I often get asked by friends and people I meet what would be a nice location to travel to for just a few days, one that, ideally, is not too far away or expensive to get to. My answer is always the same – Italy! Great food, wonderful landscapes, friendly locals, charming architecture – what’s not to love? No matter how many times I travel there it never ceases to astound me. So naturally, when I was offered to get to know the 5-Star Lefay Resort & Spa Lago di Garda in Gargnano, Lonbardy I didn’t hesitate for a second to jump at the chance.

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I was 7 months pregnant at this stage, so the idea of a spa resort sounded particularly appealing to me. I had been lucky with my pregnancy being a pretty easy one but who am I to say no to heated pools, a mum-to-be spa package and the outlook of all you can eat homemade Italian pasta? This was exactly the type of short holiday I needed now.

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The Lefay is located in proximity to various airports, most notably Bergamo and Malpensa, which are both easy and very affordably to reach. If you’d rather invest your bucks in your holiday than a flight, look for cheap deals with Ryanair and Easyjet. I might not like either, but paying less than €50 for a return flight is a definite selling point.

Once arrived at the airport you have 2 options. 1 – the Lefay can pick you up in a fancy limousine, the ride will set you back about €100 which is not too bad, considering it’s a 90 minute drive. 2) You can rent a car at the airport and drive yourself which is a nice option if you’re the type who cannot sit still and wants to go off exploring while in the resort. The latter option might be worthwhile for people with more than just a lazy weekend to spare, the area around Lake Garda is so beautiful and worth every minute of exploring.

Depending on the season rates start from around €250 per night for a delightful double room, including breakfast and full access to the spa and pool area. Best part about the latter: the outdoor pools are heated! The lap pool is warm enough to swim but you still get the full sense of refreshment while the other one gives off a comfy bathtub feel. When I wasn’t working on my tan and catching up on some reading I spent most of my time in there.

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A lot of things are special about this place but the one thing that truly sets it apart from many other 5-star spa resorts is its incredible location. It’s located a short 20-minute drive up a windy mountain road and yet it feels like the gateway to bliss, peace and utter relaxation. The views on the surrounding, lusciously green mountains and olive gardens can only be beat by the sight of the stunning Lake Garda, nestled in between a handful of wonderfully traditional villages where time seems to have come to a standstill.

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I must admit it’s tough to leave the resort, if only for a stroll through Gargnano, which ranks highly among the most beautiful of villages in the area. The luring of the easy weather, the many spa treatments, the lovely restaurants puts any minute spent away from the place up for debate. With that said it is still the best of Italy the Lefay is competing with, so we did head out for that Gelato, that dinner by the lake and of course that shopping spree through town (Insider comment – never leave Italy without at least one pair of new shoes).

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I won’t tell you where to go or recommend one place over the other. Italy is always an experience, little important of where you end up. I once noted that in Italy it never matters which restaurant you walk in to, they’re all good. There is something about bella Italia and its people that’s hard to explain, and it’s the same with any city, any village. Italians have this unabashed charm about them that makes it impossible not to like them. While quite a few people do speak conversational English, having a couple of Italian phrases ready is always likely to reward you with great enthusiasm and joy.

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When not enjoying the villages around Lake Garda or even the nearby bigger cities like Venice and Milan, there is plenty left to do at the resort, most notably – the award-winning spa! It’s divided in three areas – the “World of water and fire” which includes all areas connected to swimming pools, saunas, grottos and small lakes; “Nature and Fitness”, which consists of a large gym fitted out with all the latest equipment for training and a fitness studio for courses and fitness activities; “In Silence and among the Stars: Trilogy in the Air”, which is made up of all the outdoor areas equipped for sporting activities and trails dedicated to wellness and relaxation.

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Do ask about the daily-changing activities on offer at the Lefay. Each day there are various free classes on the schedule from Yoga to Pilates to holistic guided walks. Find the full list of scheduled activities and classes here. If you’re lucky enough to be the only one to sign up you might even get a private class, like me, when I asked to join a (pregnancy friendly) water aerobics class one morning.

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Speaking of mornings, they were my favorite time of day at the Lefay, mostly due to one incredible breakfast buffet. Here you’ll find a perfect mix of healthy variety, a land of cheeses, cakes, fruits, egg dishes, yoghurt, muesli, you name it. Grab a seat on the sundeck terrace, order a tasty cappuccino and then stuff your face on the delectable buffet.

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If you did opt for the bed&breakfast only option (which you should – there are so many other restaurants to explore) be aware that unless you brought a car you’ll have to take a taxi back to the hotel in the evening. Car transfers to Gargnano can easily be arranged at reception, however no later than 7pm. The Lefay does offer half and full-board for those interested.

So next time you’re looking for a fabulous destination to spend a relaxing spa-weekend (or longer!), keep the Lefay in mind, you won’t regret it. For more information about the facilities, rooms and the resorts eco-social philosophy have a browse of their website.

*all photos by Lefay PR and myself, Katja Hentschel