E-commerce sales steadily grew; after an initial exclusive launch with Net-a-Porter, the line has been picked up by some 50 retailers worldwide, from cult boutique Shen Beauty in Brooklyn to various niche profumerie across Italy. Finding the right outlets for the brand required “a lot of research, a lot of knocking on doors,” she says – but, as with the clinical tests, the efforts have paid off.
Today, Irene oversees the whole wellness offering at Rocco Forte hotels and resorts, planning treatment menus and technology used, from thalassotherapy to radio frequency for face and body. Last year, she debuted the first Irene Forte Spa at Villa Igiea, in Palermo; set in its own building just above the sea, it features two stories of indoor-outdoor relaxation zones, treatment suites, a beauty salon, and a Technogym-equipped fitness centre overlooking the local harbour. Four more spas, at Rome’s Hotel de Russie and Hotel de la Ville, Masseria Torre Maizza in Puglia, and Verdura’s own spa – have since been rebranded Irene Forte, with the full offering of treatments and products.
The design of the spas is also her vision. The spaces lean to airy and modern, with subtle references to local artisanship (the myriad tiles at the Irene Forte Spa at Villa Igiea – all custom-created for the Spa by ceramic artisans in Bagheria – are an Instagrammer’s dream). The sense of place comes from the details she compiles for each location: volcanic stones from Mount Etna for hot-stone therapies at Verdura Resort, Puglian olive wood spatulas hand-carved by local carpenters at Masseria Torre Maizza. “There’s always a focus on nature and science working in tandem,” she says. “Excellent product, combined with manual techniques.”
Today, sustainability needs perforce to be a hallmark of any good wellness offering; and Irene is right out front here as well. She spent a year and a half doing intensive research into the lowest-impact packaging available, and eventually developed her own: “It had to be fully sustainable, but of course still look and feel luxurious,” she notes. The new look, which debuted earlier this year, 2022, features bottles made from post-industrial recycled glass with bio-based plastic refillable containers. She notes with excitement and pleasure the speed with which her e-commerce customers have picked up the refills in their purchasing: “Already the second purchases are skewing strongly to the refills,” she says. The plan, she notes, is to soon be producing more refills than original containers.
The commitment and hard work haven’t gone unnoticed in the business world: in January of this year, not only was Irene Forte Skincare awarded a coveted B Corp Certification, given to companies performing at the highest level of social sustainability and environmental performance standards, but it garnered an exceptional 99.5 point rating (the pass rate is 80). Irene’s dedication and drive continue to raise that excellence bar; the future looks promising for Rocco Forte wellness with her at the helm.