With its roots stretching back over two decades, Rocco Forte Hotels today has 11 individual hotels and resorts within the group and big plans for expansion
Established by the group’s namesake Sir Rocco Forte and his sister, Olga Polizzi, the organisation is led by a family that has been in hospitality for four generations, or as stated on its website ‘You might say it’s in our blood’.
One of the areas that sets Rocco Forte Hotels apart from the competition is its dedication to exceptional locations and magnificent buildings, both old and new. Furthermore, each landmark hotel stands alone as an ‘individual’ – much as the Fortes describe themselves as ‘a family of individuals’ – and while the hotels are united in their superlative quality and service, their interiors, style and personality are all their own.
The cities that are fortunate enough to host a Rocco Forte hotel include some of the most beautiful art and architecture in the world, such as Rome, Florence, London, Munich and St Petersburg. Keen to expand its footprint, the organisation continuously monitors the market for the next potential location and March 2017 witnessed the opening of the first Rocco Forte hotel in Saudi Arabia, Assila Hotel in Jeddah, which is due to be followed by a Shanghai site opening in 2018 (this will constitute the group’s first move into the Asia Pacific market.)
Assila Hotel’s design concept was created by Olga Polizzi and the prolific designer Martin Brudnizki, and it combines contemporary and classical elements to mix the aesthetic of a traditional Middle Eastern interior with the elegance of European design. Such was the significance of this newest addition to the Group that the grand opening was celebrated in the presence of HRH Prince Sultan bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, President of the Saudi Arabian Commission for Tourism and National Heritage, and HRH Prince Mishaal bin Majed bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Jeddah. Hosting the event, Sheikh Mohammed Alissa performed the ribbon cutting ceremony in the presence of the two princes, as well as a great many esteemed and distinguished guests from across the kingdom.
Such is the attention to detail and planning that has gone into its creation, Assila Hotel looks destined to be one of the jewels in the Rocco Forte Hotels crown. Located in the heart of the city of Jeddah, it consists of two separate towers, the north tower with 20 floors and the south tower with 13 floors, and these house 304 rooms and suites in 12 categories, from the sea and full city view Royal Suite, offering 597 square metres and with private elevators, to deluxe room categories satisfying all needs of local guests, international business travellers, leisure guests and families.
Designed as the first Art Hotel in Saudi Arabia, Assila displays around 2000 exclusive art pieces and 860 books, showing and reflecting Saudi culture from Heritage to Future and the progress in between while representing a gallery of contemporary art. It also includes a spa, rooftop pool, squash courts, meeting rooms, and a magnificent ballroom.
When it comes to the food and beverage offering at the Assila, another member of the talented Forte family comes to the fore – Lydia Forte, the daughter of Sir Rocco Forte, is Restaurant and Bar Development Manager of Rocco Forte Hotels. At Assila Hotel guests can enjoy a varied choice of restaurants and other food and beverage outlets each with a unique concept, ranging from traditional Arabic mezze, to fine dining experiences with culinary delights represented from around the world.
One of the restaurants is Pampas, which offers authentic Argentinean food and features an open kitchen so that guests can enjoy the spectacle of chefs grilling meat and seafood. The menu at Pampas offers a large range of Argentinean signature beef cuts and a superb seafood selection that includes whole Canadian lobster a la parrilla, king prawns, and grilled hammour and najil from the Red Sea.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Sir Rocco Forte welcomed the new addition to the group: “This hotel is the result of an excellent co-operation between the Alissa family and Rocco Forte Hotels,” he said. “When they came to me eight years ago their vision was to create a hotel that differentiates itself from the other luxury hotels in this part of the world with its elegance and European flavour. This is a hotel that sits well with the image of our group, and I think we have succeeded in creating a very special hotel. I sincerely hope it will be the first of many hotels in Saudi Arabia and the GCC.”
While Jeddah celebrates the opening of an amazing new venue, Rocco Forte’s well-established London location, the illustrious Brown’s Hotel, is also highlighting the innovation that runs through the entire operation. The hotel is commissioning a panel of Expertsin- Residence to ensure guests enjoy exclusive access to a series of bespoke London experiences, and one of Britain’s best known food writers, critics and broadcasters, Tom Parker Bowles, has been announced as one of the first to join this celebrated team.
Tom’s experience means he is well equipped to personally curate guests’ gastronomic experience, choosing from the abundance of outstanding restaurants which contribute to London being one of the greatest eating cities on earth.
Tom will liaise with guests in advance to gauge their preferences, choosing the perfect restaurants, creating an exclusive private dining experience or even taking guests on an escorted tour. From a private dinner cooked by one of the capital’s greatest chefs, to a total immersion in London’s famous street food scene, guests will be able to get to the true heart of the London food world.
While the Assila may represent the modern global side of Rocco Forte hotels, and Brown’s the stately, quintessentially British and distinguished queen of the group, what unites these amazing hotels is a dedication to quality and the ability to predict the requirements of today’s contemporary guests. And as the Group celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2017, it also announced plans to double the size of the company in the next five years, taking the number of hotels, currently standing at 11, into the 20’s. With the Assila already open and the Shanghai location well underway, Sir Rocco Forte is looking to take his European hospitality proposition to an even wider global audience. Focus will remain in Europe with further properties in Italy (a second location has already been announced for Rome, opening in 2018), as well as branching further afield to the USA, Middle East and Asia.
What is certain is that all visitors to a Rocco Forte hotel are guaranteed first class facilities, award-winning dining and outstanding service – everything they need for a memorable stay.