Luxury Hotels

DUCO gathers all Italy’s top luxury hotels in Florence

The St Regis, Florence

Some years ago Carolina Perez, of the enterprising Perez family of Brazilian travel advisors, was instrumental in starting São Paulo Travel Week.  This was sold on to Reed and Carolina, who has always loved Italy, started afresh, with DUCO.  As she explained at the first one, April 2018, Italy is so important it warranted a show all of its own.  This is the event for Italy’s luxury hotels to sell themselves to the world (Paolo Mancuso, Director of Projects & Business Developments at ForteVillage Resort, Sardinia, Italy, one of the properties exhibiting, again, at the second annual DUCO Travel Summit, held April 1-5, 2019, in Florence, said he received a lot of business after the first show).  The gal headed to Florence to coincide with DUCO, which unusually moves venue from day to day.

Some tables were on the balcony looking down into the restaurant

Yesterday was at Four Seasons Firenze, today is St Regis – the former Grand Hotel – and tomorrow will be Belmond Villa San Michele.  The 265 exhibiting hotels have to move accordingly, and the 160 invited travel advisors, nearly two-thirds from the USA, are bussed as appropriate.  Today, at St Regis, the elaborate mezzanine meeting rooms and even the open gallery that goes around the main restaurant are taken up by tables.  Hoteliers stay put, and at the gong which sounds every 15 minutes the travel advisors rush from one venue to the next. Lunch today is hosted by the adjacent Westin, in a rooftop space that gives marvellous views over the Arno (I had a jolly good tasting of assorted burrata and mozzarella cheeses, including tiny mozzarella affumicata balls, and balanced all this dairy with a dozen or so cherry tomatoes).

Jack Ezon, Carolina Perez

Carolina  Perez certainly had many of the top advisors: Jack Ezon, for instance, heads the new Embark consortium, and this man who has been known to arrange seven-day weddings in the Italian countryside for household name Americans was just as keen as others to learn what is NEW.  I loved the way that in place of a standard directory there was a really informative and humorous colour sketch book, showing what is where in which province of Italy – helpful to those do not even know where Lombardy IS. The book also lists exhibiting properties in various categories. Interestingly, there are 39 properties of 20 rooms or fewer – the smallest is the two-room Holy Deer San Lorenzo City Lodge, Rome.

DUCO display board

The opening educational included fashion specialist Paolo Zegna, of Ermenegildo Zegna, talking about the link between luxury brands and high-end travel. Last night there was a grand gala, tonight and tomorrow there are evening cocktails. After it is all over participants have a chance to do retail, at The Mall Luxury Outlets. During my short stay I was impressed by this rare opportunity to study one destination in depth.  IF YOU WANT AN IDEA OF THE HUBBUB THAT IS NONSTOP DURING THE WORK SESSIONS OF A SERIOUS BUYING-AND-SELLING LUXURY EVENT LIKE DUCO, SEE THE VIDEO BELOW