In Conversation with Irene Forte
In keeping with the ‘new year, new you’ tradition, Rocco Forte Hotels is launching a brand new spa concept, bringing five innovative notions together under one umbrella: Rocco Forte Rituals, Forte Organics, Rocco Forte Nourish, Rocco Forte Fitness and Rocco Forte Health. Targeting every element of wellness, from nutrition and exercise to mind, body and soul, Rocco Forte Spas are far more than simply a place to get a quick massage. We sat down with Irene Forte to talk about the inspirations and philosophies behind the new concept, as well as her own thoughts on health and wellness.
January is notoriously a month of fresh starts and resolutions, so the Rocco Forte Spa launch comes at the perfect time. Tell us how the concept came about.
“Like my father, Sir Rocco Forte, I’m a health conscious fitness fanatic, so exercise and healthy eating have always been passions of mine. With Rocco Forte Spas – a new concept I’m proud to launch after months of development – we want guests to be able to continue existing healthy routines, pick up some great new habits, and leave us feeling better.”
The flagship Verdura Spa in Sicily has a breathtaking setting. What is it that makes the resort, and Sicily, so special?
“Sicily is an island at the crossroads of ancient civilisations, where culture, family, food and festivities flourish. Verdura Resort is special for many reasons. It’s set on 230 hectares and nearly 2km of private coastline so there’s a true sense of space. Its landscape is breathtaking, with azure waters, mountainous backdrops and an array of flora and fauna on the site. We have an enormous organic vegetable garden – along with our own orange, lemon, almond and olive trees – so we can serve the very best produce at zero mileage. We also produce our own olive oil, almonds and vegetable and nut pâtés at our Societa’ Agricola.”
Which is your favourite treatment and why?
“I would have to say our Rocco Forte Rituals which use our very own Forte Organics product line. The rituals really do inspire the senses and guests are truly pampered from head-to-toe. They all begin with a footbath and end with a delicious Forte Organics smoothie – made with the same ingredients that are in our products. We mark the beginning and end of the ritual with a special sound – but I don’t want to give it all away!”
Tell us about Forte Organics. Why did you decide to develop your own line of bio-cosmetics?
“Forte Organics is our new organic line, made in Italy and created exclusively for Rocco Forte Spas. We decided to create our own products because of all the amazing active organic ingredients that we grow at Verdura Resort, such as almonds, oranges, lemons, opuntia (prickly pear), apricot and aloe. Products are also made with Verdura’s Organic Olive Oil and water from the Sicilian Madonie Regional Natural Park, called Geraci water. Every ingredient has been purposefully selected for its efficacy and skin benefits, and as they’re our own, we've really been able to ensure that only the very best ingredients are used. Our products, which are also available to buy, all tell a story – they're about us.”
Rocco Forte Fitness seems like an important part of the spa programme. As a running fanatic yourself, why do you think it’s so important to combine spa pampering with fitness and exercise?
“Fitness is incredibly important to help relax and de-stress, so it fits perfectly with the spa. You get endorphins from exercise, which no doubt plays a vital role in making you feel good. We like to make fitness fun and interesting. In our city hotels, for example, we unite culture with fitness and activities such as sightseeing running and cycling.”
Why was it so important to introduce the Rocco Forte Nourish concept and ensure that your guests across the globe are able to eat healthily wherever they’re staying?
“Nowadays, people are increasingly conscious about what they eat and want to know where their food has come from; that it's fresh, seasonal, high quality and even organic. In addition, there are more and more intolerances nowadays, so we need to cater for all of these requirements. Most importantly, we need to ensure that our dishes are delicious, despite being gluten, meat, sugar and dairy free, so we side-by-side with some of the world’s nest nutritionists. It's not a diet – it's about eating nourishing food that's extremely tasty.”
Do you have a favourite concept that you’re particularly proud of developing?
“I'm incredibly proud of developing Forte Organics products. I'm really happy with the results – I love the smells, the names and the feel of them. It's very exciting to have our own product line that I can say I was instrumental in creating.”
Rocco Forte Spas is launching across Rocco Forte Hotels from January 2016.