The brand new Hotel VIU Milan, set between China Town and the futuristic piazza Gae Aulenti, has all the qualities needed to become a reference point for visitors to Milan. Exclusive, design-oriented and in touch with social media, other plus points include a spectacular rooftop swimming pool.
With its stunning steel and glass architecture, partially framed by lush green vegetation (the vertical wood, named the most beautiful building in the world in 2015, is located just steps away), the Hotel VIU Milan has changed the appearance – and the atmosphere – of the piazza, onto which it faces, giving it a contemporary, captivating appeal. A five-star design hotel, Hotel VIU Milan opened on 8 March 2017, in the heart of one Milan’s coolest areas, dominated by skyscrapers, the fountains of piazza Gae Aulenti and the transparent silhouette of the Feltrinelli Foundation. The interiors of Hotel VIU Milan are equally appealing. Its tailor-made furnishings, defined by a tonal colour palette and contemporary textures, come courtesy of acclaimed furniture design studio Molteni. It is, therefore, no surprise that the hotel is a part of the Design Hotels chain.
No detail of this unique property has been left to chance, starting with its name. It is a play on the English word ‘view’ but its initials also reference the name of its owners – the Vicardi family, proprietors of four additional, four-star hotels in Milan: the Cristoforo Colombo in corso Buenos Aires, the Crown Plaza in via Melchiorre Gioia and the Felice Casati, in via Felice Casati. Its concept, based on a real ‘Viulosophy’, is just as unusual, reflecting the hotel’s strategic choices. “Our aim is to offer guests a relaxed ambience and relaxed customer service, without all those old-fashioned trimmings that characterise a certain type of luxury hotel,” explains Diego Novarino, the property’s manager.
The Director of Sales and Marketing, Samantha Williams echoes his words. “The majority of our clientele is aged between 35 and 55. Customers in this age bracket generally search for an innovative environment, where they can socialise without too many restrictions.” “Our reference markets are the USA, the UK, the Arab Emirates, Northern Europe and Asia, and our customers are mostly businessmen, influencers and trendsetters from the world of fashion, design and architecture. Instead of relying on a ‘classic’ PR format, we have entrusted the promotion of our hotel to the social media and to Natasha Slater, an influencer, who is active on Instagram.”
To cater to its business travellers, the hotel has created a concept based on ‘bleisure’, the new buzzword in travel. “Business travellers are no longer content to stay at a formal high-class hotel, preferring instead to mix business with a certain degree of leisure activities,” says Novarino, “And this begins with a relaxing environment. At VIU Milan, you can start the day with a poolside breakfast on the terrace (Editor’s note: VIU is the only hotel in Milan boasting a rooftop swimming pool), while we offer guests a spa and a fitness space where they can de-stress after work.
The hotel’s gastronomic offering, which is available from 11am to 1am (and until 2am on weekends), is also interesting. VIU offers two options: Bulk, boasting a more informal vibe, and the Morelli Restaurant, which serves gourmet fare and is enhanced by a chef’s table in the kitchen. In short, at VIU, business travellers find value for money.” Apropos rates, as explained by Antonio Mugno, the hotel’s Director of Revenue, the positioning of a new hotel is always a question of finding the balance between competitiveness and profit. “In an era where the Internet prevails, ‘hidden’ rates no longer exist and it is essential to be ahead of the game vis-à-vis market demand.
However, where a start-up is a question, it is also imperative to promote oneself in the right way. For example, by fixing minimum rates from the get-go and deciding on a specific target market. This is why we decided to adopt a rates policy based on versatility, by developing ad hoc offers for different markets and identifying the right partners, especially on the Internet, by targeting exclusive channels dedicated to luxury and specific circuits, such as Mr and Mrs Smith. Additionally, we decided to opt for the international ‘room only’ format which envisages a fixed room rate regardless of whether there are one or two occupants, breakfast excluded, which thus becomes an added value.” And, judging by occupancy rates, it appears that this decision has paid off. “In April, one month after opening, we registered a 56% occupancy rate and May promises to be even better,” says Luca Cellammare, Front of House Manager. “Additionally we have registered fully booked days during periods when no special events are on in the city, which, for a 124-room hotel (including superior, deluxe, junior suites and suites), is no mean feat.” Apropos rooms, though each differs from the other in terms of details and colours, every room is furnished with books, purchased and positioned, literally room by room, by interior designer Nicola Galizia, to ensure that no detail was overlooked.
An exclusive terrace
Value for money, ‘bleisure’ and also lots of exclusivities are key at Hotel VIU Milan, in addition to a choice that is contrary to current trends, namely that of allowing only guests staying at the hotel to use the terrace.
“Prioritising our guests’ wellbeing and privacy is key,” explains Francesca Fecchio, Food & Beverage Manager, “And for this reason, the terrace on the eighth floor is not open to the public. Breakfast is served here from 6.30am to midday, and the space also hosts a health bar where guests can relax, swim and savour a cocktail.
“Obviously, all this exclusivity arouses curiosity. Every evening we receive around a hundred calls from people asking whether they can book an aperitivo on our terrace.” However, there’s no need to despair. The Hotel VIU is not impervious to the happy hour ritual, and Milanese fashionistas in search of a sophisticated, gourmet aperitivo can meet at the Bulk Mixology Lounge Bar & Garden on the ground floor. Every evening, people from the world of fashion and architecture, bloggers and influencers meet here,” says Fecchio, “And they all love our relaxed atmosphere. Instead of offering a classic buffet, guests at the Mixology Bar are served hot and cold snacks by waiters carrying trays loaded with delectable nibbles.”
One of the plus points of the hotel’s almost fanatical attention to detail and its guests’ well-being is its gastronomic offering, which, at the Hotel VIU Milan is expertly curated by Giancarlo Morelli, the recipient of a Michelin star in 2009 and owner of several restaurants scattered throughout the world. Distinguished by his red, asymmetrical ‘specs’ and winning smile, Morelli is the undisputed star of two restaurants. “I have had a passion for cooking since I was a child. Instead of playing football, I preferred watching my mother cooking. Every so often I would steal something to eat while she wasn’t looking. This taught me about seasonal ingredients and made me understand that when it comes to taste, training one’s palate is essential.” Those asking him to define his cuisine are given the following answer. “My cuisine stems from the heart, it has substance and tells the truth, thus revealing my personality. It’s an ethical cuisine, based on an innate respect for raw materials, the earth and also those who produce them.”
A journey into the traditions of Italy, upgraded with an original twist, Morelli’s cuisine, particularly his famous risottos, is an absolute must. At VIU Milan his culinary delights are divided among the playful, more informal dishes served at Bulk (an interesting fact: its name derives from a historic social centre that once stood on the site where the hotel was built), and the more romantic, sophisticated ones of the Morelli Restaurant, where, by booking in advance, you can also dine at the chef’s table; a long wooden table with country-style tables, located in the kitchen, just a short distance from the stoves.
>> Official website: www.hotelviumilan.com
Article by Simona P.K. Daviddi
Translation by Carey Bernitz
Photos by Casotti/Sardano