At peace in Greece: Lydia explains why the Greek islands have her heart

BA PEOPLE • January 2019

My Club: Lydia Forte

Lydia Forte
Lydia Forte


A dynamite force in the world of high-end hospitality, Lydia Forte is as sophisticated as the Rocco Forte hotel brand that runs in her blood. Leading the restaurant development for the group’s portfolio, Lydia takes a moment to talk to The Club about surprises in Chile, nostalgia in the Algarve and where she’s heading to next

Where is your favourite place in the world?

The Greek islands are especially relaxing. My husband is Greek and has shown me how beautifully unspoilt and remote the Aegean and Ionian islands can be. I love exploring them by boat – so many times you find yourself completely alone in a turquoise bay. That’s special in the Mediterranean.

Where do you get nostalgic about?

When I was very young all three generations of my family would go to my grandfather’s resort, Penina, in the Algarve. I remember a tank full of lobsters, a giant chess board and a really high diving board, as well as pastel de nata at the breakfast buffet.

What was your last big hotel project?

My last big project was launching Brasserie Prince by Alain Roux of the Waterside Inn at The Balmoral, which is a beautiful French brasserie and bar using the best of Scottish produce designed by architect Martin Brudzinski. I've been lucky to be able to spend a lot of time at the Balmoral over the last year, and it has such a special place in my heart.

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Which destination has recently wowed you?

I’ve just visited Puglia, where we are opening a hotel this spring, Masseria Torre Maizza (pictured above) located between Brindisi and Bari. It is a 16th-century masseria (country inn) with 40 rooms overlooking the Adriatic Sea. The region is fantastic, overflowing with world-class sites of cultural heritage, stunning landscapes covered in olive trees and, of course, delicious food.

Which destination has most surprised you?

Chile, for its diversity. There are glaciers in Patagonia, deserts in the Atacama, tropical forests on Easter Island. Plus, there is a great selection of hotels. They call it the Switzerland of Latin America, and it very much has that kind of emphasis on nature and grandeur.

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Which hotel do you always go back to?

Hotel de Russie (pictured above)our hotel in Rome. Sitting in its garden with an aperitivo is as close to travel magic as you can get. I also love Villa Tre Ville, just outside Positano, for its breathtaking views and food.

Where’s top of your travel bucket list?

Japan. I still can’t believe I haven’t been there yet, as I find the culture fascinating and multifaceted. In my opinion it has the best cuisine in the world – bar Italian, of course!

Where are you heading next?

Jeddah, where I’ll be visiting our Middle East property, Assila Hotel (pictured below), which opened in 2017. It has an amazing spa, beautiful rooftop pool with views over the city, and five delicious restaurants that feature Arabian, Mediterranean, Argentinean and Italian cuisine.

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What are your packing essentials?

If you’re packing like a foodie, remember strategic clothing – something loose so you’re not restricted when eating large meals. You also need a well-researched list of food recommendations (Live2Leave is a great app for that) and something like my Montunas handbag – which holds my laptop and pretty much the rest of my life – to fit everything in.

What do you like most about the Executive Club?

I fly with British Airways so much, it was a no-brainer to become a Member so I could take advantage of all the great benefits. It’s rare that my BA app doesn’t have an upcoming flight in it. Terminal 5 and the lounges are definitely the best perks, because check-in is easy and there are always great food options.

What do you spend your Avios on?

More flights, of course.

This article has been tagged Food + Drink, Hotels