Owner of around a dozen leading hotels the world over, Rocco Forte was born and educated in the UK. He went to Oxford University, became an accountant, took over the family business and married the love of his life, the glamorous Alaia Ricci when she was 21. They had three children, two daughters both now working in the business (Lydia is director of food & beverage and Irene has recently launched a skincare line you’ll find in their spas) and a younger son who no doubt will join them in due course. Then there is his hotelier sister, Olga Polizzi, her daughter, the dynamic Alex Polizzi, AKA The Hotel Inspector, and another high powered daughter in the tech world. Throw in grandchildren and spouses and it’s quite a dynasty.
Holiday at Verdura and you may well be on the table next to some or all of the above. Although you might not notice. For all their wealth and success they are relatively low key, although if you do notice them you can’t help but be a bit fascinated at how much they’re enjoying the dream set up they have created.
If their hotels’ ethos is built on what the Forte family want from a holiday, then it’s no surprise Rocco is a passionate golfer – Verdura is a golfer’s paradise. 18 holes with greens beside the sea, 9 holes for those after something less challenging, golf academies for all ages and stages (shout out to Giacomo, one of the top 50 golf pros for children in the world), plus a driving range – you name it, they’ve got it.
You won’t, however, feel left out if golf isn’t your thing. There are professionally led academies for everything from fencing to tennis – even cookery. They’re reasonably priced, daily and open to anyone over the age of four, making them a great way for children to try something new. And then there’s what is probably the best kids club ever. Warm and attentive staff (in fact all the staff at Verdura are), exceptional facilities from an art room to cinema room, its own pools, soft play and a sleeping area to boot. The little ones will especially enjoy face painting under a fairy light sky whilst the adults listen to live jazz at dinner on a Saturday night.
In the food department, there’s something for everyone; a laidback poolside restaurant, fish restaurant on the beach (complete with a DJ knocking out chilled tunes), a gourmet option and a trattoria serving traditional Sicilian fare (including some of the best pizza you’ll taste) – oh, and not forgetting the beach’s gin bar. Bravo to the Forte who came up with that.
Plus there are water sports, a stunning beach (manmade but we didn’t care) Italy’s largest Spa, a knock out gym (at 74, Rocco is in great shape), trips to the ancient ruins… there are myriad opportunities to be entertained or plenty of space to simply enjoy doing nothing. But it’s not just all this that makes Verdura so special. It’s the beautiful Sicilian setting, Italian warmth, that your children are genuinely wanted, loved and welcome, and the fact that you’re going to make memories to last a lifetime. They’re going to cost you, but they’re ones you’ll want to thank the Fortes for.
For more information visit RoccoForteHotels.com
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