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FORTE-TUDE Legendary hotelier Sir Rocco Forte is expanding in the Middle East and aims to become the go-to name for luxury hotels in Italy BY TAHIRA YAQOOB

When you get to my age, you have done most things so business is the most exciting thing. You are creating something that is your heritage,” says Sir Rocco Forte. At the age of 71, the legendary British hotelier is showing no signs of slowing down and, with an expansion of his eponymous hotel empire underway, including his first site in Saudi Arabia, he is a long way from retiring. He is looking dapper in a sandcoloured suit and gold tie, which seem to be a nod to the desertand-glitz anomaly that is Dubai, works out with a personal trainer five times a week and cycles and runs regularly. He only gave up competing in triathlons five years ago. But if he has a lot of running to do, it is to keep up with often precarious and tricky negotiations in many of the regions he hopes to branch into, the changes technology and new development have brought to his industry and, most importantly, to keep pace with his two young daughters, who have already joined the family business and will no doubt one day run his empire. Lydia Forte, 28, oversees the catering side of the hotel portfolio while her sister Irene, 26, looks after the

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Forte brand. They have already brought in new innovations inspired by their own lifestyles, such as improved spas, a Rocco Forte Nourish healthy menu and low-fat minibar snacks. Their recently graduated brother Charles, 23, is expected to join the fold within 18 months. “It is the most exciting thing because they are an extension of yourself and have all the enthusiasm of youth, which adds a sort of zest to the company,” says Sir Rocco. “Healthy living is an important factor and my children are very into that. I am not on all this social media stuff but they already have hundreds and thousands of followers. “People are fed up of talking to me but they can talk to my daughters in a different way about other interests and on different types of media. From that point of view it is great.” While his daughters bring a youthful vibrancy to the Rocco Forte Hotels group, the company founder is avowedly old school. He grumbles when he cannot operate the iPad-controlled room settings in his suite in Dubai’s Armani Hotel—“I have an iPad but I never use it”—and prefers the old way of doing things,

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