J.K.Place is a unique collection of Italian luxury boutique hotels with three locations in Capri, Rome and Paris. The chain was founded in Florence in 2003 by hoteliers Ori Kafri and his father, Jonathan Kafri (the “JK” of JK Place). All three hotels were designed by Florentine architect Michele Bonan, and all three have received Five Star ratings and are part of LHW and Virtuoso. The collection used to include JK Place Firenze (Florence) which has been owned since 2003 by BCM Collection and although it is briefly mentioned on the collection website, it does not form part of the same booking engines.
Ori Kafri’s winning recipe was to secure one-of-a-kind iconic locations in each destination, with a cutting edge sleek contemporary interior design which would exude a unique sense of exclusivity, resembling almost a private club. With a relatively small inventory of accommodations utmost attention has been paid in using the finest materials and impeccable finishes.
Lavish bathrooms, sometimes as large as the accommodation, would boast cherry wooden floors, and no details would be overlooked, from ‘basics’ such as flawless soundproofing, high water pressure, silent AC adjustable in seconds to the exact temperature, high speed wi-fi internet and heavenly comfortable four-poster beds, with a topper carefully studied and implemented by the management. Italian luxury bathroom amenities and high-thread Italian satin cotton linen are some of the other ‘standards’
Another essential element which would subtly recreate the mood and vide of a private club is the library, a space reserved for hotel guests but also the lobby lounge area which is one of the many WOW factors of each property. Particular attention was paid to ensure that each guest would benefit from a bespoke, personalised service.
Since their inauguration and up to the debut of the pandemic, the JK Place Hotels, both in Capri and Rome would predominantly attract American guests, a factor that is proving a major challenge for the hotels to need to re-adapt to a completely different consumer target.
The JK Place hotel properties would almost ‘by default’ fill up with high paying American guests, who used to be known to splash out in destinations such as those Italy. Today, with zero American guests, the JK Place hotels are still enjoying a relatively good occupancy, yet with a completely different guest profile (mostly Italian, Dutch, German and French), whose expectation are radically different and so are their spending habits. Staff also need to fast adapt to new manners of communications and service approach, at times, much colder and sober in comparison with the more friendly American who are very unlikely to return to Italy this year.
Today, JK Place Capri (second only to Capri Palace Jumeirah) and JK Place Roma (second to Portrait Firenze and Vilon Roma – all luxury boutique hotels of the same calibre are placing an additional focus on F&B, the bars and restaurants being a major draw not only for non residing guest but also locals, which is always a unique ‘validation’ by locals, probably a truly connoisseur consumer when it comes to dining. JK Place Capri boasts an exquisite Spa with Sisley as well as a state-of-the-art gym. A large outdoor swimming pool is a major highlight for those seeking ultimate relaxation.
As a downside, the pandemic has intensified discussions about the ownership of each property. Without the backing of a major hotel group or under the management of a third party luxury hotel operator (most feasible with the likes of One&Only Resorts or Aman Resorts), it remains to be seen how the two JK Place Hotels properties will weather the deepening pandemic, which poses a wide range of grave challenges for any business, the most dramatic being the lack of predictability, hence the lack of a business plan and even a short term planning.
The fact that, unlike many luxury hotels in Rome which have remained closed, the fact that JK Place Roma managed to reopen is a major sign of resilience and despite hardships, an operating property will have a much more favourable rebound that those properties which remain completely shut down. Reopening for the summer season also has the advantage of retaining some of the exceptionally talented team of the property.
Unlike other luxury boutique properties of the same calibre in Rome which have re-opened for this summer season, especially VILON Roma and Portrait Roma (Lungarno Collection – Ferragamo Group) but also in comparison with JK Place Capri, JK Place Roma must take immediate action to reinforce Covid-19 safety and hygiene measures. In particular JK Place Roma should be much more strict with its non-residing guests. Staff should be better trained too – so that the existing heightened feeling of insecurity and anxiety would be appeased.
For now, JK Place Firenze operates under the same brand JK Place Hotels brand however, with a different status than the properties in Capri, Rome and Paris. Interestingly and probably for the sake of reflecting a private residence, the JK letters are superbly embroidered in all the pillows of the bedding throughout the collection. Perks such as the finest quality Italian linen, bedding (a particular set of standard pillows) and towels are being enhanced by large wardrobe spaces as well as complimentary mini-bar items (non-alcoholic)
In August, CPP will be reporting from Florence on the top luxury hotels of the city, including JK Place Firenze.
Oliver Petcu in Capri and Rome
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