the different face of apulia
A Review by Michael McAuliffe of the Hotel IL MELOGRANO
On leaving the uninspiring ss16 its not long before you start reaching the long ‘pavement less’ dry stone walled country lanes flanked on each side by extensive ancient olive groves. Eventually you arrive at the electronic gated entrance to Il Melongrano and then into their outdoor hotel carpark fronting the reception and surrounded by blossoming climber plants, olive trees, and fruit trees.
First impressions, it’s not a large property, but don’t be deceived. This place is a ‘Tardis’ with a huge array of inside and outside spaces. Beautiful ancient olive trees surrounded by manicured gardens. Gorgeous illuminated outdoor swimming pool a lemon grove, tennis courts and a helipad for those who wish to arrive in style. Indoors, a further indoor heated pool, a fitness centre and a spa are facilities available to guests.
The spacious reception area is in the original ‘Massaria’, a building that was originally a farm, processing olives, a building that is whitewashed inside and out and with ancient polished cream coloured flagstone floors. The spacious reception leads into tasteful lounge and bar areas with artworks on the walls and coffee table books and objets d‘art strategically and tastefully placed around the rooms. Beyond the lounge areas, one enters into the restaurant area which comprises of one large dining room interconnecting to two smaller dining rooms all of which are used subject to the capacity required. Breakfast is set up and served in one of the two smaller dining rooms. There is also access from the restaurant out to the arch covered tables and chairs alongside the outdoor swimming pool where dinner can be served in warm weather. One of the most imposing features of this hotel is its olive trees some of which appear to be growing within the building itself only separated from the indoor space by large glass viewing panels behind which beautiful solitary large knurled trunk olive trees stand illuminated to highlight all their glory.
The main function room of the masseria would once have been the olive production hall, a vast flag-stoned hall perhaps 50 metres or more, long x 25 metres or more, wide. It now appears to be fully air-conditioned. This hall can accommodate reception dinners for hundreds of people. To one side of the hall, there is a series of glazed ‘French doors’ that open up onto a covered outdoor space flanked by flower borders, an ideal area for pre-dinner drinks. For larger dinner parties, additional gates can be opened to connect the covered outdoor pre-dinner drinks area to the outdoor swimming pool area.
There are 41 rooms at Il Melongrano, accommodating 82 people. most of these rooms are located in a two-story three-winged accommodation building separate from the main masseria and I believe 6 of the 41 rooms are chalet type rooms located elsewhere around the complex some side by side which would be suitable for families and one suitable for disabled accommodation. There are occasional low steps around the complex which could be a hindrance to wheelchairs but these are few and far between.
The main accommodation building appears to be of a later design to the masseria itself. Nevertheless, it blends in well due to its similar whitewash finish and extensive foliage. The accommodation building sits around three sides of a large open flag stoned square and its interconnecting corridors (alleyways) and stairways are generally open to the elements with occasional archways. Every alleyway is draped in climbing flowering plants with subtle nighttime illumination which gives a pergola type feel when walking back to your room. The square itself is big enough for a large outdoor reception but the venue would have to be taken over for exclusive use, as a reception here would infringe on the privacy of guests in the accommodation buildings.
When staying here it is possible to enjoy a range of great possibilities, from cooking classes to horseriding, wine tasting to yacht experiences, fishing to olive oil, donkey trekking to Bari Street Food. Endless options for the adventurous Tourist.