Author: Francesco Cossu, General Manager of Eccelsa Aviation
Situated on the north-east coast of Sardinia, Costa Smeralda leaves visitors awestruck by its pristine white sands and crystal-clear waters. However, there is much more to this 55km stretch of coastline than beautiful beaches: it is also a fantastic destination for fans of golf, architecture and high-end cuisine.
Everything about Costa Smeralda is designed to appeal to the most discerning of travellers. The resort was built in the 1960s after a consortium of investors purchased the land. Back then, each financier paid $25,000 (€23,000) for a small section of this coastal paradise – it has proved to be a worthwhile investment. Today, the resort captivates visitors from all over the world with its exclusive villas, relaxing spas and world-class restaurants.
Connecting this beautiful stretch of Sardinian coastline to the rest of the world is the Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport. The airport’s construction was formally completed in 1974, but as the popularity of Costa Smeralda has grown over the years, the airport has required expansion. Throughout the 2000s, the airport underwent a series of refurbishments, which greatly increased its capacity and boosted the area’s accessibility. In 2009, Eccelsa Aviation, the airport’s only fixed-base operator (FBO), opened a highly sophisticated new private terminal that combines stunning design with outstanding functionality.
Befitting such a picturesque destination, the Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport is an architectural marvel
The addition of the Eccelsa terminal means the airport is able to welcome 35,000 visitors every year, ensuring they are provided with top-class amenities at the beginning and end of their visit to Costa Smeralda. In March, Eccelsa completed the refurbishment of its runway perfectly on schedule. This allowed the airport to expand the type of aircraft it is able to accept. Now, large carriers such as the Boeing 747 and Airbus A340 can operate into the airport without restriction. Eccelsa serves many clients who fly these aircraft privately as they are able to reconfigure the standard commercial layout to make room for lounges, bedrooms, bathrooms and even kitchens. These prestigious travellers want their unique needs to be met with ease, and this is what Eccelsa strives to deliver.
The company offers more than just a landing strip, though. Its airport terminal boasts more than 4,000sq m of retail space and is home to some of the world’s finest luxury brands, including de Grisogono, Provasi and Rolex. Fine wines, designer sunglasses and glamorous jewels are just a few of the quality products on offer.
Befitting such a picturesque destination, the Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport is an architectural marvel. The Eccelsa terminal is evocative of an aircraft door when viewed from above, while observers at ground level are treated to crisp, clean lines that appear to rise skywards like giant wings. What’s more, it is the only terminal in Europe that allows travellers to enter and exit the building directly from the aircraft. On the rare occasion this service is not available, an elegant Audi airport vehicle ferries customers to the terminal while members of staff handle their luggage.
The building was constructed using local materials, such as Giallo San Giacomo, an Italian yellow granite, and is adorned with native flora. The terminal is also host to a dedicated crew lounge that offers complimentary Wi-Fi and satellite TV, as well as a separate ‘snooze room’ for when a more relaxing space is required. A large passenger lounge, complete with a summer patio and a selection of magazines, is located just a short distance from the entrance.
Under the control of airport management company Geasar, Eccelsa Aviation has long believed that combining professionalism with a personal touch is key to delivering the service its clients expect. Each team member has fully embraced this culture of customer care – it is an ethos that has shaped the aviation firm since its foundation in 2003.
Passenger numbers have soared since the company’s early days, leading Eccelsa Aviation to expand its offering. For example, there are now more than 150 private parking spaces reserved for use by Eccelsa Aviation customers, in addition to a personalised reception service, a private business centre equipped with the latest audiovisual equipment, and an exclusive VVIP area.
Visitors to Costa Smeralda expect the very best. They are discerning individuals who have come to enjoy the high-end sophistication of superyachts, villas and five-star hotels. As such, Eccelsa Aviation offers a service that lives up to these standards and ensures customers feel comfortable, satisfied and eager to return.
The unspoilt nature of Costa Smeralda is one of the things that attracts visitors to the area and so, unsurprisingly, sustainability is a key concern for local businesses and residents. Eccelsa Aviation’s environmental awareness is evidenced by the fact that more than 60 percent of the company’s ramp equipment is powered by electric engines, with aims to increase this to 80 percent by 2021. Agritourism offerings located not far from the coast provide another opportunity for visitors to embrace sustainability during their stay.
The beaches along the Costa Smeralda are some of the finest in the world, with the Spiaggia del Romazzino, Spiaggia del Grande Pevero and Spiaggia Capriccioli proving particularly popular. Diving excursions, meanwhile, allow visitors to enjoy purple seaweed, indigo blue sponges, red coral and a host of other colourful specimens. The region also offers plenty of produce to get excited about. Freshly caught seafood, including lobster and octopus, are the highlight and can be enjoyed with a refreshing glass of white wine, made from locally grown grapes.
Of course, all good things must come to an end. Fortunately, once their time in Costa Smeralda is over, visitors can enjoy the state-of-the-art Eccelsa terminal at the Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport one more time. While they make use of the shops and amenities, a team of high-calibre chefs from Eccelsa Aviation’s catering partner, Cortesa, will begin preparing the in-flight meal, with mouth-watering choices such as fresh lobster on the menu.
Even with all the wonders Costa Smeralda has to offer, visitors still cite the top-quality service provided by Eccelsa Aviation as a reason to visit. As the flight takes off, carrying travellers away from the warm, azure waters of this Sardinian paradise, at least they’ll be departing in comfort and style.