AHL Insider:

Guido Polito

CEO of Baglioni Hotels

  • What do you do and how did you get here?

    I’m the CEO of Baglioni Hotels, the only independent, Italian-­‐owned hotel group with a collection of eight luxury hotels and one resort in Italy’s main cities, including Milan, Venice, Florence, Rome and Punta Ala, as well as properties throughout France in Aix-­‐en-­‐Provence and Saint Paul de Vence, and another in the UK, located in the heart of London. After my studies and working as a credit analyst, I started with the family business in 2003. My first big project was the opening of the new Baglioni Hotel London where I oversaw the construction, hand-­‐selected the opening team and worked alongside them through the start-­‐up period.

  • Did you always know that you would be part of the family business? Was there anything that particularly inspired you at a younger age to follow in your father’s footsteps?

    I always knew that I would be a part of the family business, as it was all very natural since I was a child – attending board meetings with my father and telling jokes to entertain everyone. I’m particularly inspired by something the great American writer John Steinbeck once wrote: “People don’t take trips. Trips take people.” For me, most of my fondest memories are related to my journeys – to the smells, tastes, sounds and colors that have moved my imagination, settling in my heart and mind forever. This is the inspiration behind my vision for Baglioni Hotels today.

  • What is it about a family run, genuinely Italian hotel brand that sets it apart from the more corporate run brands?

    In 1974, my father Roberto Polito founded Baglioni Hotels and built the first establishment along the Southern Tuscan Coast in Punta Ala, Baglioni Hotel Cala del Porto. From there he developed a specific concept of hospitality in terms of life experience: a journey in true Italian style through our culture and traditions. From the brand’s inception, it was always a project built around family, as many of our hotels are housed in historic palazzos that were once elegant private residences, allowing our guests to feel as though they are in the center of an authentic, personal and uniquely Italian experience. In this way, every Baglioni hotel has its own story – a meaningful, collective history with the local culture and language. While it’s the surroundings that influence the style, the Baglioni personality is the common thread that blends luxury with a highly-customized guest experience.

  • What special touches do you feel are signature to the Baglioni experience?

    Baglioni Hotels are truly “Made in Italy.” We represent our country and have the privilege of bringing Italian culture and traditions to our guests by being a source of everlasting memories. Through hospitality, it is our deepest pleasure to connect our guests to the best of Italian design, fashion, food and wine in some of the most beautiful locations in the world. In Venice, guests of Baglioni Hotels Luna have access to a private tour of the Doge’s Palace, including rare entry to the Piombi prison and the Bridge of Sighs. The experience is complete with a private dinner in the home of a Italian aristocratic family along the Grand Canal. Another example is in Punta Ala, where guests of Baglioni Hotel Cala del Porto have an exclusive opportunity to blend, barrel and bottle their own personalized wines at one of Italy’s most notable wineries in Maremma, Castellare’s Rocca di Frassinello vineyard. It’s this “unforgettable Italian touch” that promises that every stay with Baglioni Hotels will be a rich and fulfilling life experience.

  • How do you instill a connection to Italian culture in your properties abroad?

    Each Baglioni hotel has its own unique Italian spirit. Baglioni Hotel London, although set in an English country, is quintessentially Italian in its baroque and contemporary design. Walls lined in gold leaf represent the Italian sun, the water feature in the entrance pays direct homage to the fountains found in Italy’s “piazze” and photographs of La Dolce Vita honor the Italian art, cinema and fashion. We offer a distinctly Italian twist on the time-­‐honored English tradition of Afternoon Tea, incorporating culinary traditions and flavors from Italy with classic elements of a British tea menu, which can be enjoyed overlooking Kensington Gardens.

  • What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry in the last five to ten years?

    Technology has changed everything in the hotel industry from the way we use the internet to research destinations and search for information to how we book travel and respond to guest reviews. Marketing has changed significantly as well. It’s all about storytelling.

  • As part of the younger generation of a family run business, how do you preserve its distinguished legacy while adapting to modern travel trends and the needs of today’s luxury guest?

    Today’s luxury traveler is seeking access to unique, authentic experiences. This past year, we partnered with Dream&Charme to curate one-­‐of-­‐a-­‐kind experiential offerings that are exclusively available to guests of Baglioni Hotels. We’ve also collaborated with the Milanese architects Rebosio+Spagnulo on all of our new design projects to achieve an elegant, Italian aesthetic that is visible in the constant tension between modernity and tradition. From the top floor of Baglioni Hotel Regina in Rome, guests can take indulge in the three-­‐bedroom Roman Penthouse Suite’s panoramic, 360-­‐degree views of the city and 3,122 square feet of private terraces. With 24 unique works of art by Italian-­‐born artists displayed exclusively in the suite, art lovers will feel as though they are in their own private museum. At Baglioni Hotel Luna in Venice, the San Giorgio Terrace Suite offers unrivaled views of San Giorgio Island and St. Mark’s Basin. The suite houses original artwork as well as antique furniture hand-­‐selected by my father’s personal trove, truly epitomizing the “unforgettable Italian touch.”

  • What do you most admire most in the world of hospitality?

    Innovation and quality.

  • What’s your favorite travel destination?

    Before having my son, I used to travel on the road in places like California, British Columbia and Malaysia. The Maldives remain my dream destination.

  • What would your dream hotel project look like?

    Nowadays, I’m looking to expand Baglioni Hotels’ horizons. Our goal is to double our presence abroad while continuing to serve as ambassadors of Italian hospitality. We’re planning to bring our style to cities such Paris, New York and Miami in the near future.

  • Where will you be on your next day off?

    I love skiing. I have a house in Chamonix (France) where I go every weekend in the winter. I spend my summers in Punta Ala at Baglioni Hotel Cala del Porto – it’s where I was born and where Baglioni was born.