Rocco Forte Hotels will open the doors to its second Sicilian property on June 1, 2020.
According to Rocco Forte, the 104-key property—Villa Igiea— is an easy 10-minute drive from the Palermo airport, making it a “true urban resort” and the perfect complement to Verdura Resort, their first property on the island and a 90-minute drive from Palermo.
Designed to be a private home, the villa was constructed in 1900 at the height of the Belle Époque, a period of economic prosperity in Europe that lasted until the First World War. In 1904, it was purchased by the Florio family, one of Sicily’s most influential and entrepreneurial dynasties, who commissioned Italian Art Nouveau architect Ernesto Basile to turn it into a hotel. The transformed property hosted artists, Hollywood elite and royalty.
Today the hotel is being meticulously restored by a team headed by Olga Polizzi, Rocco Forte’s director of design, working in collaboration with Paolo Moschino for Nicholas Haslam. The renowned Basile Room, the frescoed bar and the grand mirrored ballroom are being restored to their original beauty. Guestrooms and suites are being designed to reflect a contemporary, classic Sicilian oasis.
On the f&b side, Chef Fulvio Pierangelini, Rocco Forte’s creative director of food, is developing menus featuring simple, local delicacies typical of an Italian seaside villa. Guests will have the option of eating in the main restaurant, a grand mirrored salon where the Florios used to entertain royals, on the terrace, or poolside. The frescoed vaulted bar overlooking the garden will serve “a feast of Sicilian aperitivi.”
Villa Igiea also has a range of meeting and event spaces, which can accommodate groups of all sizes for all types of gatherings, including conferences, board of director meetings, conventions and more.
A spa rounds out the hotel’s offerings. Irene Forte, a beauty entrepreneur and the wellness director for Rocco Forte Hotels, is developing treatments using her Sicilian-inspired products. The spa design will blend elements such as Sicilian majolica tiles and the colours of the Tyrrhenian Sea with comfortable furnishings.
“It is an honour to be able to undertake the project of restoring Villa Igiea back to its natural glory,” said Sir Rocco Forte. “It is an iconic hotel with the Florio family at its origin, and I am delighted that my family will now have its place in the building’s marvelous history. Our guests can discover the best of Sicily be experiencing Palermo, a wonderful city which is in a moment of extraordinary rebirth, and then travel to Verdura Resort for complete relaxation.”