Lifestyle

Siren’s Call

Family portrait of Antonio and Carla Sersale, with sons Francesco and Aldo at their hotel, Le Sirenuse

Antonio and Carla Sersale with sons Francesco (left) and Aldo

Positano, as viewed from La Sponda restaurant at Le Sirenuse

Positano, as viewed from La Sponda at Le Sirenuse. Portrait by Roberto Salomone, courtesy of Le Sirenuse

By Mark Ellwood

Italy is the land of luxurious family-run hotels, those properties whose appeal lies far beyond mere bricks and mortar. One such storied site is Le Sirenuse, on the Amalfi Coast, established in the early 1950s just as the era of la dolce vita began. It’s retained that glamorous sheen in the decades since, as it was passed down through generations. Now, a new guard is taking up the baton: After stints at wellness mecca The Well, and Mandarin Oriental, respectively, 29-year-old Francesco Sersale and his older brother Aldo, 30, are being primed by their father Antonio to take the helm of the beloved hotel. Here, we catch up with the pair.

What are some of the endeavors you’re focused on at Le Sirenuse?
Francesco: A lot of the work we do is focused on continuously improving the guest experience. We strive to add small details that make the difference when staying at Le Sirenuse. Recently, we created a self-guided tour of the hotel’s art collection, for example. At our store, Emporio Sirenuse, we offer a range of products so that a younger generation is able to buy into the brand at a more reasonable price point.

Unlike your past roles in more corporate- structured hospitality, Aldo, here you’re a part of a multigenerational family business. What are some of the greatest differences you’ve seen?
You have a responsibility to those who came before you; you have to improve, keep up with the times, but it’s not like you should come in and change everything. I’m also constantly in awe of the speed at which my father resolves issues.

View of boats in Positano from the restaurant balcony at the Sirenuse hotel

Capturing the coastline from one of the hotel’s terraces

You were schooled in London, and vacations there were your first experience in hospitality.
Francesco: We went to boarding school, and my grandfather had a house in London, where we went over the weekends. Once we were a little older, in high school, our parents stopped coming for the breaks, so we started inviting friends to stay at the house. It was the first time we started becoming hosts, and it taught me that hospitality runs in our veins. It’s what makes us happy.

Aldo, you’ve lived and worked in Miami Beach. Tell me what your memories are.
I moved from New York to join the Sirenuse team at the Four Seasons Surf Club hotel in early 2020, but by March, due to shelter in place, we had closed, so I wasn’t there for very long. Personally, I was ready to go back to living by the beach-like we did growing up in Italy. I really enjoyed slowing down compared to life in New York.

Many Italian resort hotels like yours are attempting to extend their seasons now, in part thanks to the brutally hot weather that’s typical in midsummer. Your Dolce Vitality program is intended to do that, too.
Francesco: My father started the program in 2018. It’s a way to do something interesting out of season: we run Dolce Vitality at the start of the season before we open, and one to close it out, which this year is set for October 29. The focus is to show that there’s more to this place than a basket of lemons and a Vespa. We basically sell a very small group—a maximum of 25 people—a highly structured program that runs for five days: there are daily hikes, yoga, massage, and a wonderful pescatarian menu.

The interior of La Sponda restaurant at the Sirenuse hotel, Positano

La Sponda restaurant at Le Sirenuse

If someone’s coming to stay this summer at Le Sirenuse, what’s your top tip for their trip?
Francesco: Either very early in the morning or late in the evening, go for a hike in the mountains up to the stunning plateau of Monte Comune. On a clear day, you can see 360 degrees, from Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples to Ischia, Procida, and Capri, all the way to the islands of Li Galli and back to Positano. There are a lot of beautiful hikes that are fairly untrodden, raw and beautiful. People are obsessed with the views at the hotel—but from there, you get to see them from 300 to 400 meters higher in the air.

 

What To Pack

Channel that dolce vita vibe with our Amalfi Coast edit, below. Ciao!



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