Rome-Based Wirth Twins Transition to Leadership of Father's Italian Hotels

What happens when the leader of a multi-generational hotel business is suddenly gone?

One of the most gracious and respected hoteliers in Italy and worldwide, Roberto Wirth’s loss in spring 2022 was a shock that reverberated around the industry. With a group of properties that includes the renowned Hassler in Rome, the big question was “what now?”

Immediately, Roberto‘s twin children, Roberto Jr. and Verushka, had to separate their personal grief from their professional responsibilities and take the helm of the Swiss family’s business. Verushka, who had been running the Parco del Principe in Florence since 2019, has become the CEO and Roberto Jr., who has been working at the Hassler Roma since 2017, has taken on the position of executive chairman.

The family business began in the 1870s in Switzerland. By 1890, Heinrich Wirth was in Rome managing the Hotel Minerva. His son, Oscar, joined the Hassler Roma in 1921, partnered with Swiss hotelier Hassler, and eventually became full owner of the property. His son, Roberto, spent his life building on the success of his forebears and now Roberto’s children have taken over.

Both twins studied at the Glion Institute of Higher Education in Switzerland. Roberto Jr. then began working in high-end properties in London, Washington, D.C. and Prague. Verushka worked at a prestigious hotel in Boston before obtaining a Masters degree in brand development in London. Both have been groomed to take over the family business, but no one expected it would happen when they were only 30 years old.

The group includes the Hassler and Il Palazzetto in Rome, the Parco del Principe in Florence, the Hotel Vannucci in Umbria, and the Borgo Bastia Creti on the Umbria-Tuscany border.

Luxury Travel Advisor talked to these young and dynamic new leaders, who immediately began the transition to assume leadership for their hundreds of longtime employees. Now they are implementing innovative marketing strategies for the properties, while respecting the high standards and traditions developed over generations. We asked them how it felt to suddenly be thrust into the positions of responsibility for such a huge enterprise at such a young age. The two mentioned words like overwhelmed, responsibility, excited and challenged. Verushka noted, “because we’re young, it’s nice to be working together. We have big shoes to fill, but we must prove we can do it.”

Both agreed that the lessons their father taught them would not be forgotten:

  • Have a sense of responsibility,
  • Pay attention to even the smallest details, and
  • Stay relevant.

According to Verushka, Roberto Sr. also taught them to recognize that everyone is really good at something and it is up to them to help find that potential in their employees. The key is picking people who are willing to discover their best talents and be shaped by opportunity.

Roberto and Verushka have developed a strategic plan that builds on the trend for sustainable hospitality, including named a Green Sustainability Ambassador who will help them target young travelers who are concerned about climate change. In keeping with tradition, the Hassler has continued its annual holidays concerts, while adding a new chalet-style ambiance in the Winter Garden, which will be open year round.

Important to their mission is to get to know as many travel advisors as possible because they consider advisors essential to their business. In the beginning, the two will travel together to all major industry events, with the intention to split up to cover more territory after getting to know everyone. They hope that by being twins, they will be more memorable as they navigate the industry.

As of late 2022, the U.S. market makes up 60 to 70 percent of the visitors to the Wirth family properties in Rome, Florence, Umbria and Tuscany. Roberto and Verushka plan to expand the Asian, Middle Eastern and South American markets going forward.

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