Managing an hotel means providing a high quality service to the guests fo rthem to keep great memories of their sojoun .This is what Villa le Barone, in Panzano in Chianti has been doing since its opening in 1976.
Rina Buonamici has been in Villa le Barone since 1976 and has managed it for more than 25 years… her memory is overflowing with experiences and anecdotes!
She still comes a few days during the week and returning guests are very happy to meet her!
- What are your best three memories during your managing life at Villa le Barone ?
A very special memory is the day when the soon to become King and Queen of Belgium, at that time Prince and Princes Albert and Paola de Liege, came to Villa le Barone to attend a local wedding. When they arrived we were all excited and terrified of getting something wrong. The arrival went very well and after a couple of hours they left to attend the wedding ; soon after came a tremendous storm with lightning that made electricity unavailable for a few hours. No electricity meant no light and no water, cold or hot ! Heating was not a problem since fortunately it was the month of July. On such short notice, we did what we could and we started to haul in buckets of water from the swimming pool for basic bathroom needs. We were all trembling, the Duchess was terribly upset, but Paola and Albert were « good sports », and made fun of the situation, they thanked us very much.
- Any “backdoor” story to tell?
About 20 years ago we had a lunch of an important group of thirty people that were planned to arrive at 1 :00pm. At noon the temperamental cook of that time calls me and asks me to come down right away in the kitchen. I went to the kitchen quietly, thinking that she would show me the result of some new recipe but, to my dismay, I was made aware that something had upset her the night before and that that same morning she had decided to leave on the spot without having prepared the planned lunch !!! After a hectic moment of confusion I called to the kitchen all the staff :reception, waiters, chambermaids, all except the gardeners and quickly everyone had prepared the recipe he or she knew best. Customers sat down at the table at 1 :00 pm as planned, did not notice anything and, at the end, congratulated us on the food! … managing a restaurant is not always « smooth sailing » and good people are always resourceful!
- What advice can you give to a hotel manager?
To anyone doing this job I specially recommend to do it with his/her own heart, because there is no salary or gift better than a former Guest calling me at lunch time the first day of the year to wish me the best or sending me the photograph of his/her first grand child on the day of birth !