Owning a hotel in Italy sounds like the perfect way to combine business and pleasure. Even in a credit crunch people still go on holiday and when on holiday they still need somewhere to stay. It is a business which has a number of markets – business travellers, conference attendees and wedding guests, overseas tourists and the Italian holiday makers too - although remember that Italians tend to take their holidays at the same time of year, with August being the peak.
Types of Italian Hotel
As you would expect, hotels is Italy are from one to five stars, as well as unstarred accommodation and budget hotels.
When it comes to luxury and five star – cinque stelle – accommodation, then no-one does it quite like the Italians. Their luxury hotels have the finest service as Italians pride themselves on exemplary, first-rate customer care. The training is taken very seriously and children at the age of 14 can choose to go to an istituto professionale which gives specialised training in the catering industry for a period of three years.
Of course Italy has the established hotel chains like the Marriott and Holiday Inn, which offer international travellers a reassuringly predictable style and standard. But even among the famous chain names, there are unique and breathtaking luxury hotels with settings and accommodation simply not found anywhere else. One such hotel is the Villa San Michele, Fiesole, Florence, an Orient Express hotel of jaw dropping opulence with a spectacular setting. Another Orient Express luxury hotel so beautiful it hurts is the Hotel Splendido in Portofino overlooking the famous bay.
With vision it is possible to create a boutique hotel with all the luxury and style of the San Michele or the Splendido. One such example is the newly created Sextantio Albergo Diffuso Sassi di Matera, Basilicata. The city of Matera is a UNESCO world heritage site and is famous for its sassi - cave dwellings. The new boutique hotel, already among the 100 most beautiful hotels in the world, is in the heart of the caves and shows just what can be done with some imagination and a pretty big budget! The creator of the new Albergo is 42-year-old hotelier extraordinaire Daniele Kihlgren, who is known for his unusual restoration projects. His last was in Abruzzo where he turned the medieval mountain hamlet of San Stefano di Sessiano into a 40-room albergo rustico. (Rustic hotel).
A variation on these is the hotel de charme or a relais, sometimes badly translated as ‘charming hotel’, although that is what they mean!
In Italy, as well as the standard alberghi – hotels – often family run. Accommodation may also be described as a locanda, residence, pensione or an ostello. Che problema!
A locanda is basically an inn and, although standards can vary, as a general rule it is likely to be less expensive and you may even have to share a bathroom. Worth asking first!
A residence is usually serviced rooms, often for long term residents. Meals may be provided, they may not.
A pensione is often synonymous with a hotel, but perhaps veering more towards the lower or no star variety.
An ostello is the most basic – a hostel usually with dormitory style accommodation, ideal for the student or budget traveller.
Can I Buy One?
Now that we have the terminology sorted out, you will at least know what you are looking for when you see the advertisements for hotels for sale. Yes, that’s the good news – there are lots of hotels for sale in locations all over Italy.
It makes sense to think seriously about the location as although a hotel off the beaten track may sound attractive and be offered for an apparently good price, that could be because your ‘bread and butter’ tourists don’t know where it is, or don’t visit the area often.
Equally an attractive hotel located in a seemingly busy and bustling tourist hot spot on the beach (for example in Puglia, the heel of Italy’s boot) could be deserted in the winter months. Maybe that is not a consideration and you will have other income at those quiet times of year, but if you are going to rely on tourist trade then choose somewhere that is popular all year round, such as Venice, Florence or Rome.