In this time of global shut down, pandemics, and travel restrictions, I wanted to give a shout out to Aldo Melpigano of Borgo Egnazia.
I had the great pleasure of being a guest of the Melpignano family in May 2018 while on a Puglia discovery trip. A group of travel designers and hoteliers were guests at Borgo Egnazia – a spectacular property and holiday retreat. Borgo is a place where each and every staff member I spoke with took great pride in the property and services. From yoga classes to perfect dinners, from breathtaking natural surroundings to a manicured golf course, from wild beaches and azure waters, to driving around the countryside in antique Ferraris and Alfa Romeos, Borgo Egnazia has something for everyone. Each person who works at Borgo Egnazia is a treasured member of the team. This was the pool in my private villa. Not bad at all.
You might wonder why I am writing about this Puglia destination while travel restrictions abound world-wide and as Italy cautiously emerges from the Covid-19 quarantine? I am writing to applaud the energy, kindness, and gracious generosity of my friend Aldo and the Melpignano family. They are planning to open the magnificent property as soon as Italy deems it safe for staff and guests. Aldo has said that even if no-one will come, no tourists, no clients, he will open to provide hope to others and to insure employment to his staff. His employees are part of an extended family. Open it and they will come!
In 2018, twenty travel designers and hotel owners from Canada, the United States, South Korea, India, Colombia, the United Kingdom, Italy and Spain shared a magical moment in time (I hope that I have not left anyone out). It is thanks to Aldo that the magic happened. Attentive to every detail, he quietly arranged for shirts and towels to be delivered to us after we cycled in heavy rains from his property to our lunch destination. Aldo, who cycled with us and was as drenched as we were, called his staff to deliver fluffy white towels and monogramed golf shirts for each and every one of us to wear during our pasta-making lesson followed by an exceptional lunch of seafood and pasta served Italian family style.
When I learned that Aldo would open his village and insure maximum employment to the community in Puglia, I had to write about it. I asked Aldo a few questions to understand his plans.
Q) When, approximately do you plan to open.
A) Although we can’t wait to welcome our guests, we can only reopen as soon as it is deemed safe for guests and staff, hopefully at some point in May.
Q) Will you have your full staff working and salaried?
A) At Borgo Egnazia we believe in putting people first, which is what makes us not only a company but a family that shares the same values. We are working very hard to protect our team during this unprecedented crisis. While closed, we have been using financial support provided by the government along with our commitment to limit salary cuts to our full-time employees. Additionally, we are working with local institutions and trade associations to protect our seasonal and part-time employees, since the beginning of their contracts were postponed to a new date. Our hotel services will reopen gradually and we are committed to re-employ as many of our seasonal workers as we can.
Q) What are some of the things the staff have to do to get a property such as yours ready for guests?
A) Generally speaking, after any closure period staff needs to help reactivating the systems such as air conditioning etc., in addition to deep cleaning, redressing of rooms and common areas, gardening.
Obviously, we are also working on protocols that meet the new hygiene and safety guidelines that we expect and guarantee the highest standards for guests and staff, always offering the highest quality of experience.
At the same time, we treasured this moment to rethink our team’s future as well, which is why we have activated a task force from every department of the company geared towards innovation, exploring how the traveler behavior and the services we offer will evolve.
When it is safe to travel I highly recommend Borgo Egnazia – an ethically run company with wide open natural and cultivated spaces, ocean and pools, tennis courts, a well-manicured golf course, organic food, and an ecofriendly approach. The private beach is fully equipped for watersports. Surrounding forests and caves are perfect for walkers and hikers. Most of all, it is a place where people come first.0