At just 30, Charles Forte is Rocco Forte Hotels’s director of development. The fourth-generation to help steer the company has his eye firmly fixed on the future—but also honours his family’s illustrious legacy.
“Well, Lisbon is going strong. And of course there are the two Milan properties, and Mykonos and Athens are both progressing nicely.” Ask Charles Forte what he’s working on these days, and the mandates—and enthusiasm—come thick and fast. In addition to Lisbon (where RFH is planning a hybrid hotel-residence) and Milan (where next year will see the much-buzzed-about opening of The Carlton, as well as the debut of a Rocco Forte House collection of serviced apartments), he ticks off several other destinations where things are either full steam ahead or decidedly in play: there is the Val di Noto, on Sicily’s southwest coast, and possibly something in Sardinia, and he’s got his eye on a specific property in Geneva, and equally there’s something that looks very promising in Amsterdam. Barcelona, Miami, even a super-cool site in Jerusalem—the 30-year-old director of development’s remit is across the globe these days, and he couldn’t be happier about it.
It’s a long way from a career behind the camera, which was at one point what he aspired to. “I went to NYU for university, and while there I minored in documentary filmmaking at Tisch [School of the Arts],” he says. “I wanted to make films. I even at one point flew out and looked at USC for a graduate film school programme.” (It’s an even longer way from the priesthood—which, he notes with amusement, was briefly the life calling his grandmother aspired to for him.) But hotels aren’t only in Charles’s blood; they’ve always been part of his professional formation as well—as a waiter at Brown’s the Rocco Forte flagship in London (aged 14, a stint which briefly left him with the aspiration to be a chef); toggling between the reception desk and prep-chef stations in the kitchens at the Principe di Savoia in Milan (aged 18); and eventually, after a couple of years each at private equity firm Kings Park Capital and the commercial real estate department at Rothschild, as a development analyst with Rocco Forte Hotels.