“I want our hotels to match their location,” Polizzi said. “I don’t want people to wake up in Rome and say, ‘Where am I?’ so I don’t like repeating things.”
Instead, they find furniture and utensils that reflect the situation: traditional majolica plates adorn the walls of Masseria Torre Maizza, Puglia; local art is on display at The Charles Hotel, Munich; Sicilian tiles flow on the floor of Villa Igiea in Palermo.
Rocco Forte’s Anglo-Italian signature is overlaid with Polizzi’s sophisticated yet simple craftsmanship that, over time, takes on color and texture.
He said: “I used to spend a lot of time looking at colors, thinking about which one was a little bit better. “Maybe I’ve been a bit depressed in my old age, but now it’s possible for me to say ‘green is good’. It can take weeks to come up with some schemes, sometimes I can throw something that just works.
“I don’t always know how things will turn out.” Good taste is a bad word, you have to have a feeling. The more you do, the more you learn.”
During the crisis, Polizzi and his daughter, Alex (who presented the show The Hotel Inspector), bought and renovated a guest house called The Star, in Sussex, which he wrote about on the British Channel 5 show called. The Dangerous Places of My Hotel. No amount of information could have prepared them for the financial difficulties and foreclosure restrictions that forced them to open more than a year ago.
The Dangerous Places of My Hotel he shows Polizzi in action – his ability to choose everything from paint to paint, and his amazing, no-nonsense approach that keeps businessmen in the loop as he confidently negotiates discounts and sets the right time.
The star is in his Polizzi Collection of three hotels in England, each of which has a stunning interior that combines antiques, luxurious wallpapers and lighting. It is a more straightforward process than making Rocco Forte, which requires careful planning and a fixed budget.
“With our stock, there’s flexibility because it’s limited,” says Polizzi. “If I see a painting from a local store I can buy it and just add it. I like to start deep with the basics and then add layers.”
The rooms of the Rocco Forte hotel are always “enjoyed” and refreshed. This month, the Hotel Amigo in Brussels unveiled the Diane von Furstenberg Suite in honor of the Belgian-American designer, and in February, Polizzi teamed up with British fashion designer Paul Smith for an exciting naming ceremony at London’s Brown’s Hotel, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World.
Polizzi, however, prefers to work with an interior designer or architect on more than one room or space.
Notable examples include the renovation and complete restoration of the 18th-century palazzo Villa Igiea by Paolo Moschino Ltd, and the Italian architect Tommaso Ziffer’s interior of Rome’s Hotel de la Ville, where antique paintings are hung alongside on laser cut images. Next year’s launches include a renovated hotel in Sardinia with interiors by Patricia Urquiola, plus two new apartments in Milan.
Perhaps surprisingly, Polizzi admits that one of his fondest memories is of an earlier trip to Australia. “We traveled between Cairns and Broome in a Land Rover and at night we rolled up the blankets and slept under the fire with snakes. I loved it.”