How An Iconic Italian Hotel Is Preparing For Pandemic-Era Travel

The gorgeous getaway favored by George Clooney and Leonardo DiCaprio is instituting safety upgrades that could become the norm across the luxury travel industry.
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Driver and 2 guests on the boat – Villa d’Este on the background(2)

Italy’s iconic Villa d’Este may be re-opening on June 18, but the famously luxe property on the banks of Lake Como is also transforming the way it caters to well-heeled guests in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. 

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The landmark hotel--which has hosted George and Amal Clooney, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen, and John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen in recent years--still drips with old world glamour and charm. Guests can soak up stunning views of Lake Como from the Renaissance-style 125-room hotel and four exclusive private villas, located near the village of Cernobbio. There's a centuries-old park and gardens, a signature "floating pool", eight outdoor tennis courts, boating and sailing, and opulent suites perched over jaw-dropping lakeside scenery. 

The property was built by Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio in 1568 as his private residence, and first became a hotel in 1873, serving as a retreat for well-to-do Europeans. In 1925, Alfred Hitchcock shot his debut feature film, aptly named The Pleasure Garden, on the hotel's lush grounds. Regulars in years past included everyone from a young Mick Jagger to Winston Churchill, who often painted to unwind during his stays. 

Floating swimming pool

But the venerable Villa d’Este is now gearing up for a modern day relaunch amid the grim backdrop of the coronavirus crisis. Based on World Health Organization’s guidelines and those of the Italian government, the hotel has announced new safeguards that are likely to become commonplace across the luxury travel industry. 

Pandemic-era updates include installing temperature scanners and hand sanitizers throughout the property, a reduced number of tables in the hotel's restaurants and bars to maintain social distancing, replacing all printed materials with digital versions, and not assigning the same room to different guests departing or arriving on the same day, in order to perform deeper cleans between stays.

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Access to the property's Spa and Sporting Club--which offers boating, a gym, indoor pool, squash court and electronic golf--will require advance reservations by guests. Golfers can book tee times at Golf Club Villa d’Este near Lake Montorfano, located seven miles from the hotel.

Danilo Zucchetti, managing director of Villa d’Este, says demand has surged for stays at the property's four private villas, "which guarantee complete privacy in a safe environment while benefiting from all the estate's facilities.”

Tennis courts with lake view with 2 tennis players

While the Italian government is currently lifting quarantine restrictions and opening borders only to travelers coming from neighboring European countries beginning June 3, travelers who want to book a stay can contact Villa d'Este here.

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In the meantime, check out more extraordinary imagery of the soon-to-reopen hotel below.