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The  Italian hospitality sector remains optimistic despite international instability and high inflation levels that are causing some concern. Sardinia, one of the traditional summer hotspots, continues to thrive. However there are noticeable shifts in consumer behaviour, with bookings tending to polarize between early bookings and undated options, while the traditional August peak is waning, giving way to a surge in demand for the shoulder months. 

Summing up Sardinia’s trends for the coming summer Paolo Manca, president of the Federalberghi Sardegna federation said “the year got off to a strong start, with increases of 25%-30% in bookings in January and February compared to the same period in 2023. They dropped a little in March, and in April they were more or less in line with last year. Then from 25 April things slowed down, but all in all we are still 15% above the levels of twelve months ago.” 

The demand from international tour operators, especially German companies, which had been somewhat sluggish in 2023, is now driving Sardinia’s growth, and domestic demand no longer seems to be focused exclusively on the month of August: “This is a significant trend, given that 90% of demand is domestic in August, while for the rest of the season 51% are international guests.” 

Rates remain a delicate issue: “I think they will more or less confirm last year's levels. The issue again is the month of August. Will demand hold up? And it is not just a question of prices.  Guests are looking at alternatives to the traditional peak weeks, also because of the revenue quota systems on our island's most famous beaches that will inevitably lead to a redistribution of the anthropic load.” 


Massimiliano SartiMassimiliano Sarti
Journalist

Published in Editorial

For the first time the Terme di Saturnia format will leave its native Tuscany and offer its wellness concept in another region. 

The new property will be close to Trieste

It will do so at the Tivoli Portopiccolo in Sistiana, a short distance from Trieste. The debut property of the Minor brand in Italy is currently still at the soft opening stage, but it will soon be fully operational and will have a Terme di Saturnia spa. This was announced recently in Milan by the Minor group which presented  the rebranding of its Europe & Americas division, formerly Nh after the acquisition of the Spanish company by the Thai company in 2019.

21.05 Terme di Saturnia Tivoli 1

A nhow in Rome is in the pipeline

"Our group is now present in 56 countries, with a total of 350 hotels distributed between Oceania and South America,- said Minor Hotels Europe & Americas chief marketing and communications officer Isidoro Martínez de la Escalera Alvarez. -The name change was designed to increase synergies between our eight brands. Several other innovations were announced during the evening, including the forthcoming opening of an additional Tivoli in Florence and a nhow in Rome".

Published in Leisure

The DuoMo hotel in Rimini, a futuristic 4-star located in the city centre has been acquired by the former director and president of Condor, Leonardo Patacconi. 

The property was acquired by Patacconi at the third auction

The hotel opened in 2006, and was subsequently involved, from 2020, in a series of legal disputes that arose between the company that owned it and the management company. Subsequently the hotel was auctioned, with the asking price originally at €3.55 million It was not sold at the first or second auctions in 2023, then at the third auction Patacconi acquired the asset for €2.2 million.

The hotel first had a turnover of €1 million

Having sold the family tour business to the Uvet Group in 2018, Patacconi wanted to return to the tourism sector and also invested in startups when the DuoMo opportunity arose. When it was first opened the hotel cost around €10 million and when fully operational it boasted a turnover of some €1 million with an operating margin of 10%.

Published in Business

The first Michelin Guide dedicated to Italy’s hotels has given three keys to just eight properties.

Just eight hotels got the coveted 3 keys

They are the JK Place Capri, the San Pietro in Positano, the Corte Della Maestà, a boutique hotel with just four rooms in Civita di Bagnoregio, as well as the Umbrian Castello di Reschio in Lisciano Niccone, the Casa Maria Luigia in Modena, a project of Michelin-starred chef Massimo Bottura, the Rosewood Castiglion Del Bosco in Montalcino, the Aman Venice and the Cipriani, a Belmond Hotel. These are the magnificent eight in Italy: the establishments that have taken three keys in the first Michelin Guide dedicated to Italy’s hotels.

Rosewood Castiglion del BoscoRosewood Castiglion del Bosco

There are 500 Italian hotels in the guide

The guide, officially presented last week in Milan, includes about 500 properties, out of the 6,000 selected at a global level. Some 107 have one key, 31 have two keys and just eight can boast three keys. Tuscany is the region with the most hotels awarded the recognition: 32, including one with three keys, seven with two keys and 24 with one key. This is followed by Campania at 18 (two, five and eleven respectively), Lazio at 17 (one, two and 14), as well as Lombardy at 16 (seven two keys, and nine one key) and Trentino - Alto Adige (four two keys, and 12 one key).

Guides to more countries are in the pipeline

The Italian guide follows the French, USA and Spanish editions, with Italy boasting around forty fewer keys than the France guide, and with as many properties but more keys than Spain. Japan will follow on 4 July and other editions are in the pipeline.  

Published in Food&Wine

It’s business as usual, with Italy’s top tourism operators consolidating their positions. In fact Pambianco reports that not much has changed for the top 5 Italian hospitality and tour operating companies by turnover, and the only one new entry this year was the Mangia's Group. The Starhotels Group was confirmed as the top performer in 2023 with €304 million (€216 million in 2019; €243 million in 2022), followed by the Una Group at just over €200 million (€124 million in 2019; €146 million in 2022), and Th Resorts at €187 million (€94 million in 2019; €136 million in 2022). 

Alpitour's hotel division comes in just below the top three at €177m (€107m in 2019; €134m in 2022 - financial statements as of 31 October and, at the bottom of the top five we find the only new 2023 entry of the two rankings: the Aeroviaggi - Mangia's Group, which with its €117 million ousted Hnh Hospitality from its position, which reached €106 million (34 million in 2019; 71 million in 2022).

The situation is similar for organized tourism companies. As expected Alpitour's tour operating division ended the fiscal year on 31 October at the top of the ranking, with a turnover of €1,361 billion, just one million below the pre-Covid levels of 2019, but posting a growth of 57% over 2022. This was followed by Veratour at €230 mln (249 mln in 2019, 181 mln in 2022), while on the lowest step of the podium was Quality Group with €205 mln (173 mln in 2019; 111 mln in 2022). The only novelty was between the fourth and fifth places, with Nicolaus Group and Idee per Viaggiare reversing their respective positions: Apulian Nicolaus is now on top with €148m (€91m in 2019; €94m in 2022), while IpV closed the year on 31 October at €105m (€50m in 2019; €97m in 2022).

This year Pambianco introduced the top five wellness operators for the first time, a ranking dominated by Qc Spa of Wonders, which closed 2023 with a turnover of €147 million (87 mln in 2019; 105 mln in 2022). Further down is Terme e Grandi Alberghi Sirmione at €44 million (40 mln in both 2019 and 2022), followed by Lefay Resorts at €42 million (34 mln in 2019; 37 mln in 2022). Not far behind are the new holding company created in 2021 by Massimo Caputi, Terme Italia, which posted €37 mln (as it did in 2022), as well as Gb Thermae Hotels with €36 mln in total production value (37 mln in 2019; 36 mln in 2022).

Massimiliano SartiMassimiliano Sarti
Journalist

Published in Editorial

The penetration of hotel chains is growing in Italy and, for the first time, they have surpassed 20% of available rooms. The time-lapse created by Thrends, which publishes the biannual Chains Monitor Italy, shows that over the last decade the hotel industry has experienced a significant evolution in its development and growth models, consolidating in a similar way to the dynamics of European and Anglo-Saxon markets. In a nutshell, from 2013 to 2023 chain hotels have risen from just over 1,300 to 2,200 (+65%), while rooms have increased from 146,000 to over 216,000 (+48%). 

In terms of rooms the penetration of brands has thus increased from 13.4% in 2013 to 20.1% today. On the other hand, the average size of branded hotels has dropped from the 110 rooms of 2013 to 99 rooms today. This is due to the proliferation of lifestyle brands which are more flexible in terms of size and therefore more suited to Italy’s real estate and hospitality landscape.

"The penetration rate of chains in Italy is still among the lowest in Europe,- explains Thrends' senior analyst, Irina Hernández. -But the interest of international investors in Italy, especially in the luxury segment, and the decrease in the number of hotel rooms, will most likely see brands rising from the current 20.1% to over 22% over the next three years.”

Brands, and international chains in particular, continue to prioritize the top four Italian cities, with Rome, Milan, Venice and Florence having the highest number of chain hotels (39% of the total). The pressure of global players has never been so strong: at the close of the census there were 155 international brands in Italy, against 75 just ten years ago, which is a 100% growth. The groups with the largest number of hotels are Bwh, Accor, Marriott International, B&B Hotels and Minor Hotels, which hold 19% of the branded properties in Italy, while the top three domestic chains (by number of hotels) are Gruppo Una, Apogia Hotels and Iti Hotels.

Massimiliano SartiMassimiliano Sarti
Journalist

Published in Editorial

A revolution, potentially capable of profoundly affecting the lives of each and every one of us. Artificial Intelligence is the central theme of today's digital debate. An evolution that everyone agrees will soon change the world. In what ways it is still difficult to fully understand, but few today doubt the disruptive power of so-called AI.

"Right now we are only experiencing phase two of the revolution. The one that exploits the so-called Large Language Model (LLM) that can enable applications such as ChatGpt to interpret different languages and expressions,” explains the president of Federalberghi Lombardia, Fabio Primerano. “And we still have the Theory of Mind step ahead of us, whereby artificial intelligence will be able to understand emotions. And then we will perhaps achieve the self-awareness of digital tools. A somewhat disturbing prospect, which is nevertheless much less remote than one might think.”

In the face of so many and such changes, it’s clear that even the small world of hospitality cannot escape coming to terms with the new perspectives of Artificial Intelligence. The first context in which AI can revolutionize traditional hospitality is that of customer interactions.

"Up to now we were used to encountering bots with a reduced ability to relate to users. Now there are extremely flexible tools that can learn from discussions with customers and hotels. New software can process an almost infinite amount of data from the most disparate sources like pdfs, power points, videos, images in a matter of minutes. And then they provide the user with accurate information, using a tone of voice and style that is difficult to distinguish from that of a normal human interaction.” 

Another key aspect on which AI can already be of support to hoteliers, is when it comes to reviews. But AI can also help in the training field, and there is also no shortage of possible applications in the housekeeping sector: “Today, from a simple photo or mobile phone video AI is able to make a complete and very fast check of a hotel room, thus ensuring full compliance with standards.”  And then there is perhaps the most intuitive chapter, which is revenue management. And once again it is AI’s ability to analyze large volumes of data that makes the difference.

Massimiliano SartiMassimiliano Sarti
Journalist

Published in Editorial

The Tuscan Via Francigena wants to reinvent itself, and the Tuscany Region is charting a new course for the historic road.  

A new body to manage the historical itinerary

Five years after the convention signed in 2020, a proposal has been put forward by  president Eugenio Giani and tourism councillor Leonardo Marras for a new body, run by a regional association, to manage the historical itinerary.  "Tuscany believes strongly in the valorization of the Via Francigena and in the “Comuni in Cammino” project,” says regional president Eugenio Giani. 

“A suggestive way to discover our region”

“Since 2009, the Region has invested over €20 million in the Via Francigena, bringing it to ideal levels of safety for travel on foot, bicycle, or horseback. It is a different, suggestive way to discover our region, its history and traditions, and I am happy that last December the state funds for the candidature of the road as a UNESCO heritage site were finally released. Tuscany is the lead region among the seven regions involved in this project.” 

The Francigena runs through five countries and 16 regions

The Francigena, with its 1,700 kilometres from Canterbury in England to Rome, and another 1,300 in its ideal continuation to Santa Maria di Leuca in Puglia, has been recognized by the European Council as a cultural itinerary.  There are five countries and sixteen different regions involved on some one hundred and fifty stages of between 20 and 30 kilometres each.

In Tuscany the road passes through 39 municipalities 

Religion is not the only dimension of the route, which is a melting pot of cultures and territories, as it is a slow walking, sustainable tourism product. It crosses Tuscany for almost 400 kilometres passing through 39 municipalities, including Fucecchio, Lucca, Siena and Pontremoli.”

Published in Tours

The Bluserena Group closed its first year with record-breaking results, says CEO, Marcello Cicalò.  

Restylings and on the lookout for new properties

The 12% increase over 2022 was €90 million, and profitability was also excellent. “We are aiming for a further 10% growth in 2024." This year, Bluserena also plans to complete the restyling of five resorts in Calabria, Sicily, and Sardinia which underwent initial renovations for €55 million in 2023. There are no new entries in the pipeline, “but we are working on a series of projects throughout Italy: sea, mountains, and lakes. We are open to both new acquisitions and management or rental contracts."

Is-Serenas-Badesi-Resort-Camera-b
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Full all-inclusive for Is Serenas in Sardinia

The big news this year is the full all-inclusive formula, in Is Serenas in Badesi in Sardinia: a further step in the process of repositioning the property in the upscale and upper-upscale segments of the group’s portfolio. “Our portfolio also includes two 5-star properties, but it is still early to talk about luxury – adds Cicalò - Although it is a future objective. As is the relaunch of the Apulian Ethra Reserve property which has enormous potential, and which we have entrusted this year to a new general manager. Pedro Vazquez is a Spanish professional with considerable international experience. He will guide the relaunch of the resort with a series of innovations that we will soon be revealing.”   

Published in Hospitality

Italy's market is on hold, restrained by high interest rates and the difficulty in planning greenfield operations or renovations, mainly due to CapEx values that have increased significantly.  

This is the picture of Italian hotel real estate from the latest report produced by the consulting firm Thrends, based on data collected on its hoteltransactions.it platform.

The numbers speak for themselves: in 2023 the total value of transactions in the hospitality industry in Italy fell to €1.27 billion, for an average price per room of €146 thousand. The difference compared to the previous two years, in terms of volume, is stark: -38% over 2022 and -57% compared to pre-Covid 2019. The total number of transactions also fell, from 161 in 2022 to 118 last year.

However there remains the apparent contradiction of a sector whose fundamentals continue to remain strong, thus attracting investors focused on value-add initiatives and asset repositioning, particularly in leisure and urban destinations. "Although interest in the sector has remained very high, we could say 2023 was a time for reflection. At least for institutional investors, who have simply slowed down the pace," says Thrends' managing director Giorgio Ribaudo. "Looking ahead to 2024, we expect a first half with still very modest volumes, and then a gradual acceleration with, at the end the year, a peak of transactions.

Massimiliano SartiMassimiliano Sarti
Journalist

Published in Editorial
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