As St. Francis of Assisi once said, "All saints can do miracles, but few of them can keep a hotel" (from the notebooks of Mark Twain). If we be-lieve Saint Francis and the American satirist, and each of them knew the truth about miracles and hotels, then Sir Rocco Forte, the creator of the Rocco Forte Hotel network, has managed a great deal. With elegance and professionalism, he transforms decent hotels into ideal spaces that beckon you to come in and discover happiness for yourself.

If your House is a place you feel good in, then it'll be your fortress in any of life's circumstances. It's the place you want to return to. But peo-ple are eager to move around. There is a traveller inside of each of us. The house remains, awaiting our return. But there's also the road ahead, and it should include a temporary home space, somewhere we can feel calm and comfortable. I strive to make a space like that in my hotels. It should be a place you want to return to again and again.

The philosophy behind Rocco Forte Hotels is also that they should reflect their country of location. That's why the different branches don't resemble one other. They should be warm and hospitable. The hotel staff should be professional, but behave in a friendly manner at the same time. I don't appreciate when hotels have a highly efficient staff that still remain very distant and aloof. When our staff win over our clients, I know our clients feel truly at home with us.
Each hotel, like a home, is filled with energy and the philosophy of the people behind the space's atmosphere. My sister's involved in the decoration of the hotel, finding artifacts, local items, and so on that end up creating a warm and comfortable environment. On the other hand, my hotel's service philosophy comes from me: it's what I'm always talking about and something that I promote. I believe a hotel should have a soul, the warmth and har-mony that makes a Hotel into a Home, temporary though it is. Sometimes, you'll go into a hotel, and it seems dead, and cold, and you feel you're not wanted there. The soul isn't quite explicable. It's in the atmosphere. You can go to a dinner party, and everything is working just fine, or you can go to a dinner party, and everyone hates each other. Obviously, staff is a very important part of creating this atmosphere: employees must be open to the client. And guests, of course, are another important part of it.

Many years ago, the Plaza Athenee in Paris was part of the Trust Us Forte group, and then the first oil price increase occurred. As a result, a lot of guests from the Middle East came to Paris and stayed at the hotel. All of these guests had bodyguards dressed in white Arab robes. The guests would sit in the Plaza Athenee gallery, and there would be a lot of them in there, taking tea, until it got to the point where it looked like an Arab souk, in the gallery, in the centre of Paris, among the other European guests. It created an incongruous atmosphere with the rest of the hotel. Our philosophy is to create hotels that are a reflection of their location. In this instance, the general manager, very courageously, requested that, while sitting in the gallery, the guests wear western coats. Something like that can completely change the atmosphere of the hotel, and it's important to respect the atmosphere of the hotel and the country it's in. I love my work, and so every guest counts.

My fascination with the creation of hotels began in childhood. I remember when I was 13, my parents and I went to Cortina, a ski resort near Venice, to ski. My father knew Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Harry's Bar, who had just organised the construction of the Cipriani Hotel in Venice. The hotel hadn't opened yet, and he opened a wing of the hotel just for my father and us, the children. We were the first ever guests in that hotel. My first stay in a luxury hotel was in the Excelsior, in Rome. I was eight or nine years old, and I'd never stayed in a grand hotel before. Then, the Excelsior was a special hotel: everything seemed so big, just enormous to me, a child. There was this luxury suite… I have very strong memories of these two episodes, and I wanted to create the same beauty and comfort myself. Now, of course, I understand that, apart from beauty, luxury, and comfort, it's all in the service, in going beyond expectations.
I often receive letters from clients telling me how wonderfully some particular thing was done. If a client suffered a tragedy while staying at the hotel, for example, and he or she was really well looked after by the staff, who were very considerate. Customers lose something, we find it for them and send it back. The best hotel has to achieve perfection in service. There should be no grounds for complaints from customers, and that is very difficult to implement. The luxury hotel is all about service. At first glance, the dream of the ideal hotel always seems to be a utopia, but it's so beautiful when the hotel you created actually begins to resemble that dreamlike, ideal image of the Hotel. That's when it becomes the Home for your guests. My dream is to see my children running the business and somehow getting involved comfortably running it together. That's maybe an impossible dream.

Doing things I like doing makes me happy, so I devote my life to things that I enjoy. Still, if a beautiful girl still responds to me, or if I have a good round of golf, that makes me very happy. May God give the oppor-tunity to be that happy for as long as possible. And to make others happy.