Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa is a truly grand and magnificent destination, located in the heart of Tuscany that is sure to leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. It has recently been awarded the Luxury Lifestyle Awards title for Best Luxury Design Hotel in Tuscany, Italy, 2023. We spoke with the Managing Director, Carlo Castelli about the outstanding Riva Del Sole Resort and Spa, its roots, the recent revamp, and what sets it apart in the industry.
Luxury Lifestyle Awards: It is an absolute pleasure to meet with you today Carlo. Thank you for taking the time to chat with us.
LLA: Congratulations on your recent win in the category of Best Luxury Design Hotel in Tuscany, Italy 2023! What a remarkable achievement! Tell us what went through your mind upon receiving the fantastic news.
Carlo Castelli: Well first of all thank you for selecting us as the Best Luxury Design Hotel in Tuscany, we worked very hard to have our property highly ranked and appreciated, even though it has its age, and like every valuable property we are very proud to age with style, so yes, I was full of excitement and joy when receiving your news regarding this award.
LLA: The success that you have achieved with Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa is astonishing. What would you say is unique to Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa compared to others in the area?
CC: We have a big gift that nature gave us, our location is absolutely stunning, the pine forest and the sea are just incredible, our seaside has been for many years awarded to be one of the cleanest in Italy, we have a full scale of services besides having an incredible staff that puts its heart every day in every department.
LLA: What is the origin of the name Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa and what significance does it hold for the Resort?
CC: Our name dates back to the late ’50s. The idea came from the north, Riva del Sole was desired and built by the Swedish worker’s recreational organization, RESO a travel agency, hotels, and tours chain established in 1937, to offer a holiday accommodation for their employees. At the time, some studies were done in our area stating that this particular geographical spot had more sunny days than others around, so it was named Riva Del Sole meaning the Seashore of the Sun. Over the years the resort, which is still today a Swedish property, grew both in structure and in the quality of the services offered. Today it is an oasis of absolute beauty, known and appreciated internationally under the name of Riva del Sole Resort & Spa.
LLA: Tell us a bit more about the history of Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa.
CC: As stated before, towards the end of the 50’s the Swedish company “RESO” decided to build a tourist village in Italy, the location choice fell on a small fishing village called Castiglione della Pescaia in the province of Grosseto in Tuscany. On March 18th, 1958, the first stone was laid in the presence of many personalities of the two nations and of local communities. The idea was to create an international holiday village. Further to this agreement, contracts were stipulated with Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Finnish, Austrian, English, Belgian, and Swiss organizations. Riva del Sole was officially inaugurated on 21 May 1960 by the Swedish Prime Minister “Tage Erlander”.
Until today Riva del Sole Resort & Spa is a reference point not only in Scandic countries but also in all the other countries for being a vacation destination in a full immersion mode in nature, without forgetting all the facilities around and the services, all respecting sustainability and tranquility.
LLA: Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa has recently undergone a revamp. What inspired the recent renovation?
CC: Riva del Sole Resort & Spa has aged very well having said that the near sea conditions are not optimal for construction and materials used for the interiors, we are over 60 years old, therefore it needed a full revamp. We decided to start the works a decade ago and the restructurings are still ongoing, as we took the decision to restyle one area at a time, as it is an extensive property that has many hotel rooms and many villas, without stating all the outlets inside our property.
LLA: What changes were made to the Resort during the recent revamp?
CC: Being a Swedish property we have in our DNA the conscious of planet care, we care a lot to save energy, therefore we build consciously all our units with eco-friendly materials, inside out. We are also enhancing all the re-done units with the latest technologies to provide a fully covered WIFI area and interactive TVs and workstations. We are very conscious about energy and water consumption so every area tackled is restyled on this main criteria.
LLA: Can you describe the architectural style and design elements that reflect Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa?
CC: Riva del Sole Resort & Spa has recently undergone an important restructuring as well as a full restyling that has further enhanced the identity of the place, its philosophy, and its history. The designer Eva Khoury, included in the list of the 100 most influential women in Italy by Forbes Magazine, has put her talent and experience at the service of Riva del Sol Resort & Spa, redesigning the Conference Centre, the Supermarket, the 155 hotel rooms, the Riva’z Pizzeria & Grill, the wonderful La Palma Restaurant, and our 2 suites of excellence, the Coral Suite and the Exotik Suite. These design gems are created for luxury lovers, with essential, eclectic yet different styles, with bright colors in the Coral Suite, and the elegant exaltation of brass juxtaposed with deep and layered colors in the Exotik Suite. The Resort has maintained its eco-sustainable footprint, and maintains an Italian style with a Swedish twist, with selected materials exclusively designed by Eva Khoury and Made in Italy.
LLA: How did Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa balance maintaining its historic charm with modernizing the Resort in the recent revamp?
CC: We gave our guidelines to a unique interior designer, Eva Khoury, that graciously knew how to maintain the identity of our property including her talent and know-how. I have to say it is not easy to have such a big property revamped accurately and on a very tight schedule, it is a lot of organization and talent, and we are very grateful to have her working for us.
LLA: How has the recent revamp enhanced the guest experience at Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa?
CC: Our guests have greatly appreciated the improvements, having new and fresh areas made their stay more enjoyable, luxurious, and relaxing.
LLA: What role has Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa played in the tourism industry of the region over the years?
CC: The impact has been huge, both in terms of revenue and job creation. In the province of Grosseto, it is a unique structure of its kind which has adopted a welfare policy unique to its kind in Italy with regard to all our employees, we have a Welfare & Benefits program that is at the vanguard of welfare and personnel benefits. We implemented a performance bonus as well as a supplementary health care benefit, for “seasonal temporary” workers, this has been implemented since 2016. This a true innovation, as we are the first Italian company in the tourism sector to recognize and implement these welfare systems for our employees. Management and trade unions have signed agreements covering important topics such as professional safety, flexibility, and productivity bonuses. Seasonal workers get their bonus at the end of their employment contract, while for the permanent employees, it’s paid in correspondence with the settlement of the payment timetable for the month of December. The benefits are related to the achievement of the objectives set by us, according to the requirements of productivity and organizational efficiency. The award is aimed to always achieve great levels of competitiveness through the involvement of human resources.
LLA: How do you ensure that Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa remains eco-friendly and sustainable while providing a luxury experience for guests?
CC: By constantly offering services that have eco-friendly labels. Eco-sustainability and Environment .
Nature is our heritage, our mission is global environmental protection paired with eco-sustainability, a philosophy inherited from the Scandinavians, real forerunners in this field. To raise awareness among our guests we have written an eco-friendly regulation based on the 3 “R” Reduce Recycle, Reuse, with the aim to promote and respect nature. Therefore, we are very strict regarding the wastage of water and environmental pollution, and we gave a green light to energy savings, waste reduction, and collection, we promote the use of bicycles and the electric cars with respect for the environment. When it comes to Waste Management, everything is under the banner of “Green”, a correct supply of stock and resources, the use of solar panels, and the reduction of carbon impact, making it all eco-friendly. Waste management is also in line with the philosophy of environmental protection, we have an ecological island for proper recycling, from cooking oils to office materials, collected, recycled, and disposed of. We also have a distinct green wastage area with storage and disposals, furthermore, we use almost everywhere energy-saving led lamps. To get around, we use electric golf cars, our vans are electric and the courtesy car supplied by the hotel is also electric.
LLA: Can you share some stories from notable guests or events that have taken place at Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa throughout its history?
CC: Well, as you know cannot share with you the names as we want to protect their privacy, yet what we can tell you is that many guests spent all their vacations on our property and aged with us, bringing later on their kids and grandkids, many got married here and later saw their grandkids getting married in the same spot.. our guests know that that they can spend here an undisturbed holiday. Many public figures, members of European parliament and royal houses, Ambassadors, Ministers, Consuls, Artists, Managers of large companies from all over the world have been and still are our guests. What is nice here is that everyone is blending with everyone, titles are forgotten outside the gates and only bathing suits and flip-flops are part of the rules here.
LLA: How does Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa plan to continue improving and evolving in the future, following the recent revamp?
CC: It is important for us to keep up with the changes and trends that our industry requires. We use all our resources and all our strength and ideas to improve and evolve, bringing the whole structure to an excellent level that meets all requirements. Our future major projects are going to be the creation of a new bar and restaurant near the beach, followed by a complete Lobby restyling.
LLA: Throughout your career what have been some of the biggest changes you have seen in the hospitality industry?
CC: The hospitality industry changed with what guests are asking for, healthy food options, interactive tv, and high-speed Wi-Fi, also, no way in the past it was admissible that the linen would not be completely changed every day, now people are very aware of the water shortage and are very eco-friendly, we are too, we are a plastic free resort and proud to say that we are very happy with the changes that care for our planet.
LLA: What inspired you to become a hotelier?
CC: In short, since my childhood, I always liked traveling and meeting new people, this was a pull factor for me ending up in the hospitality industry. I traveled around the world, worked in many countries, and ended up coming back to Italy, with a baggage full of experience and goodwill to have properties like the one I am actually managing, reach a level of excellence.
LLA: What have been some of the most rewarding experiences of your career?
CC: When I left home I never imagined how many countries I would end up living in, yet I lived and worked for many years in London during the ’80s, I can say it was my school in hospitality as I started working for a very big hospitality group that thought me a lot, afterward I toured some countries in Europe, then traveled and worked in many middle eastern countries during ’90s. I am grateful to have chosen the right job, as it is never dull, every day is a new challenge and a new adventure, and this is very rewarding.
LLA: What is your favorite aspect of running a hotel?
CC: One of the greatest aspects is having a second family with the staff I am working with, throughout the years we shared many ups and downs with our everyday colleagues, then comes another great satisfaction of seeing our guests return year after year, we are very grateful to see that they appreciate what is done to make their holiday pleasant and memorable.
LLA: What advice would you give to someone just starting in the hospitality industry?
CC: Someone starting to work in this industry has to be very much people-oriented, it is all about how well you can handle the pressure of guests and colleagues, from different characters and demands, that will surround you and deal with you, then comes the determination and the love of your day to day capacity to handle the job requirements, they have to commit and know that their second home will be the hotel they are working in, this job can sometimes become very demanding, it is a love story that can last a lifetime, people are either made for it or not, there is no half-way.
For more about Riva Del Sole Resort & Spa, visit http://rivadelsole.it/
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