TLE Chat To Francesca Bortolotto Possati

Francesca Bortolotto Possati is Chairman and CEO of the Bauer l’Hotel and Bauer Il Palazzo and since taking on the family business she expanded the BAUER name, adding the Palladio Hotel & Spa (Resort Escape), the Casa Nova (Small Residence) and the Exclusive Villa F.

In addition to the BAUERs, Ms. Bortolotto Possati also finds time to oversee her family’s wine estate COLMELLO, in Collio, as well as Centro Zootecnico VILLA LUISA, the largest dairy farm of northeast Italy, located in the region of Friuli where she has embarked on a new green project for energy production by using geomass.

Ms. Bortolotto Possati kindly took some time from her busy schedule to talk to us about her fascinating career and her predictions for the luxury travel market.

Your grandfather bought the Bauer Hotel in 1930 and this became your second home. Did you have a desire to be involved in the hospitality sector from a young age? If yes why and if not what prompted you to take the steps into this exciting career you have carved out for yourself.

My grandfather’s main business was as a ship-owner and my desire as a child was to follow in his footsteps in this field. Investing in hotel real-estate was motivated by the desire to preserve and acquire beautiful landmark estates and interpret hospitality as an embassy of Venetian artistic and stylish life. The steps in restyling the BAUER Hotel was a decision dictated by coincidental circumstances which, encouraged me to continue the role of an ambassador of this amazing and beloved city, through the hotel.

BP - Il Palazzo façade 1

When you took control of the Bauer hotel you embarked upon an extensive $150 million
renovation project. What did this entail and what were the biggest challenges?

In today’s society, as far as the BAUER properties are concerned, human resources are probably the biggest challenge; both in the upbringing and maintenance of qualified personnel who will grow into the company, becoming a fundamental brick for constructing the future.

It can take quite some time finding a professional team that knows how to work together, be respectful of everyone’s efforts, dedication and focused on reaching targets and meeting deadlines. It is important to insist on the highest level of quality and to keep motivation high. This is probably a problem with deeper roots in the country’s system of hierarchy and approach towards the training of newer generations and a sort of gap that has developed in between.

Challenges are based on everyone’s efforts to meet goals and to achieve the most out of one’s commitments. In my particular case, I had an incredible asset, the BAUER Hotel. It was a “sleeping beauty” for many years, family assured, and very valuable to the history of Venice. It needed to be brought back to life. I was thrilled to take on this challenge. I became involved at the right time, with the necessary energy, motivation, and will. The family assets were passed to me from my grandfather.

There had been nearly a 20-year gap when the hotel went without guidance or leadership. My mother never got involved in business and therefore the company was rather inert for a long time. In those days, a company could survive longer than it can today. Venice has been known throughout the centuries for its magnificent hotels and its superiority in the art of hospitality.

Read our review of the Bauer de Pisis Restaurant

The property must have some sentimental value to you – were there any aspects of the renovation (physical or psychological) that you wanted to keep and why?

My main concern was to preserve the identity and heritage which was drawn to me by history, my grandfather’s vision and in great respect of the city of Venice and its artistic value.

Since taking ownership of the Bauer Hotel you have expanded the number of properties within the portfolio. What do you look for when selecting properties and how do you maintain the ethos of the brand across all properties?

Property arrived to me by coincidence and by chance. I picked up the opportunity for preservation and restoration of derelict buildings, which have a strong historical value that could be brought to be known and experienced by a larger number of people.

Bauer Palladio Facade 02

You have been described as a visionary. What are the characteristics that make you this way?

Visionary is a gift but it has to be nourished by knowledge and awareness of who we are, where we come from and a strong belief in improving and romancing life with a clear vision of reality.

Your work has taken you on projects around the world, where is your favourite place to be and why?

There is no actual favourite place but many; every time I travel to a new country I become extremely seduced and attracted to know more and become involved.

Bauer Il Palazzo Front

Is there anywhere you haven’t yet visited that you have a burning desire to? Where and why?

In my mind, New Zealand is the ultimate eden country that can still make you dream of changing things.

What does luxury mean to you and how do you think a successful luxury brand substantiates its proposition?

Luxury is a combination of freedom and love which, without losing a pragmatic brand outlook, should still deliver passion.

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What are your predictions for how the luxury hospitality sector will evolve over the next few years?

Hospitality has undertaken huge change in the last several years, in concept and meaning. With global travellers growing numbers and shorter stays, the standard will inevitably grow via technology and service will not be as an important element. The human capital in hospitality will become a mere industrial system.

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