It’s hard not to look at Alessandro Sironi and Hotel Filario & Residences, which he opened in 2015 at the age of 26, and see both the man and the hotel evolving together. “The hotel was my first product, so the food and the dining experience were not a main focus at the time,” he explains.” I didn’t want to be too ambitious and do it wrong.” That mindset has changed now that Sironi’s confidence has grown with time. The result is a completely redone restaurant, a new chef, and a second restaurant on the beach—all of which has put Filario squarely on the culinary must-visit list for both locals and visitor.
Sironi himself has evolved thanks to more responsibility at the hotel, as well as another hotel in the works. Still, growing does not come without some unexpected difficulties. “It’s a bit of a struggle for me to be the CEO now and not help guests with their luggage when they check in,” he notes, “because that’s the instinct. Everyone on the staff, from the bottom to the very top, is critical when it comes to creating beautiful experiences.”
As the hotel became established, I noticed that guests had higher expectations when it came to the food. Coincidentally, I was feeling more confident in terms of implementing my vision. So I brought in a new chef and we completely redid the restaurant. We went from a place where food wasn’t really a focus to one that offers a really special fine-dining experience. Then we added a restaurant and a bar on the beach.
The idea of the hotel centers around the essence of Italy, its culture, its refinement, what I call “Italianness.” So I felt the dining experience, whether in our new restaurant or more casually on the beach, had to take that same approach. For example, we don’t do club sandwiches or burgers on the beach. Yes, it can be eye-opening to some guests not to receive comfort food, and it takes effort to explain why we don’t do French fries. But I enjoy it when people “get it,” when they understand why we do fine cuisine and why we have introduced a vegan tasting menu. In fact, to get people to experience life in the Italian way, we don’t put espresso machines in the room. Some people don’t get that. But I say, ‘If you want a coffee, then come to the bar where you not only have a great coffee, but the experience of having it prepared for you.”
It does, and the reason is this: Even though Italy is known worldwide as a tourist destination, I think there are a lot of beautiful places that have not been valued as they should be. So I am really trying to value the destinations with Filario, and also now with my new project. But with any place you travel, I don’t believe that the hotel is the destination. A hotel is not a reason for travel, but it should help someone to learn about a region’s characteristics, connect them to the place and to the experiences that they have there. Obliviously a hotel has to be personable and beautiful and celebrate design, but it is really about fostering local traditions and what a destination has to offer.
Well, it will be a big challenge to finally open. But whenever I complain, I realize that I am a very lucky person if the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to overcome was opening a new hotel. Anyway, I’m very excited about it. It’s in Liguria by the sea, and it will be a part of Design Hotels. In keeping with my philosophy as a hotelier, it will reflect its surroundings. It is inspired by the golden age of the Ligurian Riviera, which took place in the 1950s and 1960s.
When I was 26, I had a lot of ambition and energy. Now my day is more structured, even if everything is on my shoulders. But still, I have the same passion today for Italy and also for beautiful architecture as when I was younger.
I have a strong sense for aesthetics and love architecture very much. So I admire the work of Louis Kahn and Frank Lloyd Wright. And, of course, there are the architects of Italian Rationalism in the Lake Como area, names like Giuseppe Terragni, that are well known here but maybe not elsewhere.
The approach we have at Filario is to make the experience tailormade for guests. Not package experiences, but customized. A few places in Lake Come have become very popular in recent years—George Clooney’s house and the like—but we try to focus on art and landscape and architecture, on traditions and craftsmanship.
Yes, many. But one that comes immediately to mind is a fifth-generation shipyard in the area that still exists and makes handmade wooden boats. To see their work is to feel a connection between the past and the future through craftsmanship. The company has developed a line of beautiful artisanal electric boats that our guests can use to tour the lake and do so in a very sustainable way. We have even installed electric charging stations for the boats on our beach. It’s all part of an effort to present a deeper aspect of the destination to our quests.