Through the Sense of Lake website, guests can purchase candles and diffusers with the hotel’s signature fragrance, Italian-crafted summer clothing, accessories made with Como silk, and more. “The beauty and the power of a family business is exactly in having the chance to work very closely together with those nearest and dearest to you. This sometimes means clashing points of view, but the confidence and common values make the most out of even the most challenging exchange of ideas,” she shares. For this edition of Women Who Launch, I speak with de Santis about the big project she has launching this year and we also chat about what keeps guests coming back to her hotel time and again.
Valentina de Santis / Grand Hotel Tremezzo
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When taking a trip to Italy, you may actively try to stay away from touristy areas, and by doing that, Lake Como could get scrapped from your itinerary.
I’m here to tell you that that would be a mistake. Italy has been one of my most frequently visited countries largely because of its regional diversity. I love how a short drive could mean a complete change in scenery, dialects, and flavours. Late last year, I was fortunate to spend a long weekend in the region of Lombardia where panoramic views of the Alps greeted me every morning. It is in this picturesque location that the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, a Preferred Hotels & Resorts member, welcomes guests every season.
Lying on the western shores of Lake Como, Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a family-owned five-star luxury hotel with Valentina de Santis as its current CEO. de Santis is a multi-awarded hotelier who has, not only hospitality expertise running in her veins, but a keen eye for design as well. She has taken all the elements of the art nouveau hotel and created a line of products sold in a newly-launched e-boutique that allow guests to take the experience home with them.
If you were forced to make a career change, what would you be doing?
Hospitality is a pure addiction, a way of life, so I think I would try to find something still related to the art of hosting. I’d try to leverage everything I learned in the past years to make our ‘homes’ beautiful and fascinating for our guests.
Lake Como is a very popular holiday destination. What is the experience guests can expect at Grand Hotel Tremezzo that is unique?
As a family-run business for over a century, we offer the warmest of welcomes and the impeccable hospitality Italy is famous for. I also always point out the exclusivity of our location: the indescribably beautiful views over the water to Bellagio against the rose-tinted backdrop of the Grigne mountains make the Grand Hotel Tremezzo the most enviable and awe-inspiring location on Lake Como. But above everything, it is the love this place is made of that makes it truly unique.
Why do you believe Italy has been so successful when it comes to luxury travel?
Italy is no doubt the destination that still keeps on focusing on independently-owned hotels versus international chains. Hoteliers in our country still give huge importance to the regional diversity of Italy and to the uniqueness of each territory and its peculiarities, reflecting these crucial values into their hospitality—it is something I think we can be very proud of. Italy has become so successful in terms of luxury travel because we are able to share the stories of our culture, cuisine, tradition and taste through our beautiful hotels.
With the hospitality industry being hard-hit by the pandemic, how did you manage to keep your team encouraged during the quieter months?
We are a big family indeed and, as families do during hard times, we just tried to stay very close to each other, especially in the hardest times when Italy was in full lockdown. We shared the rainbows painted by our kids, we got together just to sing a song, we exchanged pictures while cooking or gardening. We just behaved like a family that was forced to be apart for a while, but was looking forward to being reunited soon. And then we cried when we walked into the hotel once again all together and started to dream again.
Because the hotel has been in your family for decades, how do you find the balance between making emotional vs strategic business decisions?
The most strategic decisions are always the most emotional ones. There is only one way we always take decisions and it is with our hearts.
Since you have a background in design, how do you work with outside partners to ensure your vision comes to life at the hotel?
As a family, we always try to bring to life our vision of taking care of everything personally, from the source to the very last detail. The difference is all in the details.
What are some of the common mistakes people make when being a host/hostess?
There is just one thing that should never be forgotten: The focus must always be on the happiness of your guest.
Are there any other hoteliers you look up to?
I am the biggest fan of all the incredible Italian hoteliers, and in many cases I feel lucky to be able to call them friends too. Their properties are real jewels and their vision and passion teaches me how to be a true hotelier in the best way.
Any exciting travel plans for 2022?
2022 is the year dedicated to opening and launching our new property, Passalacqua, the biggest project of my life so far. But after that summer launch, the list of beautiful places I want to travel to is quite endless.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo, a Preferred Hotels & Resorts member
Address: Via Antica Regina, 8, 22016 Tremezzina CO, Italy
Phone: 39 0344 42491
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