Today, Guido Fiorentino, president and CEO of the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, stopped by Luxury Travel Advisor’s New York offices to bring us up to speed on the historic Sorrento hotel…and we mean really historic: Next year, the hotel will celebrate its 180th anniversary.
Even more impressive: In all those years, the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria has remained in the Fiorentino family. Guido is, in fact, the fifth Fiorentino to own the hotel, and grew up on-site: Long-time guests have shown him photos of himself as a baby that they snapped in decades past.
For the anniversary, the hotel will be getting a major new suite next year: One floor above the historic Caruso suite (where the legendary singer stayed for several months in 1921), a special new room will open in honor of regular guest Lucio Dalla (who wrote the song “Caruso” while staying in the downstairs suite in 1986).
It is, Fiorentino noted, a challenge to maintain a sense of history that covers 180 years while also remaining up-to-date. Some of the furniture in guest rooms is nearly 100 years old, for example, but can be used by guests every day.
But even a historic hotel has to keep up with the times, and this is where the Excelsior Vittoria has managed to find an impressive balance: In the gardens, children can play basketball or soccer or just climb and swing on the playground. Cooking classes are fairly ubiquitous for a luxury hotel these days, but even younger guests can get in on the action with pizza-making classes. Families can go snorkeling in the nearby marine park, or even spend a week making a traditional Sorrento wooden box (building it properly requires six days, so a longer stay is necessary).
Foodies also have plenty to appreciate: Luigi Tramontano, who already has a Michelin star, recently came on board as the hotel’s executive chef at the Terrazza Bosquet Restaurant, which (we hear) may soon get a Michelin star of its own. The hotel makes its own olive oil from its own olive groves, and orange marmalade from its own orange trees. (Like the oranges themselves, the marmalade is seasonal, so gusts at the hotel should be sure to grab some while they can.)
While winter in Sorrento is generally mild and pleasant (the pools might close, but the charming outdoor markets remain open) and many guests regularly visit even during the off-season, the hotel is expected to close for two months this coming January. The closure will allow the hotel team to perform some upgrades and maintenance, including working on the new Dalla Suite. Renovations, Fiorentino added, are difficult to organize, as the hotel sits on the site of an ancient Roman villa that cannot be disturbed. While it may be frustrating to the hotel team, we say visitors will appreciate being able to experience thousands of years of Italian history without ever leaving the hotel grounds.