Capri is the land of hospitality: writers, artists and VIPs from all over the world stayed here, appreciating not only the beauty of the island, but also the warmth and hospitality of it its inhabitants. This long history of hospitality is handed down today thanks to the hotels that offer to those who visit Capri much more than a place to spend the night, but 360º experiences.
From July 1st, the Hotel La Palma, whose history is actually very ancient, reopened in Capri with a totally new concept, under the guidance of Imelda Shllaku; the hotel celebrates its return with an important collaboration, becoming sponsor of “That’s Amore Capri”. In this interview with general manager Imelda Shllaku, we discover the background to the reopening, and what it means for this historic institution to support our review.
Hotel La Palma is the oldest hotel on the island of Capri. Established in 1822, with the initial name of Locanda Pagano, it housed very often poets, writers, architects, painters and musicians, so that it earned it the nickname of “Hotel degli Artisti”. What does it mean for you to be at the head of such a prestigious and historic structure?
“It is a great pride for me to have received this assignment. The work has led me to live many years abroad, and I think there could be no better opportunity to return to Italy; both for the project itself, which I am really proud to participate, and because it gives me the opportunity to work on this beautiful island”.
With a career in the field of over 28 years, she boasts numerous experiences in the luxury hospitality industry on a global scale. Which do you think were the most significant? Which ones taught you the most?
“I think every experience is unique, and it’s really hard to say which was the most important… it’s like choosing your favorite child! I keep them all jealously in my heart, because each of them has given me new work experiences, the opportunity to travel a lot, to meet people who over time have revealed themselves much more than colleagues or friends, but a second family. All these experiences have helped to create the woman I am today, and they help me to face the new challenges I face every day”.
With this assignment she officially joined the Oetker Collection group, the company that manages Hotel La Palma and is owned by the Reuben Brothers. A company with a great tradition, dealing with the management of luxury hotels since 1870. What can you tell us about this reality? What’s it like working for them?
Oetker Collection, together with the property of the hotel Reuben Brothers, has decided to implement a precise management policy, common to all the hotels of the group: to preserve the character of the place where the structure is located. This implies that each of the hotels in the group is necessarily different, each with its own specificities, which must be managed in an appropriate manner. Another fundamental aspect of Oetker Collection’s policies concerns the desire to enhance human resources: we work a lot on this aspect, aware of how focusing on the needs and potential of employees makes them even more efficient. In these first 5 months of work, I can confirm that the team of Oetker Collection is composed by professionals of the highest level, but, at the same time, people that face the work with great humanity. I am very happy to be part of this family”.
Managing the structure, what personal imprint did you give in these first months of opening?
“The opening of a new hotel is always a very intense experience: you work hard for days without a moment of rest; you are forced to make sacrifices, to stay away from loved ones, from your home… Here, too, I have contributed 100%, setting an example to all those involved in the work. We haven’t stopped since I got here! It’s been like running a marathon. This was my contribution: to accelerate to the maximum to reach high quality levels, as the island deserves”.
What strategies are you implementing to enhance Hotel La Palma? How do you think you can combine your international vocation with the Genius Loci of Capri?
“In Capri people are very welcoming by nature; the whole world comes to visit the island because you feel at home. My task is precisely to highlight this genuine aspect of the island, which has remained intact despite the great popularity accumulated over the years. To emphasize this propensity to hospitality, we accompany each customer in his stay, we make him feel pampered, we advise him what to visit and in which restaurant to dine; the goal is to make them feel part of the family. It is in these actions that we want to manifest the genuineness, the attention that we reserve for every single customer”.
What aspects should a luxury hotel like La Palma aim to for you?
“The characteristics of the Hotel La Palma allow us to maintain a human dimension, allow us to meet the expectations of customers, to call them by name, to know them and even to take them shopping! These dynamics of customization of the service are undoubtedly very important, and are also what sets us apart. Even the kitchen of the great chef Gennaro Esposito is definitely another strength for our team. He is an important personality in the world of cuisine, he has worked in international contexts and it is really nice to have him alongside him in this adventure”.
What does working and living in a magical and unique place like Capri represent for you? We are especially curious to know your emotions about living the island.
“Unfortunately work takes me a lot, I would like to have more time to experience the island even more! But when in the morning I go down the stairs that lead me downtown, I am astonished by the beautiful colors of the bougainvillea, the smell of lemons… There’s no traffic noise here, and I’d spend hours watching the boats moored at the port. Before entering the office, passing by the commercial activities of the center, it is a ritual to stop for a few minutes to chat with their owners: with Giovanna, Ersilia and Francolino, we update ourselves on how the previous day went, we drink a good coffee, giving yourself the charge to face the day… I mean, it’s just like being part of the family. It’s a real privilege to work on this island!”
How did you know the That’s Amore reality? What does this collaboration represent for you and for Hotel La Palma?
“I met That’s Amore Capri through Lucia, my event manager. Lucia introduced me to the sponsorship project and I agreed to it right away. Even before my adventure began at the Hotel La Palma, I happened to join similar events: this is because for activities like ours it is important to be part of the community, open up to projects that impact positively on the territory, link to events that convey ideals consistent with its mission. We found all this in That’s Amore Capri: the high quality of the events of the exhibition is proof that they care and do it with love, with their gaze always turned to their own territory. That’s why we are happy to be part of your family”.
On September 17, there will be an event organized by the association That’s Amore Capri. How will it take place?
“The event will be held at the La Palma beach club. We are still defining the details, but we can anticipate that it will consist of a four-handed dinner, in collaboration with the team of That’s Amore Capri, and obviously with the participation of our chef Gennaro Esposito. We are all committed to creating a unique event, which I strongly recommend you all not to miss!”.
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