Villa Takes Stress Off
The Sofia Echo: Thursday, 06 Mar 2003 - Christine Milner
After two months of non-stop work and several bouts of flu one on top of the other, I was over the moon to be invited to take part in one of Villa Stresov's promotions for their 'Gourmet Wine Tasting Dinners'.
We set off on a sparkling blue Saturday morning in February, our skis atop the car, and spent an exhilarating day skiing in Borovets. Tired and hungry, we arrived at Villa Stresov, which is just a kilometre from the centre of the resort. Kolio, the friendly caretaker who lives on the premises with his wife, came out to greet us and ushered us into the house to warm up with tea, coffee and chocolate biscuits.
The villa is full of history. It was rebuilt seven years ago to the exact design of the original Swiss alpine villa that was built by the Stresov family in the 1920s. Mariana Nielsen, the Stresov's granddaughter and her husband Philip, spared no expense in restoring the villa's former glory, which included importing every single item from abroad. Apparently the project managers had a fine time trying to explain to Bulgarian customs officials why they were importing sand from Western Europe. The German construction company did an excellent job and seven years on the villa does not show even a sign of wear and tear. It certainly merits its five-star rating.
The interior decor is country cottage cum alpine villa, and not one detail is out of place, from the white linen bedcovers embroidered with the Stresov coat of arms to the floral curtains and ceramic ducks in the living room. Besides the living room with its open fireplace, there is a dining area and modern kitchen, and four bedrooms upstairs. My husband and I stayed in the "Sonja room", named after Mariana's mother. Each room is decorated in different colours, and we bagged one of the two with a whirlpool bath. The litmus test for any hotel's worth is whether I can sleep, cursed as I am with the sensitivity of the princess from the Princess and the Pea fairy tale. The mattress must be not too soft and not too hard, and the pillow has to be just right. The owners of Villa Stresov will no doubt be relieved to hear that I slept like a log that night.
We tried out the fantastic sauna before dinner. Although it is in the basement, it is spacious and spotlessly clean, complete with a massage shower and a relaxation area. The others went out to the hot spring spa in the bathhouse, which you get to via a heated causeway so that even in the depths of winter you can keep your feet warm and dry.
Dinner was served at 8pm. The Red Devils, the expat community's favourite catering company, had put on a fantastic spread. We were treated to a five-course dinner, the likes of which I can honestly say I have never had in Bulgaria, and each course was accompanied by a different bottle of wine. The wines' qualities were explained to us by Ognian Tsvetanov, an internationally renowned sommelier, who speaks excellent English. Although we quibbled over some of his choices - the Turgovishte winery, to be precise - the point in the exercise was to demonstrate some of Bulgaria's best and most popular wines. We were treated to a Chardonnay whose label escapes me as I write this, a Traminer and a Riesling from Turgovishte, a limited edition Melnik from Vinissimo and an Assenovgrad Mavrud by Maxima. Ognian helped us discover the true taste of each one and made us look at Bulgarian wines with new eyes.
Despite the enormous quantities I ate, I woke late the next morning with a huge appetite (you know what they say about mountain air!) and was pleased to see that the table had been set with an ample breakfast. Before we left for another day's skiing, I had a great time reading through the guest book and seeing what various foreign and Bulgarian guests had to say about the villa. Judging by the comments, the warm welcome from the caretakers is one of the villa's trademarks.
We had a wonderful time at the villa, which really is unique in Bulgaria. It combines an elegant and yet cosy surrounding with a personal touch.
For more information you can see the villa's detailed website www.villastresov.com or phone the Sofia office: 980 4292.