Virtues and sins of the dance of hospitality

CasaCosta1956 is our Case’s website, giving voice to our hotels from the Dolomites all the way to Val d’Orcia. One recent initiative is “The dance of hospitality” campaign. Our teams pirouette in the kitchens, cafes and bars, corridors and in and out of rooms – a sight to see, but we’re well aware not every step is perfect.

Someone might be mixing a cocktail with aplomb behind the counter, yet a cacophony of voices rises nearby, the content of whose discourse is fed to our guests – whether they want to hear it or not. Our Casa in Bagno Vignoni is a temple of classical music, and our record player hums tunes to the whim of our orchestra conductors – i.e. our guests -, yet the loud music from the Barrino bursts the bubble of peace and quiet. A similar situation occurs at the L’Murin, opposite Hotel La Perla. We’ll never win the Nobel Prize for absolute silence – and our friend, Giuseppe the bat, flits up and down, visibly annoyed by the sound pollution. So, as we dance to the rhythm of hospitality, know we are aware of our countless failings.

What really takes the cake is when guests arrive and, having been promised something, find no traces of it. Reaching a place you were convinced was surrounded by nature and discovering it’s just a few steps from a busy motorway isn’t ideal. Oh, don’t worry – some type of guests take to social media and online comments to air their grievances. What is really lacking is an overview of the place we choose for our holidays. Take the Dolomites and Val d’Orcia, for example. We’re blessed we can welcome you in these stunning locations and yet we know beauty requires effort, energy, and money. And beauty can be ravaged and distorted by reckless people, sold to the highest bidder, and then sold for a fraction of the price. South Tyrol isn’t immune, and its hard-working constituents aren’t always represented by the right people. And, politics, as we know, is all about listening to whoever can give you the most votes – a proposal to limit the number of available rooms in accommodation across the region, for example, is seen as nonsensical, even foolhardy: if you want to get re-elected, that is. Some of our region’s councillors use public money to benefit their families; our sustainability days are welcomed with all the pomp and ceremony you’d expect, only to find out that what they were pursuing was a façade, and actions never quite follow through what was promised by words. Nothing new under the sun, and it’s a tale as familiar and old as time itself.

We don’t want to bore you, dear guests, with what our elected representatives do with our voices and money. Let’s shift the focus, and talk about the Costas, our family. We run a tight ship. And our staff are excellent people, so if a minor snafu happens, we’re happy to let it go. Just like they can forgive us when said tight ship dips a bit too low in the waters, and ends up splashing them. When does it dip? Let me give you one example: our buffet’s vegetables. We love our chefs, we believe in them, and they do an outstanding job; if you’ve ever dabbled in the world of cooking, you’ll know they’re truly special people. The La Perla’s vegetable buffet serves fresh vegetables, select extra virgin olive oil – no harm in that, right? However, now and then, you may hear the boisterous voices of our chefs working in the kitchen, preparing meals, announcing when they’re ready and, now and then, you may also hear colourful expressions ripping through the air.

We’ve tried to quiet them down – but we’ve failed. Yes, we, because it takes two to tango, them and us. We could distribute ear plugs – what a novel idea that would be – but we’ve decided to face the situation the Costa and La Perla way: dear guests, come and join us in the kitchen, meet our chefs and the rest of the team, raise a glass to them when you see them sat at the bar counter, and roam the office area with us to see our Foundation’s different projects. That way, you’ll even smile when the kitchen orchestra seeps into our dining halls, and feel part of a true Casa, a home.

The Posta’s buffet is miles away from the kitchen – not really, but you can’t hear them. But we’ve got a keen eye for self-criticism. Our chef is an amazing young man, but he’d sooner jump into the thermal waters than eat a good salad, steak-fan that he is. The La Perla’s spa is vintage, the Ladinia doesn’t even have one, and our Tuscany spa needs a bit of TLC. We know, and we’re working hard to improve the situation. We talk a lot about being green, yet we aren’t fully green, nor energy-independent. The Case weren’t built yesterday, and consume mountains of energy.

We run hotels. We provide our guests with hospitality. And so the obvious question is: are we good at what we do? Only you, dear guests, can answer that. Come and visit us, tell us what path we should choose by being as open and as frank as you can be. We’ll reward you with sincerity and a genuine smile. And the dance of hospitality will accompany you throughout.