Relais Parco Cavalonga

near Ragusa, Sicily, Italy Book from Book from £90 per night

Chic self-catering apartments (for 2-7) and a delightful small hotel tucked away in a pretty valley, perfectly situated for southern Sicily’s best sights
South-eastern Sicily is a seductive mixture of rugged landscapes, pretty beaches and immaculately preserved Baroque towns (3 granted Unesco World Heritage status) with honeyed stone carved into crisp volutes and Corinthian columns, and churches with magnificent interiors. Wandering their labyrinthine streets is delightful, but it comes as a relief to escape the chaotic traffic and droves of tourists and return to the tranquility, clean lines and polished limestone of Relais Parco Cavalonga. Tucked away in wild and fragrant gardens, it’s small enough to offer truly personalised service, but substantial enough to have a good restaurant and 2 pools; the perfect base for absorbing sunshine and Sicilian culture.

The 7 spacious and modern apartments and 15 hotel rooms are sufficiently spread out among olive and carob trees to give both privacy and lovely views of a typical southern Sicilian landscape; some even give a glimpse of distant sea. Furnishings are elegant and simple in strong plain colours, fine art on the walls is bold but always harmonious, and the beds are superb. There are many restaurants in Ragusa, and exquisite seafood a short drive away in coastal towns. But you’ll find it hard to leave the calm of Cavalonga, and the scented night air.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.

Highs

  • A blissful little haven, hidden away from the tourists flocking to the major sights in the area
  • Two smart swimming pools, set in flowering gardens
  • Within easy reach of Ragusa (15 minutes away), Vittoria (30 minutes away) and Scicli - and far more restful than staying in a town
  • Really exceptional service from warm and helpful staff, keen to make you feel at home
  • The apartments are great for families and kids will love the pools

Lows

  • On our most recent visit we thought the hotel was looking a little tired and would benefit from some refurbs
  • You’ll need a car to explore the area, but there are shaded parking spaces
  • If you want to dine off site, good restaurants in Ragusa or Vittoria require more driving than you might feel like in the evening (the 3 options in nearby Donnafugata aren’t very sophisticated)
  • Self-catering guests might find the kitchens in some apartments too small for conjuring up elaborate meals
  • This is a quiet place to stay: no entertainment in the evenings
World Favourite Family Hideaway

    Best rooms for families

    The Garden Deluxe Rooms in the hotel have great views down the valley and can be joined together for families, and the apartments have private terraces or courtyards, giving children a safe space to play outdoors.

    Parents should know...

    Parents should keep an eye on children around the pool and in the grounds, as there are some drops to the little rivers which drain rainwater through the gardens.

Baby cots can be provided on request

Some equipment may need to be requested in advance

Available by arrangement

Kids menu in the restaurant, enough choices at breakfast to suit all

  • Pool
  • Grounds to roam around
  • Donnafugata castle, 5 minutes away, has a formal garden of rosemary bushes (which looks and behaves like a maze) and battlements, plus interesting interiors
  • The beach is 15 minutes away
  • Ragusa may be a little dry for children, we sight saw there for an hour then took the kids to the playground
  • Marina di Ragusa also has a playground
  • Greek and Roman ruins abound in SE Sicily - Agrigento is generally thought outstanding
  • There's an Aquapark in both Siracusa and Catania

Great for...

Family
Great Outdoors
  • Boutique Hotel & Apartments
  • 15 rooms, 7 self-catering apartments
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request) or self-catering
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Babysitting
  • Creche / Kids Club
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

All rooms and apartments share the same aesthetic: sleek, modern and simple; the neutral shades ensure the interiors never compete with the landscape outside. Bathrooms have honey-coloured marble and white suites. There are bathtubs in the apartments, but the hotel rooms have showers only (except 3 of the Garden Deluxe Rooms).

The hotel rooms are in the main building, the Casale Antico. Nine Superior Rooms and the spacious Superior Deluxe Room have double or twin beds and panoramic views from the first floor; the five ground-floor Garden Deluxe Rooms have private terraces with table and chairs and uninterrupted views of the olive and orange groves in the valley. They can also be joined together for families.

The apartments have a wonderful feeling of space. Five are set in the estate’s old villa, closest to the road (though noise isn’t a problem), and have a double and twin bedroom plus a sofabed, sleeping up to 5. These all have private terraces or courtyards; Donnafugata also has a garden (great for children).

The other 2 apartments sit in stone buildings in the grounds and sleep up to 7. Kamarina and Ibla, where we stayed, has 2 doubles and a twin. Both have 3 bathrooms and large terraces with lovely views. We loved our open-plan living area, with sofas at one end and a dining table at the other - even with 7 people, there would be plenty of room to sprawl out.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Cavalonga is blessed with I Paladini restaurant, whose name comes from a painting by the owner’s wife, celebrated artist Laura d’Andrea. Dinner is available 4/5 nights a week. The 5-course fixed menu changes daily; we had fava bean soup, ravioli with pistachio pesto and swordfish with raisins and anchovies. It's good, comforting food, and dining on the terrace beneath the olive trees in summer is a delight.

Lunch (book by 10:30) consists of salads, toasted sandwiches and soups. Afternoon tea is served from the bar at any time, with delicious cakes and pastries. Breakfast is a generous spread of continental favourites, excellent Sicilian sweet pastries and eggs cooked on request. Room service is available.

Self-catering in the apartments is easy. The kitchens are a little small for cooking on a grand scale, but there’s everything you need to prepare dinner. Note no basic ingredients are supplied but there’s a good supermarket 8 minutes’ drive away towards Ragusa (staff will give you directions).

And don't forget you're in a gastronomic part of Sicily, so there are plenty of options within driving distance if you want to eat out (book ahead at weekends) - click here for details. And finally, there are cooking lessons with the chef on request if you want to cook Sicilian-style back home.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Chef on request
  • Children's meals
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Go for strolls in the 18 acres of gardens, practise yoga on the yoga platform, or borrow a bike and cycle to the coast
  • Explore Donnafugata’s castle - the inspiration for the setting in the novel (and film) The Leopard
  • Visit the Unesco-listed Baroque towns of Ragusa, Vittoria, Modica and Scicli - fascinating for their jumble of crumbling buildings and ornate churches. We found Scicli the most delightful
  • Take a wine tour - many of Sicily’s best wines are produced around Vittoria. The famous winery in Valle dell’ Acate offers tastings
  • History nuts will be spoiled for choice: Palazzolo Acreide (45 minutes’ drive away) is an ancient hilltop city with Greek amphitheatre and lovely views; Roman Villa de Tellaro has a small but stunning collection of mosaics from the 4th-century AD
  • Day trip destinations an hour away could include Siracusa and its old town of Ortigia (spectacular Greek amphitheatre and excellent fish restaurants) or the Vendicari Nature Reserve - beautiful, windswept and unspoilt, for birding and walking
  • Don’t miss the charming seaside resort of Marina di Ragusa, with quiet warm waters, a long beach, some great fish restaurants and superb ice cream shops
  • Golf can be arranged at the 18-hole Donnafugata golf resort - book at reception (cheaper than at the course itself) who can also arrange horse-riding and mountain biking through the surrounding landscapes

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga

Best Time to go

Sicily is a destination for almost year-round sun, but it suffers oppressively hot temperatures in summer. It’s best to visit in April or May, when the spring flowers are gorgeous and it’s not yet too hot. September and October are also great months to come (the sea is warm enough for swimming until November), but October can get very busy because of school holidays so reserve well in advance.

Our Top Tips

Spend at least a week here. Hire a car and avoid the crowded sights if you can, but do explore Vittoria, Scicli, Vendicari and Marina di Ragusa.
Kid Friendly:

Location

Relais Parco Cavalonga is set off the beaten track in southeast Sicily, near the small town of Donnafugata, and about 15-20 minutes from Ragusa.

By Air
Fly into Comiso (29km away), Catania (100km away) or Palermo (230km away).

From the Airport
The journey time from Comiso is just 20 minutes. Airport transfers can be arranged from Catania, a taxi will cost around €130 one way. Alternatively you can drive yourself - approximately 1.5 hours from Catania, or 2.5 from Palermo - and a hire car is recommended in any case, given the rural area. It is possible to take a bus to Ragusa from Catania (operating every 2 hours 6am-8pm) and the hotel can collect you from Ragusa.

By Car
Most will find a car is essential if you want to explore the area. For car hire see our car rental recommendations.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Comiso 29.0 km CIY
  • Catania Fontanarossa 100.0 km CTA

Other:

  • Beach 15.0 km
  • Shops 8.0 km
  • Restaurant 3.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 9 independent reviews from i-escape guests

8/10
Room
8/10
Food
7/10
Service
8/10
Value
8/10
Overall

The staff at Relais Parco Cavalogna were very helpful and accommodating. The apartment was spacious and very pleasant. As with all holiday apartments, the cooking equipment could be more comprehensive, but we managed many good meals and being able to eat at the hotel was a bonus.
The swimming pools are not heated, which means they can be chilly in October, but as the sea is still 23 degrees, this hardly matters. We loved going down to Marina do Ragusa for the day. It was off season, so the beaches were not crowded and the sea was lovely. Would happily stay there again.

9/10,

Relais Parco Cavalonga felt quite run down (especially the apartments). It is a lovely setting but the owners do need to invest heavily to bring it back up to par. Little signs of neglect everywhere. Shame.

6/10,

The staff were most friendly and helpful, in particular recommending 2 amazing local restaurants. Breakfasts are excellent. Lunch and evening meals fine but why stay in when you're in the centre of a gastronomic paradise? Room (with private balcony) sparce but very clean. Free Wifi with adequate speeds.

9/10,

We really enjoyed our stay. The place and the pools were lovely. The staff let it down a little as they were often hard to find and service was slow with food and drinks.

6/10,

We had an excellent week staying in one of the apartments at Parco Cavalonga with our 2 year old son. The setting of the place is stunning, with the hotel and various apartment buildings dotted around a beautiful, secluded valley. The two swimming pools make the most of the setting and are as gorgeous as they look in the pictures. Our 2 bedroom apartment (Ulivo) was set over two floors and really spacious, with several private outdoor spaces. However unlike all the others, which had views over the beautiful valley, our large courtyard was enclosed by tall walls, so try to book one of the apartments with a view if you can. The only slight negative was that service wasn't always great - for example bookings that we made for the restaurant and babysitting were far from straight forward. Otherwise the staff were helpful and friendly and the hotel restaurant really is brilliant. Highly recommended for a relaxed getaway making the most of the hotel's tranquility. Don't come to the area for the beaches, which are not the best in Sicily, but Ragusa Ibla and Modica are fascinating towns within a 20 minute drive.

8/10,

We had a wonderful stay at Cavalonga. Our 3 bed apartment was spacious and well equipped. The staff were friendly, helpful and relaxed. The pool was gorgeous and the weather, in late May early June, perfect. The place felt rustic and authentic Sicilian. We visited Ragusa and Noto, both of which were stunning.

9/10,

The establishment was well placed for exploring the surrounding area, but don't consider staying unless you have a car and are prepared to use it all the time. If you like being able to walk from where you are staying, then this is not the place for you. The room we stayed in was modern and well finished but we could get neither Wi-Fi access nor 4G, meaning we could only get internet access by going and sitting in the reception area. Our room was cold at night (April) with no heating, although the staff were helpful in providing an extra blanket. The room was not well soundproofed and we were kept awake at night by water running through the pipes. The positives were that it is in a lovely area of Sicily with lots of beautiful baroque and seaside towns to explore within a 30 minute drive. Staff were friendly and the breakfasts were fine.

8/10,

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