2022 marks 150 seasons for Villa d’Este, the famous 5-star luxury hotel located in Cernobbio, which over the years has attracted Hollywood stars and great personalities from all over the world, not least former US President Barack Obama. A year of celebrations of the glorious past but also of vitality and a look to the future with the new CEO, David BertelacchioHe was appointed last April. Originally from Friuli Venezia Giulia, he left Italy at the age of nineteen, and during his thirty-year career he has worked for leading groups in the hospitality world: from the Four Seasons to the Starwood Collection via Rocco Forte to the Armani Hotel in Dubai that took care of him from the opening.
Villa d’Este will have 150 seasons: it will be the year of celebrations and news
His career is studded with managing highly notable structures. What made you say “yes” to Villa d’Este?
«I think I am like wine, ripe over the years (laughs, editor). My career started with intuitive decisions, and over time I became more and more thoughtful. I’ve spent my life in prestigious chains, but when the opportunity to lead Villa D’Este and being the one who could have continued its success revealed me, the proposal was very tempting to me. I said to myself: ‘Let’s see if what I’ve learned in these 30 years can be useful to keep Villa D’Este’s name high.
How were those first months on Lake Como?
“When I decided to come to Villa d’Este, I think I underestimated the effect of that choice. I have known this fact for a long time, many of my mentors have passed here, and when my new position became known, he wrote me a lot. I love complicating my life, just as I love contributing to the growth of the company. The goal is to preserve the DNA of Villa d’Este but also to focus on the future because the world and the customers have changed.”
The hotel world has been up for two complicated years. Foreign tourists, the force of Como, are absent for two seasons. What summer will 2022 be?
«I am new to Lake Como, although I know it well because when I lived in Milan I often went there on a motorbike. In some ways it seems to me that this area did not notice what had happened. Talking with colleagues and providers Lake Como is still the top favorite, even better than classics like Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. The employment outlook is very high: 2022 has what it takes to be a great year, better than 2019. But I am worried.”
“Although I am happy with the excellent moment the region is going through, I fear it is a bubble. Moreover, there is no socio-economic sustainability of these levels. To give you an example, we are having a hard time finding staff and you risk not being able to give guests what is called ‘value for money’. Not forgetting that the United States is preparing for a recession and that Italy lives on 40% of tourism that comes from North America and 70/80% of Lake Como. It is necessary to look for alternatives, and for this we are moving to other markets.”
Talk about sustainability. For a long time, the goal of those who do tourism on Lake Como has been seasonal adaptation. This year Villa d’Este will also remain open for Christmas and New Years Eve. Will it be an exception or a new cycle?
Personally, I’m a fan of Italy for twelve months a year. For me it’s a battle we won in Val d’Orcia where I’ve worked in recent years. When I suggested it, they called me crazy. As of this year, Villa D’Este has decided to extend the season with a very rich entertainment program. We will celebrate Christmas and New Year together and then finish in January.”
On June 28, Villa D’Este’s birthday will be celebrated, with dinner reservations for hotel guests and local authorities. Will you follow other appointments?
“We regret that we had to close the event to the public but we had to do so for numbers reasons. It was a necessary choice. There will be good news in October: from the 20th to the 23rd the Aci Rally Villa D’Este Cup will be called again. The cars will arrive here and we will also be organizing other events related to electricity and sustainability. For example, we bought an all-electric Riva. ”
It announced the acquisition of Villa Belinzaghi: what is the future of the house that became part of the Villa D’Este group?
“The property is proud to return the house to Villa D’Este as it was until the sale in 1966. There are many ideas about it and we will reveal them soon.”
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