Breakfast with Laura Fanecco, Grand Hotel Excelsior
By Adrian Mourby
The Location: Lido, Venice Italy
The Attraction: The Venetian Lagoon and on the other side of it, La Serenissima
The Hotel: Grand Hotel Excelsior (A Select Member of Teh Most Famous Hotels in the World©).
The Date: opened in 1908
The Woman: Laura Fanecco, Hotel Manager
The Reason: Laura Fanecco took over the Grand Hotel Excelsior on the Lido in 2014 and is the first woman to manage this gracious institution which in 1931 helped Count Giuseppe Volpi di Misurata set up the Venice Film Festival. This year the oldest film festival in the world will be held 31 August – 10 September 2016
Breakfast at the Excelsior is taken in the Tropicana dining room or the beachside La Taverna . I met Laura in the elegant, mirrored surroundings of the Tropicana which (we quietly admitted) we both prefer.
1.What ‘s your preferred meal at The Excelsior?
My breakfast consists of soya milk and coffee, toasted bread and bio-marmalade but my favourite meal is sea-bass with potatoes, olives and tomatoes.
2.Do you have a motto in life?
Optimism, determination and the will to change things.
3.So what have you changed at The Excelsior since arriving here?
I moved all operative offices, including mine, from the first floor to the main lobby in front of the Reception. I like to welcome customers upon arrival or say hello upon departure and from the main hall you are ready to do it.
4. What would you never change at this hotel?
The unique Sala Stucchi. It’s famous all over the world as a setting in the movie “Once upon a time in America”. It overlooks the Adriatic sea and has a fantastic atmosphere.
5.What do you want to have accomplished in the next ten years?
I just want to keep working in this industry and still love what I’m doing
6. What was your “dream-profession” when you were young?
I loved animals so to be a veterinarian was my dream
7. If you had the choice, would you follow the same career or would you lead a different life?
100% I’d follow the same career! But of course I’d avoid some mistakes
8 How many languages do you speak?
Not as many as I should like! I did train in England when I was young, however I may soon retrain with my son’s fiance’s mother.
It’s all about movies: Anna Magnani & Roberto Rossellini at the Excelsior
9. How important is the hotel’s history for you as a marketing tool?
It is very important indeed - together with its tradition and theDream. The Excelsior “Dream” is a perfect alternative to the traditional Italian vacation in the countryside: the elegant beaches facing the Adriatic Sea, surrounded by a lush park, and its vicinity to Venice… Ever since the day of its inauguration, the Excelsior has always been the focal point of the Lido.
Do you actively promote a dress code at The Excelsior?
‘These days everything is more informal than in the past and I think that a resort hotel during the summer season must be open to a less formal dress code - except in the main restaurant for dinner.’
10. Do you favour development or tradition?
I consider we need a good mix. Development is good,however one of the most important pillars is tradition.
11. How do you balance business life and private life?
It’s not very easy to balance however I try to spend as much time as I can with my family. My child is grown up now, thanks to the very big support of my husband. So now it is more easy, even if you still have to be present more because your family is becoming older. Life always challenges you!
12.What was the most important advice you ever received?
Never give up, learn from mistakes, be positive. My father gave me this advice. He was a very positive person.
13. For the same budget, would you rather afford the smallest room in the best and most famous hotel in a destination or the best room in a lower-class hotel?
I’ll always take the smallest room in the best hotel.
14. When you visit other hotels what do you observe most closely?
The atmosphere and how the staff interacts with customers. You may learn a lot observing people dealing in different situation, there is always something new that can be taught to your staff.
15.What would be more tempting for you than being the GM of this hotel?
For the time being nothing, this old lady challenges me every day
16. Are there any unique challenges of running a hotel in Venice?
Oh yes, High tide! The launch cannot dock because it doesn’t succeed in passing under to the bridge - luckily there is another dock not so far from the hotel. The main challenge however is getting here from the centre of Venice where you need boots and walk in flooded streets during Aqua Alta.
Laura Fanecco: Photo by Kate Tadman-Mourby