When the C-Hotel & Spa opened in 2009 in the Lake Como area, the region had never seen anything quite like it. While grandiose palaces and villas ring the lake, the 18-room hotel is a marvel of modern minimalism. The four-story glass-and-stone building is cool and soothing, and immerses guests in a sensory overload with its smells of award-winning homemade artisanal chocolate and freshly ground coffee beans. The spare design, natural materials, and sensual delights work so well together that the effect, like a great work of art, is to immediately soothe the mind.
I like calling it a timeless place,” says Andrea Colzani, who designed the building himself with his self-taught architectural skills, “because I wanted to create a resort that would last, that could bridge ages and styles in order to be modern but unaffected by fashion. In modern buildings there is too much steel, plastic, and vinyl for my liking, which makes rooms ascetic and strips them of character. Those materials can also make buildings obsolete a few years after construction.”
Something else that makes C-Hotel & Spa special is that Colzani's father, Fausto, and his mother, Gabriella, have been making chocolate and other sweets on the property since 1977. Fausto’s parents were in the furniture textile business, but fabric didn’t capture his imagination like food did, particularly pastry and chocolate, so Fausto went to work in some of Italy’s most famous pastry shops before starting his own bakery. They opened the café about 10 years later.
“So year by year, the business grew up and became bigger, better, and more famous, but always with the same principle: local materials, seasonal ingredients, and everything homemade and without chemicals,” says Colzani. “The coffee was also homemade with the C-Café blend, which is composed of seven different beans.”
Colzani grew up working in the bakery and the café, so he learned early on about quality and pleasing the customer, but what he remembers most about his childhood is a love of the land and animals. He loved to ride horses as a boy and still does, though he doesn’t do it nearly as much now because of his busy schedule.
“I spent my childhood in the woods, hills, and fields that make this area special, having fun and racing on horseback, motorbike, mountain bike,” he recalls. “My family has a little farm near the hotel with a few horses, dogs, cats, and other animals. That experience gave me a lot of sensibility. With that kind of experience, I grew up really close to the earth, close to the community.”