Based in California, Auberge Resorts Collection already helms 20 luxury hotels and resorts across three different continents, but it’s still breaking new ground. Today, Robb Report can exclusively reveal the noted hospitality outfit is opening its first five-star outpost in Italy.
Located on a rolling hill just three miles from the heart of Florence, the storied 16th-century property, Collegio alla Querce, is owned by the venerable Leeu Collection and will be treated to an extensive redo before it begins welcoming guests under the Auberge umbrella in 2023. Auberge has just one other European property, in Santorini, Greece, but is looking to bolster its presence on the Continent and beyond.
“As a brand, we are committed to thoughtfully expanding our portfolio, with a focus on both city and resort destinations in Europe and across the globe,” Craig Reid, Auberge’s president and CEO, tells Robb Report. “Collegio alla Querce is intimate, one-of-a-kind and located in a captivating destination that inspires exceptional experiences, making it a perfect fit for the Auberge Resorts Collection portfolio.”
Indeed, the hotel’s locale showcases the very best of the boot-shaped country. Collegio alla Querce is nestled amid the scenic countryside of Tuscany, right by a selection of notable wineries and a stone’s throw from Florence, where world-famous galleries and museums abound.
Dating back to the Italian Renaissance, Collegio alla Querce was previously a cultural institution and boarding school. The focus of Auberge’s takeover will be to transform the 16th-century building into a preeminent hotel while honoring its romantic history. In fact, various structures, such as the chapel and theater, will remain untouched save for a refresh. The transformation will be carried out in collaboration with Leeu Collection’s founder, Analjit Singh, who hopes to create the most spectacular resort in the area with help from Auberge.
“The approach taken by Auberge Resorts Collection is very much in keeping with the Leeu Collection ethos of crafting unrivaled luxury escapes that work with and promote the finest partners in the locality,” Singh said in a statement. “This collaboration, therefore, feels like a natural fit and we look forward to working with them to build a sensational destination.”
Acclaimed European architects Esteva i Esteva will reimagine the hotel in a new contemporary style that seamlessly reflects the past, while local designers ArchFlorence will bring the interiors to life with rarified art and the finest Italian furnishings.
Upon completion, the sprawling estate will be reborn as an upscale 82-room hotel, comprising 61 guest rooms, 20 suites and an epic 2,250-square-foot signature suite. It will be full to the brim with modern amenities, including an outdoor pool, spa, fitness center, art gallery and a curated boutique of–what else?–Italian fashions.
As for wining and dining, the property will be equipped with an array of eateries, including a sophisticated fine dining options a glass-enclosed garden room for lazy daytime lunches, a moody bar and cigar lounge and a dedicated enoteca, or “wine repository”, where you can sip Italy’s finest vino. The hotel will also offer cooking classes and private dinners showcasing Tuscan cuisine.
Outside, meanwhile, Collegio alla Querce’s greenery will be updated by landscape designer Franchesca Watson and local Florentine gardeners. Replete with oak trees—fitting since Querce means “oak” in Italian—the grouds will boast five levels of terraced Baroque gardens which themselves will be a work of art.
“The hotel will be a celebration of the property’s storied history and character while offering the luxuries of a beautifully designed home-away-from-home for the world’s most discerning travelers,” Reid added.
Known for such iconic resorts at Los Cabos’ Esperanza, Connecticut’s Mayflower Inn & Spa and Napa Valley’s Auberge de Soleil, Auberge has more top-flight properties in the pipeline, too. This year, its opening hotels in such destinations such as Mexico, Costa Rica and California, and has some exciting projects–including the transformation of San Francisco’s Hearst Building into a hotel–for 2022 and 2023. After which, Reid says, the company will continue on its quest to grow outside the US.
“As Auberge now has a strong base in the Americas, we are eager to expand our collection in Europe and Africa. In Europe specifically, we plan to continue to evolve our offering in this market, as we feel the group’s ethos translates well to many European destinations and to European travelers.”
The award-winning brand is well-placed for global expansion, especially if it continues to partner with the likes of Leeu Collection, which currently owns three five-star boutique hotels in South Africa, including the beloved Le Quartier Français in the Franschhoek Valley wine country, as well the historic Linthwaite House in the UK’s Lake District.
Maybe Auberge Lake District is next?