Hoteliers William and Olga

Olga and her Brother Rocco Forte

This post, mainly about Olga, has been on the backburner for quite some time, as I had misplaced an interview with Olga Polizzi on my computer, but found it back recently.

The interview is by Locum’s managing director James Alexander and Locum’s non-executive director Tony Hodges for Locum Destination Review, a publication of Locum Consulting. It appears the interview can stil be easily found at Locum’s website under the title Olga Polizzi, an eye for individuality.

I’ll start with Olga

Olga Polizzi is a hotel investor, a hotel designer and a hotel proprietor: A real Hotelier.

She is the daughter of famous hotelier Lord Forte. She was married to Count Alessandro Polizzi, an Italian marquess who died in a racing-car accident in 1980, leaving her to bring up her two daughters – then six and four -on her own. For 16 years she was responsible for building and design within his eponymous chain that I remember as Trusthouse Forte long before Granada raided it. More recently, Olga has been a co-investor and again responsible for design in the mini-chain being driven by her brother, Sir Rocco Forte. Finally, she is a hotel proprietor of Hotel Tresanton in St Mawes, Cornwall.

The William part

of this post is William Shawcross, according to his Profile born 28 May 1946 in Sussex, raised at Eton and Oxford. Son of Baron Shawcross. Married to Olga Polizzi, his third wife and her second husband. According to his own website William Shawcross

is an internationally renowned writer and broadcaster. As well as being the author of several highly acclaimed books on subjects as wide-ranging as the Shah of Iran and Rupert Murdoch, he appears regularly on television and radio. His articles have appeared in leading newspapers and journals throughout the world.

His profile, basically by Ed Vulliamy and published Sunday July 13, 2003 in The Observer notes:

William the conqueror (which heading inspired me to the title of this post)

As a radical young writer, he took on the US establishment over Vietnam. Now he counts American hawks as friends and has been appointed biographer to the Queen Mother. What will he do with the House of Windsor’s secrets?……

Marriage to Olga Polizzi, Shawcross’s partner in the ownership and management of the Hotel Tresanton, gave Shawcross the surroundings he needed to both ‘gaze at the sea’ and pen his treatment for last year’s BBC series Queen and Country. It was three years in the making and denounced as ‘sycophantic and fawning’ to the Crown, but it became the collateral for his forthcoming book.

The marriage put the couple at the epicentre of Establishment entertaining: Prince Charles and Shawcross’s old friend Camilla Parker Bowles (her father was a friend of Sir Hartley) are regular guests.

And it enabled the author of Sideshow to attain what he says, as a supposed joke, is his aim in life: to be ‘a Basil Fawlty to my wife – one who writes a bit’.

From the Locum interview

I noted some interesting thoughts of Olga:

She likes:

  • Individuality,

    because the hotelier wants to distinguish the hotel from the one next door and make it more popular. And then the guest comes in and sees something different and likes it.

  • Service:

    Service is 70 per cent of it, really. Service is incredibly important, how you are greeted, hot water, is it friendly?, telephone calls ….’ Despite the new sophistication of the seasoned traveller, ‘we are still the same humans we always were … mainly we want comfort, good food, good service … you’re just playing around with the elements a bit.’

  • Comfy Design:

    I like going somewhere really brilliant and new … I’ll notice the door handles … but most people, you ask them what colour the room was and they won’t remember … it’s just a feeling, it’s everything in its right place, everything really comfortable.

  • Sound Economics:

    We are quite careful and budget-conscious. I can’t bear it when I see something like Sandy Lane where they’ve spent £80 million on it. We’re in there to make money and cannot spend that sort of money.

  • Her first own hotel: The Tresanto

    When I first opened it, the accountant down there said “You can”t make money on a hotel in Cornwall”, but I said “I haven’t put all this effort and money in not to make money, we’re going to make money”. Actually, we are doing incredibly well. This is my fourth year …. I broke even from the first year …

She dislikes:

  • “The Designer Hotel”

    The Designer hotel – a designer hotel doesn’t look at comfort … it’s so often done too cheaply, everything breaks, you take a shower and the water pours out into the room, all the little things that drive you completely mad … design is not for its own sake.

  • Establishing her own brand. Not so much in her own words but in the interviewers’ finale:

    She admits that she is in demand. Practically every day I get someone writing to me. What colour paint is this in the room? Where did you get this bedspread or this material? Where do you get your handles, your basins, your baths? It’s extraordinary … someone came the other day and they’ve called their house Tresanton, she trills. Yet down in the family’s gift and fashion boutique in St Mawes – ONDA – for all the well-cut clothes and Tresanton iconography on towels and lavender sachets, and the £50 umbrella and £5 soap, there is no sense that Olga Polizzi is taking her potential brand strengths seriously enough. She should. She is a talented individual with a rare eye and a fine business brain. And she has something that ordinary mortals understandably envy. In all innocence, she defines this something simply and memorably when discussing good food and good design. It’s true of both, design and food. There is a connection. It’s good taste at the end of the day. Precisely so, Mrs Polizzi. Now why not share your taste with a wider audience? Heroes make good brand stories, but so do heroines.

A Telegraph article In Pollizi Custody describes her next project: The acquisition of the Grade I-listed Endsleigh House on Dartmoor and refurbishment into a five star hotel.

In another Telegraph interview aptly titled Perfection is her Forte

  • “I’m completely obsessive-compulsive. I can never talk to anybody if a crooked painting catches my eye. And I tell myself, ‘Olga, do shut up,’ but I can’t help it. When I used to go to other hotels with my daughters [Alexandra, 33, and Charlotte, 31], I would be straightening all the furniture and they would say, ‘Ma, this isn’t your hotel.’ “

Wow! What a designer!


I found the photo at another worthwhile interview with her last year over at the Artisans of Leisure Travel Blog

El Blog de un Hotel: A Blog to Market a Hotel Under Construction!

El Blog de un Hotel 01
El Blog de un Hotel (A Hotel’s Blog)

My Blogger friend Albert Barra pointed me to El Blog de un Hotel ie A Hotel’s Blog. [ed: since the opening of the hotel the Blog has been discontinued and removed]

Not that I am able to read or write Spanish, but with the help of Google Translate (Beta) I can at least assume I know a bit about what El Blog de un Hotel is posting about.

I like the concept: The Hotel talks to the reader while being built and is meandering in its posts the same sort of way I am meandering myself in this Blog. It keeps its name and brand and location secret. It will be located in Spain and will open 365 days after the Blog started. As the Blog started September 25, 2007, the hotel will open in September 2008.

The last post shows us interesting Artist Impressions of the mystery hotel’s design like this:

El Blog de un Hotel 02

It features two clever ways of building traffic:

  1. If you Blog about me, I will give you a link back: So Bloggers link to me!
  2. If you guess me out, You may gain a freebie hotel night …..

Both may create their own buzz, or maybe even hype….

I will follow the developments with interest.

Last edit August 2009:
Alas the Hotel is the Madrid Eurostar, but it appears the blog has been wiped.

The landing page says: Translated via Google:

Blog of a Hotel

Hola a todos.
Hello everyone.

Como sabéis ya soy una realidad. As you know I’m already a reality. El pasado 9 de enero abrí mis puertas para empezar a recibir huéspedes. On January 9 I opened my door to start receiving guests. De momento todo va muy bien, pero estoy desbordado de trabajo: coordinando los montajes de las habitaciones, controlando la calidad de mis desayunos, poniendo a punto mi Well Health Club y dando una cálida bienvenida a todos los que ya han querido conocerme.
At the moment everything is going very well, but I am overwhelmed by work: coordinating the assembly of the rooms, checking the quality of my breakfast, my point being Well Health Club and giving a warm welcome to all who wanted to know.

Por todo ello, y lamentablemente, me será imposible seguir manteniendo activa esta bitácora . Therefore, unfortunately, I will be impossible to keep this blog active. Hemos compartido mucho juntos, he aprendido un montón de vuestros comentarios y espero que, a lo largo de este año vosotros también hayáis disfrutado con mis comentarios y descubriendo mis interioridades.
We shared a lot together, I learned a lot from your comments and hope that throughout this year you also you have enjoyed my comments and finding out my insides.

Ya se ha empezado a contactar a los ganadores de los diferentes premios, pero si estáis impacientes, podéis enviar un email a.
Has already begun to contact the winners of the awards, but if you’re impatient, you can send an email to email

Como dicen los humanos, esto no es un adiós sino un hasta pronto.
As the human, this is not a goodbye but a see you soon.

…It was a very nice and creative example of marketing via a blog… I am really surprised they simply threw away all the good work…

Dutch Design (19): Third Pod Hotel Concept for Amsterdam Revealed: CitizenM

Early 2008 will see a third (the others being the Qbic and the Yotel) Pod Hotel, CitizenM Hotels, opening at the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

CitizenM Schiphol Airport Amsterdam

The 230 rooms (pods?) counting hotel is presently under construction.

Under the “Affordable Luxury” slogan:

CitizenM has partnered with internationally renowned architects Concrete, and European design giants Philips and Vitra to offer “affordable luxury for the people.” Rooms are friendly and functional and feature: a super king-size bed fitted with luxurious linen and pillows, a wall-to-wall window for plenty of natural light, a flat LCD television, Philips technology and ambient lighting, a rain shower and other luxurious amenities especially developed by a famous ‘nose’ (also responsible for creations of Commes des Garcons and Viktor and Rolf).

Citizen M Room

Inspired by accommodations on luxury yachts and private jets, citizenM built its own factory in order to realize its high quality hotel rooms. In its vision, no detail was left ignored: each room is 14 square meters – each of which has been carefully thought through to offer the height of functional design.

Their website is full of information. It even has a community building module. I would say this an industry example of how to announce your concept and/or hotel opening.

The one Amsterdam Schiphol Airport Hotel will be the first of many CitizenM hotels if they succeed tol roll out the concept as shown on this map of their plans:

CitizenM Map

The founders and executives of CitizenM are innovative visionaries, who have taken their well-rounded experience into realising CitizenM hotels. They are: Rattan Chadha (founder and former CEO of Mexx, director and partner of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts), Jan Wulf van Alkemade (hotel specialist), Tom Bas (former member of the board of directors of NH Hotels and Golden Tulip) and Michael Levie (former Executive and VP of Operations of various international hotel chains: Sonesta and NH Hotels). These are names to reckon with.

Here is the Video:

Blogged in the City is a Dutch language Blog about Hotels and E-commerce by Thomas Dieben who has a hotel background and is an E-commerce consultant who first picked up this news.

In the CitizenM Press release there is more information.

Boston: Charles Street Jail opened as The Liberty Hotel

Boston Liberty Historic Picture

This week sees the opening of the former Boston Charles Street Jail reborn as The Liberty Hotel after an US $ 150 mio acquisition / refurbishment of 5 years.

The luxury hotel features 300 rooms (i.e. a US $ 500,000 investment per room) of which 10 lavish suites. Not all rooms are crammed in the old Jail, rest assured. There is a modern high rise next to the old Jail dating back from 1851.

Boston liberty 02

The Jail House past comes back in a specially commissioned mosaic by Coral Bourgeois featuring multi- textured tiles depicting historical scenes from penitentiaries and true life crimes, in “do not disturb” door hangers wisely worded Solitary and Alibi, and in the first floor bar that is housed within the jail’s former Drunk Tank.

Ah, they have Molton Brown bathroom amenities, which reminds me I have a rant in my sleeve about Molton Brown.

Via Hotels of The Rich and Famous Blog

Delft: Ikea Hotel under Golden Tulip label

Ikea Tulip Inn

The Delft Ikea shop is able to produce traffic congestions on the motorway on its own. To my knowledge it is the only shop with its own motorway junction here in The Netherlands.

Ikea has expanded the shop and will establish a center of excellence. That will serve as a pilot for new concepts and products and as training center for Ikea workers from all over the world. They need a hotel for all those students.

As a small aside: Approximately 25 years ago my wife bought curtains from the first Ikea shop in The Netherlands that they closed in the meantime. The same lady who then sold the curtains to my wife still works for Ikea, but now in Delft, and recently sold curtains to my wife for a friend’s baby room. Speaking of employee’s loyalty….

Contrary to Shell that operates its coworker/student hotel itself behind the facade of its head office here in The Hague, Ikea has outsourced management of the new hotel to the Golden Tulip Group.

Last week the groundbreaking ceremony was held. Usually that means in the low lands to drive a long pole into the ground that will form part of the building’s fundament.

The Ikea/Tulip Inn with 140 rooms is scheduled to open December 2008.

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