Skiing in Bulgaria has for some time been associated with low-cost holidays and is an unknown quantity to many travellers but now, as the FT How to Spend It magazine eloquently phrases it, “Bulgaria is a land of opportunities…travel tastemakers respond to its potential.”
This doesn’t just go for the mountainous regions – the whole country is brimming with cultural charms, beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites and medieval monasteries.
Bulgaria’s history is eventful starting with the settlement there of Thracian tribes in 500BC. Many consider the nations “golden age” to be circa AD890 when arts and creative movements flourished and the first Bulgarian Kingdom was formed. Over the centuries the nation has seen Byzantine leadership as well as being part of the Ottoman Empire and more recently communist rule.
Villa Gella is a magical escape in the historical village of Gela, believed by many to be the birthplace of the mythical musician Orpheus. The village sits at around fifteen hundred metres above sea level and is seventeen kilometres away from Bulgaria’s second largest ski resort, Pamporovo.
This mountain home is a sanctuary of peace and tranquility where guests can explore the surrounding countryside or learn about the ancient Thracian Kingdom. There’s plenty of adventure available as well, from hiking and horseback riding through to exploring the Devil’s Throat Cave where Orpheus entered the underworld. And of course let’s not forget the skiing – twenty-five kilometres of downhill ski slopes and thirty-eight kilometres of cross-country skiing at Pamporovo should be plenty to keep you entertained.
If you’re looking for a place not to be seen and you’re not one to wish for celeb-filled ski slopes then this is the ultimate hideaway.
The villa is unrivalled in central Europe and would compete with some of the most stunning ski chalets in the Alps. The style is different and this isn’t a show off property – it’s refined, tasteful and built to complement the unspoilt surrounding scenery.
This mountain home is expansive, spanning three thousand square metres with six en-suite bedrooms. The styling is cool and refreshing with neutral and earthy colour tones and raw, natural materials. The villa has also been designed to high sustainability standards and, to quote the FT again, it “blows the chorapi (socks) off anything built since the strongman Todor Zhivkov was ushered from power in 1989.”
The facilities include a ten metre indoor swimming pool, two jacuzzis, a wellness area with steam room and there’s a huge terrace with an outdoor fireplace that’s perfect for al fresco dining even on the colder days.
The high-calibre service is definitely a family affair with the owner’s mother and a sous-chef preparing fine local specialties such as patatnik (potatoes, cheese and eggs baked on a hot stone or in a frying pan) and lozovi sarmi (rice and minced meat wrapped in pickled cabbage leaves and steamed). Of course there are also international dishes available but we definitely suggest tucking into these dishes.
Lunches and Dinners can be accompanied by the exquisite wines of the Terra Tangra winery (also family owned) which produces Bulgaria’s most celebrated wines, many of which have received international awards and critical acclaim.
The manager of the property is the owner’s cousin and has worked in top international hotels. She knows everything you need to know and want to know about the local area.
A stay at Villa Gella for twelve guests has a guide price from £7,200 for exclusive use of the property (available year-round). The price includes meals and wines. The villa is located two and a half to four hours from Sofia depending on which route you take (we suggest the scenic one). The nearest airport is Plovdiv which is around one hour thirty minutes from the house. The villa can also be easily reached by car from Istanbul and Thessaloniki. To book call +44 (0)203 004 8750.