From modern class of the Bauer Hotel and the classic swirl of Il Palazzo, that coexist harmoniously on the original site of the Bauer, the luxury boutique Palladio Hotel & Spa, to stunning latest addition the Villa F, all four Bauer properties are stamped with the singular vision and unparalleled Venetian style of their creator.
As an heiress to one of the golden keys of Venetian culture, Francesca Bortolotto Possati could have chosen to sit back and reap the continued fortune of her grandfather’s bequest - Arnaldo Bennati was the owner of the original Bauer, which was for years the benchmark of Venetian luxury hostelry. However, this fiercely proud Venetian woman, instead took the fateful decision to take her family legacy and redefine it for a new generation of not only visitors to this dreamy metropolitan archipelago, but also those who, like her, have Venice in their blood.
Using her professional background as a successful independent interior design consultant in New York in the 1980s and her stellar career as a rental agent for chic Venetian apartments, she went about her task with all her now famous elegance and passion. The runaway success that resulted from her natural talent as a designer and businesswoman catapulted Ms. Bortolotto Possati into the international limelight - where she was honoured as one of the “The Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World”, and conferred "Damme-Chevalier de l'Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne”.
Alongside being featured in such prestigious publications as Forbeslife, MillionaireAsia Magazine and Harrods Magazine UK, she finds the time to run Palazzo Mocenigo, the family estate, and the family’s vineyard and dairy farm - both incredibly successful businesses in their own right. Culture Divine interviewed this proud mother of two successful grown up children, who lives in the Venice to which she has committed so much of her incredible life and vital soul.
CD. From where do you find the inspiration to continually create such fabulous hospitality venues - perhaps a particular epoch in either Venetian or world history?
FBP. I believe that inspiration is very much alive and constantly evolving in our lives, and is creativity inspired by a mix of deep-rooted heritage and past experiences, reinforced by unexpected and seductive happenings and encounters. We are all proceeding onto a path that is continuously improving in order to reach an ideal vision. My strongest inspiration is actually based on how I feel when I first enter a new space or a new building - reaching for the perfect aura and true identity is what I am mostly interested in achieving. This is the start and from that moment on, I slowly conceive the final result. Changes should be proactive in order to escape repetition.
It goes without saying that growing up in Venice has taught me to reach further and sometimes be provocative without being too transgressive. Venice provides the perfect crossroad of past and future in a most innovative way.
CD. Given the rich depth of the design palette you use in your hotels, which design styles have been the most influential on you?
FBP. It is certainly true that besides Venice, America has been a second home for me and has had a profound influence on my style and design preference.
Having lived in the United States for 11 years, travelling from the deep South to the North, from East to West, has strengthened my desire to realize projects baring a bold but respectful personality, those that could offer any guest or visitor the opportunity to experience a unique lifestyle, like living as a Venetian.
CD. How would you characterize the signature elements that define a BAUERs hotel?
FBP. As I said before, with THE BAUERs - since the time I first started refurbishing my grandfather’s property the Bauer Grunwald, up to now where, after 12 years, I have expanded to four properties with four styles and one soul - I try to give each client the possibility of selecting the perfect “tailor-made suit,” made to measure just for him or her.
CD. What do you think about the modern tendencies in luxury travel and their relationship with a historic city like Venice? How do you achieve such a fine balance between classic Venetian style and the demands of the modern traveller?
FBP. Reinforcing your personality, and believing in your decision, until you develop your own style.
You have to pursue balance and develop strong intuition in making the best possible choices.
CD. Can you describe the central theme you imagined for each one of your hotels and how you envisaged them in terms of their ambience, clientele, design, philosophy and style? Could you define for us what you wanted to achieve?
FBP. The BAUERs is the most urban landmark of all the hotels - it is an independent, provocative example of ’40s architecture, so unique in a city such as Venice.
Il PALAZZO is the most historical Venetian palace in the BAUERs hotel collection. It is sophisticated and luxurious in style, furnishings, and details.
PALLADIO Hotel - with dramatic architecture that incorporates feng-shui throughout its open spaces, soothing colors and the largest gardens in Venice - could be considered a Resort in a city or, as I like to say, “a resort for your mind.”
With VILLA F, I think I have created an ambience close to perfection. Located on Giudecca Island, VILLA F is an island within an island. It truly is the most amazing residence - a combination of a palace, a villa, and your home away from home. I tried to gather all my knowledge and experience to design a space that would be free of unnecessary frills - a space where the architectural lines, the pure essence of the space, would speak for itself.
CD. What do you think is needed to create a perfect ambience?
FBP. See above.
CD. Tell us about the experience of being the modern face of such a magical and historic place as Venice?
FBP. Again, because of my family heritage, I feel very committed to Venice and look toward the future of Venice by bringing new strength and fearless energy to daring new goals. I’m mostly concentrated on preserving The BAUERs heritage, while integrating new ways of doing things for future generations.
CD. Can you tell us about your current and upcoming projects?
FBP. My main project now is concentrating on growing The BAUERs collection of luxury hotels in a consistent manner.
What I have created so far could become history. On the other hand I hope that God may give me new strength to pursue new goals.
CD. Venice is a mystery full of enticing romance and luxurious venues. Which fabulous place is its best-kept secret?
FBP. It is not so much a place as it is awareness and understanding, and possibly an experience of living as a Venetian.
CD. Culture Divine is dedicated to the people, places and moments which define the tastes and lifestyles of glamour’s elite. For you, what defines glamour now?
FBP. I always thought that glamour is a privilege, based on freedom, curiosity, time and love.
As Ms. Bortolotto Possati describes, Venice seems to occupy as many guises as the multitude of enchanted guests that pass through its misty waterways and ancient backstreets. The astonishing Bauer portfolio can be seen as the four serene hosts of that rarefied version of Venice - one steeped in the palpable sense of buildings as the guardians of history’s most enticing secrets.
Elegantly distinct from one another, they transport the city’s most discerning visitors to a quintessentially Venetian haven - a retreat into the fantastical reality of Venetian life. The Venetian into whose life those privileged few are invited to seek refuge is Francesca Bortolotto Possati - a unique doyenne of an utterly unique city.
- Benjamin Stewart
Francesca Bortolotto Possati´s Hotels
Address: San Marco 1459
Tel: 04 15 20 70 22
BAUERs Il Palazzo
Address: San Marco 1413 D
Tel: 04 15 20 70 22
BAUERs Palladio Hotel & Spa
Address: Giudecca 33
Tel: 04 15 20 70 22
Address: Giudecca 37
Tel: 04 15 20 70 22
Address: Calle Corner 3362
Tel: 04 12 40 68 78
For reservations please visit www.bauervenezia.com
Francesca Bortolotto Possati