With drive, determination and a passion for all things natural, Irene Forte sets a bar for wellness excellence. One of the key pillars of the Rocco Forte experience is a sense of place: environments and experiences that tell the story of Rome or Puglia, Berlin or Mayfair. Another intrinsic part of every stay, though, is well-being – something for which the brand is increasingly recognised around the world. That bar of excellence is the sum of many components: superlative spas and fitness centres, indulgent organic in-room amenities with serious research behind them, and therapists impeccably trained in both aesthetic and therapeutic treatments.
But what sets the Rocco Forte Hotels wellness offering above the competition is how deftly it infuses that quality of experience with the Forte family heritage and values: substance gets equal billing with style, expertise shines through, and everything starts with superior prima materia. Wellness is Irene Forte’s domain, and it’s here that Rocco Forte Hotels’ Wellness Director is making her mark in ever better and more thoughtful ways, both in the hotels and resorts and far beyond them.
Irene grew up – and came into her own – in the family-business fold. “I was always very entrepreneurial,” she recalls; “I was always doing businesses within the business.” After a period in her 20s spent overseeing Rocco Forte Hotels’ Learning and Development department, she entered a UK government competition for ideas around addressing the lack of retention and career progression in the hospitality sector; Map My Future, the app she developed, tracked upskilling and development, with career ‘maps’, a news feed, a messaging service and more – and garnered her £250,000 in government funding.
At the time, she recalls, wellness was still somewhat of a side thing for her professionally – “but personally I was always into it.” But soon it moved directly into her sphere; she helped develop the Rocco Forte Spa concept, as well as a healthy eating one, called Rocco Forte Nourish. In 2009, she had spent a year working at Verdura Resort, the newly-opened Rocco Forte hotel on Sicily’s southwest coast, immersing in the culture, flavours, and energy of the island.
Irene Forte in Verdura Resort's Gardens