The Gritti Palace reopened in 2013 after stunning restoration, renovation and reconstruction works – all with a major investment. To what extent having such an exceptional product may be a competitive advantage versus other luxury properties in Venice?
The Gritti Palace is a blend of history and culture with renewed Venetian style. Its accommodations feature 10 Signature Suits inspired by former guests as well as local landmarks or cultural institutions. Amongst them are two Signature Suites with an unexpected contemporary design, the first inspired by Venice’s contemporary art scene and a second one by the Angelo Donghia legacy brand. The hotel also features an Italian country-style kitchen, home of our Gritti Epicurean School.
This renewed Venetian style, together with new avenues of relaxation such as The Gritti SPA- Sisley Paris, the Riva Lounge and our Riva Yacht Experience, finds great appeal amongst today’s global travelers who are looking to immerse themselves in a unique Venetian experience during their stay with us. Our restoration used skilled local artisans and implemented ecological improvements, and aimed to keep the unique ambience of the Gritti Palace intact, something we feel we were successful in doing, and today we can indeed say that the hotel is a refined version of its iconic self. A great hotel cannot however exist without a great team behind it – at The Gritti Palace we are a family, and our guests are made to feel just like friends of our family.
The Gritti Palace also stands as a true Patron of the Arts through continued investment in both traditional and contemporary pieces, creating a sophisticated blend which appeals to our target, along with investments in the restoration of city monuments.
Does such a well structured property allow for easier implementation of safety and hygiene restrictions imposed due to the current pandemic?
The safety and security of our guests and associates is our highest priority. We have implemented the recommendations provided by the local health authorities, including: Social distancing, the adoption of facemasks, the regular washing of hands with soap and water or with alcoholic gel. We’ve also reduced paper collateral to a minimum, and implemented QR codes at the restaurant, bar and for room service.
In addition to following local authority guidance we have our own high standards of hotel cleanliness with well-established cleaning processes and training in place. These cleaning processes are more important than ever in today’s world and we have implemented a multi-pronged platform to elevate our cleanliness standards and hospitality norms and behaviours to meet the new health and safety requirements presented by the current pandemic environment. Some of the steps we are taking to combat the virus include:
- Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfection of high traffic areas and regularly touched surfaces. e.g. front desk counter, elevators, public bathrooms, room keys and gym equipment
- Increased frequency cleaning in back of house, where hotel employees work behind the scenes
- Increased hotel employee training on Covid-19 and hand hygiene protocols
- Social distancing efforts such as floor graphics/signage in lobbies and dining areas to remindguests to maintain social distancing protocols and removing or re-arranging furniture
For an industry that thrives on empathy and human connection the impact of cleaning protocols and social distancing measures in our hotels is significant – for both us as hoteliers and our guests. Interaction and engagement are one of the key elements of a travel experience. However the ‘new normal’ means health and hygiene will be at the forefront of our customers’ minds, and as hoteliers we are having to reimagine how we can deliver the customer experience in a hygienic yet human way.
For the reopening, you created a spectacular moment with a live classic concert with students from the music school spread throughout the entire hotel – video going viral globally over social media.
We wished to celebrate Venice, its culture and new beginnings, as well as continue our patronage of art and the performing arts in Venice. A sponsorship of culture through a study grant to the students of the Conservatorio Benedetto Marcello in Venice seemed a natural choice, as did the pieces paying homage to Venice that they executed from the balconies of the hotel:
- “Agitata da due venti” from Vivaldi’s La Griselda which was first performed at the San Samuele Theatre in Venice in 1735;
- “Libiamo ne’ lieti calici” from Verdi’s La Traviata which debuted in Venice;
- “Grabriel’s oboe” from the late Ennio Morricone’s Mission. The concert was a truly beautiful experience.
With key feed markets such as the U.S., UK and Asia absent this year, how has your target segment changed? Do you see opportunities in other markets?
We are naturally focusing on those markets that can currently travel, particularly the domestic market through staycation offers, but also EU travellers from those countries where border restrictions have lifted such as Austria, Switzerland, Germany, France and Spain. There is also potential opportunity for us with the UK market now that they are able to travel again.
Encouragingly we are also seeing US customer searches for our Venice hotels– even if people don’t feel quite ready to book yet to travel again internationally they are researching and waiting for when the time is right.
You have been hosting HNWI Italian domestic travellers. Is there profile any different?
Italian domestic travelers are frequent visitors to Venice, a city which is truly unique, especially in this period during which it is particularly enjoyable and less crowded. With Italy’s rich heritage, these travelers are well cultured, and of course enjoy great food and wine.
Now out of months of lockdown Italians are using this opportunity to rediscover the hidden gems close to home. We are excited to re-open our beautiful hotel and welcome back our guests. Our hotel team is ready and waiting to provide guests with authentic and memorable experiences once more.
Have you noticed that wealthy travellers may regard luxury differently and they would have different expectations?
Luxury today is a synonym of time and being able to enjoy unique experiences within the destination that not all travelers have access to. For example, the Riva Yacht experiences that we offer in the lagoon with the hotel’s own Aquariva yacht, and private visits to places of culture, or spaces not open to the public, which we are able to arrange through exclusive partnerships, such as the one we have with
Venetian Heritage where The Gritti Palace has supported their restoration projects of Venetian monuments with important donations over the last years.
Reliability and (re) building trust is essential. Tell us more.
People wish to be taken care of, especially in these times. They want to come to a place where they can feel at home, feel safe, and enjoy their time off with everything taken care of. Being able to provide solutions and take care of guests in unexpected circumstances is also fundamental in building trust and a word of mouth reputation.
These are challenging times for every kind of hotel, but as a luxury hotel we go above and beyond on personal recognition and attention to detail, which will be more appreciated than ever to ensure a hotel stay is memorable for all the right reasons now.
You have developed partnership with prestigious Italian luxury companies such as Riva Yachts or Frette. How important are such partnership to the overall experience?
Both are iconic brands and renowned for the quality of their product, just as The Gritti Palace is recognized for the quality of our service – in fact we were recently recognized as the top hotel in Venice by Travel + Leisure in their 2020 Awards. These partnerships are important to fully immerse the guest in a holistic luxury experience, creating unique memories.
Avoiding large groups, crowded spaces (both indoor / outdoor) is one of the safety measures guests can take. To what extent are you offering them different activities, which are more private and tailor-made?
Private dining has always been a service offered by The Gritti Palace and we continue to do so today. We’ve also implemented yoga classes on our 250 square metre Redentore Terrace for a maximum of 10 guests, as well the ability to reserve the Redentore Terrace as a private sundeck and reunite with friends and family in a private space overlooking Venice. Our Luxury Collection Concierges are local insiders and as such able to tailor make each guest’s day with private visits to cultural institutions, Venetian Heritage sites, and suggest unusual itineraries to be discovered with our Riva Yacht Experience, on the Brenta Riviera, or through the wine growing areas nearby.
What are your hopes and expectations for the rest of this year?
That Venice remains a safe haven for all of us, including those that are able to travel, and that the current situation will continue to evolve in a positive direction as travel restrictions are lifted. Visitors will be drawn to come back to Venice to visit while tourism is still limited.
We also hope that social distancing will be a relatively short-term requirement and will reduce as the impact of the virus decreases or vaccines/ testing improve. However, what is here to stay is a focus on cleanliness and hygiene.
Some of the rituals of a hotel stay have had to change for now, but the quality of our service is, if anything, even higher. So far our guests have been really understanding about the importance of following the new requirements, and to be considerate of other guests and staff around them. Our guests still want to enjoy the experience of personalised hospitality, in beautiful surroundings – putting their trust in us as their hosts, that their environment is clean and hygienic. This is what we are focused on delivering for the rest of this year.
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