This is not a cliché.

March 2015

03 March 2015

Crazy Thursday at La Perla

What on earth is going on? I have heard about all these pre-dinner aperitif things in Alpine resorts but often questioned the why and how … and especially the ‘with whom’ factors.
“It’s singular that all this down to earth interaction between a supposedly sophisticated guest portfolio is taking place in such a hotel.”
And yet here we are gathered in the foyer of La Perla, not too far from the entrance, with a chill snow storm going on outside. All very cordial with white wine served, and then low and behold, as if coming down from the heavens, a noisy troop descend the stairs. I can only describe them as a band – one of villains or musicians I am not sure, The guy in front must be late seventies if not early eighties and he is wielding something which can only be termed as a contraption – a sort of long stick with cowbells and motorbike horns – are we really serious for this is supposed to be a Leading Hotel of The World? The other characters in the ‘down the stairs’ procession have a guitar of sorts and an accordion or two to defend themselves. What does the evening hold in store I ask myself? – it all seems rather embarrassing. But then no sooner than after my initial horror the whole scene transforms for the whole La Perla kitchen staff (and there must be twenty of them) are lined up in a sort of Cup Final tunnel to welcome the ‘celebrities’ and there is a lot of that Bavarian type clapping – only later do I understand that it is South Tyrol style clapping!! I do not know how but there is an immediate enthusiasm which envelops the entire company. Guests fresh from a day on the slopes, or a good bit of wellness centre pampering, warm to the occasion and a festive mood encouraged by the vibrating music seems to prevail. The guy who led the others down is going fairly ballistic at the front banging out the rhythm, or is he attempting to follow it? Oh my Lord. Someone points out that he is the founder of La Perla and it is he who, starting out as an itinerant plumber, has built this leading hotel and overcome traumas such as it being burnt down to the ground in 1975. It is he who has sired the generation now managing La Perla and given it its undoubtedly sophisticated and distinctive look – a hotel which is a house and has become a haven of pleasure for its guests. And more besides –  the lady in charge of operations and  moving ably amongst the assembled is Signora Costa. She is very much the master of operations, making sure nobody has a glass not filled or is suffering an awkward viewing position or is just feeling momentarily ill at ease. She seems the embodiment of class personified – and that is no exaggeration but just a reflection of how she is. Meanwhile her husband bashes away relentlessly and the bonne humeur of the guests escalates. It is incredible that all this down to earth interaction between a supposedly sophisticated guest portfolio is taking place in a hotel so important. Oh no, the cry goes out that we are to adjourn to the kitchen – the kitchen!! – but it is 8.00 in the evening and there are hungry mouths to fill – nothing builds up the appetite more than a snowy mountain day! And so we troop into the kitchen (must be more than 60 of us) led by our new found band. Joy of all joys for we are greeted by Costa family members and staff, they quick to ensure, we have a glass in hand. Laid out our a display of delicacies and the kitchen staff especially dressed for the occasion in long flowing outfits crowned with a flat pancake style cap and strings of spaghetti pressed together to create a stylish dicky bow. What an occasion and what a celebration. Guests have now lost any inhibitions and link arms and raise a glass to the band as they bang out a ‘prosit ein prosit’.
Amazing to think that in 20 minutes time the kitchen will be back to normal service and serving up Ladin specialities to a hungry flock of guests.  ‘No trouble spared’ seems to be the motto of the family and what shines through is the  genuine enthusiasm to live the dream of providing a hotel experience diverse – yes, one of contemporary luxury, but also one where the guest is invited to share in the house and regard it as a home for his or her stay. Ernesto Costa is certainly an inspirational and determined character, this music event just one of his many passions, and is blessed with an infectious sense of fun and ‘never say die’ spirit… and he has a hell of a woman at his side.

Haigh Barclay