January 2017: Milano Platinum Interview Guido Della Frera, Pres. GDF Group S.p.A. and patron of Villa Torretta.
Guido Della Frera. A life between art, tourism and catering –
Guido Della Frera is the President of GDF Group, a holding company active in the tourism-hotel, real estate, healthcare and catering sectors. We met him on the occasion of the “Grand Chef Experience” event, held in Milan last December 1 in the prestigious setting of Villa Torretta. And it is in particular the story of this extraordinary location near Milan that we asked Della Frera to tell us about.
410. An important number both for Villa Torretta and for GDF.
Yes, it’s a double anniversary: 10 years from the acquisition and management by my group of the historic structure just outside Milan, today the Grand Hotel Villa Torretta, and the anniversary of its construction, on previous medieval settlements, by the Countess Delia Spinola Anguissola that in 1606 inaugurated her as her Milanese residence.
What does GDF Group do?
GDF Group SpA is a holding company with over 600 employees operating in the real estate sector with the implementation of substantial settlement plans in Lainate and Milano Affori, after having built the Geriatric Rehabilitation Center in Cinisello and Milan, whose innovative management has formed the first phase of entrepreneurial growth in the healthcare sector. The group is now intensifying its investments in the tourism-hotel sector.
What is the current situation of the various GDF Group hotels?
Grand Hotel Villa Torretta is the historic flagship: the impressive seventeenth-century noble aristocratic structure has been re-launched on a high international standing. The Ibis Milano Fiera in Lainate is going well, built next to the Rho Exhibition Center and the Expo area, with 120 quality rooms at low cost. In 2015 we inaugurated in Milan, in the Viale Monza area and on the red metro, Hilton Garden Inn Milan North, a 4-star hotel with 193 rooms and a modern business center of 800 seats. In the year we reopened, after substantial upgrading works, Novotel Brescia 2, a 4-star business oriented with 120 rooms, swimming pool, meeting rooms and a brilliant “gourmet”. We opened the Cristallo Hotel in Ponte di Legno, a comfortable “boutique hotel” for the revival of Tonale tourism. This growth has allowed us to earn the recognition of the Excellent 2016 award for creating “a new pole of excellence in welcoming Italian quality”.
Let’s go back to the history of Villa Torretta: what are the most important phases of such a long period?
Since 400 the most established Milanese noble families have alternated in the possession and management of the villa: the Del Conte in 500, the Anguissola and Marino in 600, then the Spinola, the Serbelloni, the Visconti, the De Ponti, all enriching the dual function of the structure, a noble suburban residence and government of the agricultural territory as a large farm that innovates production and economy. Until the decline in the industrial era when it becomes a farmhouse-dormitory of the first rural workers of Breda. We try to keep this characteristic alive: a center of art and history, but alive, efficient, competitive in the modern economic context.
History and of course art. What can you admire today at Villa Torretta?
Villa Torretta is one of the largest and most beautiful noble residences in Lombardy that the Region would rightly appreciate as a UNESCO heritage. Like Venetian villas, they are also an opportunity for a quality tourist offer. The complex restoration and innovative hotel management have restored the historic and artistic heritage of Villa Torretta to usability in a sustainable and positive economic framework. Beyond the vast architectural structure, with the two courtyards and the park, it is worth visiting the numerous frescoes of the 17th century that adorn the rooms, the large party rooms, the rooms of the Il Vico della Torretta Restaurant, open to the city. The FAI (Fondo Ambiente Italiano), last year, indicated Villa Torretta among the best-known historical and artistic places in Milan. The baroque church inside the building is particularly rich in frescoes and paintings of biblical subjects of undoubted value. We organize free guided tours with experts, one Sunday a month, to allow you to get to know this piece of Milan’s history. We want to better reconstruct the events of the great noble families who lived there and their influence on the evolution of the economy. A pool of university researchers is completing a book on the history of the villa and families.
Today the Villa is a Grand Hotel, with an excellent restaurant and much more. How vital is this prestigious location today?
It has been listed as “best space for meetings and events in Northern Italy” at the 2016 IMAs and “best hotel location for congresses, events and incentives” at the Best Location Award 2016. The 78 rooms all diversified in the furnishings and the 11 rooms of the Congress Center they have earned these prestigious awards for the charm and suggestions that derive from the history and the artistic heritage. The management is modern and innovative, focusing on the most advanced technologies, especially in the 300-seat auditorium and the multiple meeting rooms in the newly reconstructed new part. Ancient and modern, art and efficiency, charm and professionalism are mixed in a proposal that is vital and competitive, with an international standing of high hospitality for the new positioning of Milan in the tourist offer.
What events boil in the pot for the Villa? What awaits us in 2017?
The hotel management has its dynamics in positive trend and will continue in the constant qualification of services and personnel. We are studying a hypothesis of structural reconstruction of a lost part. The Villa was not open with its current double-U plan but closed as evidenced by the cadastral archive and by the logic of the stately portico. But bureaucratic difficulties are many, especially when it comes to wanting to do and build. In 2017 we would like to re-launch the cultural initiatives of the Villa Torretta Circolo Association with conferences, aggregation meetings for the dissemination of good ideas for the community and the modernization of society. This is also the historic mission of Villa Torretta. Not just a nice place to live and stay, but a center of ideas and initiatives, in dialogue with the territory and institutions to grow the common good.
We are focused to realize the Afforient Plan of Milan Affori, in front of the yellow metro and the Ferrovie Nord, which provides for the construction of 300 class A apartments, mostly in conventioned buildings. It will allow access to the property in the redeveloped district of Milan at very competitive and advantageous prices (from € 2,290 per square meter). We also plan the construction of a new hotel in the second phase. The increase in investments in the hotel sector will continue, with new acquisitions, even outside of Lombardy, which we are improving. The goal is to arrive in 2018 to exceed 1,000 rooms in the integrated group offer.
Credits: Milan Platinum http://www.milanoplatinum.com/guido-della-frera-vita-arte-turismo-ristorazione.html