An unconventional honeymoon
Once a 17thcentury convent for single women to contemplate and pray, the Monastero Santa Rosa is now an sumptuous retreat for couples to luxuriate and play. Set high on the cliffs above Conca dei Marini, a charming fishing village located halfway between Positano and Amalfi along the Amalfi Coastline of Italy, the Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel and Spa has been wooing honeymooners to its idyllic perch since it reopened as a luxury hotel in 2012.
It was love at first sight for current owner Bianca Sharma, who first encountered the property while boating along the Gulf of Salerno in 2000. She took but one glance at the abandoned ruins of the monastery and knew in an instant that her world was about to change. Sharma bought the property, moved to the area, and began what would become a decade of restorations and renovations to transform the former monastery into a luxury boutique hotel.
Today the hotel can be found on numerous “top hotels of the world” lists, where guests have come to expect the latest in modern and technological amenities while staying in an historic and structurally preserved space. Instead of room numbers, Sharma named each of the 20 rooms and suites after holistic herbs that once grew in the monastery’s medicinal gardens. Rooms are light and airy, dripping with refined Italian elegance and furnished with timeless Italian antiques that were hand selected by Sharma and a local Neopolitan designer. Heavy wooden shutters give rooms an intimate privacy at night while during the day allowing for breathtaking views of the coastline as the gentle sea breeze scents the room with a salty sweet aroma from the azure waters below.
Everyone is treated like family at the Monastero Santa Rosa, where each guest is given a personal greeting that includes a ceremonious ringing of the monastery’s bell before getting taken directly to the check-in terrace where they’re served an herb-infused welcome drink while the staff handles the paperwork. The attentive and observant staff takes notes of preferences small and large, where, beyond remembering your name, it’s not uncommon to have the wait staff remember your preference for still or sparkling water throughout the day.
Days on property can be spent sipping Prosecco by the hotel’s Instagram-worthy infinity pool or relaxing in the award-winning spa. The 750-foot spa—housed inside the former winemaking cellar of the monastery—is open to all guests for complimentary use of the stone sauna, ice fountain, steam room, programmable emotion shower, hydrotherapy pool, and vaulted tepidarium, with additional treatments available for both non-resident and resident guests. All of the spa’s products have been sourced from Santa Maria Novella, a luxury brand created by the same order of monks and friars as the original Santa Rosa Sisters of the convent.
The hotel offers free shuttles to the village of Amalfi for shopping and sightseeing during the day, and the onsite concierge can help to arrange guided hikes, cooking classes, and aquatic activities (sailing, scuba diving, kayaking, windsurfing, and more) for an additional cost. The island of Capri is only a short boat ride away, where tour operators like Gianni’s Boats can arrange private tours around the island to the Blue Grotto. For added romance, book a sunset sailing where Gianni himself will keep the Prosecco flowing while offering tastings of his “mamma” Rita’s homemade limoncello before heading back to Amalfi for a light dinner of fresh seafood and homemade pasta at Ristorante Marina Grande.
Although the Amalfi coast is freckled with top-notch restaurants, it’s impossible for any of them to compete with the Monastero’s onsite restaurant, Il Refettorio, as even locals come to the hotel (including many Italian guests who drive more than three hours for a dinner reservation) just for the chance to experience celebrated chef Christoph Bob’s exceptional cuisine. The restaurant was recently recognized with a prestigious Michelin star, where chef Bob’s unassuming yet exquisite style allows for his locally sourced ingredients to shine amongst his decadent touches and artfully arranged presentations of authentic Italian cuisine. The chef personally oversees every meal served at the hotel, including breakfast, where alongside freshly brewed cups of coffee and made-to-order omelets, each guest is gifted with the hotel’s signature Santa Rosa Sfogliatella. This intricately layered shell-shaped pastry filled with cream and lemon or orange zest originated at the monastery centuries ago, when the nuns would bake them and top each pastry with a dollop of cream and half of a ripened cherry.
Honeymooners can choose from a number of packages and activities at the property, although celebrities and newlyweds alike regularly choose the Monastero Santa Rosa as a romantic retreat to get away and escape among the hotel’s stunning scenery and divinely care-free pace.
For more information, visit www.monasterosantarosa.com
Kristy Alpert is a freelance travel and lifestyle journalist on the hunt for the obscure and untold stories around the world. Her passion for savoring the local flavor of a destination has led to her unearthing the ancient bread baking secrets on Muhu Island in Estonia to earning her registered yoga teacher (RYT200) certification in Bali. Kristy has won numerous international awards for her writing, and has bylines in Food & Wine, Esquire, Men’s Health, AFAR, Fodors, American Way, World Bride, Premier Traveler, and more. www.kristyalpert.com