Inside Rocco Forte's New Private Villas with Giacomo Battafarano
An interview by Yvan Vermeesch

The XO Private Founder, Yvan Vermeesch, sits down for the exclusive interview series with, Giacomo Battafarano, General Manager of Rocco Forte's Verdura Resort. Battafarano, born in 1974 and originally from Matera, brings a wealth of knowledge with him to the iconic Sicilian resort – a Rocco Forte Hotel – which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. After obtaining a Masters in Hospitality Management at the LUISS School of Business and Management in Rome, Battafarano began his career in the luxury hotel industry with a five-year spell as Hotel Manager at Forte Village Resort. From Sardinia, he moved to Portugal, and after that to London. As a widely experienced international hotelier, Battafarano returned to Sicily to lead Rocco Forte's wonderful Verdura Resort.

You took over the management as General Manager at the iconic Verdura Resort in Sicily about two years ago. How would you describe the DNA of Verdura Resort?

It’s been two years already? I feel like a guest saying that time has passed too quickly – although it hasn’t felt rushed. It’s been quality time. It has been challenging but satisfying for me and my team. We never forget how lucky we are to do a job we love in a corner of paradise.

An exciting, new entity has just been added to the Rocco Forte portfolio of fine properties, Rocco Forte Private Villas? The timing couldn't be better, right?

Now more than ever this seems to be perfect timing to satisfy the increasing request of independent and private Villas for a multi-generational stay. A great lesson we have had from the most recent times is that everyone in a family needs both comfortable private spaces as well as common ones such as an external and internal living room, large sofas and a fully equipped kitchen to spend quality time together.

The Rocco Forte Private Villas are part of the expansive Verdura Resort so that guests can experience the best of both worlds, total privacy and extensive facilities. Could you please elaborate on this?

The 3 and 4 bedroom Villas will offer further choice to the Verdura Resort guests, enabling them to enjoy an even greater level of privacy whilst still having full access to all the amenities of the resort available just the time of a pleasant assisted pedal cycling ride or using the golf carts. Considering the different needs of each villa’s guests, thanks to a refined design everyone will have a comfortable journey and indulging in the lush garden and the blissed privacy of its swimming pool overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and Sicilian countryside. 
"I am proud to be joining the Rocco Forte Hotels team and, in particular, to manage the Verdura Resort, a resort that has positioned Sicily among the most sought-after luxury destinations for international clients. It is particularly exciting to come back to this marvellous land, which hosted me in the past and which remains close to my heart,” said Giacomo Battafarano.
Amazing sunsets from the various terrace areas
Rocco Forte's amazing Private Villas
What are the Villas like? What can be expected?

The Villas’ décor pays homage to emblems of local art and the architecture is inspired by the landscape’s natural beauty and incorporates the characteristic features of a traditional Sicilian ‘baglio’ building - with wooden beams, flat roofs and external stairs - with a private swimming pool in each panoramic garden.

A truly Italian Villa with unmistakable elegance overlooking the sparkling bay for precious moments together: that's what our guest will find.

I suppose guests can also expect the renowned Rocco Forte signature service when enjoying a Villa stay?

Guests of Rocco Forte Private Villas may choose a Premium level of servicing including weekly fresh produce supplies from the resort's own gardens, or the assistance of a daily housekeeper for individual cleaning and laundry and the preparation of a leisurely poolside breakfast each morning.

Personalised concierge service may also be available for the organisation of private in Villa dinners with a Chef or for a sunset BBQ service, unique experiences and extraordinary sightseeing trips around beautiful Sicily.

A series of services such as in-villa check-in, exclusive use of golf buggies and assisted pedal bikes, two rounds of golf per Villa and daily servicing are included in each stay.

This exclusive offer for Villa guests will be accompanied by all the Rocco Forte Hotels services that have made Verdura Resort unique in the Mediterranean.
Amazing sunsets from the various terrace areas
Rocco Forte's amazing Private Villas
What's the easiest way to get to your Verdura Resort? Which international airports offer the closest access?

An exclusive transfer service is available from both Palermo and Trapani international airports, with a panoramic route by helicopter overlooking the stunning Sicilian scenario or by an 80 minutes service operated by private car. Thanks to an exclusive partnership with Vista Jet the Rocco Forte resort could be also reached by a private flight landing in Trapani airport.

Will the Villas be available on a seasonal basis or year-round?

The Rocco Forte Private Villas will respect the same opening as the Verdura Resort: the biggest goal remains to reach an annual opening. The combination of the mild Sicilian season, the golf offer, together with the thalassotherapy and wellness offer of the SPA are our leverages for a complete enhancement of this unmissable destination.

What are the major markets for Verdura Resort in terms of guests? Are you looking to expand into some new markets?

The European, Swiss and UK ones remain our main markets. With Rocco Forte Private Villas we plan to consolidate ourselves in the Italian and Russian markets and to enter new markets such as the Middle East. After this long period of limitations, we also look forward to the return of our guests from the American and South American markets, which are always looking for ample space for their stays.

Do you have an introductory offer available for the Rocco Forte Private Villas?

We are proposing now a special summer offer to be the first to experience our new Rocco Forte Private Villas. A precious opportunity of enjoying the ultimate hospitality with no minimum length of stay required and 15% off your stay at our three and four-bedroom villas.
Championship golf courses, designed by Kyle Philips
The stylish new Rocco Forte villas
There's no doubt that you must have a most inspiring or hilarious anecdote to share that you experienced at Verdura Resort since you took over. Let's hear it!

Last summer we had several wedding proposals, which fortunately all ended into a “Yes”! Amongst this couple, I do recall one in particular, where the girlfriend looked a bit attentive to various details related to the stay therefore it looked very difficult to be able to deviate any possible suspicion… and the boyfriend looked already so stressed! So we pretended to have organized some “trial experiences” in order to receive constructive feedback for future themed event evenings asking them to attend a “private dinner” with our compliments.

With some private messages exchanged with the boyfriend, the evening proposal was organized alongside the swimming pool of o our signature suite where the atmosphere looked fantastic, with flowers and lanterns, the food delicious. In a scenario accompanied by sunset colours and sounds of the fireworks, the lady did not understand anything until she was presented with a wedding ring and then was so taken by surprise that she was full of tears by the emotion. The day after she could not still believe how we all managed to cover the surprise…. not realizing anything even when she was welcomed in the suite by a lovely general clap by all the team.
Yvan Vermeesch
A Belgian by birth, Yvan Vermeesch grew up across Africa before heading to the Caribbean followed by the stunning city of Prague before calling the Mediterranean island of Mallorca home. Always looking to innovate across the board and with a clear penchant for everything experiential in travel, Yvan Vermeesch takes great pride in connecting the finest players in bespoke travel around the globe.