New soul of Amalfi Coast

The April 2022 grand opening of Borgo Santandrea, the first new hotel on Italy’s Amalfi Coast in 15 years, proves the best things are worth the wait.

Contributed by Alicia Sheber

The renovation of the breathtaking cliffside destination was a passion project for its developers, the De Siano and Orlacchio families, who have been close friends and hoteliers on the island of Ischia in Italy for generations.

Arial view of Borgo Santandrea

Hospitality veteran and design aficionado Maurizio Orlacchio has taken the reins as GM following extensive experience with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and San Montano Resort and Spa in Ischia, also owned by the De Sianos. “Our idea is to provide the fantastic service Four Seasons is famous for, but with our Italian soul,” Orlacchio said. “The real difference is being a family-owned and managed hotel where an owner can spend quality time with guests and have the freedom to make decisions with speed, which even the most amazing hotel chain cannot do. We welcome guests as if in our own home.”

Deluxe suite with pool

And indeed, a few treasures from the Orlacchio family members’ actual homes, even binoculars that were a wedding gift, are now in the public areas and restaurants La Libreria, Alici and The Beach Club, all helmed by Michelin-starred chef Crescenzo Scotti.

Under the direction of Executive Chef Crescenzo Scotti, the hotel has three restaurants, including La Libreria.

Inspired by the building’s original 1960s architecture, restored originals and modern-day replicas of mid-20th century furniture and textiles from the likes of Molteni&C and Gio Ponti form a ‘Made in Italy’ design showcase within a Mediterranean backdrop. These sit alongside Murano glass creations, meticulously crafted joinery and bespoke artistry from the Campania region, including 31 types of handmade tiles with hand-painted geometric patterns, plus a smattering of non-Italian furniture icons. Each of the 29 guest rooms and 16 suites – slated to increase as back-of-house areas are converted – features a different design.

Three restaurants and two bars are located between the highest points of the hotel (90 meters above sea level).

Amalfi’s UNESCO World Heritage Site designation dictated careful intervention during the three-year renovation process, which began in 2018 in cooperation with local architect Bonaventura Gambardella, who has worked on other De Siano-owned hotels and, along with the project’s interior designer Nikita Bettoni, Orlacchio family homes. Built into a mountainside 295 feet above the Tyrrhenian Sea and with a 19th-century fishermen’s hut below, the hotel includes Amalfi’s only private beach. Reached by two elevators added by the original builder, Orlacchio says they would never be allowed today. The façade installed by the last owner looks like what he calls an Ottoman sultan’s castle and is now replaced by curvilinear features typical of the Sixties. The game-changing solution for working in such precarious conditions involved installing a crane on the cliff for exterior access and transporting goods.

The intricate blue and white tiles in guest rooms go hand-in-hand with Once Milano linens, Dedar and Rubelli textiles that reflect the far-reaching views of the Tyrrhenian Sea.

“Bringing together mid-century and Mediterranean styles was not obvious,” Orlacchio said, “and I’m particularly proud of how the puzzle came together to create something remarkable and beautiful that will be here for the next few decades.”

To reach the hotel’s private beach, guests descend the cliffside in a lift, or amble down a series of walkways and staircases amongst the fragrant terraced gardens of olive and lemon trees.