From Forte Village to Eleganzia Hotels & Spas – exclusive interview with Lorenzo Giannuzzi
In 1970, Charles Forte, the famous luxury hotelier inaugurated Forte Village Resort on the island of Sardinia in Italy, which remains until today, one of the world’s most exclusive resorts. In 2007, with the acquisition of Forte Village by a group of Italian investors, the company launched a new luxury hotel brand Eleganzia Hotels & Resorts, with the aim of developing other luxury resort hotels based on the DNA and know-how of Forte Village. In 2009, Eleganzia converted the medieval Castel Monastero, at the heart of Tuscany, into a luxury SPA hotel. In 2010 Eleganzia Hotels & Resorts inaugurated La Maddalena Hotel & Yacht Club, on the coast of Sardinia.
In an exclusive interview to CPP-LUXURY.COM, Lorenzo Giannuzzi, Managing Director and Board Member of Eleganzia Hotels & Resorts speaks about the philosophy of the group and the uninterrupted success of Forte Village Resort.
How has your company performed in the past 3 years. Has the recent international economic turmoil affected Eleganzia Hotels & Resorts?
We have grown consistently in the last 3 years despite the international economic crisis and this is due to our very intense sales and marketing activities to promote ourselves as a Luxury resort and Spa and the very strong repeat factor that compensate the effect of the recession in some of the European countries.
Do you plan to expand the portfolio of Eleganzia Hotels & Resorts as a third party operator or owner/operator?
We want to expand our portfolio and sell our “know how” of the hospitality industry specifically in resort and Spa management. At the moment we are looking into new exciting opportunities in both, Italy and abroad.
Forte Village, which is an integral part of Eleganzia Hotels & Resorts, has seen successive ownership in the past years. Why do you think this was the case?
This is a paradox which is linked with the success of Forte Village, the various previous owners did not just buy a resort but a full operating management company which was able to operate Forte Village as a head quarter using the “know how” of Forte Village for new acquisitions. It was a continuous creation of values for the various owners that were able to sell it to a premium price to the next one.
In the past Forte Village acted as the head quarter for very famous hotels such as The Bergues in Geneva -now Four Seasons, Gallia Hotel in Milan and the Eden Hotel in Rome.
For a large property with a vast and sophisticated lifestyle, entertainment, sports and F&B offering such as Forte Village, why have your current owners opted to set up a new company instead of a major international luxury resort operator such as Rosewood or Kerzner?
An important element, in my opinion, is that Forte Village does not belong to any of the renowned international brands, which would have inevitably affected the identity of Forte Village by making it conform to corporate standards.
In fact few years ago our motto was: “there are hotel chains and there is one hotel without chain: Forte Village” we proud ourselves on this because the difference from other hotel chains is that our service comes from the heart and not from normal standard procedures of performances.
Which resorts in Italy or Europe, do you consider your direct competitor when it comes to targetting the same consumers?
I think that Forte Village is the most copied product after Coca-Cola. For example if you go to Turkey or Greece there are so many resorts who have copied us but exactly like Coca-Cola, nobody has the magic ingredient…The result is that probably some of them are more modern but they do not have the spirit, the ambiance and the very dedicated staff that provides a very personalised service.
What is the foreign nationality pool of guests which registers the highest growth in the past three years?
The nationality of guests that has had the most growth are Northern European countries, Brazil and Middle East.
To what extent do you see an exchange of the same guests from Forte Village to Castel Monastero? How different is the consumer profile for the two properties?
This crossover of guests already exists, Forte Village is the best producer of clients for Castel Monastero. Obviously they go for different reasons, the summer spirit and the beach holidays in Forte Village and in Castel Monastero the long week-ends and the full detox/weight lost program.
What are the expectations of your most loyal guests at Castel Monastero? Is it more about health results (losing weight, detox etc) or a Tuscan gourmet experience – wine tasting, foods etc?
Castel Monastero is the ideal property for this kind of holiday. Losing weight and detox are definitely the main reason why guests come to Castel Monastero. Another reason is for Gordon Ramsay’s and Doctor Ali’s bespoke ‘700 calories menu’, a diet program that enables people to lose weight by eating dietetic but also extremely tasty food.
What is your view on the importance of using organic products at your SPAs and dining facilities across your three properties at Eleganzia?
In Forte Village we have our own vegetable garden where we produce organic vegetables, fruits and spices that we use as part of our menus. The same concept is applied at Castel Monastero where we have selected suppliers who provide organic us with products for our clients.
Which are the most important novelties in terms of service, facilities and concierge, your guests can expect this summer season?
This season we will increase our offer of gastronomic restaurants, we have a program of over 10 top chefs (apart from Perbellini, Iannone and Gordon Ramsay that have been with us for many years), our Sport Academies will have various visits from champions such as Austin Healey, Pat Cash etc…some key players from the Chelsea football team, and the entertainment this year will include some of the greatest Italian singers such as Albano and Ricchi e Poveri in our Piazza Maria Luigia – just to mention a few.