LOCOROTONDO, ITALY - 22 JULY 2018: A man walks by his home in a trullo, a traditional Apulian construction, in a village in the surroundings of Borgo Egnazia, a high-end resort in Puglia, on Italy’s eastern coast, in Locorotondo, Italy, on July 22nd 2018.
Borgo Egnazia, modeled after a 15th century Apulian village, rolls out over 250 acres on a plot of land originally razed by Mussolini and intended as an air force base, ending nearing the Adriatic. Aldo Melpignano, the 40 years old owner, has pioneered a hospitality company that has managed to seize on the hype surrounding wellness and authentic experiences at once. His company, SD Hotels, turns Puglia’s traditional farmhouses into resorts that focus on fitness (Apulian folk dance classes in 400 year old olive groves) and otherworldly spa treatments (one massage uses “vibrational water”) in addition to traditional Italian fare (milk serum, handmade orecchiette pasta, octopus in a broth of just-plucked tomatoes).
Borgo Egnazia is the largest of his five properties, with three public pools, a village square out of central casting, and nearly 200 rooms. Celebrities like Madonna have been won over by Borgo Egnazia’s faux Medieval facades and farmhouse chic interiors, an effect best described as “Game of Thrones” meets Restoration Hardware. Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel got married here in 2012. SD Hotels, which last year saw revenues of $57 million, started with his family’s summer home, Masseria San Domenico, a few miles down the road from Borgo Egnazia.