The wellness director of Rocco Forte Hotels reveals her passion for all things Italian.
Irene Forte knows the family business inside out. She joined Rocco Forte Hotels, which was founded by her father, six years ago after reading French and Italian at the University of Oxford, and works alongside her older sister Lydia, who oversees food and drink.
A trilingual, marathon-running charity ambassador, Forte is in charge of elements of learning and development, as well as spas and fitness. She also found time to launch her own Sicilian-inspired skincare line in 2018 after falling in love with the Mediterranean island and its rich ingredients. With recyclable packaging, vegetable- and soya-based inks, and fresh, organic ingredients, Irene Forte Skincare’s entire lifecycle is commendably sustainable, as is her lifestyle.
I think that a good skincare regime can boost your physical and mental wellbeing. Generally, if you have a good skincare regime, you tend to be conscious about other things, too. The reality is that it needs to be combined with lots of sleep and finding tools to help you relax and not over-stress. As well as this, you need to try and drink lots of water and implement a healthy diet rich in omegas and low in refined sugars and alcohol. Plus, having good facials regularly can do a world of good for your skin.
I strongly believe in using natural products, which is why I created Irene Forte Skincare; it uses the freshest and simplest ingredients from Sicily. It contains a matrix of different Mediterranean ingredients that we actually eat, and that we know are rich in vitamins and minerals that positively impact the body. We also use ingredients that are naturally occurring in our body and that boost skin quality, such as ceramides, sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid.
Lots of chemicals can have a detrimental effect on your skin and on your health more generally. The skin is the largest organ of the body and up to 2kg of chemicals can be absorbed through it each year just from toiletries and skincare products.
After introducing my products to Rocco Forte Hotels and conducting extensive training, it is now the lead brand offered at all its spas with a curated menu of treatments and rituals. In fact, the first two Irene Forte Skincare spas are opening this May. I’m extremely excited about it!
The beauty products I use depend on where I am going and the season. Either way, my staples are a lip balm to keep my lips nourished and a night cream when I travel, given that planes dry out my skin.
As for fashion, I love colour and fun shirts; Borgo de Nor for its dreamy floral dresses and Dolce & Gabbana for its bright prints and the fact that it’s inspired by Sicily. But Aquazzura is my ultimate shoe brand – the shoes are fun, super-high and comfortable. I never go anywhere without heels, given that I’m a little short.
My role as wellness director is to address complete enrichment and unity of physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, fusing proven, pioneering science and technology with inherited wisdom and an affinity with nature. In short, we focus on five areas in life: nourishment, fitness, the mind, community and sustainability. We provide guests with running maps and offer sightseeing running and cycling tours, combining the culture of the city with improving fitness. We strive to bring the best possible local experiences to our guests in each hotel.
How do I relax? I love facials, a good massage and doing lots of sport. I’m also crazy about travel (which correlates to my work) and try and do one adventurous trip per year. Three years ago I went to Burma; I loved the hot air balloons at sunrise in Bagan and the peacefulness of Inle Lake. Two years ago I went trekking in the Himalayas in search of snow leopards.
An enduring favourite of artists and writers, stars and politicians, Hotel de Russie was dubbed ‘paradise on earth’ by French poet Jean Cocteau in 1917. Artist Pablo Picasso and Cocteau stayed here back in 1917 when they were preparing to stage the first ever Cubist ballet. The Mediterranean tiered Secret Garden, with rose bushes and orange trees, provides artistic inspiration in abundance.
Verdura Resort offers an outdoor sunrise and sunset yoga, as well as boot camps. Jogging, trekking and cycling trails meander through the resort’s olive, orange and lemon trees, allowing guests to uncover Sicily’s rich culture. There’s also the U Canuscituri, a community of insiders offering access to traditions and secrets of the area. More than a concierge, this service acts as a local friend.
Moments from the majesty of the Duomo, Hotel Savoy will provide you with a romantic journey into the grand palaces in the historic heart of the city. Savour an aperitivo on the decadent outdoor terrace and indulge in expertly crafted fine Italian cuisine, using some of the region’s best ingredients. Why not hunt for the latter yourself and dig up some world-famous truffles?