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Top 100: Sir Rocco Forte, Rocco Forte Hotels

19 April 2018 by
Top 100: Sir Rocco Forte, Rocco Forte Hotels

Overall ranking: 67 (40 in 2012)

Hotelier ranking: 13 (9 in 2012)


Renamed in 2007 as Rocco Forte Hotels, the collection now numbers 11, including two in the UK (the Balmoral in Edinburgh and Brown's hotel in London) and the rest overseas. Succession planning is never easy and Sir Rocco is keen to avoid the difficulties he encountered when stepping into his father's shoes. With his three children - Lydia, Irene and Charles - all now firmly ensconced in the business - he is giving them the freedom to learn from their mistakes in order to provide them with the experience required to run an international luxury hotel group.

What we think

Sir Rocco was born in Bournemouth in 1945 and was exposed to all aspects of his father's business from the age of 13. He qualified as a chartered accountant in 1969 before joining the family firm, where he rose to become chairman and chief executive of Forte.

Forte founded RF Hotels after failing to buy back the Le Méridien hotel chain from Granada in 1996. It became Rocco Forte Hotels in 2001 when Compass Group returned the rights to the Forte business name it had inherited from its merger with Granada in 2000. In 2003, the company changed its name to Rocco Forte Hotels, and the Rocco Forte Collection in 2007. The group name reverted to Rocco Forte Hotels in 2011.

The company is now entering a new expansionist era. Funding, secured in 2014, gave the Italian sovereign wealth fund Fondo Strategico, owned by CDP, a 23% stake in the company in return for £60m. "It has enabled us to move on to the front foot again, with a view to doubling in size over the next five years," Sir Rocco told The Caterer last year.

And as well as having his sights set on Italy, Madrid, New York and Barcelona in particular, the 147-bedroom Assila hotel, which opened in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in November 2016, marks Rocco Forte Hotels' first move into the Middle East after an earlier false start. Work is also well under way on the group's first Asia property, a 280-bedroom hotel located on the top 15 floors of the tallest building within what is effectively a new area of Shanghai in China - the West Bund - which is being developed in partnership with Longhua International.

Forte was knighted in 1994 for his services to tourism. He was president of the British Hospitality Association from 1991 to 1996 and served as a member of the World Travel & Tourism Council's executive committee. In 1999 he won a Special Award at the Cateys for his resilience in bouncing back after the sale of the "family silver" and for his commitment to quality.

Sir Rocco, Polizzi and the family were jointly listed as 349th in The Sunday Times Rich List 2017, with a listed net worth of £340m.

Now 73 and still working, Sir Forte hopes there will be some ongoing role for him in the company that doesn't interfere with the way his children will eventually choose to run the business.

Further information

Sir Rocco Forte on how his daughters Lydia and Irene are making their mark on the family business >>

Weak sterling boosts turnover at Rocco Forte Hotels >>

Alain and Michel Roux to launch £3m restaurant at the Balmoral hotel >>

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