JWU Student Blogs

Amalfi and Positano, The Dream Coasts of Italy

Last Wednesday, our group went to visit two luxury hotels located alone the coast line, Belmond Hotel Caruso in Ravello that besides the Almafi Coast and Relais & Chateaux on the cliff next to Positano that overlooks the view of coast and Pistano. It is one of the most unforgettable day trip. The road to Ravello and Positano was rugged, where the car had to drive up and down the mountain along the tough mountain roads. The weather was bad too, cloudy, wind, and cold. However, the view along the mountain road was fantastic and the hotels were both very impressive, which made the trip become a pleasant memory for me.

Due to the unique terrain, both of these two hotels are constructed on the cliffs facing the Mediterranean. The price range for both hotels are similar, starting from around €500 per night as average. They are both luxury five-star hotels and both enjoy the same level of fame, but on some aspects, they are very different. The Public Relation person Iolanda Mansi in Hotel Caruso and the Sales and Marketing Manager Agostino Piccolo in Relais & Chateaux gave us the be set explanation of their hotels. Belmond Hotel Caruso and Relais & Chateaux have their own attractivenesses.
Mrs. Mansi divided us into three groups and showed us around Hotel Caruso. When first stepped into the hotel lobby, the elegant painted roof and the chandelier caught my eyes. It was the typical ancient upscale decoration of a Italian roof. There are 120 to 140 rooms available in this hotel for customers. To me, the most impressive part of this hotel is its swimming pool, which is build outdoor on the platform besides the cliff. The pool is big enough and warm enough for guests to swim there even in a cold weather. Guests are able to relax themselves in the warm water while enjoy the entire view of Almafi Coast and Mediterranean. There was a net besides the pool, in case that someone may fall out of the pool by accident.

According to Mansi, the hotel has six free shuttles per day for guests to go to the Almafi Coast, three in the morning and three in the afternoon, of which the schedules are fixed. There are only less than 20% employees in Hotel Caruso are international, most of whom work in the food department. Their biggest markets are guests from United States and United Kingdom, followed by Italian, which means they don’t really need a lot of international employees. As long as some of their native employees are able to communicate in English, there would be no problem. Plus, more native employees will know the local situation. The stratagem increases the employment rate and dramatically promoted the development of local economy in Almafi Coast Area, where almost everyone makes a living on travel and tourism. It was a pity that Mansi didn’t show us how the rooms look like in Hotel Caruso. In my opinion, Hotel Caruso is more of a local traditional Italian-style high end luxury hotel.

When it comes to Relais & Chateaux, Mr. Piccolo gave us a tour of the entire hotel, where all the highlight of this hotel are pointed out. The most impressive part of Relais & Chateaux is how much they pay attention to details and to the conservation of environment. From their exquisite painting on the door of the restroom, to picture that placed at the entrance of the restaurant showing guests the restaurant’s dress code for different meals, everywhere is full of their carefulness to their customers. On the public balcony of Relais & Chateaux, we can not only overlook the breathtaking view on both the coast and the town of Pistano, but also feel the sunbath in the afternoon lining on the retro bench. Many famous people have come to this balcony and sited on the elegant painted bench. Every room has the same possibility to have an amazing view on their own balcony.

According to Mr. Piccolo, the hotel improve itself based on customers feedback every year when it comes to their low season. There are two ways of interact with their customers. One way is through their Facebook page. When guests say something about the hotel, the hotel employees always try to reply and understand what need to be improved. The other way is through the hotel feedback book. Relais & Chateaux learnt that many guests wished that they could have done spa within the facility from their feedback.

It cannot change the outside appearance of the hotel in order to preserve the local natural environment, which give it a big challenge of building new facilities such as a spa. Fortunately, they finally figured out solutions. The rooms on high floors viewing more of the entire coast has less space out of their rooms. Everyone has equal opportunity to choose their rooms based on their preference. They converted an old storage into a small spa and gym with a unique view of the valley. The other thing I learnt from Piccolo is that there should always be a back-up plan. He had an example when a famous person came to Relais & Chateaux one night while all other rooms are sold out. They sold the small room on the top floor of the facility which has a 360 division view of the entire place to her and left her a good impression. This hotel had done a great job on customer service and emergency problem solving.

There are only 59 rooms accommodating over one hundred guests at a time I n Relais & Chateaux Hotel, but there are about 130 employees serving all the guests. Piccolo said that at least one guest will be served with one employee because real luxury hotel is when guests feel at home. The luxury concept showed in that verything was included in Theron rate except for the spa. Their biggest target market are people from United States, French, and Italy. Their two new potential markets are China and Brazil. The other major markets are Russia and Israel. Among all of their guests, 30-40% are repeat guests. Relais & Chateaux Group has other luxury hotels located in other major tourism cities in Europe such as Milan and Paris. All of these elements above determined that Relais & Chateaux requires more international employees than Hotel Caruso. Most employees are expected to speak Italian, French, and English fluently.
As far as I’m concerned, the two Almafi Coast and Pistano are become more and more popular as the people’s living standard improve. There are a lot of potential opportunity for people in Hotel and Tourism Industry. Relais & Chateaux is more attractive to me if I would like to pursue my career along the Almafi and Pistano Coast, because of its international environment. Of course there are more challenges here. Probably before I decided to start my career here, I would come first with my future husband during our honeymoon trip!
Chenlijun Dong (Sherry)