What is so special about your beautiful Masseria?
I would like to call the concept of Masseria Alchimia an APARTHOTEL: It is small holiday apartments and suites with hotel services such as daily cleaning, a top concierge service with insider tips and extremely individual care. I also attach great importance to aesthetics: design classics, modern art, such as lamps by an Apulian artist broken with local antiques. All in all, it is a very personal mix of elements that make the visitor feel comfortable, a modern rural lifestyle.
Another important point for me is an environmentally conscious behaviour. I have installed solar panels, rainwater is collected for the garden, a system for saving drinking water has been installed and waste is strictly separated. I ask my guests to separate the garbage (each unit has a small eco-island).
Both the Masseria Alchimia and the Palazzina and Torretta offer space for modern art. Some of the works belong to my personal collection, others are for sale. If you are interested, I can bring artists and guests together. A gallery also exhibits its works with me. Thus there is a continuous change of exhibited works of art, which is experienced as extraordinary by the returning guests (almost 25%).
At the reception my guests find literature about Puglia, the works of a goldsmith from Fasano, a light artist from Polignano and much more. This always in alternation and with the idea of introducing the many creative people from Puglia to an international clientele. This is also a wonderful opportunity for me to give back the good that has happened to me here.
Relatively new is our offer to organize weddings, family celebrations and events in general, a very exciting thing, which gives a lot of pleasure.
What kind of guests find their way to you, how do they become aware of you?
My guests enjoy design, art and beautiful objects. This can include exclusive linen bed linen, beautiful tableware, but also art and photography. In addition, a quiet environment is important to the guests and they attach great importance to absolute cleanliness. Guests are also happy to take advantage of my tips, restaurant and beach reservations and individual advice on how to organise their holidays.
Especially couples and families from the German-speaking countries come. Often they are creative people, such as architects, designers, artists and actors, but also all those who define themselves as „design lovers“. I often hear: „Oh, we have that chair at home too…“
Surely it is individualists who are curious about the culture and beauty of Puglia. I would describe them less as typical vacationers than as travelers. They find me on the Internet, which is why a well-designed website is important to me and by recommending me to friends – the longer I am on the market, the easier it is to communicate further.
How do you position yourself in the market compared to your colleagues in the surrounding area, who are your target groups?
All those who find my concept of the „suite for self-catering with daily cleaning“ appealing belong to my target group. On the other hand, those who are looking for the classic hotel with breakfast buffet and pool will probably not be happy with me.
Most of the hotels around here are traditional hotels or (relatively simple) holiday apartments where the guest has to take care of everything himself. With me, on the other hand, the guest doesn’t have to wash the dishes himself, make the bed or fold his pyjamas. During the holidays this is something to be proud of.
When new guests arrive, it is my goal to find out what they want in the shortest possible time, and to provide them with what they need. On the very first day of their stay, guests should receive an information package that is individually tailored to their needs. That means for the foodie, the best restaurants and coolest bars, for the bathing vacationers, the most beautiful beach clubs and beaches and for fashion lovers, the hippest shops and boutiques – good tips just don’t fall into tourist traps.
Why a hotel at all? How involved are you in the operative business, do you run the hotel or do you have a director?
Actually the whole thing happened more by chance – the Masseria Alchimia found me. In my life I have travelled a lot and discovered this beautiful region of Italy about 15 years ago – I stayed here. I didn’t complete a classical apprenticeship in the hotel industry, but studied economics (at the HSG in St.Gallen, Switzerland). I then applied my studies to the hotel business; with a little common sense and with all the knowledge I learned while traveling and that I am not afraid to travel.
So are you always there as the good soul of the house?
I am the heart of the house and am always available as a contact person for my guests. In addition, I employ two sisters who look after the housekeeping and a gardener for the green areas and any small craftsman tasks. In midsummer there are more of them; I employ a total of six people.
Is your Masseria easy to reach?
Fasano in the heart of Puglia is ideally situated: between two international airports (Bari and Brindisi are 60km away), very weatherproof, exceptionally friendly people and no high crime rate (which you would expect in the south). Beautiful sandy beaches and a number of small villages with great restaurants and boutiques complete the picture. For me the ideal destination in Europe: Sea, culture, gastronomy, quickly accessible and not (yet) overpriced.
You have two holiday flats outside the Masseria in the city of Fasano and in the old town of Ostuni?
This is the Toretta Alchimia and the Palazzino Alchimia. In these two apartments you have more privacy, a lot of space and you can plunge into the hustle and bustle of the city and go out and shop on foot. A perfect solution for a whole week.
In which price segment are you moving?
The prices vary. The cheapest room „Double Standard“ costs 69,00 Euro per night for two guests in winter, the most expensive room, the „Romantic Suite“ I rent in midsummer for 275,00 Euro per night, so the range is big. Most of the times, these are direct bookings, I do not offer packages.
How strongly does your regional approach (local links) work? Can you describe it a little bit more detailed?
I maintain very strong local links. That’s how I created the My Puglia Card, which I give to my guests on arrival. This list contains an overview of what I consider to be the best restaurants, trattorias, boutiques, beach clubs, hairdressers etc. With this card, the guests receive a small ’sconto‘ or other advantages such as a better table, a free café, etc. at the respective addresses.
As a German, are you well connected down there in the south? If so, how did you achieve this?
I know a lot of people and (almost) everybody knows me. How did I manage this? I have lived here for many years and – at least I think so – I have always behaved correctly. The word gets around. As a German, and even more so as a woman alone, you are initially received both positively and negatively. But as time goes by, the southern Italians learn to appreciate the professionalism, punctuality and reliability of their counterpart, and so all doors are now open to me.
C A R O L I N E G R O S C E
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