One big family | Monocle

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Stretching along three hectares of shoreline on the Lombardy side of Lake Garda, it’s of little surprise that Villa Feltrinelli is a hotel that does just fine when it comes to staff retention. Alongside the magnificent 19th-century sand-and-orange turreted villa – all wood panelling, frescoes and Murano glasswork inside – a walk through the grounds takes in two moored hotel boats, a swimming pool, olive and lemon trees, and plenty of private nooks. “Most of my staff have been with the hotel for 15 years or so,” says the hotel’s Swiss general manager, Markus Odermatt, who is dressed in a beige seersucker jacket. The fact that Odermatt takes a dip in the lake every morning at 07.00, even in winter, from his home further down the lake might have contributed to the fact he’s been with Villa Feltrinelli for more than 20 years.

The hotel might be grand and discreet but Odermatt says that it “feels like someone’s house” rather than your traditional grand hotel. For much of its life, until the late 1990s, the villa was the private pile of the aristocratic Feltrinelli family, who proved to be colourful characters to say the least. Family patriarch Carlo was a successful businessman, while his son Giangiacomo founded the Feltrinelli bookshop chain found throughout Italy (Giangiacomo also became involved in armed left-wing activism, dying in murky circumstances in the 1970s).

Since 2001, Villa Feltrinelli has been welcoming guests in its 20 magnificent suites. Alongside original furniture, everything else is bespoke and handmade in the Bel Paese for the hotel, something that Odermatt calls “a work of art”. Part of the way in which Villa Feltrinelli provides great service is through the sheer number of staff on hand: a team of 90 are charged with going above and beyond for a maximum of 40 guests. “Everyone has the hotel motto emblazoned on their chest,” says Odermatt. “It makes people feel important.” The key, he adds, it’s not just about how staff treat the hotel’s guests but also how they treat each other. “Everything we do is the opposite of what a normal hotel does.” — L


Markus Odermatt
General manager, (front and centre)

Born in Switzerland, Odermatt has been general manager of Villa Feltrinelli in Gargnano, Lake Garda since it opened in 2001. He started his career in his homeland, working for several years in the f&b scene. He moved into hotels in Mexico, where he moved next, working for Casa de Sierra Nevada and the Small Luxury Hotels of Mexico Group. In the West Indies, he played a key role in establishing the exclusive Grace Bay Club in the Turks and Caicos Islands. 

1. Max Ferrara 
Maintenance manager
“Ensures flawless facility operations”

2. Romina-Maria Florut
“Prepares and presents the laundry of clients perfectly”

3. Piera Donola
Head housekeeper
Ensures impeccable cleanliness and comfort”

4. Daniele Vezzola
Boat skipper
Guides Riva cruises on Lake Garda”

5. Matteo Lonati
Head gardener
“Supervises the hotel’s grounds and 30,000 flowers”

6. Tiziano Ghitti
Head maître’d and sommelier
“Curates exquisite dining and wine experiences”

7. Rose-Myrtha Regis
“Always greets guests with a smile”

8. Alessandro Bosco
Restaurant manager
“Delivers exceptional dining experiences”

9. Giuliana Nieddu
Reservation manager
“Plans and ensures the perfect stay for every guest at the villa”

10. Liga Sierina
“Elevates service in our two-Michelin-starred dining room”

11. Michele Della Torre
Sous chef
“Second-in-command in the kitchen and oversees exceptional food-quality control”

12. Stefano Baiocco
Executive chef
“Crafts culinary masterpieces, helping earn our two stars”

13. Alessia Micheletti
Assistant to general manager
“Supports executive efficiency and operations”

14. Alessia Vannelli
“Her style is efficient and impeccable”

15. Noureddine Hragua
“Welcomes and assists guests on arrival warmly and efficiently”

16. Holainy Costanza Duarte
“On duty early every morning to serve guests breakfast with aplomb”

17. Elisa Cerutti
Spa therapist
“Provides rejuvenating and therapeutic treatments”

18. Raul Morelli
“Ensures relaxation and wellness”

19. Sigrid Jehle
Resident manager
“Overseas daily operations and guest satisfaction”

20. Evi-Sabrina Savu
“Her gentle manners charm guests”

21. Andrea Carobene
“Maintains a pristine poolside experience”

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