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Pursuitist Profile: Guido Polito, Baglioni Hotels’ Second-Generation Visionary

Pursuitist Profile: Guido Polito, Baglioni Hotels’ Second-Generation Visionary

Pursuitist - 5-Star Luxury
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With a reputation founded on old world virtues of impeccable service, discretion, and attention to detail, the family-owned Baglioni Hotels is renowned for its quintessential Italian hospitality, architectural elegance and understated luxury. Owning and operating boutique 5-star hotels in some of the most prestigious locations in Europe and with a selection of hotels as members of The Leading Hotels of the World and part of the Relais & Chateaux portfolio in France, Baglioni Hotels is a leading light in the prestige boutique hotel industry.

The Baglioni Hotels Group was created in 1974 by Roberto Polito, who purchased his first establishment in Tuscany, working with his wife Lisa to develop a unique concept of hospitality in terms of life experience: a journey into Italian style through its culture and traditions. Today, the Baglioni Hotels collection counts nine luxury hotels, mostly housed in period buildings and in the historic centers of the major cities of art: Milan, Venice, Rome, Florence and Tuscany; Saint-Paul de Vence, and Aix-en-Provence, France; and most recently, London, and an ambitious Marrakech property to open later this year.

Today, the group is managed by the family’s younger generation. Continuing a distinguished family legacy, brothers Guido Polito and Luca Magni are restless in their pursuit of excellence as they evolve the company into a more design-conscious entity. As the successor to his father, Guido is spearheading  a contemporary evolution with bold international growth, first by creating the Baglioni Hotel London, and next the 34-acre Baglioni Marrakech,  comprised of an 80 room boutique hotel, a spa and fitness club operated by Six Senses Spa, and an exclusive selection of residential plots for private homes.


Regina Hotel Baglioni, Rome
Regina Hotel Baglioni, Rome

How would you describe the essence of the Baglioni experience?

GUIDO POLITO: “Baglioni Hotels are truly ‘Made in Italy.’ It is the only independent luxury Italian hospitality brand with properties in Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan, Tuscany and France and London, and soon, Marrakech.  We have a privilege like no other. We represent the Italian and have the privilege of bringing the Italian culture to our guests and being a source of everlasting memories and traditions. It is our pleasure to share our hospitality, connecting our guests to all things Italian – from fashion to design to cuisine – in some of the most beautiful locations.  Not only are the components of the Baglioni hotel collection distinctly Italian, but so are the people who make up the experience.”

Where is your favorite place to travel?

“I love this question because it gives me a chance to talk about a place that’s dear to my heart in so many ways. Located along one of the most beautiful beaches in Tuscany, equidistant to Florence and Rome, is Punta Ala.  It’s a vacation favorite for Italians but one of the few undiscovered coastal regions in Italy by the American traveler. That’s where my father founded Baglioni Hotels with Cala del Porto, our first property.  Cala del Porto looks over the marina on one side and is backed by rolling hills on the other. It’s where I was born and where Baglioni was born.

Baglioni's Punta Ala La Vela
Baglioni’s Punta Ala La Vela

Forty years later, you’re bringing the Baglioni brand into a new era.  Does that include any significant changes to the original Cala del Porto property?

“This year, I’m delighted to announce the official spring opening of our refashioned La Vela beach club, adjacent to Cala del Porto. The beach there is great for families (a tradition of my own), friends and couples, and is my favorite place to escape. Also, Cala del Porto guests have a new opportunity to experience a private wine tasting in the nearby wine country, as well as an exclusive blending session at Rocca di Frassinello together with winemaker Alessandro Cellai. Guests not only blend their own wine but it can then also be barreled, housed and personally labeled.”

What do you consider the highlights of 2014 improvements to your other existing European properties?

“Last spring, Luna Hotel Baglioni in Venice debuted a stunning new suite, the San Giorgio Terrace Suite, which has an extensive outdoor patio overlooking the San Giorgio Island and canal.  This is a continuation of the vision and style of the new Roman Penthouse which was introduced last summer, and part of the new Baglioni Signature Suites collection.  Baglioni Hotel London also launched a new private Supper Club and Piano Bar called Clubino, a members only club, where our hotel guests are also offered exclusive access.  It is a perfect accompaniment for an Italian Aperitivo following dinner at Brunello restaurant. And at the Carlton in Milan, our new Caffe Baglioni was launched, which includes a carefully curated art exhibition with hand-made artworks from contemporary Italian masters and young emerging artists, such as Ettore Sottsass, Enzo Mari, Gae Aulenti and Valentina Carretta. This is part of a continuation of art exhibits that will rotate in Milan, Rome and Venice.”

What services have you developed to satisfy and exceed the evolving expectations of demanding luxury guests?

“Recent research shows that the luxury traveler is seeking access to unique, authentic and one-of-a-kind experiences. This year, we’ve amplified our efforts to provide this and have built an incredible partnership with Dream & Charme to curate truly exceptional moments for our guests — opportunities to discover the best of Italy’s culture, design, fashion, food and wine in each of the cities of our hotel properties. It’s a new expansion of our Baglioni Tour.  For example, Luna Hotel Baglioni guests have access to some of the best culture in Venice with a private tour of the Doge’s Palace including rare access to the Piombi attic prison and the Bridge of Sighs, followed by dinner in the home of a renowned Italian aristocratic family along the Grand Canal. In Rome, we bring to life the best of Roman cuisine and prestige with a private dinner in the home of a local noble figure, cooked by a famous Italian Michelin starred chef with wines selected by a renowned Italian sommelier. And at the Carlton Hotel, we are designing a private tour of one of the most notable design showrooms in Milan.”

When money is no object, what does Baglioni Hotels offer guests?

“What better way to connect to all of these great cities and experiences than by private jet or helicopter?  That’s why we are introducing our Italian Jetaway, offering private flights to Italy’s iconic cities in a four-passenger Cessna Citation. Guests will enjoy unique experiences and luxurious stays in each destination’s most elegant suites, including the three-bedroom Roman Penthouse Suite at Regina Hotel Baglioni in Rome, and the newly refashioned two-bedroom San Giorgio Terrace Suite at Luna Hotel Baglioni, Venice, and one of the largest and most prestigious suites that Florence has to offer, the Santa Croce Royal Suite at Baglioni Hotels’ Relais Santa Croce.”

San Giorgio Terrace Suite at Luna Hotel Baglioni, Venice
San Giorgio Terrace Suite at Luna Hotel Baglioni, Venice

Great food, especially in Italy, is a crucial component to guest contentment.  How are Baglioni hotels enhancing their restaurant menus? 

“We want to redefine the Italian breakfast for our hotel guests, so are currently working on a new project with the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo and the Italian non-profit organization, Slow Food. Together, we are committed to introducing sustainable produce and locally sourced ingredients from neighboring regions and to support the Slow Food mission of providing good, clean food. ‘The Redefinition of the Italian Breakfast’ will be launched at the Carlton Hotel Baglioni in Milan in time for the Milan EXPO 2015, whose theme is ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life.’  We’ve partnered with a farm located on an Island off of Venice to source local fruits and vegetables, and guests will be able to visit the farm should they wish for a more in-depth, hands-on experience. We will also be resurrecting 50 years of recipes from some of the best continental hotels, and we will introduce unique ways of using natural sugars and ingredients for healthy dishes that don’t sacrifice taste.”

What do you believe most travelers are in search of when they travel?  What are they in pursuit of?

“When we travel, we often find ourselves in search of something, something that’s richer, deeper and more articulated than a mere transfer from one location to another.  We seek new experiences, emotions, and stories which tend to remain within us, becoming the fabric of our memories with our family, friends and colleagues.”

When you travel for pleasure, what do you personally pursue?

“A great American writer, John Steinbeck once wrote, ‘People don’t take trips. Trips take people.’  This resonates with me in a deep way. Most of my fondest memories are related to my journeys — their smell, taste, sounds and colors all have moved my senses and imagination, settling in my heart and mind, forever. This has been the inspiration behind my vision for Baglioni Hotels today.”

Caffe Baglioni Milan
Caffe Baglioni Milan