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Albergo Diffuso A worldwide model of Italian hospitality

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An albergo diffuso is three things at a time.
It is a unique hospitality concept, different from the popular ones, like hotels or Resorts; it was born to develop tourism in hamlets and old town centres without changing their characteristics.
Secondly, it is a hotel that is not built, created with a network of preexisting houses close to each other in an old hamlet centre. The scattered hotel is also a model of touristic development for the territory

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Albergo Diffuso A worldwide model of Italian hospitality

  1. 1. 1 Giancarlo Dall’Ara Albergo Diffuso a worldwide model of Italian hospitality Ordinary Hotel Albergo Diffuso
  2. 2. 2 INDEX 1.Introduction 3 2.What is Albergo Diffuso 6 3.Albergo Diffuso goes international 9 4.Albergo Diffuso in Japan 11 5.The theory of Albergo Diffuso 14 6.Learn more 17 Albergo Diffuso a worldwide model of Italian hospitality Giancarlo Dall’Ara
  3. 3. 3 Introduction I started engaging in “hotels that are not built” in the early 80s, and it took me several years to define the al- bergo diffuso model as it is known today. While I was researching on the topic, I understood I could not launch the Albergo Diffuso concept with no theory supporting the unique model of hospitality, nor could I do without protecting the model by adding pre- cise contents. Therefore my research followed a double path: the first path aimed at identifying the basic prerequisi- tes to make the AD concept become reality and have an economic feasibility, together with a value for its terri- tory. the second path aimed at creating a new model around “Albergo Diffuso”, not simply modifying hospitality mo- dels that already existed. But more that that, I wanted to create a model with cultural roots in Italy and in the history of Italian hospitality. A model which would be unique as well as “made in Italy”. On this second aspect I investigated what was happening at an international level: that is how I found – together with Portuguese Pousadas, American Cluster Inns... - the Japanese Ryokan model, which fascinated me. What was so fascinating was the fact that the “hotel” mode was completely different from the American “standard” one (back then called Kemmons Wilson based on the name of the creator of Holiday Inn), leading at that time in Europe and Italy. Compared to the American model, based on standardi- zation, each and every Ryokan was different from one another, though preserving their Japanese culture and hospitality. Therefore it was a model including an origi- nal physical/structural point of view as well as a unique philosophy and authentic services to guests.
  4. 4. 4 That is exactly how I created an original concept for the albergo diffuso, establishing its roots in the Italian ho- spitality culture and especially in the culture of small hamlets, so that it would be different from other types of hospitality that were popular then both in Italy and worldwide. I then added the idea that an AD born in a hamlet or in an old town centre –as we will see-should also contribu- te to the development of the territory where it belongs: in other words, an Albergo Diffuso should not only be a “hotel that is not built” or a “sustainable” hotel, but also a driving force creating a network among local re- sources. Strange as it may seem, the AD concept is often simpli- fied even today, losing its original traits and being seen as a simple network of houses, thus resembling other forms of hospitality worldwide. This idea would deprive it of the fascinating power that the AD possesses, together with all the unique hospita-
  5. 5. 5 lity models. That is the reason why a dozen years ago I created As- sociazione nazionale degli Alberghi Diffusi (Alberghi Diffusi National Association), nowadays become Asso- ciazione Internazionale degli Alberghi Diffusi (Alberghi Diffusi International Association): to protect the scatte- red hotel model while enhancing it and its brand. Giancarlo Dall’Ara
  6. 6. 6 2. What is an Albergo Diffuso An albergo diffuso is three things at a time. It is a unique hospitality concept, different from the po- pular ones, like hotels or Resorts; it was born to develop tourism in hamlets and old town centres without chan- ging their characteristics. It does not require any buil- ding, just organizing what is already there. Secondly, it is a hotel that is not built, created with a network of preexisting houses close to each other in an old hamlet centre. One of the houses then becomes the reception, the lobby receiving guests for registration and giving out room keys; it also houses the services, the restaurant, halls and common spaces, assistance and information desk. The other houses become hotel rooms. As in traditional hotels, guests of the scattered hotel can use all hotel services: daily room cleaning, assistance, room service for bre- akfast upon request, restaurant... One of the characteristics of the scattered hotel is that the different hotel houses are located among residen- tial houses, so that the guest can experience being a temporary resident other than just a tourist.
  7. 7. 7 The AD model Let’s briefly summarize the prerequisites identifying the model of albergo diffuso: – One management - The Accomodation is managed through a business model. – Hotel services - The Accomodation can offer all ho- tel services. – Rooms/Housing units scattered in already existing separate buildings in an old town centre. – Common services - Places designated to be guest common spaces (reception, common halls, bar, restau- rant). – Reasonable distance between buildings - 200 metres at the max between housing units and the hospitality service building (where the main services are held). – A lively community – the hamlet or old town centre cannot be uninhabited. – Authentic environment - Integration with the local community and culture. – Being recognizable – a defined and uniform identity of the structure is guaranteed; services are consistent. – Management style is integrated in the territory and its culture. The Albergo Diffuso is an original hospi- tality model represented by a hospitality offer inte- grated in the territory, its culture and its community. These aspects become essential components of the ho- spitality services. Its management, with roots in the lo- cal culture, is not the same as the one of hotel chains. The scattered hotel is also a model of touristic deve- lopment for the territory. A network model, combining different local activities as well as houses, offering servi- ces, partly creating them and partly organizing and re- arranging the existing ones. The demand AD addresses - to live a local experience - fosters the organization of local offers, thus leading to
  8. 8. 8 the relaunch and rediscovery of food, old recipes, tradi- tions, daily objects, handicrafts, local events and initia- tives…together with historic, cultural and enviromental resources. An AD has several positive returns for a hamlet. AD uses uninhabited houses, hence encouraging hamlet recovery by bringing tourists who liven streets and pla- ces up; it also encourages residents to see their everyday life from a new perspective, becoming more aware of its value. Besides, experience shows that some of the guests of Alberghi Diffusi falling in love with the hamlet and its lifestyle tend to buy holiday houses there or just to stay for longer periods of time. The press often confirms that AD also has positive impli- cations in terms of image and exposure for all the ham- lets hosting it. Albergo diffuso “Just like home, just like a hotel” Just like home Just like a hotel Authenticity Professional services Rooms different from one another Common spaces Cozy furniture Comfort Attention to detail Easy to book Connection to territory Wide range of ervices Relationship with residents Relationship with other guests Welcoming and informal Quality standard environment Courtesy Services Spontaneity Efficiency Personality Customization
  9. 9. 9 3.Albergo Diffuso goes international The internationalization of scattered hotel began in 2009, five years after our first national convention (Cam- pobasso, 2004) when I was requested to go to Mase, a little mountain hamlet in French Switzerland, represen- ting Alberghi Diffusi National Association (ADI), establi- shed in the meantime in Termoli. 2010 was an amazing year for us: we has our first in- ternational acknowledge- ment at World Travel Mar- ket in London, and the first article on the New York Times, determining international popularity for the scattered hotel. In 2011 it was the turn of Croatia, with a seminar in the little hamlet of San Vincenti, in Istria, and se- veral other meetings soon contributing to the Croatian AD legislation. In 2012 the first Spanish test was launched: it was a Scat- tered Hospitality project not far from Salamanca, fol- lowing which we decided to formally establish the Al- berghi Diffusi International Association. Since then we have received requests from so many countries: Ireland, Albany, France, Slovakia, Serbia and San Marino; in most cases they were scattered hospitali- ty networks or simple projects. In 2018 an Albergo Diffuso project was launched in Ger- many, opening in 2020. Japan was different, as they only started talking about Albergo diffuso in 2013, while the first scattered hotel
  10. 10. 10 with all the standard established in the model was laun- ched in 2018, and the Associazione Giapponese degli Alberghi Diffusi (ADJ) Alberghi Diffusi Japanese Asso- ciation is now founded. Meanwhile many hospitality modes with similar cha- racteristics to our model were born from Tasmania to the USA. In order to confront each other on this scenario, we organized the first international meeting of Alberghi Diffusi in Termoli, on May 7th, 2019, in which the Pre- sident, Vicepresident and CEO of the Japanese Associa- tion (ADJ) took part. As for future projects, we are offering our made in Italy model in many different countries: from Georgia to Chi- na.
  11. 11. 11 4. Albergo Diffuso in Japan In 2013 Natsu Shimamura, after visiting Muntaecara di Apricale AD (in Liguria), published a book on Italian hamlets, with a long interview to me on the scattered hotel model. Since 2014, following the interest towards the book, now at its third edition, we have organized visits to dif- ferent scattered hotels in Italy for architects, university professors and Japanese district associations. The inte- rest toward a hotel which is also a sustainable model for territory development grew fast, generating great press and a good flow of tourism. Among the most echoed articles Shikoda Toru’s article is worth mentioning. Published on the Hokkaido Shinbun, it followed Shikoda Toru’s participation to our National gathering at Borgo dei Corsi AD in 2015.
  12. 12. 12 Among the people who most actively promoted AD in Japan during those years, professor Yasushi Watanabe (who came to Italy many times, starting in 2014) and ar- chitect Megumi Nakahashi, who published many papers on the topic after visiting several ADs, deserve special mention. Since 2016 I resumed going to Japan to promote the scattered hotel model; especially thank to Akinori Ha- segawa, I took part in many meetings and seminars in Tokyo and other parts of the country. At the same time, the interest of Japanese tour opera- tors grew. It was evident when TuttaItalia, T.O. based in Tokyo participated to the XXI AD National Gathering and also with the opening of a portal entirely dedicated to ADs. In 2018 the first guide to alberghi diffusi in Japanese was published. Written by Megumi Nakahashi, it offers a selection of 20 ADs. Many meaningful articles also came out both on “地域人” (Chiiki-Jin) magazine and on
  13. 13. 13 Travel Journal. In the same year the first albergo diffuso in a Japanese hamlet was acknowledged at Yakage, Okayama prefec- ture. Among the many conferences on AD, the ones at Tokyo Taisho University upon invitation by professor Shinichi Shimizu (June 15th) and the one in Okayama (June 13th) deserve to be mentioned.
  14. 14. 14 5. Albergo Diffuso Theory Some people writing or calling me to talk about alber- go diffuso cannot actually grasp its real meaning. The majority of them think of Albergo Diffuso as a mere network of houses with one management. They cannot entirely get what I am talking about. If Albergo Diffuso is just a network of houses, what did I invent?
  15. 15. 15 How could I define Albergo Diffuso an “original” ho- spitality model, an Italian one, a new model of touristic development of hamlets? The fact is that networks of houses are nothing new, as they have always been there as touristic offers. Not so for Albergo Diffuso! And if an AD was just a bunch of houses, how would it be possible for ADs to have business 12 months a year in 90% of the cases, while networks of houses only work two or three months a year? And why are AD projects sprouting (though often partly accomplished, as no appropriate regulations exist) from Ireland to Japan, from Switzerland to Croatia? It is important to understand that AD is part of a theo- ry of touristic development for territories, at the same time being part of a hospitality philosophy opposed to the standard one (still dominating the field of hospita- lity). Concepts as “guest”, “sustainability”, “lively communi- ty”, “hamlet lifestyle”, temporary resident, authenticity, territory, hospitality… are not only fundamental, they also have a special meaning both in my way of thinking tourism, and in the albergo diffuso model. So do my ideas of “two-hall hotel”, “hotel that is not bu- ilt”, “hamlet alleys becoming hallways”, “involvement of residents”, the concept of hotels as social institutions, the request to foreign journalists not to translate the name...They all highlight a distinct philosophy differing from all the other forms of hospitality (B&B, hotel, holi- day house, tourist resort, agritourism…). AD philosophy is the philosophy of horizontal deve- lopment regarding a product family: from scattered ho- spitality to scattered lunch (experimented in different AD) and hamlet life in general. As I wrote in the albergo diffuso handbook, AD is an
  16. 16. 16 entirely Italian adventure, representing the hospitali- ty culture of our country and the “horizontal” lifestyle made of relationships and communities typical of Italian hamlets; while traditional hotels offer a “vertical” life- style, the life of “the rush culture”, characterizing big cities worldwide. Only a manager who believes in the same philosophy is able to open a real Albergo Diffuso and successfully manage it. We need an AD philosophy to avoid that success ruins the initial idea behind this concept.
  17. 17. 17 6.Learn more Giancarlo Dall’Ara «Il Manuale dell’Albergo Diffuso» h t t p s : / / w w w. f r a n c o a n g e l i . i t / R i c e r c a / S c h e d a _ l i b r o . aspx?CodiceLibro=1365.1.10 Sitography www.albergodiffuso.com www.alberghidiffusi.it http://albergo-diffuso.blogspot.com Twitter: @AlbergoDiffuso http://www.facebook.com/pages/Associazione-Nazionale-Alberghi- Diffusi/268168846562052 Bibliography Dall’Ara G. Piano di sviluppo turistico della C.M. Marghine Planar- gia, Ed. il Ponte, Rimini, 1995 Dall’Ara G., Modelli originali di ospitalità nelle piccole e medie im- prese turistiche, FrancoAngeli, Milano, 1999. Dall’Ara G., “Report sul fenomeno dell’Albergo Diffuso in Italia”, in Rapporto sul Turismo Italiano, 2003. Dall’Ara G., Il fenomeno degli Alberghi Diffusi in Italia, Palladino Editore, Campobasso, 2005. Dall’Ara G., “L’Albergo Diffuso, dall’idea alla realizzazione”, BIC Notes n. 4, dicembre 2007. Dall’Ara G., Le nuove frontiere del marketing nel turismo, Franco- Angeli, Milano,2009. Dall’Ara G., Come progettare un piano di sviluppo turistico territo- riale, Halley,Matelica (Mc), 2009. Dall’Ara G., PMI nel turismo. Un’opportunità per lo sviluppo, Fran- coAngeli, Milano, 2010. Dall’Ara G., Morandi F., a cura di, Il Turismo nei Borghi, la norma- tiva, il marketing e i casi di eccellenza, Nuova Giuridica, Matelica (Mc), 2010. Morandi F., “La disciplina regionale dell’Albergo Diffuso”, in Diritto del Turismo, n. 1, 2008. Dall’Ara G. Di Bernardo S. 4° Report sugli Alberghi Diffusi, XIX Rap- porto sul Turismo, Mercury, Firenze, 2013. Dall’Ara G. Manuale dell’Albergo Diffuso, FrancoAngeli, Milano 2015. Dall’Ara G. Villani T. Albergo Diffuso as a model of original hospita-
  18. 18. 18 lity and sustainable development of small historical villages, Techne 10, 2015
  19. 19. 19 The image on the cover was a gift by Professor Yasushi Watanabe, to whom I am very much thankful. E-mail address: giancarlo.dallara@gmail.com Giancarlo Dall’Ara

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