In April this year I went to Dubai for the first time to attend Arabian Travel Market Week and I am excited to tell you about just two of the interesting people I had the pleasure of meeting.
The first thing on my agenda was to have high tea with the Forte sisters, Irene and Lydia, who I will always remember as the Fascinating Forte Sisters.
Straight from the airport, I made my way to Fortnum & Mason, which is between the Dubai Mall and the Address. A great way for me to start my Dubai experience, it is exactly in front of the impressive Burj al Khalifa.
I was directed to the second floor where two long tables were elegantly arranged and a multiple high-tea tray was beautifully lined up. Around the table were the popular bloggers of Dubai, one of them Nina Ali. You can follow her on Instagram as @lipstickmommy.
As I was welcomed warmly by the events coordinators, I sat on the second table among other bloggers and ordered myself a good old fashioned green tea.
Before I tell you how my meeting with the Fascinating Forte sisters went, let me tell you something about the Rocco Forte Hotels.
The group was established by Sir Rocco Forte and his sister Olga Polizzi in 1996. Their family has been hoteliers for four generations starting with Sir Rocco’s grandfather in the early 20th century. Sir Rocco received a knighthood for his services to the tourism industry, and is the father of the Fascinating Forte Sisters. The Rocco Forte Hotel portfolio consists of ten hotels and two will soon be launched in Jeddah and Shanghai.
As I enjoyed the pastries and indulged in my delicious tea, Irene Forte joined my table and introduced herself politely. She shared her passion for healthy living with me and elaborated more on her current projects. Irene is the brand manager and also oversees the Rocco Forte Spa which was launched in January 2016. The spa has four compartments, the Forte Organics, Rocco Forte Rituals, Rocco Forte Fitness and Rocco Forte Nourish.
As I listened to her, I couldn’t help but be inspired and delighted by her projects and overall vision of the travel industry. She hopes it will bring in further healthy choices in the coming years, as it is difficult for many travellers to stay healthy when constantly on the road. Irene also organises a charity football tournament every other year, raising money for a different charity each year. During the last year’s tournament, she raised £60,000 for Samaritans.
Lydia joined the table and, like her sister, she politely introduced herself to me. Lydia is as focused and fascinating as Irene, and was a dazzling presence in a long pink floral dress. The sisters were dressed in an identical style and at that moment I missed my one and only sister, who would have been as fascinated by the Forte Sisters as I was.
Lydia told me about the new re-designed Kipling Suite, revealing that it was named after author Rudyard Kipling who stayed at the Browns Hotel and penned The Jungle Book there. Sensing my love of literature, she told me that the Grand Suite of the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh was where JK Rowling finished writing the seventh book in the Harry Potter series.
The sisters graduated from Oxford and both speak French and Italian fluently. Lydia also speaks conversational Spanish and basic Russian.
My first afternoon in Dubai was definitely a great experience and filled me with inspiration. The future of the Rocco Forte Hotels is bright. And the Fascinating Forte sisters will surely carry on their family’s honourable services and create their own legacies.