Strong roots - The Hotel Belvedere Locarno
The Belvedere Locarno towers high above the popular holiday resort of Lake Maggiore. The four-star superior hotel has been a constant part of the Ticino landscape for 128 years and attracts many regular guests to the south of Switzerland. The hotel's close links to the locality and deliberate cultivation of local strengths are the key to its success.
This traditional hotel has a total of 90 rooms and suites, and the guests who stay here are in the capable hands of Director Michele Rinaldini and his 60-strong team. The hotelier, who was born in Como (Italy), has more than 25 years' experience in the international hotel trade and started managing the hotel in 2017. Like everyone else, he is passionate about the roots that have been put down over the decades. “We are firmly anchored in Locarno. Many of our guests come from the surrounding area and we have strong ties to the local market. Whenever someone has a reason to celebrate – whether it be a company event, a family get-together or a Christmas party – they head straight for the Belvedere. For buffets or à la carte dining and whatever the scale of the event, we are always the first port of call.” For this reason, the hotel focuses intensively on this area of its business
In 2019, the La Fontana restaurant was awarded 13 points by Gault Millau.
Refurbishment wins 13 Gault Millau points
A lot has happened in the hotel's 128-year history. After spending some time in the hands of a private owner and serving as the headquarters of an insurance company, the building became a full hotel again in the year 2000. Since then, a lot of effort has gone into renovating it. The last major project was the overhaul of the La Fontana restaurant. Now newly refurbished and with an open-plan kitchen, it is well on the way to attracting as much business as the event catering service itself. “When you make such extensive alterations in a traditional town like this, it is of course going to take a bit of work convincing people, but that is something we do very successfully indeed”, smiles Michele Rinaldini. Even the professional gourmets have been won over: the restaurant was awarded 13 points by the Gault Millau restaurant guide in 2019.
People travel to experience places, including their culinary treasures
Regional ingredients form an important part of the cuisine. Chef Carlo Ponti Greppi uses them to create contemporary dishes with an irresistible Mediterranean slant. “Within the surrounding area, we have some fantastic products right on our doorstep. In addition to wine, these range from meat, maize and polenta right through to cheese and cold cuts”, enthuses Michele Rinaldini. “People travel to experience places, including their culinary treasures. That is why we think it is important to use products that come from here. Of course, we cannot make all the dishes on the menu purely from regional ingredients, but why – for example – should I buy cheese or meat in Italy when I can source such great products directly from the local area? This is also important to us from the perspective of freshness and sustainability.”
“As far as we are concerned, our relationship with our suppliers is just as important as the one we have with our guests.” - Michele Rinaldi
A partnership spanning more than 30 years
The hotel remains in very close contact with its suppliers. “As far as we are concerned, our relationship with our suppliers is just as important as the one we have with our guests”, insists the hotel manager. “It has to be open and honest. Locarno is a small town, where people connect on a personal level. Part of the key to the town's and the area's success is that we all work well together.”
The hotel enjoys a similarly close relationship with its partner Miele. “We have been using Miele equipment for more than 30 years. We and Miele go back a long way. The brand name speaks for itself and the quality and service are superb”, affirms the hotel director. The decision to operate an in-house laundry at the Belvedere is a historical one. “Years ago it was common practice for hotels to do their own laundry and the Belvedere was no exception in this regard. And we still refuse to rely on an industrial laundry service to this day because, for us, quality is the crucial factor. The final touch that we add to the laundry by hand is something that no service provider can offer – and it is this icing on the cake that makes the difference”, says Michele Rinaldini with conviction.
Providing a laundry service to external customers
On the basis of its extensive expertise in laundry care, the Belvedere has beacome a service provider itself. “We now provide a laundry service to various customers of our own in Locarno. This all came about by local word of mouth. We now have set days when we don't just do laundry for the Belvedere, but also for customers from the restaurant and hotel trades. We don't actually have any extra staff to do this work, but it helps finance the in-house laundry service perfectly. And our customers are highly satisfied with the quality of our work.”.
Factors such as hygienic cleanliness and softness play a very important role, particularly when it comes to the laundry in the spa area.
The Belvedere’s wellness zone is another feature of regional importance. And that is because the facilities are not just for the hotel guests but also for local residents with an annual membership card. “We have got big plans for the spa area and intend to carry out a full renovation next year”, explains Rinaldini. Wellness zones are especially popular in the winter. “We are one of the few hotels in the area that stays open all year round. Of course, the summer months are our busiest period, with things calming down in the winter. Nevertheless, Locarno has a particular appeal.” That goes right back to the fifties and sixties. “The canton of Ticino was one of the most popular winter resorts for tourists from England who wanted to enjoy the many days of sunshine we get here. Times have, of course, changed but we have a strong feeling that the mild climate still draws people to the region. I am exaggerating a bit when I say this, but if the weather is bad on the other side of the Gotthard Pass, the guests flock across to us. That is something on which we want to build.”
When the world descends on Locarno
One attraction that brings new guests from all over the world to the region every year is the town's popular film festival. “The film festival transforms the town. It makes Locarno unbelievably vibrant and you can hear languages from all over the world”, explains the hotel director. “This calls for flexibility on our part as hosts, but we must never forget our roots in the process. After all, the guests who come to stay with us in Locarno look forward to the authentic and home-grown experience that we can offer and our traditions.” That is the heart of the Belvedere – so beloved by both local and international guests alike. Nevertheless, the hotel still welcomes the colourful atmosphere created by the festival. “Naturally, it is a very strenuous ten days, but incredibly lovely at the same time”, asserts Michele Rinaldini. “If it were up to us, we'd be happy for the festival to go on for a little longer each time.”
Up to 800 kg of laundry per day
Executive Housekeeper Monica Martinelli and her team of four handle the daily pile of laundry, which usually amounts to around 400 to 500 kg. To help them with their housekeeping tasks, there are a total of twelve Miele Professional appliances consisting of washing machines, tumble dryers, ironers and folding machines. In addition to the washing generated by the hotel itself, they also regularly deal with around 300 kg of laundry that gets sent to the Belvedere by nearby hotel and restaurant owners. The Miele Professional appliances offer a high degree of flexibility to ensure that the various textiles (such as towels, uniforms and kitchen linen) can be handled effectively and with proper care.
“It is only by having our own in-house laundry that we can maintain the high standard of quality and service that we demand.” - Michele Rinaldi
Where history and modern design intersect: the recently completed, extensive renovation project was carried out in several stages.
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