The luxury of experience

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A portrait of Stefano Gegnacorsi, General Manager at the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina
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An interview with the General Manager at Gran Hotel Timeo.

Is it possible to fall in love with an experience? The answer is yes, if memories can bring back to life those unique sensations. And when the emotions are special and exclusive they become luxury. When we talk about tourism, travel experience, we don’t have to connect the word luxury to splendour and glamour. Luxury travel is a more complex and sophisticated concept related to the traveller’s state of mind, to his needs to be met with a constant and careful attention to details. Nowadays, those who choose to take a luxury holiday are fond of the philosophy of ‘good living’. They long for an experience in the wilderness, which allows them to connect and re-connect with nature and the land culture, to discover and re-discover local flavours. It is a whole wellbeing experience in order to reclaim one’s own time. This is true not only at a personal level but also for the whole family. Needless to say – considering the times we are living in – that security is a top priority. This statement kick-starts a pleasant conversation with Stefano Gegnacorsi, General Manager at the Belmond Gran Hotel Timeo.

A stunning sunset at the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo in Taormina. Looking out over the Sicilian east coast, the building is located near the Greek Theatre.

Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo

It is located in one of the most scenic corners of Taormina, with Etna in the background, on the Sicilian east coast. The hotel - which is part of the hotel chain Belmond - opened in 1873 near the ancient Greek Theatre, was beloved by the international jet-set, and legends of world cinema, such as Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Marcello Mastroianni.

Three words that define luxury travel

First of all it is service and comfort. Not only are they two of the main factors that distinguish a luxury travel, but they are also tightly connected. It is service that in particular revolves around uniqueness and exclusivity. Luxury travellers are very demanding and care a lot about personalisation. 

 

Comfort is related to the experience and is thus more subjective. It is about sensations, the well-being one feels in a certain atmosphere and of course it inevitably depends on the quality of the service. Besides these two factors, we must take into account security. It is of fundamental value, especially in the light of the dramatic times in which we live.

As far as safety is concerned, the Timeo has committed to work hard in order to re-open its doors to our guests. 

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How has the concept of luxury tourism changed in the last years?

Nowadays luxury travel translates into an experience with dedicated services. It relates to culture, natural wonders, wellness, food and wine. It is thus evident that Sicily with its rich heritage has a primary role to play. Taormina in particular is a point of reference in luxury travel. Travellers wish to discover the territory, to be in harmony with the surroundings, without having to renounce the warm and cozy sensation of feeling at home. The Timeo has always taken good care of this trend. This starts with our cooking, which expresses the very essence of the territory. Our two restaurants, Otto Geleng and Timeo, offer – each in their unique ways – what we can call a ‘journey in taste’. At a recreational level, we create personalised activities, such as tours around Taormina, to Etna, and boat trips. The search for unique and unforgettable experiences is matched with a remarkable awareness of ecological issues and sustainability. Although holidays must be memorably flawless, they also give us the opportunity to acquire or strengthen our awareness that beauty has to be cherished and preserved.

A holiday also gives us the opportunity to acquire or strengthen our awareness that beauty has to be preserved.

So, live the experience. What about the digital aspects?

The digital traveller is always ‘connected’ and the hotel industry has to take this into account. The online experience has to be unique and memorable as well and – for those who wish – sharable. Not surprisingly, the Belmond Gran Hotel Timeo’s online communication is built around the storytelling of the experience, the latter being the amalgam of comfort, service and security, which enable us to tell guests about the traditions and the culture of our territory.

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