We recently highlighted the latest agreement signed for a Bvlgari Hotel in Rome, slated to open in 2022. Project Interior’s editor Nicola speaks to Jean-Christophe Babin, Group CEO for Bvlgari on the future plans, challenges and in particular, the latest on Bvlgari Hotel Rome.
Your history of working with luxury brands is undisputed and you have been Group CEO for Bvlgari for over seven years. What makes a luxury brand and how easy is it to interpret this into a hotel or resort?
We want to be perceived as creators of unique jewelry and watches, and our hotels give us a huge competitive advantage as we can offer our customers an immersive experience of the magnificence “Roman hospitality and style” that distinguishes our brand. Furthermore, the Bvlgari Hotels are our favourite locations to host the Maison events and presentations related to jewelry, accessories, and watches and so on. All these activities highly contribute to our social networking, both live and virtual, through the social media buzz generated, which attracts both our high jewelry customers and the younger generation.
It’s a particularly challenging time for the hotel sector, what is your strategy for overcoming the current climate? What do you consider is the biggest challenge for the hospitality sector over the next year?
In the past months, there has been an explosion of digital meetings and virtual reality but I believe that people are still curious and very much interested in travelling and enjoying ‘live’ experiences. The sector will start soon to grow more and more again, reaching its highest levels. I have no doubt about the recovery of tourism because it is the only way people can live memorable experiences all around the world – and this is exactly the area where the Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts stand out.
An amazing location, and close to the heart of Bvlgari roots, Rome is a perfect choice for the new hotel. What type of traveller do you think you will attract?
We have always conceived our hotels as the perfect destinations not only for foreigners and travellers from all over the world but also for the local community. They can use the hotel’s public spaces as part of their daily social life for in-town leisure activities such as meeting friends, enjoying dinners and ‘aperitivo’ in our Restaurants and Bars or relax in our spas.
Some would say that taking a traditional building and adapting it to support the brand would be a challenging prospect, how will the new hotel embrace it’s origins while being recognized as a Bvlgari hotel?
With Rome, we are about to start a titanic project: not only we will open the most luxurious hotel in the city but we will also contribute to enhance the beauty of the square where it is located by donating 120k euros for the new lighting of the Ara Pacis monument placed in front of the hotel. This monument is one of the most iconic of Rome as it celebrates the greatness of an emperor whose refined aesthetic sense guided the radical architectural and urban transformation of the city, projecting it into our past, present and future.
What made you choose Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel as the architects and interior design team?
We have chosen the architectural firm Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel as they are able to interpret our vision of luxury as an expression of superior Italian craftsmanship by creating a very luxurious, refined environment. They have been able to develop our idea of how luxury should be translated into a physical place.
How has the Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts Collection captured the culture and luxury of their unique localities around the globe?
Bvlgari Hotels & Resorts are a unique combination of locations in harmony with the surrounding area, the blend of traditional design with the contemporary Italian architecture and superior service crafted with the same attention to quality that has always distinguished Bvlgari creations.
With a further three openings planned for Paris, Moscow and Tokyo, will you be sourcing local architects for each property?
No, we will continue working with Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel architectural firm.
The Reading Room sounds fascinating, are there any hidden gems that you can share with us?
The hotel itself can be considered a ‘piece of art’ for the materials used such as extremely rare marbles and for its decorations including incredible mosaics made with the same technique used by ancient Romans.
As a unique feature, the Reading Room at the Bvlgari Hotel Roma will be full of rare and ancient books on arts, jewels and the Dolce Vita, which will become a center for cultural gatherings.
What’s next for Bulgari?
Our goal is not only Rome, from next year we will open 3 other structures: Paris, Moscow and Tokyo, and we will be announcing soon a new opening in US.
The whole of the Project Interiors team wish Jean-Christophe Babin and the team all the best with the exciting new openings and we look forward to seeing the first glimpses in 2022 of Bvlgari Hotel Roma.