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Independent Minds: Rosa & Massimo Taddeo, Hotel Villa Franca

As a third generation hotelier, Rosa Taddeo along with her husband Massimo is continuing her grandfather’s dream of hosting guests at Villa Franca, their luxurious family home which celebrates its sublime setting whilst paying homage to both the old and new Amalfi Coast. Pioneering the Positano tourism scene since the early forties, the in-crowd originality of this hilltop hideaway shines through every la dolce vita detail handpicked by the Taddeos.

Rosa Taddeo alongside the entrance to Hotel Villa Franca.

What does being ‘Independently Minded’ as an hotel owner mean to you?

Independent hotels are paramount players in the panorama of luxury hospitality. They are the result of creativity, personality and flair of private owners who can express their personal taste in all areas, from the kitchen, the cutlery, crockery, décor, design, and special events to social media and marketing. As owners, we have no limit when it comes to creating the perfect location for discerning travellers.

We aim to provide one-of-a-kind experiences. In doing so, we simply respond to the global market that is evolving with a rapidity we have never seen before. Our guests are the sole and unique tool to monitor our endeavour and the experience we create in our “home”. Everything must be personal and personalised, expectations must be exceeded, and we must go beyond our normal duties to respond in a timely manner to every request.

Quite the first impression – the design-led lobby sets the stylish scene at Hotel Villa Franca.

Our personality is extremely visible everywhere in the hotel. All these elements make the hotel special and unique; whose roots go deep into our family history. The very location of the hotel offers incredible vistas of the Mediterranean, the entire Amalfi Coast, the village of Positano and Li Galli islands. Our unconditional love for our land, together with the utmost attention to detail, our uniqueness and authenticity are the pillars on which we have built our property and our philosophy of hospitality.

What was the inspiration behind the hotel, and where do you continue to find sources of inspiration?

Our story begins in the early 1940s when my grandfather decided to host in his own home the very first international travellers from the UK who were willing to venture to Southern Italy and discover an incredible and unspoilt country. With these first tourists, Positano started to write its own story and has grown to become what it is today: one of the most famous and sought-after holiday destinations in the world.

Villa Franca played a very active role in this early process and quickly made a name for itself abroad. Over time, the hotel has witnessed incredible changes that have made Villa Franca what it is today, one of the most important and well-known luxury hotels on the Amalfi Coast.

The rooftop pool comes with panoramic views of Positano across the Mediterranean.

It has always been very carefully refurbished to keep its original Mediterranean architecture, with a mix of modern design and contemporary art in many forms. This allows guests and visitors to escape from their daily routine while gazing at the mesmerising landscape of Positano and the picture-postcard Amalfi Coast that never ceases to amaze.

How do you think your hotel stands apart from other boutique hotels?

Villa Franca boasts an enviable spot, high above the village of Positano from where we have a prominent position overlooking the myriad of small colourful houses built on the steep slopes. The sparkling blue of the Mediterranean is everywhere, the beach of Fornillo and Spiaggia Grande on both sides complete a heavenly view, contributing to the romanticism of the hotel.

The view from one of the Terrace Suites at Hotel Villa Franca, designed with sun worshippers in mind.

We are the only five-star luxury property on the Amalfi Coast that has successfully managed to create a unique atmosphere where design, art and typical Mediterranean architecture are harmoniously put together. Through extensive research and a careful selection process, we have mixed very different yet aesthetically pleasing elements where the colour white takes centre stage and at the same time lets the incredible cobalt blue sea be the most important protagonist of our beautiful setting.

We have personally designed the hotel courtesy line and hand-picked a signature fragrance, the bed linen, the bathroom towels, the tableware and crockery in all our food and beverage outlets, as well as every single piece of furniture in the hotel. The hotel perfectly reflects our tastes, personality, ethics and ethos. Villa Franca is not simply a hotel, but the “summer house in Positano” for all its patrons.

If you only had 24 hours to get a taste for your hotel experience, what would you recommend a guest must do?

Every morning at Villa Franca starts with the first rays of sunshine reflecting on the cobalt blue sea and the azure sky, to warm up the body and soul. These elements are ever present and represent a natural clock that give its rhythm and pace to a relaxing and soothing day, from dawn till dusk.

WAKE UP

In the morning the sun rises high in the sky coming from behind the mountain range. Its rays slowly and delicately warm up the pastel-coloured houses in Positano and welcome the first fishermen coming from a night at sea to bring the freshest fish to the local inhabitants in the early hours of the morning.

BREAKFAST

It is served in our beautiful Incanto Lounge that boasts incredible views of the village and the beach of Spiaggia Grande. Alternatively, guests can enjoy breakfast from their balcony or private terrace and let the morning sun gently warm up their sleepy eyes in total intimacy. This year, we have decided to organise a private buffet for every table and let the guests enjoy a full buffet without needing to get up and help themselves so that they let our dedicated staff pamper them and offer the first experience of a great day ahead.

LUNCH

The Galli Grill, situated on the hotel roof top next to the panoramic pool, is the perfect location for a relaxing day and a lunch made of plateau royal, sea food, caviar, fresh fish, home-made pasta and the very best Mediterranean cuisine. Sipping a custom cocktail or vintage champagne on our comfortable teak sunbed is a treat, especially while gazing at the 360-degree views from the Lattari mountain range at the back, to the Amalfi Coast on the left, the Mediterranean in front and Li Galli islands on the right. Let our dedicated chefs accommodate your every request, prepare succulent dishes for your pleasure and delight.

AFTERNOON

At this time of the day, guests are normally keen to go for a walk and discover the beautiful and unspoilt village of Positano where they can find many artisanal shops, all family run for many generations, while wandering around and find bespoke swimming costumes or pairs of hand-made sandals.

The “not to be missed” experience is to visit the Amalfi Coast from its most incredible perspective: the sea! On board our modern and super-equipped 50-foot speedboat Maori, our skipper is always ready to introduce the guests to the natural beauties and the incredible works of art Mother Nature has created in this part of the world. After a few hours at sea, our electrical golf cart can give you a lift from Piazza dei Mulini back to the hotel where our expert therapists are ready to pamper you with a wide selection of massages, body and facial treatments using exclusive products from the beauty line Sothys.

APERITIF

The sun is slowly setting, some pink clouds are visible in the azure blue sky, the soothing sound of the sea has now become music to your ears…this is sunset…this is the time to try one of our signature cocktails on the terrace of the Krug Gold Champagne Bar with one of the most unforgettable vistas you will ever see.

DINNER

Our fine dining venue Li Galli Restaurant offers a true culinary experience comfortably seated in the newly refurbished restaurant with ultra-sleek and chic Edra furniture. The talented kitchen team is headed by Executive Chef Savio Perna, under the supervision of multi-Michelin star celebrity Chef Nino di Costanzo. Together, they have created a superb menu with the utmost respect for the Campanian traditions, exclusively using free-range local produce. The wine cellar is well worth a visit with our Sommelier Franco to guide you through our extensive wine list of a thousand different labels from all over the world.

GOOD NIGHT

We are back to where this day started…in your room! Every room at Villa Franca identifies our very essence, spirit and soul. They perfectly combine contemporary art and design, like all public areas of the hotel, a journey through art and architecture that started in the lobby, continued on the roof top and finished in your room. That sense of continuity is so tangible that it gives a sense of a place, a sense of Villa Franca.

How would you describe your own perfect luxury experience?

My perfect luxury experience would be to deliver a personal and personalised service, tailor made by knowledgeable professionals with a high degree of education and infinite empathy to create unique experiences, responding to the smallest request, even though it may seem unreasonable. I always say, “no request is too large; no detail is too small”.

In every HVF Prestige Room, the balcony offers breathtaking sea views. 

The most important duty for a team of hospitality professionals is to anticipate guests’ needs by recognising the most insignificant non-verbal communication, to proactively and efficiently fulfil each request. A guest is never identified by his room number, but his last name and our answer must always be “Yes” or “Let me see what I can do, and I’ll get back to you shortly”.

I have always seen the service provided to guests as tailor-made, in the real sense of these words, exactly like when a tailor mends a dress. My family always says, “Just because something suits someone well, it does not mean it would suit someone else. Hotel concierges were created for this reason”. When these basic principles are not taken into account and thoroughly considered, no experience can be entirely fulfilling.

Do you have a vision for the future of the hotel?

There is almost no future for hospitality unless it is based on paramount values such as sustainability, protection of the environment and perpetuation of the local cultures in every shape and form, and of course the unconditional respect of all local communities.

If the future of tourism can be based on these, it would bring incredible benefits, a better understanding and awareness of the impact of virtuous green policies and practices, with the clear objective to guarantee a brighter and healthier future for the next generation, gender equalities and of course well-being and economic growth that benefit the entire local community as well. If the worldwide players in tourism do not respect these simple principles, I can foresee a rather uncertain future.

This is why travelling responsibly is essential to the greater good. In a moment when the tourism industry is in uncharted territories, we have only now started to comprehend the gravity of the situation and we can no longer ignore and look the other way. This is a big wakeup call for the hospitality industry that could be our salvation. We cannot live without tourism. Since the end of World War II, tourism has contributed, in one way or the other, to make the world a better place, has contributed to peace and understanding between nations.