Harte International | The Classic Lifestyle Magazine
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Classic Magazine

Welcome to our 24th edition, the centenary edition, celebrating a century of flight and some hero brands that have been successfully leading their field for over 100 years. You will read that our travels have been extensive once again and, at the risk of being too cynical, I was continually reminded of the dilemma facing the hospitality industry.

Some months ago, it was my 18-year-old son that articulated the problem beautifully as he himself entered the world of hospitality, looking to carve out a career in this remarkable industry. My issue is simple; we are rapidly losing the great career waiters and hotel staff, as if they are becoming an endangered species.

Having just spent five weeks on the road across Milan, Doha, Paris and London, what became glaringly apparent was that the art of waiting and hospitality is deteriorating at an alarming rate. No longer do we see 18-year-olds seeking out a career, prepared to commit to one of the most exciting international professions.Back to my son, his summary was spot on. The millennials want everything now – and don’t expect them to start anywhere near the bottom or, for that matter, spend anywhere near enough time to develop any sort of knowledge required to create long-term skills.

As I explained to my son, where can you go and travel the world, learn multiple skills and crafts, establish a CV that can see you running a major global brand, and all on the employer’s dime? I had the pleasure of spending time with Giovanni from The Dorchester London, a 62-year-old from Milano who had been in the industry since he left school at 16 years old. He spent 35 years at The Dorchester running one of the most talked-about cocktail bars in London.

Then there was 78-year-old Alessandro who had the pleasure of working at Villa San Michele in Florence for 40 years. On the night of his last working shift Alessandro told us how he started washing dishes straight from school at 13. He now runs one of the best restaurants in Florence. The remarkable thing was that behind the cocktail bar his son was headlining and perfecting his skills as the bar manager and his grandson was in the kitchen preparing our homemade spaghetti pomodoro as Tom Hanks arrived for a private dinner.

It wasn’t until I met a 26-year-old Italian commis waiter at Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant at Mandarin Oriental London that some faith was restored. He was 10 years in and a real superstar. I did my best to encourage him to stay in the trade and take advantage of these lazy short-sighted millennials and that there was a whole world of opportunity waiting for him.

But it was at the Hotel Principe Di Savoia where we sat down with Ezio Indiani and I really understood the return on investment into hospitality. Ezio Attilio Indiani has worked at some of the most prestigious hotels in the world for over 25 years. In 1987, he joined the Forte Group and worked at a number of its hotels including the Hotel des Bergues in Geneva as director. Before assuming his current post in 2005, he was director of the hotel Villa D’Este in Cernobbio, Italy. In 2002, he received the Hermes Prize as the Best Hotel Director in the world, the highest award given in the deluxe hotel category.

Ezio started his career as a 16-year-old with his school buddy Giovanni (now at The Dorchester London), both starting at the bottom, doing whatever was required, and now some 40 years later they are industry benchmarks.