The hotel industry offers escapes from the ordinary. Carlo Izzo, CEO, The Kolbe Hotel Rome, describes a unique destination where ancient civilisation and modern trends combine, creating a luxurious retreat.
Situated at the foot of Palatine Hill close to the River Tiber, with stunning views overlooking the Roman Forum and dating back to 1625, The Kolbe Hotel effortlessly combines timeless, traditional Roman architecture with contemporary elegance, tranquility and calmness. Beautiful inner courtyard gardens provide a peaceful haven to relax, yet the bustling metropolis of a thriving capital city and the remains of Roman civilisation – The Imperial Roman Forum, Circus Maximus and the world famous Coliseum – are merely a stone’s throw away.
Carlo Izzo, CEO, provides us with interesting insights into Kolbe Hotel’s journey through time, its standing within the travel and hospitality sector and his vision for its future.
Could you explain the significance of the ‘Kolbe’ name and tell us about its origins?
The hotel takes its name from a former resident, Father Maximillian Kolbe, (1891-1941) who studied and lived in this building. Kolbe was a man of deep faith, integrity and courage, as after having been arrested for hiding Jews and subsequently being deported to the Auschwitz concentration camp, he volunteered to take the place of a prisoner who the Nazi guards had selected to starve to death as a punishment. Imprisoned in an underground cell, Kolbe and nine fellow prisoners suffered as a result of barbaric treatment. However, despite this, Kolbe did not complain about his conditions, but encouraged his fellow prisoners to stay strong and hope for release. Two weeks later, most had died of dehydration and starvation. Kolbe and the remaining survivors were then executed by means of a lethal injection as the guards wanted the cell emptied.
The bravery and courage of Father Kolbe spread around the Auschwitz prisoners and his reputation eventually earned him the reward of a sainthood. Canonised as a martyr by Pope John Paul II in 1982, the name of Maximilian Kolbe has become synonymous with courageous dignity.
As a tribute to Father Kolbe, a chapel and small museum within the hotel are dedicated to his memory. The atmosphere, and in particular the silence of the garden, is reminiscent of a convent, bearing testament to the early life of Father Kolbe when resident here. In addition, through retaining ‘Kolbe’ in the title of our hotel, we ensure the name of this heroic volunteer is not forgotten.
In your opinion, how does The Kolbe Hotel stand out from its competitors?
The hotel’s strategic location within close proximity to classic historic landmarks such as the Forum and the Coliseum makes it an attractive venue for tourists, holidaymakers, business travellers and event planners.
It’s true to say that the hotel’s unique location and architecture effortlessly combines Rome’s past and present traditions. With its elegant suites, panoramic terrace and serene garden courtyard, The Kolbe Hotel is a spectacular, yet tasteful, mix of ancient and modern styles. Additionally, we’re ideally placed for exploring the traditional sights of the city on foot, while also being conveniently located close to the subway system for wider travel.
Proof of our popularity is borne out by an ever-increasing database of clients who regularly stay with us. I believe this is as a result of our idyllic surroundings, value for money, attention to detail and excellent customer service.
Where do most of your clients come from and does The Kolbe Hotel solely cater for the leisure and tourism industry?
As with any capital city hotel, The Kolbe Hotel attracts clients from all over the world. The majority are actually from the USA, closely followed by visitors from Europe and Asia in roughly a 75:25 split between leisure and business.
By no means do we only cater for leisure and tourism. Our meeting and conference room facilities have been the preferred venue for many political and corporate events and as a prestigious luxury hotel we were thrilled to receive the ‘Best Hotel and Conference Centre 2015’ award. Meeting rooms can be configured to individual specification and are suitable for dinners, training courses, seminars presentations and board meetings with spaces for up to 200 guests.
The Kolbe Hotel is also extremely popular as a wedding venue. Adjacent to the church of San Giorgio in Velabro, the apse of the church lies within our garden, creating a romantic, peaceful atmosphere to celebrate such a special occasion. Our picturesque ‘Al Palatino’ Garden Restaurant on the sun terrace also forms the perfect setting for summer wedding receptions. We offer a wide selection of packages to suit all budgets and preferences, including gourmet menus, fine wines and champagnes, floral centerpieces and place cards, wedding cake and use of our Honeymoon Suite.
We have a total of 72 rooms, ranging from junior, double, deluxe and family rooms, all of which enable our guests to share common amenities and take advantage of a comprehensive array of facilities. So, whether our clients are large corporates hosting annual meetings or holiday making families from across Europe, all are guaranteed Kolbe’s dedicated personal services.
Leading such a prestigious hotel is clearly a demanding role. Are you able to share any secrets for your success?
I see my role as CEO as two-fold. Naturally my responsibilities encompass the day to day general management of the hotel, but my leadership must also include effective interaction with staff. I like to promote a strong teamwork ethic, and it is important to inspire and encourage all personnel to not only achieve their best, but to always be approachable, friendly and understand the needs of both our clients and other employees.
How do you envisage the future for The Kolbe Hotel panning out?
I see the future of The Kolbe Hotel as a positive and exciting one with potential for growth and development. We are fortunate in being based in the Italian capital of art and cultural tourism, thus benefiting from a rich archeological heritage. The area is home to numerous embassies and consulates and headquarters major multi-national organisations, and as a spiritual and religious destination, annual pilgrimages, sabbaticals and trips are commonplace.
This all points to a favourable future. I do have a clear picture of how life will be for The Kolbe Hotel in one, three and five years’ time, and my ultimate aim is to communicate and share this with my team. In due course I see this having total buy in, such that everyone will see the vision as belonging to them too.
An overview of The Kolbe Hotel’s history, location and facilities together with a photographic gallery of the rooms and suites offered can be found at the company website at www.hotelkolberome.com