With wellness now representing a $3.7 trillion global industry, savvy hotels are revamping their services and amenities to ensure guests feel their best during their stay. We spoke to Irene Forte, Group Project Director of Rocco Forte Hotels, a self-described ‘health conscious fitness fanatic’ about how the concept of wellness has developed and how the hotel’s services have developed alongside it.

LM: Do you find that wellness is an important part of millennials’ image on social media? What do you think has caused this?

IF: Wellness has become a substantial part of millennials’ image on social media, and interestingly, social media has become a big reason why my generation has turned to wellness. With wellness, we are trying to counteract this constantly being ‘connected’ and this constant going.

LM: What does wellness mean to you and what does it mean to Rocco Forte’s customers? What are your guests’ expectations when it comes to wellness?

IF: Wellness to me is a philosophy of life. It is physical and metaphysical. Wellness means being aware of your inner self, the presence of mind in body and aiming for excellence. Wellness requires a never-ending curiosity for new values, goals and finding meaning to life.

Health-conscious travellers are on the rise and thus at Rocco Forte Hotels we need to ensure that we meet all of their personal needs. They’re looking for ‘wellness’. They expect things like clean, natural and nutritious food, the latest fitness facilities and equipment, and even organic beauty products with spa treatments that achieve results. Our guests expect to continue their healthy lifestyle across any of our properties, in any areas of our hotels, and that’s what inspired Rocco Forte Spas, our brand wide wellness concept that incorporates food, fitness, treatments and products in a unified concept. We also want them to enjoy new experiences and leave us having enriched their lives further.

LM: How do you help guests socialize through wellness?

IF: Whilst we do have the latest Technogym equipment in the gym, we also encourage group fitness and activities in our hotels. We offer guests sightseeing running and cycling tours, combining the culture of the city with improving fitness, whilst also socialising with other guests on the tours. At De Rome Spa, guests can take in views of Berlin, whilst enjoying Rooftop Yoga sessions on the hotel’s terrace. At Verdura Spa, we do an array of group fitness classes and activities, including outdoor Sunset and Sunrise Yoga, outdoor boot camps, trekking excursions and healthy cooking lessons.

     “Our guests expect to continue their healthy lifestyle across any of our properties, in any areas of our hotels, and that’s what inspired Rocco Forte Spas.”                                                                                                 

LM: You’ve implemented an interesting program that takes people outdoors to discover new running/walking routes in cities. Is enabling people to work out in their rooms something you see as having potential? Such as through virtual fitness classes, in-room equipment etc?

IF: This is definitely something we have started to look in to. Whilst some of our guests have the time to enjoy a city jogging tour, we also know that many of our guests are on tight schedules and are short of time. For this reason, we are currently working on an ‘a la carte’ gym equipment concept, which allows guests to order certain Technogym items to their room, be it a matt, a wellness ball, weights or even a spinning bike. We are also working on integrating work-out videos into our in-room television systems.

LM: How do you balance consistency across the brand while adding a local element to each hotel, and creating a personalized experience?

IF: I have created a simple and clear concept that also allows us to maintain a sense of individuality and authenticity in each of our locations. The concept is completely unified across the brand but we add local touches throughout.

The Forte Organics rituals and branded Forte Organics skincare line remain consistent throughout for example, but each spa location will incorporate local flavours through treatment room atmosphere. In Sicily, at Verdura Resort for example, the treatment room is filled with Sicilian aromas, decorated with Sicilian ceramics and the beginning and end of the ritual are signalled by the ringing of our bells from Burgio, made especially for Verdura at Burgio’s renowned bell foundry which is located near to the resort. Another example is Rocco Forte Nourish, our healthy menus across all of our hotels. Each of our hotels has Rocco Forte Nourish menus created by a different healthy chef or nutritionist that is relevant to the location, such as Pascale Naessens at Hotel Amigo in Brussels and Just For You at Hotel Astoria in St Petersburg. In addition, our menus are always inspired by the location, using local, seasonal produce. Our cycling and running tours are available across the group, but obviously they are different because each city is different!

LM: Do you see environmental sustainability as an important part of wellness, and is this something that is factored in when looking at Rocco Forte wellness products and food menus?

IF: Yes, it definitely is a very important part of wellness, and wherever we can, we have factored this into the Rocco Forte Spas concept.

Forte Organics, our own natural, organic product brand used across all of our spas, contains olive oil produced at Verdura Resort as its base, along with a Sicilian water from the Madonie Regional Natural Park. The products also contain nuts, vegetables, flowers and fruits handpicked from our organic farm at Verdura. The products are created by hand and all the packaging is biodegradable. For any brands that we use in addition to Forte Organics, we are increasingly moving towards natural and organic brands. For example, we work with Spiezia Organics, Pevonia, Ishga and Vignoble.

We have created a capsule fitness line, Forward for Rocco Forte Fitness, that we retail in our spas with a company called Back Label. We have also just done a swimwear partnership with Sixty Ninety; their swimwear is made with high tech ‘Fluity CO2’ fabric which is produced with Amni Soul Eco – the first biodegradable synthetic yarn in the world. Increasingly, we’re only looking to work with sustainable brands in our spas.

The food we serve at Rocco Forte Hotels and as part of Rocco Forte Nourish contains the highest quality ingredients, organic and locally sourced. Sourcing the very best ingredients in every location is central to our approach. At Verdura Resort, for example, our menus are created with the ingredients that we grow at our organic farm so we can serve the very best produce at zero mileage.

LM: Mindfulness and meditation, unlike nutrition and fitness, does not require food or equipment. How does a hotel support and encourage guests in this area of wellness?

IF: This is becoming an increasingly important part of wellness and we are currently developing a ‘Rocco Forte Mind’ arm to our Rocco Forte Spas concept. We already have a few things in place, such as a library curated by the School of Life at Verdura Resort, which focuses on self healing and mindfulness, and also just general wellbeing within the self. All of our hotels also offer private Yoga sessions, and at Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt, Verdura Resort and Hotel de Rome guests can also do group Yoga. We also offer Reiki in our spas and in some we offer mindfulness treatments, which we are now developing further. We are working on some ‘mind’ channels on our in-room televisions, be it meditation music, meditation and mindfulness recordings or Yoga sessions. Lastly, we are working on sleep therapy kits in room and ways in which we can help guests sleep even better with us.

LM: What do you think the next big food and fitness trends will be?

IF: Healthy food fads come and go, so increasingly I think it’s going to be about going back to basics: the highest quality, organic, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. More and more, we’ll want to know exactly what we’re eating, where it comes from and how it was produced. It will also be less about diet and more about a balanced nutrition plan.

I think sustainable fitness clothing is going to become more and more popular. I also believe that tailored personal training will become increasingly important and that there will be a rise in orthopaedic techniques being used in gyms/ studios. Lastly, I think that fitness tech and gadgets to track your fitness will continue to become more prevalent.