Relais & Chateaux's newest members for 2006 include Hotel Caesar Augustus (www.caesaraugustus.com) in Capri. Until now, this historic fivestar hotel-a former private villa built circa 1850-has flourished on wordofmouth recommendations.
From its cliffside perch in Anacapri, the hotel boasts the finest views of any hotel on the islandand that's saying a lot in a locale recognized for its unspoiled land, sea and sky. Guests can admire the vista from their private terrace (always request a sea view), the tiered infinity pool, or the sweeping main terrace where bartenders mix Bellinis using fresh local peaches and champagne.
Owner Paolo Signorini (firstname.lastname@example.org, 39 081 837 3395) is the third generation of the Signorini family to own Hotel Caesar Augustus, and is usually on hand to greet VIPs.
Sales Manager Francesca Fotia(email@example.com) is the goto person for special VIP requests, including prebooking poolside massages (there is no spa on the property) or tennis lessons at a nearby club; arranging chauffeurs, yachts or sailboat charters for private island tours; or helicopter tours of Capri, the Amalfi Coast, and even Pompeii. She also coordinates romantic interludes akin to inroom dinners for two, candlelit and strewn with rose petals. Guests receive complimentary shuttle service to and from the port at Marina Piccola and the town of Capri, but notify the hotel in advance if this assistance is necessary.
Food and Beverage Manager Giuseppe Marra stacks the wine list at the hotel's la Terrazza di Lucullo restaurant with plenty of Italian vino, especially wines from the local Campania. Wine aficionados will want to sample Aglianico rosso and Falanghina bianco, two ancient varieties attracting attention in wine circles (Marra has been known to send guests home with a bottle or two).
Popular dishes at the hotel's restaurant consist of Carpaccio di Polpo Verace (chilled octopus slices), Gateau su Fonduta di Pro
vola (potato pie with smoked mozzarella and tomatoes) and Scialatieii all'Isola Felice (homemade flat noodles with capers, tomato, marjoram and almonds). Reservations are a must. For special occasions, book ahead for lunch or dinner served al fresco on a semisecluded stone terrace overlooking the Bay of Naples (a marriage proposal hotspot).
Hotel Caesar Augustus embraces those looking for some romance and serenity, including honeymooners, anniversary couples, executives, and even the occasional European celebrity. This is the type of place that can be completely booked-as it was during our stay-yet still feel solitary. Tip: True to southernItalian style, service here is friendly without fawning and is not as crisp as one might find in a bigcity hotel.
Rooms are spacious and airy. A wing of junior and full suites, separate from the main building, was added in 2005; it includes rooms 401 to 410. All new rooms feature sea views and terraces and/or gardens with olive and citrus trees. The baths are fitted with Jacuzzi whirlpool tubs and shower systems. In the main building, all frill suites promise sea views, but not all junior suites do, so be specific.
Families should request adjoining rooms for more space and comfort. Junior suites 404 to 407 have connecting terraces. Note: The hotel prefers children be 10 years or older.
For VIPs, opt for one of four massive "special" suites, including the Farouk Suite, named for Egypt's King Farouk, who used to reserve the room yearround in the 1950s, and the Caesar Suite, with two bathrooms, a private garden and scenic views from almost everywhere in the room, including the Jacuzzi. Most guest rooms and all public areas have Wi-Fi access.
Hotel Caesar Augustus is open from April through October.
Leslie Gilbert Elman