A Little Bit Of Magic

Marie-Louise Sciò, CEO and Creative Director, has the rare talent of putting people at their ease.

An intuition that became a profession, and an art she expresses in the rendered perfection of the family group’s three hotels. The first masterpiece is Il Pellicano di Porto Ercole, long a favorite of the international jet-set, then, La Posta Vecchia, a charming residence once owned by billionaire Paul Getty in Palo Laziale, Ladispoli, not far from Rome, and then, the charismatic Mezzatorre on the islet of Ischia. Despite a period of unprecedented difficulties, the entrepreneur lets us in on her future plans with typical charm and optimism. «I am an incurable romantic and I like to think that we will come out of this stronger, and with an even greater thirst to enjoy life.» Not merely words, as next season Sciò has surprises to unveil. She defines her approach as «beyond the norm», where the authentic experience, attention to the local, and a lot of «little touches» for guests are placed front and centre, to create a refined, friendly atmosphere.

How has the concept of the luxury stay changed in the last year?

Everything we always took for granted - travel, socializing - is no longer so. We have learned the preciousness of time. In the future, perhaps we will travel less, but more greatly aware of the need to slow down and breathe in our surroundings more fully and deeply.

Last summer, Il Pellicano became one of the first hotels to announce its reopening. Was that a leap of faith?
We opened for everyone who works with us, and because we wanted to send a strong message to the world; "Italy is here". The response was incredible: so many Italian guests came, but there was also a beautiful sign of love and friendship from our European customers, who drove so as not to miss their summer at Il Pellicano.

How have the hotels been reorganised following the Covid-19 restrictions?
Firstly, we have tried to support the nearby area. At Il Pellicano each Friday we put on an evening to promote local producers, an initiative that was greatly appreciated and one we will do again this year. So too at the restaurant, where we served only Italian and Tuscan cuisine. We have also tried to somewhat "disguise" the distancing with plants and furnishings to create an ambience for our guests to relax comfortably.

Your philosophy has always been to transform hotel hospitality into an intimate, personal, almost "domestic" experience. Whats the secret?
We try to let each of our hotels speak for itself and express its personality. This is the real beauty of family hotels. We have great responsibility having people's time in our hands: I want to fill that time with special details, little touches that bring a smile and enrich our guests’ stay, whether it's a conversation, a plate of pasta, a song or a book.

For example?

I personally choose the music for each of our hotels, and during the winter I update and create new playlists: last year, for example, I wanted Italian music, especially the great classics like Mina and De Gregori. The same goes for books: many hotels buy them "by the meter", just to fill the bookshelves, but our guests can choose from real quality. I asked the author Leonardo Colombacci to curate a selection of 50 books everyone should read, and we also have a selection of the 100 best films created by director Saverio Costanzo. This year we have another surprise to reveal: telescopes in each room so that guests, should they wish to, can discover the stars encircling our Tyrrhenian Sea. It is these small details that allow us to appreciate the magic the nature which surrounds us.

In what way has your training as an architect influenced your managerial vision?
The school of architecture taught me to think, to question everything. So, when I entered the hotel world, I had a very free philosophical and intellectual approach, not based on fixed rules, but rather one that seeks diversity and uniqueness. At first, my ideas provoked quizzical looks: not only was I the daughter of the owner, but I came up with suggestions that seemed a bit crazy. Over time, however, a sort of "tribe" of people has coalesced around the Pelican who now also recognize themselves in the location, in its style and in its values.

Last year, during the first lockdown, the first ISSIMO project (issimoissimo.com) was inaugurated, an e-commerce and lifestyle platform that was called the "fourth hotel". How did that idea come into being?

It was another beyond-the-norm idea. A way of bringing our hotels into people's homes at a time when they couldn't travel. On Issimo there is all the best of what is ‘Italian’: the playlists, places to discover, fashion excellence, food, beauty. It appeals because everyone loves our country, each person has a little piece of Italy inside their hearts.

What is the first trip you have planned when we will be able to travel freely again?
First of all, I will go to open my hotels, which already seems a miracle to me. Then, I will continue to travel around Italy to discover its many wonders. Before, I would only spend one week a month in Italy because I was always traveling. Now I have rediscovered how much I like being here: there is no other country like ours.



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