This is not a cliché.

December 2015

01 December 2015

Where lies the subliminal presence?

Welcome indeed
A welcoming smile greets us as we pass through the doors to what will be our ‘home’ for the next few days. “You are very welcome indeed”. The initial impact is excellent – a pleasant aroma and a sense of ease immediately put us at our comfort. We are quick to note the care, the attention, the genuine nature of things; it seems a place akin to those perfect times of long time ago
True it is indeed that there is never a second chance to make the most of a first impression. I did in fact pass by here many years ago: a curious traveller I was, and I remain equally so on this visit. In those days I could never consider the luxury of booking a room, but I was intrigued to know more about the place; then, as now, international stars would pass here a few days or even more, attracted by the luxury and reserved nature of the location. I still have clear in my mind the taste of the seafood spaghetti: perfectly cooked, wonderful clams, impeccable service. And as for the view – well,well,well ! Looking out I thought there was almost star material in me too! Indeed, this place with much of olives and rosemary about it had made a permanent impression on me. Strange in a way for I as a mountain type had been looking out on a stunningly blue sea, although I guess the vertical rock faces on view did comfort me a little. Magic the place was then and magic it remains today.

I ask myself what it is that makes of a hotel a truly special place to stay? If careful attention is not paid there are a thousand details which we do not readily realize and take for granted: the music selected for background effect, the young waiter who greets you by name, the linen chosen, the flower arrangements. It is even possible to note the work ethic which prevails, the attention to small detail. All in all the ‘’knowing how” involved in the art of hospitality goes far beyond any rational appreciation of things. Even Descartes would have to rethink his scientific applications, for ‘hospitality’ is not so much in the realm of the logic but in the psychological sphere. There exists an ongoing interchange between guest and host. Although I am the one to visit it is I who has the opportunity to grow and understand more about myself. A hotel is a social mix in which persons from various backgrounds and dispositions converge. As for the staff they have the occasion to anticipate the desires of the guest and to offer moments of indulgence and satisfaction.

Hotel Il Pellicano enjoys a great position overlooking the sea and has extensive grounds displaying marvelous nature, but notwithstanding the excellence of this natural habitat we must be careful in thinking that our happiness is complete when we have comfort and convenience. Kant knew well that man seeks happiness but can never really define what he truly wants to achieve such. Whilst I would not dare to contest the findings of the great philosophers who have contemplated the meaning of happiness, of one thing I am certain – magical natural settings contribute to my sense of happiness. Nature makes me happy and here again I am at odds with René Descartes, whose approach entailed we humans becoming masters of nature rather than an integral part of it and as such I feel this has been a harmful yardstick for we of modern generations. Not being able to appreciate that we are ourselves a very part of nature is a backward step, a denial of the tenets of nature itself. Our real objective in this world of ours is to aim high in the tentative to show that we are ‘Capax Universi’. We need to show that we are capable of and that we have the possibility and the necessity to set far-reaching goals.

Back in 1965 it was the intuity and the desire to share happiness that led Roberto Sciò to open the doors of the Il Pellicano in Argentario. Certainly his actions were not motivated by mere calculations and a sense of rationality. What a place it has become with persons such as daughter Marie-Louise, dynamic deputy director Michele Simbaldi, barman Federico. There is certainly a touch of ambience and service of times gone by which adds to one’s pleasure. Take for example the gesture of being offered a limited edition cigar one afternoon just because it had been noted that one was enjoying an original Tuscan cigar the day previously. And then there is the example of Matteo the waiter who clearly recalls your preferred choice of wine. Of course he is helped by the fact that he once worked at the La Stüa de Michil.

There is a common thread between La Perla and the Il Pellicano. There is a shared vision in that together with our families and teams we wish to go in the direction of and in the search of true ‘hospitality’. We share many similar attitudes, not least the approach to the culture of work itself. We both wish to become that which we desire, a wish which is not at all vain in nature but is very true to our intrinsic values and beliefs.