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Acorn winners 2017: Irene Forte

Written by:
Written by:
Acorn winners 2017: Irene Forte

Learning, development, quality and spas manager, Rocco Forte Hotels

Nominated by Ros Young, group HR director

Proudest moment “The successful application for £250,000 funding from the UK Commission for Employment & Skills to create a career development app – Map My Future – for hospitality employees, and being awarded the 2016 People 1st and The Caterer Rising Star Award at the Shine Awards.”

Greatest inspiration “My grandfather, Charles Forte, who created one of the biggest hotel chains in the world with sheer determination and passion. And my father, Rocco, who also created a hotel chain and has always been a wonderful role model, demonstrating the importance of working hard and never giving up on your dreams.”

Ambition “My next big step would be to become operations director, though it is still a way off. In the long term, either running Rocco Forte Hotels or a hospitality company of my own.”

Hospitality is clearly in Irene Forte’s blood, but her experience has been gained at ground level. School holidays, for instance, were spent working in different hotel departments, her gap year was devoted to marketing at the Plaza Athenée in Paris and she also spent a year working as interim communications manager at Verdura Resort in Sicily. Then, after graduating from the University of Oxford, Forte joined a four-month fast-track development programme.

In 2013, Forte joined the 11-strong group’s central team as quality executive, but was soon overseeing learning and development. By late 2014, she had set up a family offering, Families R Forte, which has resulted in a 25% increase in family bookings. She also set about creating the group’s brand standards and service philosophy.

Not one to stand still, Forte launched Rocco Forte Spas in January 2016. The subsequent PR campaign has achieved an advertising value equivalent of £4.5m to date, with spa turnover increasing by 50%.

In addition, she and her sister Lydia picked up the 2016 Health & Nutrition Catey for their Rocco Forte Nourish programme.

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