The Bvlgari brand is synonymous with timeless elegance, craftsmanship and, of course, luxury.
Therefore, we expected nothing less when we found out the brand was planning on expanding its chain of upscale hotel and resorts into Italy, within the same town as its headquarters: Rome.
Bvlgari's Hotel Roma is set to open in 2022 with plans to be much more than just another luxury hotel property in one of Europe's most popular tourist destinations.
The hotel will boast over 114 rooms (many of which will be suites), will provide guests with direct access to some of Rome’s most iconic landmarks and will boast its own Reading Room containing a collection of precious volumes dedicated to the history of jewellery.
Bazaar chatted with Bvlgari Group Executive Vice President Silvio Ursini about the important connection between the brand and the city of Rome, and how the hotel plans on celebrating culture, talent and history within the luxurious property.
Harper's Bazaar Arabia (HBA): Why was it important to highlight the connection between the new Bvlgari Hotel Roma, Imperial Rome and Emperor Augustus?
Silvio Ursini (SU): Because of the relationship with the area of the city and The Mausoleum of Augustus (Imperatore Augusto), the experience guests will have when staying at the hotel really will be the quintessential Roman experience. When you are in the building and you look at the Mausoleum you just feel like you are in ancient Rome.
The mausoleum was obviously splendid during Roman times, covered with marble and gardens and statues, and having been severely disrupted, it went through a lot. It became a private house, then an arena for shows and games, and finally a theatre. No one was able to visit it for 50 years since they demolished the theatre in the 30’s and the monument has been closed. Now, the municipality has been working on restoring it and by the time we open the hotel the monument will finally be open for visitations.
As we have a special relationship with the city and with our sponsorships, we may be able to offer our guests special access to the monument, not just to the The Mausoleum of Augustus in the square. On the right side you have the Ara Pacis, a very important shrine the Romans would open when the wars were over (also known as the Arc of the Peace). It is now enclosed in a beautiful contemporary building by Richard Meyer that we sponsor.
The fact that Bvlgari Hotel Roma will be located in the only square in Rome where you have architecture from four different historical periods – the Roman period, the Renaissance, the 1930’s, and the contemporary with Richard Meyer – is very special.
HBA: Bvlgari Hotel Roma will also have a Reading Room which will be open to the guests and to the public by appointment only. Why was the decision made to include this library, so to speak, within the hotel?
SU: The idea started because the building next door to us is an arts high school (Liceo Artistico). It’s very nice as you see the kids with all of their painting supplies going to and from classes.
We thought it would be really nice to host our huge collection of books, along with books on stones and jewellery across the ages, which are also hosted in our HQ’s and used by our designers, for others to persue. Anybody will be able to go in and consult the books.
HBA: Bvlgari is also announcing the design of a special necklace – The Bvlgari Ospitalità Italiana Necklace – which is linked to Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts. Can you tell us more about this is piece?
SU: The hotels have always been referred to as gems, because they really stand out and are precious and rare. Whenever we refer to specific hotels we say they have a theme of a specific jewel in mind, like an emerald or sapphire. Now, there are ten different hotels and we had the idea to create a necklace. It’s more of a symbolic thing and will be displayed as a drawing within the property, as the stones are very difficult to source.
It symbolizes that while we are a hotel chain, we’re creating a special collection of resorts around the world. If a guest wants the necklace, it would need to be made to order.
HBA: In 2019, Bvlgari adopted a Plastic Free Policy and is working to roll it out worldwide across all its hotels and resorts. Have you faced any challenges with having to adhere to the new policy thus far, when sourcing materials or supplies for the new Hotel Roma?
The commitment to be totally plastic free has been studied for over two years now and it’s very challenging. On the one hand, you have to combine the safety and functionality of the items with their environmental impact. I think by the end of the year we will be plastic free in all of our hotels.
But it’s fascinating, you know? If you challenge conventional wisdom, you realize things like slippers are made of plastic and are unrecyclable. If you challenge that you then find that you can provide an equally comfortable product at the same cost, made of cork and cotton which are totally organic and perfectly recyclable.
HBA: We’re in the middle of some extraordinary circumstances that we haven’t experienced in recent history. Has COVID-19 impacted the opening of the hotel in any way?
SU: Not for Rome, because development hasn’t started yet. It will start next week.
In terms of which hotel has been affected the most, it’s Paris. It was supposed to open this fall and this has been rescheduled for a later late, but I’m happy to say that the works have resumed on the Paris site, in compliance with all the rules and regulations.
HBA: Do you have any concerns about the travel market post COVID-19?
SU: On the one hand we have a lot of concerns, but on the other hand our hotels are performing extraordinary well – much better than we expected. This is due to our amazing locations, well-performing team and our brand.
Following the lockdowns people are really yearning for these extraordinary experiences and so we’re offering staycation packages. Milan just reopened a few weeks ago and all the guests came back. Our company is 150 years old and has survived strongly through many situations, far worse.