Our experience at Lefay, which sits high on the western side of Lake Garda in northern Italy, looking south, is a tale of two sides. Let’s start with the good – the very good.
Having taken the water’s edge road around Lake Garda on our drive from Verona airport we zipped up the zig-zagging roads that ascend the steep mountains around the lake to reach the Olympus-like luxury of Lefay. As we pulled up to the gates and buzzed-in to announce our arrival, Cooper commented that it was like entering Jurassic Park and as the electric gates opened in front of us, allowing us access to this exclusive health retreat in one of Europe’s most stunning natural beauty spots we were excited for our short stay.
The front-of-house staff on the reception at Lefay are superlative; friendly, welcoming, interested and helpful. We were guided around the hotel and spa and given a welcome drink on the terrace while we waited to be shown to our suite. Our thanks to the team - including the desk staff and the porter – they were all lovely.
Of course the spa is comprehensive and well equipped – as well it should be for the prices. Whether you’re booking a spa treatment or a specialist tailored package of therapies lasting several days you’ll literally be in expert hands. If you just want to chill at your own pace, as we did, then there’s a collection of different steam and sauna rooms to fully relax .
Now, about that pool terrace – wow what a view! We were blown away. The infinity pool looks out over Lake Garda and towards the mountains on either side and if you sit yourself on one of the loungers with a book and an aperol spritz you could be fooled into thinking you’d found the home of the Gods. Sadly for us, just an hour after we arrived the weather closed in a rain poured down solidly for 24 hours. We were really gutted as we’d been looking forward to relaxing with that view in front of us for weeks before our trip and we were only staying at Lefay for one night. So here’s where the downside comes into it. As soon as the first drops of rain started to fall the pool bar was closed. We had JUST sat down, looked at the cocktail menu and were about to order a drink as we were gasping after our flight and drive to Lefay when the menu was practically snatched from our hands and we were told “no more drinks”. Wow. That’s not the welcome we expected. In spite of the rain, in true British style we’d happily sit out under an umbrella and have a drink in any weather, but we understand perhaps it’s unsafe to be outside in a storm.
So we took our things inside and sat on a pair of the loungers in front of the tall panoramic windows thinking we could read a magazine and have a drink there. We were wrong. No drinks unless you wanted to get dressed up and go to the piano bar on the top floor; not really our style. So we made do with water and slice of lemon.
aid nearly 800 euros for our one night stay we really thought it would’ve been a polite courtesy to allow us to stop by for a couple of hours on another day when we certainly would’ve opened another bar bill. Neither did they offer us their day guest pass which we later found in their brochure which offers a day-visitor to access the spa and facilities for 170 euros each. This wasn’t offered as I guess they didn’t want us back. Well, we won’t be going back. It was a great disappointment. What could have been a blissful stay was tarnished by such an unwelcoming attitude. We say, avoid Lefay. You can have the best view and facilities in the world but if you make your guests feel unwelcome then you’ve failed. They’ve got all the gear, but not idea.We overheard another guests ask the pool bar staff for a drink only to be told the bar was closed, which is fair enough, but as the guest was walking away we overheard the bar staff making fun of the guest which wasn't nice at all.
We all still fancied a drink but the hotel seemed to sniff at the request. Finally as we left, we’d mentioned to the front-desk staff that we keep a blog and they’d been looking at our past posts from Mykonos and Sardinia and came running out to tell us how much they loved the blog and hoped to see our pictures of Lefay on there soon.
We told them that due to the poor weather we hadn’t really been able to take any of the photos we’d planned and they suggested we contact their PR rep to discussing stopping by in a few days on our way back to the airport. This seemed like a great idea – the forecast for the end of the week was blissful sunshine and we could take some photos and enjoy that drink on the terrace that we’d be dreaming of so we emailed the PR rep and awaited her response.
Sadly, the response we got was less than friendly and in fact it was quite rude. Apparently Lefay has internal policy against photos being taken and so we would not be welcome to come back later in the week. Having paid nearly 800 euros for our one night stay we really thought it would’ve been a polite courtesy to allow us to stop by for a couple of hours on another day when we certainly would’ve opened another bar bill.
Nor did Lefay offer us their day guest pass which we later found in their brochure which offers a day-visitor to access the spa and facilities for 170 euros each. This wasn’t offered as I guess they didn’t want us back.
Well, we won’t be going back.
It was a great disappointment. What could have been a blissful stay was tarnished by such an unwelcoming attitude. We say, avoid Lefay.
You can have the best view and facilities in the world but if you make your guests feel unwelcome then you’ve failed.
We wish we could share some better photos showing just how beautiful Lefay is but we had to make do with the stormy skies and hopefully we captured a few beautiful shots.
Shame about Lefay not quite hitting the mark for us on a service level; they’ve got all the gear, but (some of them) have no idea.