As any entrepreneur knows, there really is no such thing as a vacation. The entrepreneurial route is one without “real” vacations, days off, or time completely disconnected – you are always in tune to the business, even when oceans apart . So when one actually makes the effort to escape the day to day and change their scenery, every minute away counts and time spent at bad hotels, restaurants, or destinations is simply not an option.
This summer, I’ve had the pleasure of escaping New York for a while to revisit one of my favorite countries, Italy. The trip instantly started off on the right foot when I arrived in Rome and checked into Crossing Condotti, an incredibly charming guesthouse, or rather “home away from home,” as the owners like to describe it, perfectly situated in the center of it all – at the foot of the Spanish Steps.
Crossing Condotti was a pleasant surprise at every turn. We were greeted with a warm smile just outside the door of an unassuming building that dates back to the 800’s and instantly ushered to the 2nd floor, where the guest rooms were situated. Unlike a traditional hotel, Crossing Condotti truly feels like you are staying at a (wealthy) friend’s apartment in the heart of Rome, complete with all of the amenities of a luxury boutique hotel and a delightful property manager and concierge, Francesco Bevacqua, who doubles as host and personal assistant, and is available most of the day. The cozy space offers a comfortable living room, 5 guest rooms, snacks, a coffee machine, and immaculate décor that you can enjoy intimately at your leisure.
Despite the close quarters and community feel of the space, the hotel still somehow manages to offer privacy, and with the hospitality industry as challenging as it is, I was inspired to learn more about this unique hotel and just how the concept was born. I sat down with fellow entrepreneur, Carlotta Puglisi, the co-owner of Crossing Condotti as well as Francesco Bevacqua and below are some of the insights they were able to give into how they turned Crossing Condotti into a truly unique success.
Who are the owners of your hotel?
Alfio Puglisi Gravina di Montevago, a Sicilian business man with an important family tradition in the Hotel business (his father was the owner of two large hotels in Sicily near Taormina) and his wife Maria Carlotta Botta, a lawyer from Piedmont.
What was the inspiration for opening the hotel?
The achievement of a “new” Hospitality project that would offer travelers a “home away from home” experience rather than that of a traditional hotel, but without forgoing some of the quintessential hotel services, first and foremost, the presence and assistance of a Concierge.
Why did you see the need to open your hotel?
The passion to undertake a new entrepreneurial project making the most of all the experience gained in the Hotel business.
What is your best description of the services offered?
“To live an authentic experience, with elegant discretion”.
The informality of the modern kitchenette, sipping a drink in the living room while reading a newspaper or surfing the net using the free Wi-Fi service, available throughout the “House”.
Hypoallergenic pillows and fine embroidered linen that guarantee moments of profound relaxation, during which a favorite program or decisive Rugby match can be watched, thanks to the plasma TV and Sky-Pay TV.
The security of a safe for laptops and the pleasure of independent heating and air-conditioning.
Upon waking, a choice of teas that may be prepared in the room, in Rosenthal ceramic cups with delicious biscuits.
A Junior Suite with a Turkish bath and chromo therapy that make the return after a busy day of exploring, almost an emotion.
The daily presence of a Concierge who is able to make suggestions on unique places to visit and savor, without ever failing to book qualified services.
How do you set yourself apart from your competitors?
Small facilities like ours are usually run directly by the owners – who do not always have specific experience in this business – or even people who take care indifferently about the welcome and assistance for Guests and also of the cleaning of the bedrooms. Our choice has been to invest in highly qualified, ad hoc personnel, providing the facility with people that have the proficiency and the professionalism of a Concierge, as would be found in a large luxury hotel, but also the courteousness and availability of a “Master of the House” who does all he can to make his friends’ stay memorable.
What are your most unique offerings?
We entrust the Sun-Herald Magazine a description that is typically representative: “Here’s the thing about cocooning: you can’t do it in a big hotel. Cocooning is about intimacy, privacy and complete indulgence. When there are 40 other suites on your floor, intimacy and privacy aren’t on the agenda. That’s why we love Crossing Condotti. It’s not really a hotel, more a collection of six rooms, but it manages to combine luxury and seclusion” (“Sunday Dream” by Ute Unker – 2012 November/in our press area http://www.crossingcondotti.com/eng-press.php).
What type of clientele are you looking to attract?
A high level clientele, who instead of the chains of large hotels (in which they would inevitably feel like a “number”) decide to test more personalized Hospitality, in an informal and intimate environment, where particular attention to detail has been made.
Where do you find the restaurants, drivers, and recommendations you provide for travelers?
Knowing how to give the right advice is not only a job, but a real passion. The restaurant that only a friend could tell us about, attentive chauffeur that offer impeccable service, corners of the city that only an insider can suggest, contribute to making a stay at Crossing Condotti a unique moment. It all begins with the direct experience of the owners and the Staff, reading specialized magazines or advice from experts in various fields. From the Romans, who live the continuing changes in this wonderful city.
Why did you choose your location for your hotel business?
It was decided that the two floors of the small and characteristic building from the 800’s (moreover property belonging to the family for generations), in the historical centre of the city, just a few steps away from Piazza di Spagna and Via dei Condotti, the most exclusive and prestigious area, were most suitable for our idea of Hospitality.
What do you think your hotel can offer that appeals to the young, stylish, jet-set traveler?
Our Hospitality “Philosophy” – that characterizes us particularly – together with the particularly prestigious location.
What are the key details you have put into the hotel to make it a memorable experience for your guests?
The memorable experience that we would like to offer the Travellers is to “feel” Crossing Condotti as their Home, as if they were staying in their own little pied-à-terre, in the centre of Rome. The bedrooms have been created each different from the next – although following the same thread – the creation of the Kitchenette at Guests complete disposal – provided with Nespresso coffee machine, ice-machine and refrigerator offering free soft drinks of which the Guests can help themselves to throughout the day – a courtesy tray in each bedroom with all the necessaries to prepare hot drinks, in the morning or after a long day, music in the lounge, books and travel guides, we would like all this to help create the atmosphere and warmth typical of a Home.
What is the origin/inspiration/aesthetic of the artwork displayed in the hotel?
A mixture of a classical style expressed by the antique furniture, paintings and antique prints, from the owners’ private collection and a modern style which has inspired, particularly the furnishings in the bathrooms and the lighting including iconic examples of the 70’s such as the Parentesi floor lamp designed by Achille Castiglioni and Pio Manzù.
What other locations do you have in your portfolio?
Following the success of Crossing Condotti, opened in June 2008, it was decided in 2011 to allocate Villa Puglisi Gravina to Hospitality. Situated in the fishing village of S. Maria la Scala – between Catania and Taormina – the Villa, late 800’s, composed of the Palazzo overlooking the small port, the Park, the Swimming pool and the Gazebo overhanging the rocks below; the Property, measuring a total of 600 sqm, includes inside a Double Salone, Dining Room, small Sitting room, Library-Studio, five Bedrooms of which one complete with Mini Gym, Kitchen and four bathrooms. The Villa, named Crossing The Rock, was completely refurbished in 2010 in collaboration with the same designer (Maria Teresa Denti) who also refurbished the property in Rome and so therefore chose materials, colours and fabrics in the same theme …… The Property, complete with full comforts, is rented as a whole, including the staff made up of a House Manager for the reception, a Governess for the daily cleaning, a breakfast Waiter, a Cook and waiter for lunches and dinners, and a Gardener.
Are you looking to expand your hotel business? Internationally?
At the end of 2008, following the first positive feedback from the Guests, it was decided to enlarge the Hospitality project. After Rome and Sicily, Venice and Milan were chosen as the next destinations in Italy. In recent months important negotiations have begun for two floors of an historical Palazzo, overlooking Ponte di Rialto, in Venice and one floor of an historical Palazzo in Via della Spiga (parallel to Via Montenapoleone) in Milan. After these further two “tests,” expansion abroad will certainly be considered.
For more information and images on Crossing Condotti, please visit: http://www.crossingcondotti.com/