Life Lessons: Sir Rocco Forte
Wisdom from one of the world’s leading hoteliers
Sir Rocco Forte, 66, is one of the world’s leading hoteliers, with 13 hotels and resorts around the globe. The native of Bournemouth, England was in the capital this month for the launch of the Rocco Forte Hotel Abu Dhabi. He shares his wisdom with M magazine
1. Take pride in what you do and strive to be the best. My father taught me the importance of a strong work ethic and was always insistent that I worked for my money. He allowed me to sit in on business meetings and I spent half my school holidays working in the hotel, doing everything from dish washing to clerical work. He taught me the importance of knowing the business from the ground up.
2. Keep yourself fit and healthy. Keeping fit is an important part of my daily routine. I feel uncomfortable when I don’t exercise. Staying fit keeps your mind in focus. I have represented Britain within my age group in the World Triathlon Championships and have also participated in Iron Man events. I am thinking about competing in the London Marathon again, in the over-65 category. I also enjoy shooting, fishing and golf.
3. Know your customer. I understand what the luxury customer wants. The five-star product is very sophisticated; it’s made out of lots of different elements, which all have to be right. With a five-star hotel, there’s more than just the way the rooms look. There’s the service delivery, and that’s where a lot of effort is made. It’s also about creating a glamorous atmosphere with some theatre.
4. Maintain your perspective and have one clear message. When the banking crisis struck in 2008, we reviewed our costs. It was the first time we had looked closely at the costs in the hotels, because I’d always had the view that the guy in charge must have one clear message and act according to that message. And the message in this company was all about service quality. And if I had started telling people, actually, the message is really about costs, then the message would be diluted.
5. Be aware of the evolving world around you. Technology is important in reaching the market but should never replace human contact.
As told to Helena Frith Powell
Helena Frith Powell was born in Sweden to a Swedish mother and Italian father, but grew up mainly in England. She is the author of eleven books, translated into several languages including Chinese and Russian. She wrote the French Mistress column The Sunday Times about life in France for several years. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, The Times, Daily Telegraph, Tatler Magazine and Harper’s Bazaar.
Helena has been the editor of four magazines, including M Magazine, a supplement for the Abu Dhabi based National Newspaper and FIVE, a high-end fashion glossy, also published in Abu Dhabi. Helena was also editor in chief of 360 Life, a quarterly glossy magazine published with the Sports 360 Newspaper in Dubai, part of the Chalhoub Group. She writes a beauty blog www.beautyorbeast.uk.
Her third novel, The Arnolfini Marriage, based on a romance that evolves around a van Eyck masterpiece came out in 2016. As well as contributing regularly for newspapers and magazines, writing short stories and studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, Helena is also working on a thriller called The Longest Night that will be published in spring 2019. Her latest non-fiction work Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles came out in hardback in 2016 and came out in paperback in April 2018.
Helena was educated at Durham University and lived in the Languedoc region of France for eight years, where the family still have a home. She lives between there and London with her husband Rupert and their three children.
More France Please, we’re British; Gibson Square 2004
Two Lipsticks and a Lover 2005; Gibson Square (hardback)
All You Need to be Impossibly French; (US version of above) Penguin 2006
Two Lipsticks and a Lover; Arrow Books (paperback) 2007
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (hardback) 2006
Ciao Bella Gibson Square; (paperback) 2007
So Chic! (French version of Two Lipsticks) Leduc Editions 2008 (also translated into Chinese, Russian and Thai)
More, More France; Gibson Square 2009
To Hell in High Heels; Arrow Books 2009 (also translated into Polish)
The Viva Mayr Diet; Harper Collins 2009
Love in a Warm Climate; Gibson Square 2011
The Ex-Factor; Gibson Square 2013
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles; Gibson Square 2016
The Arnolfini Marriage; Amazon Kindle December 2016
Smart Women Don’t Get Wrinkles (paperback); Gibson Square spring 2018
The Longest Night; Gibson Square spring 2019