Dream hotels: why Italian design and style are taking over the world
Italy is a land of desires. In recent years, more and more investment funds and international brands choose Italy to open their gilded structures, and the real estate market Hotel in Italy it records double-digit growth. Attracts not only art of Living Italy, but also the cultural heritage of all of Europe, the custodian of an invaluable artistic heritage, which every year attracts travelers from all over the world with dizzying turns.
Personalization, identity and connection with the territory. attention to design and lighting the use of environmentally friendly materials, but also comfort and functionality, because guests should feel “at home”. Just as good as conservative restoration it has become a stylistic feature of every dream hotel renovation in the world that highlights original buildings and rediscovers their beauty.
Among other things, he also landed in Europe. Auberge spa collection, a California-based hospitality brand fascinated by the tradition and history of timeless places. From Napa Valley, home of the legendary Auberge de Soleil, the group’s flagship, in Hawaii, from Mexico to Colorado, brings together 26 luxury boutique hotels. Today, with an important expansion plan, the American group is increasingly looking towards Europe and Italy, which today has an enclave on Santorini, a castle in Cognac and a Renaissance residence in Italy. We talked about it with Kemper Hyerschief creative officer (formerly at Martha Stewart Omnimedia and later at Starwood Capital Group, where he oversaw the launch of Sheraton, Le Méridien, Baccarat and 1 Hotels), is involved in the creative direction of the brand, for which he forms structures that reflect the soul in interior design and culture of the area.
After opening in 2018 Grace Hotel in Santoriniwith the largest infinity pool in the caldera, the resort collection, founded in California since April, also operates Domaine des Etangs, a 13th-century castle, in the charming French town of Massignac, not far from Cognac and Angouleme. Instead, the opening is scheduled for early 2024. College at Oaks in Florence, the first Italian property, just three kilometers from the Duomo, the capital of the Renaissance, but hidden by a cypress alley that makes it an enclave of tranquility, at the gates of the Tuscan countryside. Housed in a Renaissance building that once housed a school, chapel and theater, it will be converted into an 81-room hotel.
“We are delighted to be in Italy, especially in Florence, where we feel we can tell the Auberge story in all its richness,” Hyers explains. “The Collegio Alla Querce is special because of its prestigious history dating back to the 16th century. It is located a few kilometers from the Duomo, at the gates of Tuscany, and will allow our guests to easily explore all the main sights of the city: the world-famous galleries, museums and restaurants of Florence, and at the same time visit the cellars and restaurants in the Tuscan countryside. Working closely with the owner and the Florentine design team, we had to be incredibly attentive to the design and imagination of the building, from what had been an elementary school, chapel and theatre, all the way to its first version as a hotel. . This is truly a designer’s dream project and I can’t wait to open it next year.” In the meantime, he is already looking to the future: “I hope we will open other structures in Italy. The tourism sector continues to grow rapidly after the pandemic and we want to be a global brand with a global presence.”
Identity and connection with the territory. Major brands strive to personalize each structure, create activities that allow you to discover places of artistic and cultural interest in the area, as well as the craftsmanship and uniqueness of each place, which never “decouples” from the context in which it is located. . “According to our vision, each of the Group’s 26 properties should be unique, unique in design, unique in the opportunities to enjoy. We don’t have the traditional standards of most hotel groups, we truly build each project from the ground up, working closely with local suppliers. We want every Auberge to reflect a local flair, to create a strong sense of place where guests feel inspired, daring and happy.”
Design, materials, functionality, lighting. International brands strive to create hotels and resorts that are as attentive to the aesthetic aspect as they are to the convenience of staying in a hotel, where you always need to feel welcome and move in spaces with the highest level of comfort. “Every aspect of the design has been carefully considered to create an environment where guests feel at ease and at home: design, materials, functionality, lighting are equally important aspects that we pay so much attention to. Above all, design is studied ad hoc within each Auberge structure, as sourcing and inspiration are as local as possible. Traditional standards make the brand recognizable, but at the same time, we work to give guests a truly authentic flavor of the place,” he explained, giving several examples. “TO Stanley RanchFor example, we saw an incredible movement of female potters in and around the Bay Area and decided to only hire female potters to create all of the dishes at the facility. The results impressed us with a sense of tactility and liveliness of all the created works. In addition, our guests knew these manufacturers and appreciated the opportunity to use their products during their stay even more.”
The challenge for everyone is to reconcile the aesthetic beauty of the objects, preserve their authenticity and at the same time make the structures functional for the guests’ stay. “For example, we work closely with local hotel teams to improve the authentic design elements of each destination. We know how important it is for a client who loves luxury to stay in a hotel with an attractive design, as the feeling of maximum comfort and relaxation is fundamental, so we must strike the right balance. We strive for affordable luxury style to make guests feel at home. For example, we removed 85% of the signage to create a feeling of home, thereby completely changing the atmosphere and perception of the space. We often work in synergy with an owner who has a “passionate” vision for the property, an architect chosen to give shape to that vision, and an interior designer who is able to create the complexity our clients seek. If the structure is obvious, then we have failed. We want our guests to feel comfortable and pampered.”
From this point of view, there can never be a lack element of surprise. “I’m also incredibly attentive to detail. The “wow” effect is always the first reaction of the buyer, and it is important for us to surprise him, but it is precisely those small details that are noticed only day after day that allow the guest to appreciate the property more and more. I love the lobby we did with Paul Duesing in Whispers of Corazon Punta de Mita, in Mexico. In the original design, the reception area consisted of a reception desk, two sofas, a console and a mirror. I thought, “Let’s make a gallery instead.” A huge table with art, sculptures and crafts. And among the souvenirs and works of art, a small beer tap and bushes are hidden, as well as all the accessories for registration. It’s amazing to enter this room, it’s like a patron’s workshop. This is the perfect “welcome” to discover the artisan world of Susurros del Corazon.”
International foundations and prestigious brands rediscovered Europeit was said for artistic heritage, history, picturesque beauty. “Europe remains the most popular tourist destination in the world, with many ancient and special stories to tell.. We do not focus on specific countries, but look for suitable opportunities. We need one basic ingredient to make the Auberge hotel: history. The European market is of great interest to a brand like ours, which focuses on one-of-a-kind boutique hotels that are intimate, deeply recognizable and celebrate local design and experience. We are very excited about the expansion in Europe with new projects in the pipeline.”
Since April 2023, they have been managing the Domaine des Etangs, a famous 13th-century château located in the charming French town of Massignac, close to Cognac and Angouleme. “We are very pleased and proud to be running the legendary Domaine des Etangs. The chateau embodies the best of French design, combining top-notch restorations of the ancient castle and original farm buildings with a sophisticated palette of carefully selected contemporary art and handcrafted architectural interventions. The hotel also has its own renowned art gallery, which hosts annual exhibitions. We love the hotel’s history, unique design, artwork and incredible amenities.” Here, with over 2,500 acres of land, they have focused on creating new experiences that enhance the essence of the place. For example, we have already created a new four-day Camp Auberge family program of four days to immerse yourself in the castle’s natural playground. Another initiative is a new experience that we are launching: a Cognac Dive Day to spend the morning with a barrel maker to learn the process of blending, toasting and wrapping barrels destined for some of the best Cognac producers in the world. In the afternoon we explore the castle cellars with master distillers who produce some of the most sought after artisanal cognacs.