Besides the spectacular location and positioning of CARUSO, you have been continuously striving to achieve, maintain and improve service standards, aiming for perfection.
We are pleased with our results but being satisfied with them is dangerous, as we will not ever ask for more steps further or for new challenges. This is exactly what we do every day: looking for how raising the bar and our skills and passion accordingly. My goal is to make Caruso the most iconic hotel in alignment with the Belmond purpose: to become the most desirable travel brand in the world.
To achieve this result we don’t spare any effort in even catching the moon for our guests: we try to anticipate their dreams and if we can’t anticipate we try to go the closer we can to realize them. If they are sitting at our breakfast table, we ask if they need the towels replaced for their swim day at our Infinity Pool, if they express the wish to visit Ravello, we are there ready with a map of the village, if they decide to visit Amalfi, we arrange, with their permission of course, the booking to the best restaurant of the village. As someone wrote, to serve is to love.
Is there a recipe for consistency for both service and product?
I am not new to your question, as many times people asked me, which is your secret? Do you have a secret source for your results and achievements? My reply is always the same: never stop being curious and wishing for being better than yesterday. In regard to service and product, consistency is given by the idea we never stop to improve or learn, and every day must be a challenge in aiming to reach something more than the previous day.
I consider myself a true hospitality passionate with a hungry curious mind-set: I never stop reading, studying, and researching new ideas, tools and strategies to make the guest’s journey with us most memorable. We raised the bar of consistency through many strategies providing our guests’ rooms with dedicated and tailor-made amenities completed with charming and detailed storytelling leading them through the essence of our property, moreover of a whole area. With the team, we love to listen to our guest’s feedback and stories.
They help us to improve and do better and they represent the best source of inspiration. After a guest told me he wished he had more space to work out at the gym, I decided to enlarge the space for the free body work out which was very well appreciated. Another guest told me the staircase in the room was a little dark to be used at night. He was right. While he was at the pool, one afternoon, I managed to place some little spotlights. When he went back to the room, he could not believe it. Hospitality is in all these little attentions and in the consistency of delivering it every day.
Compared to last year, you have been perfecting service, with more extensive training of staff, as well as a more strategic approach to motivating and retaining staff.
I firmly believe that the key to cultivating a successful team lies not only in attracting talented individuals but also in retaining them through continuous support, training, motivation, and mentorship. Our current focus is centered around promoting employee well-being and achieving the ideal work-life balance for each team member. By recognizing and treating each team member as the unique individual they are, we strive to create an environment that fosters comfort, care, and opportunities for growth and development.
This year, we have implemented an extensive training program, covering a diverse range of topics – from fostering emotional connections with our guests, to enhancing our storytelling abilities, and understanding the significance of active listening in order to anticipate guests’ desires. Our goal is to equip our team members with all the necessary tools, allowing their innate talents and passion to shine. In doing so, we create a professional and engaging atmosphere where individuals can truly thrive.
How do you succeed in instilling your team every single day with enthusiasm and a passion to serve?
In the world of hospitality, I live by the motto: who do you want to be today? Do you want to be just another employee with a scheduled shift, or do you want to be someone who makes a difference in the team you work with and in your future steps? If you choose the latter, you don’t need someone else to instil enthusiasm in you every day, because you are the enthusiasm that’s needed.
As a leader in this industry, I believe in being present for my team members at all times. I set an example of loyalty and commitment, and I expect my senior staff to do the same. I know that showing appreciation and caring is crucial to creating a successful work environment where everyone feels empowered to make each day better than the last and add their unique spark to every task.
Additionally, we take pride in being a team and belonging to the Belmond family, a strong and dynamic brand that’s always pushing us forward to new heights of prestige and excellence.
Extending genuine customer service is critical for a property of the caliber of CARUSO.
I believe we have great challenges to face and the key, the trump card to face even the more challenging moment or the most demanding client is to be exactly as we are, with professionalism of course, but with a remarkable component of authenticity, passion, and truth.
We don’t have to pretend, we have to be authentic and engage our guests with a connection made of true feelings, emotive understanding and positive disposition. The generosity of spirit and authenticity are moreover at the core of Belmond’s brand philosophy and distinguishing traits of the brand personality. All the team members are supported to act showing their passionate soul.
You fully revamped the F&B facilities, including the introduction of a new Executive Chef and a new menu.
We are in the process of a very interesting Gastronomic Revolution for the Hotel. While our Caruso Grill will focus on the enhancement of our territory with an ode to our connection with the Dieta Mediterranea, at the Ristorante Belvedere our new Executive Chef, Armando Aristarco, will honour our culinary heritage with his genuine, traditional while renovating idea of cuisine, where each product has a character, meaning and consistency and the tradition is the conductor making the orchestra of tastes playing at its best.
Caruso Grill will turn into a kind of ancient Greek agorà where the tastes of Cilento and Dieta Mediterranea, from the olive oil to cheese, will be the motivator for discussing a healthy idea of life and for reflecting on how much is important to consider wellness at 369 degrees. Furthermore, the Dieta Mediterranea will be the leitmotiv melting the different moments of our Guests at Caruso, from the breakfast to the amenities. They will enter the rooms and find the famous fico Dottato from Cilento whose incredible smell and energy will dive them into the core of Dieta Mediterranea.
How do you see the blend of generations in your team?
In my opinion, the coexistence of different generations can be a valuable asset if properly handled. By bringing together individuals from both senior and junior profiles, we can leverage the wealth of experience and the fresh energy of the newcomers. This allows for a dynamic exchange of ideas and knowledge transfer, with the senior members serving as role models and mentors for the younger ones. In essence, our team functions like a close-knit family, where the older members lead by example and the younger ones carry on the legacy of our rich traditions.
Tell s more about the performance of CARUSO last year and what are your expectations for this year? Do you anticipate possible changes in the consumer profile and their behaviour?
2022 has been a very successful year and we are living a promising season with a better pace than last year.
That year marked a Renaissance of sorts, following a period of unprecedented uncertainty, leading to a surge in tourism, events, and requests. This year, while our numbers remain strong, there seems to be a heightened awareness among our guests. In 2022, guests travelled as a symbol of rebirth and freedom, while in 2023, they seem to be driven by a desire to learn and appreciate the details of their experiences.
Is there a resistance to rates this year compared to last year?
The rates of this year have reflected our research of excellence in the service we provide and in the experience we provide. To add more value, we have in place a whole series of touches and attention that will allow our guests to feel the difference when choosing a Belmond hotel in terms of the quality of the service and of the experience provided. From tailor-made ceramic gifts to special itineraries and experiences (pasta making, unique boat tour in the Jeranto bay, etc.) we have created a bespoke portfolio of one-of-a-kind experiences that allow guests to see the world through the Belmond lens and be amazed by the destination.
How would you define the experience guests are seeking at a property such as CARUSO
People who decide to come to Caruso are seeking for someone able to manage their time in the most precious and perfect way. For this reason, I believe we have a very important role. Our guests seek a once-in-a-lifetime experience, something memorable and all our efforts go in this direction to mark their days in the most impressive and unforgettable way. Our attentions go from the tailored experiences to the private service for example of a chef and a butler for the most expensive suites. On a concluding note, everything is made on purpose to make feel our guests the centre of all our attention.
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