximity to it, have made it somewhat easy for us to fall in love with it over and over again. It wouldn’t take much for anyone to convince us to pay it a quick visit now and again but now, thanks to the Sicilia Outlet Village, we have a new reason altogether.
It takes about half an hour to get to Sicily by plane, but we literally felt that we had been in the air for five minutes when we were asked to fasten our seatbelts for the plane’s descent onto Italian soil; after that, it was a hop and a skip away to Taormina to put down our luggage at the very fabulous VOI Grand Hotel Atlantis Bay.
With over 83 rooms and breathtaking views of the bay, the hotel really set the tone for the rest of the trip, which was memorable to say the least. After much oohing and aahing over everything from the luxurious airy rooms to the thoughtful trays of fruit and Sicilian pastries left out for each and every one of us in each room, it was time for us to brave the Taormina streets and have a look around the historical town, renowned for its Greek ruins and unspoilt beauty. Our balmy evening walk ended with a chic aperitivo and a wonderful dinner at the legendary Hotel Metropole with our Sicilia Outlet Village hosts.
Anyone who knows me well will happily attest to the fact that I have made it my informal life’s mission to sample as many different types of foods as possible. However, despite my penchant for the new and interesting, I came to the conclusion that no one should go to their deaths happily without sampling real Italian food pretty early on in life.
Suffice to say, everything that we had on that magical evening under the stars was as good as the descriptions on the menus promised. The generously truffled risotto was the perfect consistency, the meat cooked impeccably and the desserts were as authentic as they could get. I don’t think I’ve slept so soundly in some time. The next morning brought with it a fabulous breakfast and the opportunity to make use of the crystal clear pool in the hotel before getting ready for the next part of our adventure.
For many Maltese, Sicily has been a natural holiday destination for generations
From the very start of our trip, we had been told that the Sicilia Outlet Village strives to give everyone the ultimate luxury experience, but nothing could have prepared us for the helicopter ride that we were given straight to the Sicilia Outlet Village’s helipad. Just a 20-minute ride from the outskirts of Taormina, our unique ride took us over both land and sea and we were given a royal welcome by all the senior staff when we giddily dismounted onto the tarmac. One quick espresso and a short presentation later and we were finally let loose on the village itself.
For those of you who have never visited an outlet village, there is literally no more perfect place in the entire world for the consummate shopper. Beautifully laid out, spacious and as pretty as a picture, they are what I imagine Lilliput must have looked like in Johnathan Swift’s head.
Each designer brand is given its own lovely home and the shelves are heaving with beautiful pieces. While some people may think that designer villages only stock things from older collections, they couldn’t be more mistaken when it came to this one. As someone who follows fashion and fashion shows religiously, I was nothing short of impressed at what they had for sale.
Indeed, in many cases, the only difference between items I’ve seen outside the village and items I saw at the village was the price. The service was impeccable wherever we went and everyone made sure to make our stay as comfortable as possible.
Something I really loved about the village was the sense of peace and tranquillity you got just by walking around. Carefully signposted and with trees and benches at every turn, one did not feel the dreadful hustle and bustle which has become so symptomatic of shops and shopping centres as a whole. The shops were big enough to house their stock but not so big as to be overwhelming, the staff friendly without being overbearing and the opportunities to just sit contentedly outside in the sun with all your beautifully packed bags pretty much endless. It was the ultimate luxury experience minus the stress and the guilt (especially since there are sales until September 15 on the already slashed prices).
With over 140 upmarket shops and unbelievable discounts on luxury items all year round, it’s little wonder that more and more people who are already in love with designer pieces are visiting this gorgeous oasis of shopping nirvana. One thing’s for sure, they definitely haven’t seen the last of me!
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