The extraordinary piece of northeastern Sardinian coastline know as the Costa Smeralda—or “The Emerald Coast”—was largely undiscovered until the early 1960s when the Aga Kahn bought 5,000 acres of this prized stretch of fine white sand beaches and coves of the clearest Mediterranean water.
Sensitive to the breathtaking landscape of granite coastline and lush eucalyptus, juniper, and myrtle, the Aga Kahn developed the area into a resort paradise that embraced the natural wonder of its setting while offering the most luxurious accommodations, activities, and amenities conceivable. To that end, he formed the Architectural Committee of the Costa Smeralda, which chose renowned architect Jacques Couelle to build the Hotel Cala di Volpe.
Honorary member of the prestigious Académie des Beaux-Arts of the Institut de France, Jacques Couelle’s artistic genius is undisputed. His design of the Hotel Cala di Volpe, completed in 1963, stands as an artistic masterpiece that irrevocably shaped the coastline into one of the most glamorous resort destinations for celebrities, royalty, and the international social elite.
The hotel’s exterior was conceived to look like an ancient Mediterranean fishing village—a private compound of interconnecting terracotta rooftops, turrets, porticoes, and terraces abloom with bougainvillea. The interiors give way to Couelle’s extraordinary surrealist vision. Graphic bursts of Mediterranean-inspired colours accent the white stucco. Dramatic archways and angled columns support the beautifully beamed wooden ceilings. Curved walls lead down angled passageways and up winding staircases, while the large-scale stone masonry echoes the wind-swept rock formations found outside. Superb Sardinian crafts celebrate the venerable artisan traditions of hand woven textiles, intricate woodcarving, and vibrant tile work that have been found here for centuries. The effect adds up to a setting of dynamic proportions, grand yet intimate, rustic yet undeniably sophisticated.
Jacques Couelle’s son Sauvin followed in his father’s extraordinary footsteps, continuing the unmistakable family legacy. Known for his fascinating designs all along the Costa Smeralda, Sauvin’s villas have become collector's items. In 2001 and 2008, Sauvin oversaw the renovations at the Hotel Cala di Volpe, employing only Sardinian master craftsmen to bring his complex technical ideas to life, while retaining the original spirit and beauty of his father’s artistry.