Italy’s Forte Village is now nearing the completion of a multi-million dollar renovation, having recently established itself as an independent, stand-alone property.
With continuous modernisations, this sprawling man-made resort in southern Sardinia has scooped dozens of accolades since it opened its doors more than 20 years ago.
Set in 55 acres on the south-west coast of this Mediterranean island, Forte Village consists of seven hotels—three five-star and four four-star. There is also a Beachcomber Boat House, with 12 private suites each with their own butler.
The resort’s setting is thought to be equally impressive—what was once a barren scrap of coastal land has been transformed into a lush strip of green vegetation. The destination is popular with celebrities and this summer the resort will accommodate the German football team prior to the FIFA World Cup.
Other recent developments at Forte Village include the addition of a pool at the award-winning Thaermae spa, the re-vamp of the website, as well as new membership of The Leading Hotels of the World group.
Breaking Travel News caught up with Lorenzo Giannuzzi, managing director of Forte Village, to find out more.
BTN: Forte Village has been open for over 20 years how do you keep on packing people in?
Giannuzzi: The key to our success at Forte Village is the ability to continue enhancing the uniqueness of the resort each year in terms of both innovation and appeal.
BTN: What new developments can we expect now that you are independent?
Giannuzzi: Being a stand alone property is a great achievement because it will further enhance Forte Village’s reputation and will allow us to be a “one of a kind resort” and as a destination in its own right.
BTN: You have joined Leading Hotels of the World, what has this brought you?
Giannuzzi: This membership gives us a very high profile and rightful recognition and positioning in the marketplace. It highlights our charming boutique hotel where people seek the luxury of privacy and pampering. We will also evaluate an affiliation with other properties as we go along.
BTN: Forte Village will host the German football team before the World Cup. How did this come about?
Giannuzzi: Forte Village has a long and very successful association with football. It is a a historically favourite holiday destination for some of the most famous football stars globally such as Ronaldo, Rummenigge, Baggio, Del Piero and Totti. Forte Village has also been chosen by training teams, including: England, Italy, Juventus, Bayern Munich, Inter Milan. It is ideal in terms of facilities, weather conditions and fitness facilities which are some of the most advanced in the world, thanks to a partnership with Technogym. There is also a guaranteed high-level of privacy at the resort.
BTN: Have you noticed a significant rise in group bookings in recent months?
Giannuzzi: Yes and it is a very encouraging trend. Generally occupancy levels in 2005 showed a substantial increase and this is also a very positive trend.
BTN: La Pineta is being refurbished, what changes can we expect to see?
Giannuzzi: The refurbishment is already at its final stage and La Pineta will be reopened in April after a multi-million euro renovation. We chose a local interior designer and a local theme, to reflect the true spirit of Sardinia.
BTN: Your Thaermae Spa has been voted “Europe’s Leading Spa Resort” at the World Travel Awards. What has this done for your business?
Giannuzzi: Our spa is one of the most celebrated in the world and is a great addition to our product offering. The secret of our success is the outstanding quality of treatments. Our guests find they are of benefit to their health and many of them are encouraged to return several times a year.
BTN: How are the developments for the new spa pools coming along?
Giannuzzi: We are planning to create a dedicated pool with sea water.
BTN: You recently revamped the website. How important is your online presence?
Giannuzzi: We have several thousand visitors a week to our website. So it has become increasingly important for us to combine a vibrant and trendy image with immediate impact. The site offers user-friendly navigation to many facilities and special offers that enable guests to tailor-make their own vacations.
BTN: Where are you in terms of wireless technology throughout the resort?
Giannuzzi: We offer wireless technology throughout the resort. People can surf the Web in most of the public areas, various spaces in the resort and in the hotel rooms
BTN: If you could use one word to describe the ambience of Forte Village what would it be?
Giannuzzi: I think Forte Village offers warm service that comes from the heart and not from the manuals—like some hotel chains. This is another reason why we are better portrayed as stand alone property.
BTN: What is the percentage of different nationalities visiting Forte Village?
Giannuzzi: We are very strong in Italy, which is our main feeder market. The British comes in second position. We are confident that Germany and France will significantly increase this year due to the better flight connections.
BTN: What have budget airlines done for the mix of clientele?
Giannuzzi: Not that much. Our clients travel mainly in business class or by private jets.
BTN: Which new markets are you targeting in the next few years?
Giannuzzi: We have a solid history as pioneers in new markets, both in terms of nationalities and in identifying new niche segment markets. However we do not forget that we still have a lot of untapped markets in Europe.
BTN: Why has Forte Village scooped dozens of accolades? What is the winning formula?
Giannuzzi: Forte Village combines a high-level of personalised service and attention that is more typical at a boutique hotel. Yet we are one of the largest resorts in the world with an incomparable variety of facilities, outlets and opportunities for guests to satisfy all their wishes. In essence, we offer the best of both worlds.
BTN: What are your priorities for 2006?
Giannuzzi: To establish our image as a unique, leading resort and to continue to convert more than 50 percent of new clients into repeat guests. We want them to think of us a second home.