We spoke to Alana Mazza from Casale San Pietro who packed up her life in UK and moved to Italy to start her and her husbands dream of running their own independent accommodation. Alana wanted to share her journey with other people to show that their hospitality dreams can become reality too. Here’s what she told us:
‘In August 2015, my husband Joe and I started on a journey. We bought an old Casale in the middle of Lazio. it came with 575 Olive Trees, 3 cats, 2 dogs 1 chicken and a shed load of work! Our vision was to turn this tired old property into a small luxury bed and breakfast. Joe left his hairdressing business in his daughter Daniela’s capable hands and he moved over to Italy to start the project management in September 2015. I continued in my role as Retail Director for Hobbs until the end of the year. We then sold our family home and invested everything we had into the project. I followed Joe and moved permanently to The Casale in June 2016. The work was moving at pace, we had 20 builders on site most of the time. I was busy doing interior design, organising bedding, toiletries, towels, crockery and designing ultimate comfort for our guests. I was also in charge of budgeting! We had lots of challenges and a few tears along the way. We opened the doors in August 2016 to our first guests, a family of four who have now become one of our loyal returning guests.
People have said “it is so different to retailing” but actually it’s not! Both Joe and I love people and really enjoy looking after guests. Service has always been my passion so we have found the transition a perfect one, we are working together in a stunning part of the world at a more leisurely pace. Our biggest reward has been the amazing reviews we have received and 40% of our guests re-booking. I have set a challenging target for our first full year and so far it is going in the right direction, we have got a few weeks already fully booked this year, but obviously we still need more people to come and experience this beautiful part of Italy.
I am telling my story because many of my friends in similar careers to the one I had have questioned what their next chapter will be. I wanted to share that anyone can follow a dream and dreams really do come true with a little grit and determination.’
What does a typical day look like for you?
We get up at 6.30am to swim 50 lengths in our pool. Then it’s time to get breakfast laid out for guests, put the cushions out by the pool and clean the pool. After we’ve served lunch, we have a siesta. At 7pm, we get the tables set for dinner, light all the candles and serve dinner. By around 11pm it’s time for bed!
What was the scariest part of moving to start your hospitality career?
That has to be the move to Italy.
What has been the best part of the journey?
Meeting such interesting and wonderful guests. They arrive as guests and leave as friends.
Can you tell us about the accommodation itself?
A stunning Casale nestled in 8 acres of Olive groves, in the heart of the Italian Countryside, we have maintained some of the traditional elements but have added modernity and luxury for example all modern bathrooms with walk in showers all in Italian marble.
What advice would you give anyone who was thinking of doing the same?
Make sure that you know the area and you love people – if those tick the box just go for it.
What’s been the best compliment you’ve received so far?
“The perfect setting”
Do you have any memorable guest moments?
The night before opening, Joe and I were scrubbing the brand new hand made pool tiles at 1am our guests arrived at 12 noon, we were like swans on the surface, but desperately paddling under water. They loved it and have been back this year and booked for next year.
To read more guest stories click here.