The group – headed up by founder Sir Rocco Forte - is acquiring Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, in Palermo, Sicily, a move that cements this as the most ambitious expansion programme in the group’s history.
The three other openings in Italy are Hotel de la Ville due to open in Rome and Masseria Torre Maizza in Puglia both set to debut in May 2019, while Rocco Forte House, Rome, will open in September; the 100-room Grand Hotel Villa Igiea will open under the Rocco Forte flag in 2020.
The group is also working on the previously announced Westbund Hotel in Shanghai, set to open in 2019, taking the group to 16 properties.
With 11 existing hotels in Belgium, Russia, the UK, Germany, Italy and the Middle East, the group said its expansion plans were the first stage of an even bigger longer-term strategy to extend its network of hotels across Europe and key destinations around the world.
The expansion programme, the biggest since the group was founded by Forte in 1996, builds on record financial results for year ended April 30, with revenues exceeding £200 million; approximately £18 million is also being invested annually on refurbishment of the estate.
The group said it was also generating exceptional levels of revenue per available room (RevPAR), up 10% year-on-year.
“It’s the confidence in our brand that is driving these ambitious expansion plans,” said Forte. “It is the first stage in a long-term strategy to have a base in key cultural centres and European capital cities. We are interested in opening hotels in the best locations and are meticulous in ensuring that each has a distinct style and personality.”
The new Hotel de La Ville in Rome has 109 rooms and three restaurants, while Rocco Forte House, also in Rome, is being hailed as a “new concept”, initially launching with five private suites in an 18th century palazzo opposite the Spanish Steps, with all the services of a luxury hotel.
The Masseria Torre Maizza in the Savelletri di Fasano area of Puglia is set to undergo a refurbishment under Olga Polizzi, Forte’s sister and creative force for the brand.
The acquisition of the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea in Palermo is subject to a mandatory pre-emptive right by the Italian public authorities about properties of historical or architectural significance, which expires in January 2019.
Meanwhile at the Verdura Resort in Sicily, 20 luxury villas are being developed adjacent to the existing resort.