What’s your story?
It all started by chance. Our father Pericles had just bought the Bagni di Bormio in northern Italy in 1982, but then he passed away and the ancient Bormio thermal baths were abandoned for 16 years.
I started redesigning the old baths in 1998. I didn’t know anything about spas, so I chose to adopt a more affordable and accessible model that allowed guests to walk around the spa without the constant assistance of staff.
I would say that this model was one of the keys to success – at least initially.
We also focused first on the beauty of the old buildings and the breathtaking views that surrounded them. That first property we developed now includes a five-star hotel, a four-star hotel and two spas.
What have been the highs and lows so far?
The success was immediate; as soon as the old baths in Bormio were renovated there was a huge turnout. I would say that our most challenging project was the one in Milan (QC Terme Milano), which was the first we did without thermal water, as at the time, there were no water purification plants that met the needs of the project.
How has your strategy changed and evolved?
In the beginning we didn’t think we’d be able to replicate the model, but with the success of Terme Milano, we realised it was scalable.
You work closely with your brother Andrea – a former lawyer – give us some insights into your partnership
We work very well together, and both have our strengths; he handles more of the operational part of the business and I run the developmental side. We both share a passion for spas and wellness so we often go to spas together.
You both travel the world to find the best models and inspiration to inform your developments – how important is that educational travel?
Travelling, especially before the world of the internet, was and is essential to see what our competitors are doing.
It enables us to identify many details that are not noticeable from photographs – experiencing something first-hand gives us different perspectives and sparks countless new ideas.
Can you describe the business as it exists today?
We own and operate 10 working spas. Five of them are resorts with overnight accommodations, the rest are day spas.
We’re opening our first US location in New York in 2022 as well as opening on Lake Garda and also in the Engadine in Switzerland.
We’re also working on a second location with a hotel and a spa in Milan.
Tell us more about your New York property
The New York project will be the most substantial for QC Terme in 2022. It’s located on Governors Island and is a classic QC Terme day spa.
The most amazing feature of the New York property is the outlook. The two pools have the most incredible, extraordinary view, with Manhattan laid out across the water.
What did you feel when you first saw the site at Governors Island?
I immediately envisioned the design and knew that I wanted to build pools exactly where we built them.
Was the deal straightforward in terms of getting the site, or did you have to fight for it?
The Trust of Governors Island has proven to be a very good partner. They are courageous, because entrusting this project in such an iconic location to a company that was not present in the United States was an act of courage. We hope to be able to repay their trust, by building the awareness of Governors Island.
What’s your inspiration for the New York development?
Ours is a well-established model, so we’re working hard to maintain the model we’ve built over the years. This means it will be very similar to those we have in Italy.
At our spas in Milan and Rome, most especially, we already have many American customers who greatly appreciate our model, so we know this approach will work.
What reaction are you getting from New Yorkers to the concept?
The reaction so far has been very enthusiastic!
What treatments will you offer in New York?
Our wellness programmes will include hot tubs, saunas, Turkish baths, relaxation rooms, restaurants, bars and massage and beauty treatments.
How many guests did you welcome in 2019 across all your spas?
We had 1 million guests in 2019.
How has the business been doing during the pandemic?
We were closed for almost a year. The good news is that after eight months of closures – between October 2020 and June 2021 – in the months since reopening, we’ve had about the same revenues as in 2019.
More generally, what’s the key to running a successful thermal spa?
The key to success is to enable guests to experience wellbeing in a way that gratifies them.
You’re committed to preserving a sense of place and history and to restoring old buildings. Why is this and how does this set you apart from other spa developers?
In any city or building that we renovate, we put ourselves in the position of our guests.
We try to bring the Italian character of the Roman baths to each location, so people don’t forget the rich history that already exists there.
Rather than remake it, we use the historical aspects of the buildings to enhance the richness and beauty of the experience.
You have some very special properties in your portfolio, such as San Pellegrino. Can you describe these for Spa Business readers who don’t know about your work?
We build our spa in places where there was either a tradition of spas, or in places that are characterised by environmental or architectural beauty. Often in environmentally beautiful places there are also very beautiful historical buildings. Governors Island, for example, has very beautiful buildings, with the most stunning view of New York.
How will you develop the business going forward?
I would like to develop other spas around the model of QC NY in other cities in the United States.