Like many travel enthusiasts with a passion for history, I’m enamored by the early days—minus the fact that taking a grand voyage wasn’t nearly as accessible to everyone then as it is today. From the adventure to the exoticness to the glamour, in another life I would have loved to have had a steamer trunk covered with stamps from around the world, in a time when places, destinations, and people were less exploited. But since time travel isn’t an option, I strive to seek out places that celebrate the past, while catering to the present in a classic fashion. The Grand Hotel Tremezzo in Lake Como, Italy, definitely fits the bill.
This stunning lakeside villa dates back to the early 1900’s, a period when Lake Como was considered a must-stop destination for the elite, long before anyone even heard of George Clooney. Travelers came by the droves from nearby countries, including France, England, Germany, Austria, Switzerland—even Tsarist Russia, up until the Empire was abolished after the Russian Revolution of 1917.
The hotel’s inception, however, would not have been possible without the moxie of Enea Gandola and his wife Maria Orsolini, residents from nearby Bellagio. The well-traveled duo aspired to create a luxurious playground on one of the world’s most awe-inspiring lakes for the well-heeled, curious consumer. Their target location also happened to border one of the most scenic destinations in the area: the gardens of Villa Carlotta. So on July 10, 1910, The Grand Hotel Tremezzo opened its doors, complete with a fête of epic proportions.
The carefree, bon vivant lifestyle took a back seat with the outbreak of World War I—which was, some say, the impetus behind the vacation as we know it now: a need for serious R&R. During the war, the hotel was temporarily used as a military hospital; this period was followed by an interim lull. It wasn’t until the 1930’s that the hotel really became a tourist destination. With this new phase came new owners: the Sampietro family, who ushered in a new era of grandeur for the Tremezzo. If you’ve ever seen the 1932 film Grand Hotel, then perhaps you remember Greta Garbo referring to Tremezzo as “that happy, sunny place.” It’s safe to say that the vibe hasn’t changed over the years.
Despite the hardships endured in World War II, Tremezzo never closed its doors, and to this day, is still a family run, five-star establishment—one of the oldest in the Lake Como area. This past July, the jewel of the lake celebrated its 105th anniversary, and while it’s held on to much of its historic past, it also has all the modern-day amenities that one could ask for, including: five restaurants helmed by the famous Italian Chef Maestro Gualtiero Marchesi; a private beach; three distinct swimming pools; a newly expanded spa offering ESPA treatments; and suites that pay homage to the hotel’s history and distinguished guest list.
While I could go on about all of these perks in greater detail, I’m choosing to do so after my upcoming trip to the Como area this fall, so stay tuned for a trip report—providing I decide to come home, that is.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Via Provinciale Regina 8, 22019 Tremezzina CO, Italy; +39 0344 42491.