Sir Rocco is on a quest. For the perfect espresso. Yet that is not the only detail he’s paying attention to, he tells us over a cup of medium roasted Arabica. We sat down with the founder of Rocco Forte Hotels who shared his thoughts on today’s luxury traveller, how a hotel can truly be unique and some rather unusual guest requests.
With 25 years in luxury hotels, how do you stay ahead of the game?
Luxury hotels are not just about buildings or locations. The spirit and soul of a hotel comes from the staff and the service they offer guests. The staff have to be genuinely and sincerely interested in guests, welcoming and wanting to look after them in the best possible way.
To some degree, they should also anticipate guests’ needs. If they are a regular at the hotel, they shouldn’t have to ask for what they want: it should be provided automatically.
How do you ensure guests are treated as individuals?
Individuality is not just about catering to guests’ wishes. It’s about individuality of design, in location and sense of place, and in service.
Everything that’s being said about people wanting experiences and individuality is correct, and that’s what luxury hotels should be all about. So we are very well placed with our hotels. The principle of a luxury hotel should be to treat the guest as an individual. It’s a bespoke service.
What type of experiences are hotel guests currently looking for?
People are looking more carefully at how they are spending their leisure time, and celebratory travel is a huge thing. Many people have been unable to celebrate milestone birthdays or weddings for some time – there is a phenomenal backlog and people want to enjoy themselves again, now that they are able. Coming together to celebrate an important event will never again be taken for granted.
I think there is already a trend for families to holiday across several generations together and I think that will continue to develop. I also think it is possible that people will want to spend time getting to know one city or one area in more depth, rather than ticking off three cities in a week.
The fact that remote work has become commonplace will also be an incentive for managers and employees to make the most of longer stays whilst travelling with their families or partners.
Forte, Sir Rocco
We pride ourselves on being the best hospitality experts in Europe and can tailor the most interesting visits off the beaten track.
What do you feel makes Rocco Forte Hotels so special?
We know our locations very well and can provide unique experiences that most hotels and travel companies can’t. We like to think of ourselves as the tourist boards’ greatest allies. We see a great demand for extraordinary experiences and for years now we have been working on unique opportunities in partnership with the communities surrounding our hotels.
We offer everything from trips up Etna volcano in Sicily to dinner on the Ponte Vecchio in Florence, and private visits to castles in Bavaria. We pride ourselves on being the best hospitality experts in Europe and can tailor the most interesting visits off the beaten track.
Exclusive experiences lead guests to a private appointment with Italy’s ‘Queen of Embroidery’ at her atelier in Florence, an intimate workshop with a Master Chocolatier in Brussels, balloon rides over Tuscany and a private tour of the Crown Jewels held in the Tower of London.
As people look to spend their precious leisure time to the fullest, I expect demand for off the grid experiences will increase.
Any interesting requests from guests over the years?
Our hotel teams have learned to deal with a variety of individual requests, from building a special shower for Pavarotti to knocking through a wall for the Rolling Stones who wanted an interconnecting suite.
Being open and flexible is part of running a true luxury business and that will never change.