Rome’s Hotel directors tell us about the prospects of tourism and the effects of the pandemic

hotel directors in Rome tell us about the prospects of tourism and the effects of the pandemic

What new trends will shape the hospitality industry post Covid?

The tourism industry is Italy’s gold mine. The Bel Paese counts 55 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and has welcomed over 215 million tourists from all over the world in 2019. Covid-19 has had a catastrophic effect on tourism this past year, with hospitality facilities trying to cope with the three-tier system, new restrictions and few tourists. It’s been one year since Italy was put under a nationwide lockdown, and we’ve turned to Rome’s hotel directors to learn about the prospects of tourism, new trends in the hospitality sector and the effects of the pandemic. 

Mr. Luca Virgilio

General Manager at Hotel Eden

According to your opinion and based on your data, how long will it take to return to pre-Covid tourism levels?

“I believe the levels of 2019 will only be reached at the end of 2022. Surely, as soon as the borders will reopen, there will be a great movement of people, followed by a calmer phase, to then slowly reach normality.”

How has the hotel industry reacted to the pandemic, and, above all, how has the hotel you manage reacted?

“Hotel Eden has launched various initiatives to maintain contact with its guests and give a positive signal in a time of difficulty. For the first time, we introduced the take away and delivery menu “Hotel Eden at your home”, with dishes of our executive chef Fabio Ciervo. We also introduced videos on the preparation of pizza and signature cocktails of Il Giardino Bar.

The Eden Spa is one of the few spas to have remained open in Rome (when permitted by government guidelines). It offers a bespoke level service to customers in complete safety, as there are no shared spaces. We have also proposed staycation packages that include services that aren’t normally included in the price. For example, we offer the “Romantic Escape” staycation which, in addition to a one-night stay; it also includes a dinner for two by Ciervo.”

Do you think the hospitality sector will change? What are the trends, perspectives and opportunities of the hotel industry?

“The hospitality sector post Covid will see an increase in leisure tourism, while business travel will suffer for some time. I believe that tourism will be less hectic: travellers will want to enjoy the moment more and will go back to places they’re fond of rather than discovering new ones.

A trend that has gradually taken hold is that of proximity tourism, covid has created this new opportunity. The hotels have turned to locals and Italians with ad hoc proposals and I am sure that this trend will continue to be cultivated in the future. The “experience economy” will prevail more and more, which has as its value the emotions created by intangible assets: unique and refined experiences capable of bringing joy to those who experience them.”

hotel eden

About the hotel:

Situated in the Ludovisi neighbourhood, the five-star luxury Hotel Eden is the Dorchester Collection’s first hotel in Rome. The hotel is also one of the only hotels in Rome that has a spa that’s currently open. Take advantage of the strategic location and enjoy a dining experience by executive chef Fabio Ciervo at Il Giardino Ristorante.


Mr. Edoardo Giuntoli

General Manager at Sofitel Roma Villa Borghese

According to your opinion and based on your data, how long will it take to return to pre-Covid tourism levels?

“Needless to say, it is very difficult to make predictions at this time. If the vaccines give us hope, the variants of the virus do not reassure us. In any case, the return to pre-Covid levels, also shared by market studies and analysis companies, is not expected before 2023. However, I’m an optimistic person and I strongly believe in the desire of people to return to travel, to live unique and unforgettable experiences – the recovery could positively surprise us all.”

How has the hotel industry reacted to the pandemic, and, above all, how has the hotel you manage reacted?

“The Sofitel in Rome, like the whole Accor group, has tried to keep its facilities open in order to provide a service and be present in the market. Of course, one of the first things we did was apply stringent cleaning and sanitation rules, relying on experts in the sector and obtaining the ALLSAFE certification issued by SGS in collaboration with Bureau Veritas. I’m also proud to say that the Accor group has created an economic support fund for its employees in need. Even if not with constant flows, customers are slowly returning and the staff who return to work do so with enthusiasm, positivity and determination to restart.”

Do you think the hospitality sector will change? What are the trends, perspectives and opportunities of the hotel industry?

“We have certainly gotten used to new standards and new gestures, to practicing social distancing and to not seeing people’s smiles anymore, even if their own eyes speak and smile. Humans are social beings and need relationships, gestures and experiences to live. Inevitably, the hospitality sector will become more technological and digital; we’ll use more sophisticated check-in processes, communication and meeting tools. But holidays are an experience to live and share, and people make the service, especially the tailor-made one. People make and will make the difference.”

sofitel roma villa borghese

About the hotel:

Located in the Ludovisi neighbourhood, Sofitel Roma Villa Borghese is a recently refurbished five-star luxury hotel that mixes Italian and French elegance. Breakfast and dinner are served at Settimo, the contemporary restaurant on the 7th floor of the hotel, captained by executive chef Giuseppe d’Alessio, boasting 180-degree views of Rome.


Ms. Giorgia Tozzi

General Manager at Hotel Vilòn

According to your opinion and based on your data, how long will it take to return to pre-Covid tourism levels?

“Surely some time will go by before we’ll return to pre-covid tourism levels. The recovery times still seem to be very slow and I believe that until there is a real certainty of traveling safely and without risk of contagion, we will not have the same numbers as before. The vaccine will help and it gives hope for the future, but I have a feeling we’ll have to wait a little while longer.”

How has the hotel industry reacted to the pandemic, and, above all, how has the hotel you manage reacted?

“It was a hard blow for everyone but for the tourism sector in general it has been more difficult than for others. It’s worth mentioning that the impact has been different for seasonal accommodation facilities in comparison to those open year round in cities, like ours for example, which unfortunately suffered even more from a lack of overseas international tourism. Guests from North America, Canada and Latin America represent 75% of our clientele and it’s easy to imagine how hard the impact was without them. But we didn’t lose heart and somehow continued to be positive trying to find alternative solutions. The Staycation, for example, was a clear example of resilience, a new alternative that is becoming increasingly popular and that gives residents the opportunity to experience a little vacation in their city!”

Do you think the hospitality sector will change? What are the trends, perspectives and opportunities of the hotel industry?

I have the feeling something will change but we are still not able to say how. On a personal level, this past year has had a negative impact on everyone, and the hotel industry, like many others, will see the consequences. But I’m still positive as traveling and discovering new countries and cities remains one of the most beautiful things life has to offer, it’s part of our DNA. The desire to explore new realities will never go away.”

hotel vilon

About the hotel:

Nestled inside Palazzo Borghese, Hotel Vilòn is an urban oasis with 18 guest rooms and suites to satisfy all requests. A boutique hotel boasting a great lounge, the In Salotto Cocktail Bar, and the Adelaide restaurant where chef Gabriele Muro brings the delicate flavors of the Island of Procida to Rome.


Ms. Michela Mola

Owner of Singer Palace Hotel

According to your opinion and based on your data, how long will it take to return to pre-Covid tourism levels?

“It will be gradual. There won’t be an immediate full recovery due to the problems linked to airlines and flights. We are hoping that in mid 2022 the situation will be very similar to 2019, to then stabilize itself towards the end of 2022. Everything should be behind us from 2023.”

How has the hotel industry reacted to the pandemic, and, above all, how has the hotel you manage reacted?

“Surely many activities, especially sales and marketing, have been transferred online. We’ve introduced new, more experience-oriented packages and the way we communicate with guests is changing. The service is shifting towards an increasingly tailor-made service and the knowledge of our customers and their needs are the priority at this phase. Now, more than ever, guests need to feel they’re in a safe environment, surrounded by skilful staff that are able to meet their every need and emergency.”

Do you think the hospitality sector will change? What are the trends, perspectives and opportunities of the hotel industry?

“I believe something will change in the habits and requests of travelers. We will all look for more “privacy”, spaces and experiences. The calendar will probably be less seasonal and people will want to avoid crowded places. We will search for quality vacations.”

singer palace hotel

About the hotel:

Singer Palace’s 30 rooms/suites are furnished and decorated in a way that feels more like your dream home than a hotel room. The terrace restaurant on the fifth floor of the hotel provides one-of-a-kind views of the historic area, as well as typical Roman cuisine made with high quality ingredients.


Ms. Laura Gomiero

Room Division & Sales Manager at Monti Palace Hotel

According to your opinion and based on your data, how long will it take to return to pre-Covid tourism levels?

“Based on our reservations, the current state of our US and UK markets as well as the rest of Europe and China, but above all, on the difficulties in finding flights at reasonable prices and in sufficient numbers for international and intercontinental travel, we estimate that the 2019 tourism level will be reached again in summer-autumn 2022, with a full recovery in 2023.”

How has the hotel industry reacted to the pandemic, and, above all, how has the hotel you manage reacted?

“No Italian hotel, apart from some that were geographically located in the areas of the pandemic outbreaks in March 2020, was forced to close due to government provisions. We have all been left to ourselves without any indication, despite the evidence that the closure of the Italian borders and the lockdown would have immediately resulted in immobility, causing more serious economic consequences for tourism than for other sectors. The choice to suspend activities until a date to be defined, or totally shut down or continue to operate amid a thousand difficulties and rare guests, was faced by the hotels themselves without in the least knowing if, how and when help would arrive and how long this state of crisis would last.

For the Monti Palace Hotel, the priority was first of all to adapt the common areas and rooms by implementing safety and sanitation regulations  to protect our customers and employees: extra cleaning, use of the devices indicated by the WHO, punctual interventions on air filtering, spacing and adaptation of stations and paths, to name a few. We follow a strict protocol at every stage of the day, constantly supported by security consultants. We set up in-room breakfast instead of the rich buffet at our Rooftop, but we hope to be able to reopen it soon as it’s something our guests always look forward to. We then concentrated on extending the validity and credits of all cancellable and non-cancellable reservations for 2020 and 2021 till December 2022. We issued vouchers issued and corresponded directly with customers.”

Do you think the hospitality sector will change? What are the trends, perspectives and opportunities of the hotel industry?

“There will be significant changes both among the players and among the hotels themselves on the market. We confirm the trend towards a return to the Direct Channel as well as the search for experiential packages that had already begun in the pre-Covid era. The opportunity is undoubtedly to rebalance a market that has seen the emergence of sales channels managed by third parties in recent years with sometimes excessive actions that have led to tariff erosion.

On the other hand, we believe it is possible at the same time to continue collaborating with a view to participation and equality, trusting in less casual attitudes and greater fair play on the part of our web Partners, and to further develop the direct channels currently decidedly preferred by the most aware travelers.”

monti palace hotel

About the hotel:

This four-star hotel located in the beloved Monti neighbourhood is the perfect place to explore the Eternal City. The rooms and suites are decorated in a modern style and breakfast and aperitivo are served on the 5th floor, at the hotel’s Tiziano Terrace by Monti View, boasting stunning views of Rome.

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Mr. Cristiano Parziale

Resident Manager at Hotel Barocco

According to your opinion and based on your data, how long will it take to return to pre-Covid tourism levels?

“A lot will depend on when at least 80% of the entire population will be vaccinated. I believe September 2021 could be a turning point for a good initial slice of tourism, led by travelers thinking “let’s hurry up to see the Pope and the Colosseum before some other calamity prevents us from doing so”. For Rome this could mean experiencing a peculiar start to 2022, with a good number of reservations in January and February 2022.”

How has the hotel industry reacted to the pandemic, and, above all, how has the hotel you manage reacted?

“I expect 2021 won’t be as economically sustainable as 2020. This past year has emptied the pockets of small and medium-sized entrepreneurs, so much so that, as reported by sector newspapers in Rome, a hotel real estate renaissance is underway with at least 5 important brands in the hospitality industry opening their services, including at least 1000 more rooms by 2023.

It is essential in this historical period to train both the managerial staff and the second and third level personnel. Digitize, simplify and streamline procedures as much as possible so that more time can be dedicated to the customer. “The guest at the center” is my mantra for 2021.”

Do you think the hospitality sector will change? What are the trends, perspectives and opportunities of the hotel industry?

“Naturally, but it should be emphasized that the first thing guests will search for are facilities that provide safe, protected and certified hospitality. How will it change? Perhaps, despite the greater demand for digitization by promoting social distancing, this will translate into a human atavistic need to share and travel off the beaten track, even within the Eternal City itself. The re-launch project of Hotel Barocco’s concierge, in collaboration with Romeing, suggests new itineraries beyond the “usual” ultra-crowded ones.”

hotel barocco

About the hotel:

Located in Piazza Barberini, a stone’s throw away from the Trevi Fountain, you’ll find Hotel Barocco, a refined four-star hotel that has recently been refurbished in 2017. The strategic location allows for guests to explore the Eternal City and the beautiful rooms and suites offer comfort and elegance.


Mr. Federico Mencucci

Managing Director at Atlante Hotels

According to your opinion and based on your data, how long will it take to return to pre-Covid tourism levels?

“With the massive impact of vaccination campaigns, the tourism market should slowly recover. But we’ll have to wait at least till spring 2023 to reach pre-covid tourism levels.”

How has the hotel industry reacted to the pandemic, and, above all, how has the hotel you manage reacted?

“The hotel sector was certainly one of the most affected by the pandemic, just think that some hotels in the capital have been closed for a year now and we still don’t know for how long they’ll stay closed. I thought from the very beginning that it would be essential to maintain continuity and to guarantee, to those who provided essential services, accommodation and subsequently adapt the hotel to all anti-contagion regulations. Since the hotel has a large terrace, we also favor outdoor spaces whenever possible.”

Do you think the hospitality sector will change? What are the trends, perspectives and opportunities of the hotel industry?

“Certainly, we have to aim at intercepting the international clientele who has never visited our country and our city and, at the same time, encourage tourists who have already stayed with us to return, guaranteeing they will enjoy an experience in complete safety. Once traveling will be possible again, we’ll have to adapt to the changing needs of guests, who will definitely demand impeccable settings and services.  It will therefore be in this direction that the hospitality sector will have to conform to.”

atlante hotels

About the hotel:

Located in the Prati neighbourhood, the two Atlante Hotels boast 70 rooms and suites each, decorated in contemporary European style. The hotels boast the renowned Les Etoiles rooftop, a fabulous terrace where you can enjoy breakfast, lunch and aperitivo while admiring St. Peter’s Basilica.

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