From London to Rome, the hotels and resorts from legendary British brand, Rocco Forte Hotels, promise a unique sense of style and genuine appreciation of their (stunning) surroundings, combining the highest level of luxury with authentic local experiences and features.
We're a huge fan of their hotels here at Elegant Resorts, so it's fair to say that when we heard that they were set to open a brand-new bolthole in the charming city of Palermo, we were pretty excited. On track to open in June 2021, here's what you can expect from the newest luxury Sicily hotel...
1. A Beautiful Historic Building
Overlooking the bright blue hues of the port of Palermo, Villa Igiea is a fabulous turn-of-the-century palazzo that flaunts a fascinating history. Back in the 1900s, award-winning Palmerian architect and pioneer of the Sicilian Liberty movement, Ernesto Basile, had the task of transforming the palazzo into an utterly exceptional luxury hotel, introducing its turreted villa, tranquil tiered gardens and seafront walkways that you can still enjoy today.
Coinciding with the last days of the Belle Epoque, the opening season of Villa Igiea saw journalists, entrepreneurs, sportsmen and artists grace its grand suites and salons, and following a brief closure over the world wars, the hotel soon resumed its status as a hangout for Hollywood directors, film stars and royalty. Fast forward to today, Villa Igiea is beginning a brand new (yet equally elegant) era with Rocco Forte Hotels, promising a Sicilian oasis that is both classic and contemporary.
2. Inspiring Interiors
The glorious Grade I-listed landmark building has been carefully restored to maintain its unique heritage features, whilst being reimagined to offer the highest level of luxury and the brand's unmistakeable style. Expect to be transported back to the Belle Epoque as you stroll through the gorgeous gardens, into Villa Igiea's renowned Basile salon, frescoed bar and grand mirrored ballroom. Throughout luxurious rooms and sumptuous suites, unique interiors combine a palatial Art Nouveau style with the distinctive Rocco Forte flair that we know and love.
Legendary interior designer Olga Polizzi (who just so happens to be Sir Rocco Forte's sister) oversaw the hotel's dreamy décor, working in collaboration with award-winning Paolo Moschino of Nicholas Haslam Studios. Think one-of-a-kind antiques, classic parquet, exquisite Carrara marble and handmade Sicilian floor tiles, as well as serene shades of blue and cream that echo the island's inspiring landscapes. Of course, the finest modern amenities are also abundant in each room - including smart TVs with interactive entertainment, USB chargers, luxury Irene Forte toiletries and much more.
3. Sicilian Spa Treatments
Perfect for a pamper after pottering around Palermo's piazzas or exploring the coast by yacht, the tranquil Villa Igiea Spa blends a stunning Sicilian design with multi-sensory healing techniques, offering an inspiring menu of treatments using products from Irene Forte, world-renowned beauty entrepreneur and Sir Rocco Forte's daughter. These seriously special skincare remedies combine cutting-edge science with ingredients sourced from Sicily - including olive oil, nuts, herbs and mineral water from the mountains. As well as rejuvenating treatments for the body, Villa Igiea Spa aims to address all aspects of wellness, following four pillars...
NOURISH - An expert approach to nutrition combines modern thinking, science and seasonal, locally sourced ingredients, offering tailored Nourish menus in the hotel's restaurants and room service offering.
FITNESS - The first-class fitness centre features innovative Technogym equipment, one-to-one training and alfresco fitness tours, as well as expertly crafted in-room exercise videos should you require them.
MIND - Aiming to provide mental restoration and relaxation, the hotel offers sleep kits, meditation, mindfulness workshops and a naturally calming design.
COMMUNITY/SUSTAINABILITY - There's an aim to deepen guests' connection with their world through group retreats, talks, workshops, local charitable projects, and sustainable, ecologically aware practices.
4. Locally Sourced Gastronomy
The cuisine here is all about celebrating Sicilian produce (you might be recognising a theme here), offering menus created by highly decorated and somewhat enigmatic Italian Chef Fulvio Pierangelini. Simple yet sensational, the dishes centre around seasonal, regional ingredients - whether fresh fish caught from the Tyrrhenian Sea, meat sourced from local farms or classic Italian pasta made with organic herbs from the island. Whether it's a laid-back breakfast, a leisurely al fresco lunch or an elegant evening banquet paired with sommelier-selected wines sourced from Sicilian estates, get set for a taste sensation that honours the island's natural bounty.
5. A Chance to Explore Palermo (and Beyond)
While the inspiring interiors, sea-view swimming pool, Sicilian spa and glorious gastronomy will make it difficult to want to leave Villa Igiea, the local area promises plenty to explore too. If you're after alfresco adventures, experiences on offer from the hotel include cycling tours through nearby forests, zipping through the city streets in a classic Cinquecento, and even soaring above Sicily by helicopter. Culture-seekers can choose from various tours that showcase the history and architecture of the island - from the palazzos of Palermo's Old Quarter to beautiful Belle Epoque Villas - while foodies will delight in the eye-opening epicurean excursions. Perhaps you fancy sourcing ingredients from a local market alongside a Sicilian Chef, before an in-depth cookery class in a charming trattoria, or maybe you'd prefer a tasting of traditional Marsala wine at an historic wine cellar?